krpalmer: (apple)
Looking through a used book store I've visited before but not lately, I managed to notice a book I'd had a used copy of before but given away a while ago. Since then, though, I had got to wondering if I'd ever happen on the chance to read John Sculley's Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple again. I am quite aware of the conventional wisdom that paints him as the CEO who, after completing (with the help of a co-author) his inspirational "how I moved from soft drinks to computers, found my company in trouble, then steered into safe waters" tale, let Microsoft catch up to Apple as he daydreamed of "the Knowledge Navigator" without considering how to get from then to the future until it was easy enough to proclaim his company had been passed (to say nothing of having been there for the accusations of the Apple II being left to dry up on the branch.) Still, I could consider if I'd be able to read carefully enough to recognise a few new details.

Sculley talked with what seemed fond memories about his rise through the ranks at Pepsi as the company developed from "one of several competitors to the colossus of Coca-Cola" to "one of two firms dominating the soft drink trade." He then worked hard at presenting being enticed into a new line of work as "it wasn't that utterly foreign to me." Following the first months at Apple where everything seemed on its way up, things shifted into crisis, and I did get to wondering if this was presented less as a thread of the conventional wisdom, "we thought in our technological arrogance we'd created a fully adequate product," than as "we were spending too much on advertising chasing a consumer market that didn't actually exist." The Apple Computer Sculley describes shaping (once Steve Jobs was out of the picture) seemed more business-focused (which does have me thinking of how, as I go through the PC Magazine archive queuing up covers on my side-project Tumblr, by 1985 the IBM PC seemed very much presented there as "a serious business machine for people in suits and ties"), with the Apple II acknowledged as "having kept us afloat" but still seemingly retargeted as "an education machine." I suppose this impression may be shaped by recent opinions in "The Digital Antiquarian" about how, as MS-DOS based computers continued their incremental improvements through the beginning of the 1990s, they became more usable "at home" at a moment when all the other options were either aimed away from there or at best targeted ineffectively, but I was at least willing to consider it. I even noticed Sculley include a comment I'd seen in period Macworld magazines that Apple had a two-year head start on the graphical user interface and would of course build on it. That, of course, still raises the question of what happened with the company's software efforts, even if there have been comments since the book The Mythical Man-Month that "software is hard."
krpalmer: (Default)
I was in the grocery store stocking up for the week ahead when, right next to the cardboard display bin of Vanilla Coke and Cherry Coke ("back for a limited time," I understood) I spotted a second bin with somehow just as familiar bottles in it. The signage made a big deal of "Crystal Pepsi" being back (again, for a limited time), but what raced through my mind was impressions that particular brand may well be remembered, but in an amused way as "not a success." It seems almost too easy these days to sigh and shake your head about commercial brands and intellectual properties being brushed up and brought back from the niches promotion dug them into before to save on the apparent greater risk of coming up with anything new, but it may yet be there's more than a few actual reasons for that, too.
krpalmer: (Default)
Every so often I notice comments that soft drinks tasted better back when they were made with cane sugar and not corn syrup, but in the past I never tried to follow up on them and search out the old-fashioned soda pop that was said to still be found here and there. I suppose my thought was that I might succumb to a more expensive habit. However, while headed through my local grocery store, I happened to notice packages of soda on prominent end-of-the-aisle display, and by the time I realised they made a point of being made with "real sugar" a part of me already wanted to buy it...
Photographic evidence within )

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