The Practical Mac

Are Mac Users Losers?

- 2002.06.25 - Tip Jar

Love them or hate them, but you won't find many people who are ambivalent about Apple's new "Switch" advertising campaign. This series of television ads features different Windows users telling their real-life story about switching to a Mac.

These are some of the boldest ads I have seen since 1984. The "Think Different" series, while elegant, were somewhat on the highbrow side. Apple Computer, Grey Poupon mustard, Cadillac. Apple painted itself as a niche computer company for the creative elite

That was fine in the days of OS 8 and 9 (and maybe even accurate). With OS X, the rules of the game have changed, and Apple's marketing strategy has apparently changed along with it.

Mac OS X, the most stable consumer OS ever, has raised the bar several notches. The Mac is no longer just for the artistic crowd; it is now a computer for the rest of us.

Oh, sorry, that one's been taken.

Opinions on this subject are so varied that we are presenting our readers with a customizable, do-it-yourself column on the "Switch."

Steve Jobs has

  1. finally
  2. foolishly

quit tiptoeing around and is taking direct shots at Microsoft Windows. Such a tactic will undoubtedly lead to Apple

  1. greatly increasing its market share because users will know the real story about how superior Macs are.
  2. going bankrupt because ticking off Microsoft will cause them to retaliate by ceasing production of Office for Mac.

The effect of these ads will be

  1. far-reaching
  2. insignificant

because they depict

  1. real people with real stories.
  2. losers who don't know how to use a computer.

The ads

  1. are a breath of fresh air.
  2. give Apple justification for firing their public relations firm.

By taking this new direction in Apple's advertising, it firmly establishes Steve Jobs as

  1. the savior of Apple Computer that he has always been depicted to be.
  2. a notch above Gil Amelio, but not as successful as John Scully.

The "Switch" ads have been praised as well as berated. I recently read an article on this subject (Monday night at the Single's Club? Apple's Real People) by Andrew Orlowski on The Register. I agree with most of what Andrew writes, but I differ with him over his classification of the people chosen for the ads as "a stark collection of life's losers."

I am a fan of National Public Radio. Wherever I go, one of my first orders of business is to find the local NPR station and program it on my car radio. My travels have taken me to the Los Angeles area on a fairly regular basis. While there, I always listen to the NPR affiliate KCRW in Santa Monica. It just so happens that Liza Richardson, a DJ there, is featured in one of the Apple "Switch" ads. Anyone who has ever listened to her Saturday night show, "The Drop," would know that Liza may be many things, but she is certainly not a loser!

In Memoriam

By now most of you know of the unfortunate death of Mac columnist Rodney O. Lain last week. I did not know Rodney personally. However, we have exchanged a number of emails over the years.

A columnist's purpose in life is to provoke thought. Rodney was the consummate columnist. It is appropriate that I issue my parting thoughts for Rodney at the end of this column.

Feelings ran strongly where Rodney was concerned. You loved his writing or you hated it, but you were definitely not ambivalent.

Rest in peace. LEM

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Steve Watkins is the Vice President for Information Technology for a mid-sized bank, an attorney, and an Army Reserve JAG on extended active duty. He has been a Mac user for about 12 years. He has owned some PCs along the way - but always came back to the Mac. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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