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Parallel universe

Yes, there are many parallels, but what people
like about the Symbolics and the Mac are fundamentally different.
Your informant cites

        >user interface guidelines, its graphics
        >orientation and its desktop metaphor

which are precisely the weakness of the Symbolics!
[Select keys aren't much of a desktop metaphor].
The user interface is a complicated mess, so the Symbolics
can't be justified to management on the basis that it is
easy to learn and use, the way the Mac is touted.

What people do like about the Symbolics, justifiably,
is its integrated programming environment and the 
accessibility of such a wide range of functionality.
This is, of course, much harder to sell to management. 

This suggests that a route for Symbolics would be to 
put substantially more effort into making the machine
and software more graphically oriented and easier to 
learn and use.  They might then make some headway against
Sun as Apple has against IBM, despite hardware costs.

I believe Symbolics must do this in the long run.
At the recent SLUG Conference, I saw much to be encouraged
about in Symbolics' actions and future directions.  But
sadly, few seemed really concerned about the growing 
complexity of the system, or cared much about making the interface
easier to learn and use.