NeXT was failing and idea of being bought by Apple in 1996 was a tantalizing prospect for Steve Jobs. He wanted to get back into Apple while Larry Ellison of Oracle wanted to get more money by buying Apple outright. However, Jobs wanted the moral high ground by not making money in the process of transitioning back into Apple. In 1996, Steve Jobs negotiated with Gil Amelio the purchase starting with Apple Computer buying $12 per share for $500 million valuation of NeXT. Amelio countered with $10 per share for $400 million valuation of NeXT, and Jobs agreed as long as he received a payout in cash.
Jobs gutted, and rebuilt the building that he purchased for the NeXT headquarters….twice. He wasted a lot of money on designing colourful machines at the NeXT factory much like the Macintosh factory. He also invested in an amazing factory that would be highly valued when it had to be shutdown. NeXT’s stair cases were built out of sturdy glass, an idea later applied to Apple stores. The process of ‘conbon’ was applied at NeXT. The tech office was lavish.
Gates did not like NeXT, in particular he did not like the lack of compatibility of the NeXTWorld application specifications with the rest of the software industry. When Jobs invited Gates to visit his NeXT offices, Jobs made Gates wait for 30 minutes in a glass waiting room while Jobs chatted with multiple people in clear view just to spite Gates. The two hated eachother. Gates was not cooperative largely due to external factors, just as he was with the iPhone but treating Gates poorly did not help Steve Jobs’ business development strategy. Gates thought the black casing of NeXT did not make sense, and refused to allocate staff to develop for it. Gates did not think there was a market for the NeXT computer because it was yet another closed system like Apple itself. NeXT was based on an optical disc which was impressive but Microsoft did not like the end to end control that Jobs inevitably pushed for. Steve Jobs tried to get NeXT software on the IBM in order to get further sources of revenue but by the late 198s, IBM was tanking out of the computer operating system market. The core problem was that NeXT Step was not compatible with anything! Microsoft wanted the monopoly, and Gates did everything he could to prevent Jobs from going forward with his project. Jobs cut off the possibility of NeXT clones that could expand the base of available computers in the market thereby increasing the potential sale of NeXT software but he stubbornly remained an advocate of the closed system.
The NeXT cube was difficult to manufacture because the cube was built at 90 degree angles and got stuck in the moulds. The modules/moulds were extremely expensive to fix. Jobs insisted on a mat black casing but this was indulgent at best. The screws inside the machine had to have expensive plating to hide their presence. As usual, Steve Jobs was eager to put people down at NeXT. Jobs treated his employees harshly because he believed in excellence. At Apple in 2000, the Apple Cube was a huge failure. Jobs admitted that he over priced the 2000 – 2001 Apple Cube like he had done with the NeXT computer, and the Apple stock cratered after the release of the Apple Cube in the same way that the NeXT computer under-performed after its release. History frequently repeats itself with Jobs; both success and failure.