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President of Mac clone maker quits in frustration over talks with Apple

August 20, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Joel Kocher, the hard-driving president of Power Computing Corp., on Tuesday quit in frustration with management over the pace of licensing talks between the largest maker of Macintosh clones and Apple Computer Inc.

His resignation comes amid a swirl of rumors that Apple has been talking to Power Computing about buying it to solve its licensing dilemma. A Power Computing spokesman declined to comment on the merger speculation. An Apple spokeswoman said the company doesn’t comment on rumors.

Kocher, who was instrumental in Power Computing’s rapid growth since it was born in 1993, had tried to rally public support against Apple’s ambivalence in sharing its technology with companies that license the Mac operating system to make copy-cat machines.

Mike Rosenfelt, the Power Computing spokesman, declined to elaborate on Kocher’s differences with company management. Kocher wasn’t available for comment.

However, Kocher recently has clashed with Power Computing chief executive Steve Kahng. Kocher publicly berated Apple at the MacWorld convention in Boston two weeks ago, in contrast with Kahng’s less confrontational style.

``What it really comes down to is that the styles behind Kahng and Kocher were clearly at odds, and that particular incident put a pretty negative spin on Power Computing,″ said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Research International, an industry research group in San Jose.

Apple, which is struggling for its survival, is embroiled in crucial talks with Power Computing and other clone makers over how much it should charge to license its technology and when it should make it available to them.

Apple launched its strategy of letting other companies make Macs to help sustain the popularity of the operating system against encroachments by computers running on Microsoft’s Windows. But the clonemakers’ tack of selling cheaper Macs has robbed sales from Apple as it struggles through the worst downturn in its two-decade history.

“I unfortunately have irreconcilable differences with Power Computing management over the way in which to move forward on the Apple licensing issue,” Kocher said in a statement.

“I wish Power Computing, the employees and the Mac platform the best during this difficult, uncertain period. I sincerely hope that Apple Computer ultimately does the right thing for the Mac community.”

Kocher’s resignation also could have implications for the future leadership of Apple. He is on a short list of high-tech executives who have been mentioned as candidates to become Apple’s next chief executive, and his resignation from Power Computing eliminates one potential barrier.

Conversely, Kocher’s confrontational style against Apple could have hurt his chances to be Apple’s next CEO.

Kocher, 40, joined Round Rock, Texas-based Power Computer as president and chief operating officer in December 1996. He previously had been president of Dell USA and head of worldwide marketing, sales and service. Before he left in 1994, Dell enjoyed torrid growth, climbing to more than $3.6 billion in revenue.

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