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Re: DRAFT Agenda for SLUG/SMBX Meeting of 15 December
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 89 15:44 EST
From: Barry Margolin <barmar@Think.COM>
Is it? That is, are they really making more money these days, or just
controlling costs better?
More profitable = making more money. You are confusing profits with
revenues (profits = revenues - costs). Much of their profitability over
the last year has almost certainly been due to cost-cutting; that's not
bad, though, since controlling costs was a big problem with the previous
Symbolics management (the company grew much faster than their market).
OK, let me reword: is it the kind of cost cutting s.t. profitablity is
increased long term (e.g. dropping per unit manufacturing costs, increasing
machine reliability dropping per unit warrentee costs, etc.) or just
"extraordinary" stuff that hurts in the long run (e.g. you can lay off all
your engineers and save a bundle in costs, but you won't build new machines
that way; you can fire all your expensive computer salesmen, and hire cheap
shoe salesmen... etc.).
I heard sales of equipment were very depressed...
also a recent management reaffirmation that they are a *hardware* company,
which is depressing in and of itself...
We asked them about this. Their answer is that it's very hard to make
money as a software company. I believe them; Lotus and Microsoft are
But Symbolics has also made it clear that they can't compete with SUN, et.
al. in making low cost workstations. Plus it's becoming pretty clear that
these workstations are becoming powerful enough to run real lisp
environments without special hardware.... if nothing else they just use
their speed to simulate. IMHO, it seems like Symbolics' only viable option
is to get their environment running on these machines since a vast majority
of Lisp users can't justify to their management a 30-40k machine, when
they're used to dealing with 5-10k workstations. Particularly when the
hardware performance is no better and often significantly worse. Let's face
it, a lot of good hardware engineers work for Sun and DEC et al. and
Symbolics can't afford to keep up.
Why isn't there yet any upgrade plan for old 36xx machines to Ivory class
There is. My sales rep offered us something like a 10K or 15K discount
to replace a 36xx with an XL400.
Well, I guess I'd call that a trade-in plan, not an upgrade plan. I mean,
given I've already spent $150k on a 3670, offering to sell me a 60k machine
for 50k isn't that terrific a deal. Taking it back and GIVING me an XL400
for it (for maybe a $5k upgrade fee) would go a long way toward improving
customer relations.... and save Symbolics money too --- given what they keep
claiming it costs to service a 36xx machine (look at those full maintainance
contract costs lately :-). Not that I expect they accurately reflect
anything; I've yet to see any decent detailed accounting of what it *really*
costs to service these beasts (ie. MTTR, MTBF, etc. broken out by board).