Apple has what it takes, Amelio says

Apple Computer's company logo may be missing a bite, but its CEO does not seem to lack any optimism. Taking one definition ('a highly emotional utterance') of Rhapsody - the code word for Apple's forthcoming next generation operating system - to heart, its CEO maintains Apple has the technology and strategy needed to turn the financially-troubled company around.

Apple Computer's company logo may be missing a bite, but its CEO does not seem to lack any optimism.

Taking one definition ("a highly emotional utterance") of Rhapsody - the code word for Apple's forthcoming next generation operating system - to heart, its CEO maintains Apple has the technology and strategy needed to turn the financially-troubled company around.

"You need a clear reason why developing for Rhapsody will pay off," Dr. Gil Amelio said during his keynote speech at the opening of Apple's World Wide Developers Conference.

"The code it rests on is stable, opportunities exist and our strategy is sound," Amelio said, reiterating his prediction that the company will return to "sustainable profitability by the [fourth] fiscal quarter ending in September."

Apple will archive that goal in part as a result of its next generation development environment, code named Yellow Box, which will embrace cross platform development capabilities.

Amelio also said Apple's cash situation has dramatically improved, amounting to $1.4 billion in the last quarter, with higher revenues coming in, while the company's operating loss has been reduced.

Since the market is dominated by the Microsoft-Intel Wintel alliance, Apple's hope for long-term success rests on producing PowerPC-based products that outperform Pentium-based system and offer a higher return of investment as a result of greater ease of use, Amelio said.

"We need to provide a compelling user experience and higher perceived differentiation. We need to accelerate innovation," he said.

Although Macintosh users are very loyal Apple customers, they also need to integrate with the rest of the world, namely the Wintel world, Amelio said.

To that end, Apple will offer what Amelio called bridgeware - Rhapsody and Yellow Box - which go a long way towards simplifying cross platform application development to grow business opportunities for Macintosh developers.

"Yellow Box will allow you to move to a single code base and ship applications for different platforms at the same time," he said.

Apple executives also reiterated their commitment to licensing the Mac OS 8 and Common Hardware Reference Platform (CHRP) to third parties in order to grow the operating systems market share.

At the same time company officials rejected the notion that Apple is not ready to compete with clone makers and is slowing down the certification process of Macintosh clones.

"We are certifying systems in four days and it will move to two days over the next few months," said Mike Conner, who heads Apple's quality control and certification division. "There are absolutely no roadblocks here. We actually have found problems with some systems and have helped companies to fix them, so licensees do not embarrass themselves out in the market," Conner said.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters, Amelio defended the acquisition of Next Software Inc. as a better choice over Be Inc.

"I believe we made exactly the right decision. NextStep has the better elements than Be's operating system," Amelio said.

Amelio also reiterated the company's strategy of focusing on core markets including education, publishing and multimedia development and Web authoring.

"The next two years are critical for Apple. They will decide if we make or break it," Amelio said.

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