In a nostalgic conversation with CNET, Dell CEO Michael Dell revealed that at one time Steve Jobs wanted the company to license the Mac OS and run it on computers running Intel. If this were to happen, it could change the computer industry as we know it.
According to Dell, the late Apple co-founder first approached him for a partnership after he established NeXT after his exit from Apple. Jobs claimed that NeXT OS was superior to Windows and that he wanted Dell to use it on his company’s computers. Dell has denied this, citing valid reasons that there are no applications for it and that there is “zero user interest”.
After joining Apple, Jobs reportedly tried to switch Mac OS to Dell in another licensing agreement. Jobs convinced Dell by saying that computer buyers could choose between Mac OS and Microsoft Windows.
“He said, look at this – we have this Dell desktop and it’s running on Mac OS,” Dell tells me. “Why don’t you license Mac OS?”
Dell was convinced and offered Jobs a licensing fee for every Dell computer sold with Mac OS. However, Jobs was worried it would bite into Mac’s market share because Dell computers were cheaper. Jobs actually wanted Dell to load Mac OS with Windows on every computer sold. However, this would cost Dell hundreds of millions of copyrights.
Dell smiles as he tells the story. “The copyright he was talking about would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, and the math just didn’t work out because most of our customers, especially large business users, didn’t really want a Mac operating system,” he writes. Steve’s suggestion would be interesting if only we said, “Okay, we’ll pay you every time we use Mac OS” – but to pay him every time we didn’t use it … well, good try, Steve! ”
The cost of royalties caused the contract to fall apart as Dell lost interest. In addition, access to Mac OS was not guaranteed to Dell in the future. This would put Dell customers in the place of Mac OS development because the company would not be able to provide customer support for it.
Dell said, that the deal passed, “It could have changed the path for Windows and Mac OS on computers” and we couldn’t agree more. Imagine that Apple never had to launch the iMac in 1998!
Despite the breakup of the deal and several other differences of opinion over the years, Dell remained friends with Jobs. At one point, Della was asked what he would do to fix Apple if he were the CEO. He said, “I would close the company and return the money to shareholders,” which angered Jobs. Finally, Jobs used Dell’s quote to motivate his team. Dell respected that and said so CNET, “I would probably do about the same thing if I were in his position. When the company you founded is fighting for its life, do whatever it takes. ”
Dell’s interaction with Jobs, how their friendship and fascination with Apple II developed are included in his newly published memoir “Play Nice, But Win”.
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