The Practical Mac

Apple, Apple Everywhere

- 2002.10.01 - Tip Jar

I don't know if it is OS X, the "Switch" campaign, a combination of both, or something else entirely, but Apple Computer's profile is higher than at any time in recent memory.

Sure, they are profitable at a time when almost no other computer company can make such a claim. Yes, the new iMacs are going out the door literally as fast as they come off the assembly line. But the real measure of success can be found in the periphery.

Let's first look at books. There was a point, about two years ago, when I went into a Borders bookstore and found a grand total of three - count 'em, three - Mac related books. One was a current "How To Use Your iMac" book, one was on System 7 (we were up to 9.0 at the time), and the other dealt with a two-version old release of ClarisWorks.

How times have changed. I went in that same Borders last week and found over 100 Mac titles. Yes, some were duplicates, but let's face it: When was the last time you saw duplicates of Mac books on any bookstore shelf?

That same day I visited the Atlanta Micro Center. Over the last year or so, their supply of Mac books had grown exponentially as well. The thing I find most amusing is all the older titles that have all of a sudden found shelf space. On the shelf in Micro Center was a book on programming Rhapsody, covering both the PowerPC and Intel versions of the OS. As Dave Barry would say, I swear I'm not making this up! It is as if, since Apple's resurgence, every store has decided to empty their warehouse of old Apple items and try to move them.

Rhapsody was one of the many code names Apple's next generation OS, which was in development for several years, was tagged with. As we know, the name which stuck was OS X.

How about third-party retailers? CompUSA allegedly sold Macs for years before I actually noticed one in their store. I have been a regular visitor to several in the Atlanta area, as well as ones in Knoxville, TN, and Lexington, KY. Not only is the Apple area expanded and stocked to the brim, but they now actually have sales people who can converse intelligently about Macs.

The Atlanta Micro Center was remodeling their Apple department last time I was in, but I have not been back to see the outcome of it. I have noticed some subtle changes. They once stocked cross-platform commodity items such as CD-Rs, notebook batteries, etc., in the Mac area. I guess it made it look more "full." Now all that is gone back in the "storage media" aisle. You will only find actual Mac merchandise in the Mac section.

I have previously written about the explosion of Mac software, but the supply seems to grow each time I go to the Apple Store, CompUSA, or Micro Center. Companies do not invest the time and money to develop software for platforms that have no future.

iBooks are rapidly becoming the computer of choice for Linux and Unix power users. At the last Linux Expo, Apple-manufactured notebooks represented a plurality of the portables I observed. Apple is making a concerted effort to market OS X to the hard-core Unix community.

Apple is building their success and expanding their user base not only through their marketing, but also the old-fashioned way: One user at a time.

My wife, Kay, is not a computer junkie by any stretch of the imagination. She uses her computer for work and does not wish to know any more than she needs to know to do her job. About two years ago, her Windows 98 PC crashed, taking with it her address book and tons of accumulated documents. It was not the first time this had happened to her Windows PC, but it was by far the worst. She was fed up with computers and vowed to go back to doing things manually.

Realizing I had to take radical measures to restore her faith in technology, I brought home an iMac and asked her to give computers one more chance. She did, and her faith has been rewarded. The iMac gave her so few problems compared to Windows that she started telling her friends and family.

Since we upgraded to OS X over a year ago, she has not had a single crash, lockup, or failure. Her computer operates as expected all day, every day. She is able to work unhindered and be productive. In other words, the Mac does not get in the way of productivity the way Windows did.

When we are out with friends and the conversation turns to computers (as it inevitably does, since I am an IT Director and all Windows users have PC problems), Kay never fails to happily tell everyone how she used to have those problems, but not anymore.

"You don't need Steve to fix your computer problems," she will say, "I can do that for you: Just buy a Mac!" Now that's visibility no amount of advertising can buy. 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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