New, even in software, does not mean better …(via Gruber)
… The iPhone User’s Guide contains lots of interesting information about the iPhone. But the most interesting thing, to me, is that the document was created on a Mac using Adobe FrameMaker 6. This version of FrameMaker was released in 2000 and ran under Mac OS 8 and 9. FrameMaker 7.0, the last version that ran on Macs, was released in 2002. Old Mac OS software can run under Mac OS X in Classic, but only on PowerPC-based Macs, the last of which was discontinued almost a year ago. Apple is apparently using some old software and hardware to document its newest product. I totally understand; FrameMaker 6 is a great piece of software, and there’s nothing like it for Mac OS X…
FrameMaker is widely regarded as a work of genius. MORE 3.1 was a work of genius.
Neither of them will run on any computer hardware sold today -- and there are no truly equivalent products from any vendor (OmniOutliner comes closest to MORE).
Creating a product as massive and complex as these software solutions, and then sustaining an original design through many iterations – that’s a rare feat. We don’t know how it’s done. It’s a lot easier to see why similar projects fail.
My guess is that you need continuity of a few very good people over at least ten years, with superb recruitment and training of replacements. That means those people have to be incented and rewarded. I think Apple knows how to do that, I have trouble naming any other large publicly traded company who has the recipe. Maybe Google?
PS. Maybe I can sell my PPC iMac (runs classic!) to a Minnesotan running FrameMaker …