March 20, 1997 1:45 PM ET

Amelio's new mantra--it's the Internet
By Margaret Kane

  BOSTON -- The Internet's future is in publishing, and Apple Computer Inc.'s future is there as well, said the company's chief executive, Gil Amelio, who spoke to the Massachusetts Software Council here today.

Although Amelio focused on Apple's plans for the Internet, he briefly took time in his speech to address the company's plans to restructure and fire 4,100 permanent and temporary workers.

"In the final analysis, we realized that we were not going to get it together, and we had to take a step back before we could go two steps forward," he said. "Apple will emerge as a healthy company in the not-too-distant horizon, and as a different company with a different focus and different priorities than we had in the past."

After the speech, Amelio said that Apple needs to become a "systems company," more closely coordinating its hardware and software efforts.

"Apple has never leveraged [its hardware and software combinations] to the extent that the competition has," he said. "The business is to bring the hardware and software together to focus on solutions."

The restructuring last week coincided with the announcement of the elimination of several projects at Apple, including OpenDoc. Amelio said he realized that OpenDoc "was being superseded by Java."

"If you can't beat them, join them," he said.

When trying to decide which projects to cut, Amelio said he drew up a six-page, single-spaced list of every project Apple was working on.

"About a dozen were vital to our interests," he said. "We sorted out what was central to the company. We're getting back to basics, and that's the Mac."

In the future, he said, Apple will continue to develop new technologies, but will increasingly turn them over to third-party developers.

During his speech, Amelio suggested developers would contribute to Apple's success in Internet publishing.

"If content is king, then Apple is the kingmaker," he said, citing statistics claiming that 67 percent of Web site design firms are Mac-based. "It's the contribution of the Mac design community that created the look and feel of much of the Web content today."

And the fact that much of the development on the Internet is based on technologies and languages such as Java that are not platform-specific will help strengthen Apple's presence, he said.

"The heterogeneous nature of the Internet overcomes the single most persistent objection people have had against Apple since the introduction of the Mac in 1984--compatibility," he said.

Taking stock of Apple's immediate prospects, Amelio said things were not as bad as reported and then took a swipe at the media.

"Most of the reporting [you see] is nonsense. They're trying to tell a story and not dealing with the facts ... or making up the facts," he said.

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