Mac Scope

Mac Myths and the Apple Challenge

Stephen Van Esch - 2003.04.16

I'm the lone Mac user among my circle of friends. This makes me a bit of a black computer sheep for some reason or other. Occasional digs from my PC friends are lobbed my way - along with the inevitable questions regarding how to get their Wintel boxes to work correctly.

These friends are well-educated and normal folks (for the most part). They are, I believe, right in Apple's target market. Decent disposable income, more interested in the computer as a means to an end instead of an end in itself, and keen to avoid computer "issues."

So why is it that I still hear the tired old "problems" with the Mac from this crowd? These aren't necessarily attacks on the platform but more curious questions that should have long ago been laid to rest.

A sampling:

"Aren't Macs more expensive than Windows machines?"
"I have a Windows machine at work. Can I use a Mac?"
"Is there any software available for the Mac?"

Now, the answers to these questions are easy enough (No, Yes, and Yes, if you're wondering). The problem is why am I still answering questions that I've been answering for the last five years? There seems to be something fundamental missing from the Apple marketing equation that is letting a lot of folks fall through the cracks.

It's not that Apple advertising is missing these folks, but the fact that the advertising seems to be doing a poor job of debunking the myths. What more can Apple do to turn things around?

While ads are great, it's hard to get the message across in 20 seconds.

Perhaps Apple should consider being a little more direct with their promotions. For example, they could have a nationwide Apple store demo day where they could challenge users to walk into any Apple store with their best Apple myth and have it debunked. Perhaps users could bring in a peripheral that's giving them trouble and see if it actually works better on the Mac. Apple could even challenge users to send documents from software programs and open them in the store for customers to prove that Mac software is compatible.

This aggressive marketing style would likely drum up a fair amount of buzz and would bring people into the Apple stores. The downside: It would likely bring in a bunch of biased Wintel goons out to make some kind of statement.

In any event, Apple has to be more aggressive in debunking myths regarding the Mac.

Has anyone seen a rise in Apple market share in the last few years? I suspect that misconceptions regarding Apple are holding them back.

Then again, I might just be impatient. Apple is making decent inroads into the corporate sphere and definitely winning fans across the board.

I just wish I didn't have to keep repeating myself when it comes to Mac questions.

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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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