Another Byte Out of the Apple

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SAN FRANCISCO: Apple Computer chairman A.C. (Mike) Markkula, said on Tuesday that his company was not for sale. The comment was a reaction to a report in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, quoting "people familiar with the negotiations," that Apple would soon be acquired by Sun Microsystems, which makes workstations and Internet servers. Apple, the upstart company that made computers "user friendly" to millions of ordinary people has had an unenviable year, culminating with a loss of $69 million during the critical Christmas fourth quarter, while IBM was showing a 41 percent profit for the same period, that caused its stock to drop 10 percent. "Apple Chief Executive Michael Spindler is going to look more and more like the little boy with the finger in the dike if he tries to stop a merger or takeover," says TIME's David Jackson. "Despite Markkula's denial, Apple must take drastic measures to survive. The smaller Apple's market share gets, and it's now at about 10 percent, the less appeal it has to software developers." As a result, Apple is finding it increasingly difficult to keep up in a market that places a high premium on new software applications. Jackson concludes: "That doesn't mean that the Mac operating system will disappear, but it may mean that the Apple company will disappear." No new details emerged from Apple's annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, says Jackson, "but it is clear that shareholders are restless."