Mac Scope

Apple Should Follow Microsoft's Suggestion

Stephen Van Esch - 2002.07.17

The cat's out of the bag. Microsoft, the cute and cuddly monopoly that wouldn't dream of harming a competitor, has let the world know that it's Not Pleased with Apple and its promotion of OS X. In fact, Apple's lack of promotion has hurt Microsoft's bottom line because Office v. X isn't flying off the shelf. If more people adopted OS X then more people would be buying the OS X-only version of Office. Or at least, that's the way Microsoft sees it.

It's like shooting fish in a barrel - that's how ridiculous this charge is. Let's go over the basic arguments:

Office v. X is too expensive. I mean, come on, $499 for productivity software? Sure it's a sweet piece of software, but there are other places I can spend $499 when AppleWorks is installed on the iMac and iBook for free.

OS X's uptake is just fine, thank you very much. OS X has garnered millions of users. Could these be the same users that look at the v. X price tag and laugh?

Apple is getting a bit too uppity for Microsoft's taste. The sword dangles here. Who saved your bacon, Apple? Who keeps Office on the Mac platform? Who is you're sugar daddy? Of course, Apple has come a long way in the last five years. Maybe too far for Microsoft.

Even with these sound arguments, I think Apple should roll over on this one.

Microsoft has pretty much given Apple carte blanche to promote the living heck out of OS X. Think of the possibilities. Maybe Apple could start a cross-country tour called The OS Challenge. XP in this corner; OS X in that corner. Two users take a run at executing simple computer tasks.

May the best OS win.

Apple could also run a few ads about the software that comes bundled with OS X. Oops, no need for Office v. X, because AppleWorks is there. You can also dispense with a few after-market apps like MP3 players and movie creation software.

A few ads about the lower overall cost of ownership might also be in order. "Breaks less often than the competition." Well, we can't mention the competition by name, but you get the idea.

Maybe the "fewer viruses" angle would work? No Outlook, so no you'll never have to look like a complete moron when a virus spams your friends.

Promoting OS X means gaining more Mac users. While Apple could milk the installed base (as Microsoft seems to be suggesting), it's already realized that there's a vast Windows market available to them. The Switch ads show that they're aware of it and are pursuing it.

So where does that leave Microsoft? If Microsoft is serious about wanting OS X to gain market share, they must realize that the gain will come at the expense of their own OS. What can they say? Improve OS X market share, Apple, but don't convert Windows users to get it? Ridiculous. If, on the other hand, they don't want Apple to thrive, they have to clam up and sell fewer Office suites.

Apple should do as Microsoft says in this case and prove that OS X is a superior platform that everyone should be using.

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Stephen Van Esch is the founder and president of the E-learning Foundry, an online training resource for Mac users. Steve loves the Mac and is doubly bilingual, since he's also fluent in Windows and French.

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