Jobs: NeXT "racehorse" has legs for long haul

by Dan Lavin and Dan Ruby

Washington, D.C. The object horse race is just around the first bend, but NeXT has the legs to stay furlongs in front and finish strong, CEO Steve Jobs said in an address to NeXT's East Coast Developer Conference, which was held here in January.

"We are ahead today, but the race is far from over. By the end of 1996, we project an installed base of one million seats. Microsoft Cairo will be very close behind, and Taligent will be very far behind." Jobs said.

The presentation, which included a financial review and technology demonstrations, opened the three-day conference. Of the more than 500 attendees, many from agencies of the federal government, three-quarters were new or prospective customers who had not attended previous NeXT events, according to Karen Steele, director of marketing communications.

Sun CEO Scott McNealy contributed a canned NEXTIME message of commitment to NEXTSTEP, in which he contrasted Sun's singular support for OpenStep with Hewlett-Packard's strategy of providing numerous object offerings. "We have no insurance policy," McNealy said. "We have made a firm one-company, one-architecture decision, not like Taligent getting a trophy spouse by signing up HP."

In the presentation, Jobs reviewed NeXT's 1993 accomplishments, including revenues of more than $11 million in the second half and the landmark OpenStep deal with Sun. He wowed the audience with demonstrations of NEXTIME, PDO for PA-RISC, and NEXTSTEP for PA-RISC.

NeXT also announced PDO 2.0, which includes support for SunOS, Solaris, Data General UX, and Digital Equipment OS/1. This new version of PDO better supports heterogeneous deployments by integrating a C++ compiler into the existing Objective-C compiler and adding support for the GNU make program. PDO 2.0 will ship for the Sun systems in April, and Jobs predicted that it would be supported by five to ten operating systems by the end of 1994.

The conference followed an upbeat two-day NeXT sales meeting, during which the company set new sales targets and quotas. According to sources, NeXT is looking for 85,000100,000 NEXTSTEP sales and $50 million in revenue in 1994.

Much of the focus of the developer conference was on NeXT partners. Among those hosting product-display suites were HP, Digital Equipment, NEC, Epson, Intel, and Systemhouse. Borland and NCR, which paid for suites, did not use them. The Association of NeXT Developers International hosted several third-party developers in its suite.

A second-day keynote by former Pentagon CIO Paul Strassman underscored the strong government presence at the conference, which drew the bulk of its attendance from the Washington, D.C. area.