Tis the season to be jolly . . . and to hand out the "A PC of the Action" awards.
While not quite in the same spirit as the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony or the Grammy, lord knows this industry needs a little spice of humor in a year that has seen it go from the depths of depression all the way to the depths of despair.
Indeed, some would argue these "A PC of the Action" awards even fall outside the holiday spirit of cherished memories and warm regards. I can only respond that handing them out is at least consistent with the spirit of giving.
But, like so many of its brethren in the personal-computer field, these awards fall in the vaporware category. There is no cash; there are no prizes. No calligraphic scrolls, either. There's just the dubious achievement of seeing one's name in print. Okay -- at least a couple of the awards are serious. . . .
[The rest of this column should be read either while listening to John P. Sousa music (The Washington Post March is nice) or a symphony of 35 kazoos playing "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."]
*The "Kill Your Mom and Dad and Beg for Mercy on the Grounds You're an Orphan" Chutzpah Award to: IBM, for killing off the PCjr this spring and then running full-page ads in newspapers recently asking people to take a PCjr home for the holidays. It's the sort of thing that gives inventory liquidation a bad name.
*The "You're a Bum. You're a Jerk. You Don't Understand; Now Give Me $4,000 and I'll Throw in a Pack of Floppy Discs -- Now Get Outta Here" Award to: too many computer stores salespeople.
*The "Shakeout? What Shakeout?" Award to: Compaq Computers, which racked up a record sales year while other PC companies were seeking mergers, acquisitions or the safe harbor of bankruptcy court.
*The "Bankruptcy of the Year" Award to: There were too many nominees for the committee to adequately and fairly evaluate all of them. But we appreciated each and every submission. However, Gavilan Computer, which aspired to be the IBM of lap-top computers and ended up costing venture capitalists huge sums of money, was the clear sentimental favorite.
*The "Macintosh Boogies, But Does It Sell?" Award to: Lotus Development Corp. and Apple Computer jointly. Apparently, all that jazz wasn't enough to boost Mac sales, which have not been what Steve Jobs would have liked them to be by this Christmas.
*The "Shore Is Purty, But What Does It Do?!" Award to: the Commodore Amiga, a gorgeous bit of technology that delights hackers but, at $1,295, leaves most family folk unimpressed as to functionality.
*The "Best New-Wave PC TV Ad" Award to: hands down, Commodore for its Commodore 128 music-video ad. It could make the MTV rotation if the drums were stronger.
*The "Please, Please, Please Don't Call Melvin Belli" Award to: Lotus Development Corp., which discovered that a bug in its Symphony program caused it to erase huge quantities of data on its users' discs.
*The "Oh No! Not Her Again!" Award to: Dr. Joyce Brothers, endorser extraordinaire, who entered the PC industry this year by endorsing a program called "Intracourse." Guess what it does?
*The "Quote of the Year" Award to: Fred Hoar, former flack for Apple Computer, then flack for Gavilan and now with the (noncomputer) Raychem for his "The personal computer industry is entering a new chapter in its history -- Chapter 11."
*The "Lazarus, Never Say Die" Award to: Microsoft, which has, after two years, finally released its Windows operating system.
*The "Survivor of the Year and, Jeez, He's Got Sharp Teeth" Award to: Jack Tramiel, who is still running Atari and is actually shipping products that people are buying.
*The "Best Jobs Hunter" Award to: Apple's lawyers.
*The "Surprise Best-Seller of the Year" Award to: the Tandy 1000 IBM compatible.
*The "Protectors of Free Speech and First Amendment John Zenger Lookalike" Award to: Tandy Corp., for petulantly canceling all of its ads in CW Communications publications after Infoworld gadfly gossip John Dvorak wrote nasty things about it.
*The "Greta Garbo . . . I Want to Be Alone -- Honest" Award to: Apple CEO John Sculley, ex-Pepsi exec who gets himself on the cover of Business Week; fulsomely praised in Fortune; keynoter at virtually all major industry gatherings; employer of Silicon Valley PR maven Regis McKenna -- who complains that his moves at Apple are covered with the same intensity as the cast changes on Dynasty. John, I'm sorry. Let me buy you a Coke.
*The "Most Brilliant Marketing Move" Award to: There were no nominees in this category.
*The "Almost Most Brilliant Marketing Move" Award to: Phillipe Kahn of Borland, who is single-handedly shaking up the software industry through a shrewd blend of innovation and price cutting. Will he be around next year?
*The "Lemmings" Award to: the PC media people -- including myself -- who sometimes blindly follow a story or trend that leads to nowhere for either ourselves or the reader. We all hope to do better next year.
Looking forward to seeing what next year brings in the way of a PC of the action.