My Turn

Steve Jobs Was Right

Stephen Ashton
2001.04.16

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

When the new iMac styles came out two months ago, the Mac community was aghast. How could Apple produce new iMacssuch an awful product? There were discussions about which hallucinogenic substances were being used at Apple HQ. I, too, was unimpressed: I love my Ruby iMac. Why would Apple want to drop such a cool colour?

But I must admit now that Steve Jobs was right.

Take a step back from the Flower Power back panel and put the Blue Dalmatian's spots out of your mind. Consider the package that is on offer. It's targeted at the computer-industries great untapped market: middle-aged women. I know it's not very politically correct to say this, but these iMac models appeals to women.

Why do I say this?

I was drooling over the G4 Cube in my local branch of PC World when a middle-aged lady and a sales assistant came over to the Blue Dalmatian iMac. They were trying to work out the difference between the much-reduced end-of-run budget Indigo iMac and this new model.

Ever ready to step in and evangelise, I pointed out that the main difference was that the newer model had a rewritable CD-ROM. Quite by luck I picked the one aspect of the new model that really sold the new iMac. I could have spoken about the increased speed or the better graphics card. I could have spoken about the AirPort capability of the newer model or the addition of a FireWire port. But I didn't. I spoke about CD-RW and pointed to the iTunes alias on the desktop. "It comes with iTunes. You pop in your CDs, put them on the computer, select your favourites, and burn them onto a CD. You've then got a compilation you can play in the car. Even better, it's easy to use!"

Sold!

But there's more! Her next question was about which colours were available. We started with Indigo, then Blue Dalmatian, and finally Flower Power. There was no competition: it had to be the Flower Power model.

This taught me three things about the new Macs:

Firstly, iTunes sells computers: particularly those with CD/RW. People will buy computers to use for real-world tasks: not just for the wow factor. I'm sure the fact that the iMac came in a bundle with a digital camera helped the sale too.

Secondly, the new schemes are not designed for seasoned Mac users. They're designed for people who are buying their first computer; those who are definitely not Unix-heads or command-line geeks. The new designs appeal to what is possibly the next big growth market in computer users.

Thirdly, ease of use clinches a sale. Computers are notorious for being hard to use. Keep it simple and those who wouldn't dream of buying a computer are genuinely interested.

Yep, Steve Jobs was right. These new iMacs may not have 17" screens, etc., etc. But they do seem to hit the spot for new users.

I just need to speak to Steve about my commission!


Stephen Ashton is a British Architect. He suffers a Windows PC at work but uses a Ruby iMac at home. He considers himself an average user, but is already using Mac OS X for 90% of his work at home.

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