Camera Shy: On the net

When you see a posting on the Net with the subject "Re: nextstep" and it isn't referring to a certain Redwood City–based company's operating software, you know something interesting is up. In this case, it's the latest in a long series of NeXT and NeXT-related sightings that have amazed, intrigued, and frustrated Net readers, who are baffled by NeXT's failure to take better ad-vantage of these mentions.

Sightings have been confirmed in such diverse media as a Paula Abdul MTV video; a TDK television commercial; a network series (the now-defunct "PS – ILUVU"); several major motion pictures, including "Flatliners"; and various CNN "Headline News" stories, including a report from a weather center during a hurricane.

But the "Re: nextstep" thread is particularly amusing (and frustrating) because it refers to "the next step," a new San Francisco– based technology-of-the-future television series currently running on the Discovery Channel. Despite having a name, look, and logo similar to NeXT's (including a spinning square at an angle with a NeXT-HQ-like staircase superimposed), the show has never reported on its namesake, NeXT-STEP, certainly one of the most interesting new technologies in the computer industry.

This lapse would be worth protesting if NeXT had ever made a serious effort to penetrate the national media. Many of the sightings on the Net are by non-NeXT people who get excited enough just by the look of the hardware and its apparent functionality to join NeXT Net news groups and sometimes even purchase hardware. Imagine the level of interest if NeXT actually tried to be seen. They could start by pushing for a segment on "the next step" (it's in San Francisco, after all); actively seek higher visibility in the mass media; and, finally, create some killer commercials. NeXT has no excuse for not do-ing this in 1993. But then again, NeXT had no excuse for not do-ing this in 1992.

by Charles Perkins