2001: Last time I outlined the basic Mac Populist user. To recap: The Mac Populist believes that Macs should appear on every desk in every home and office. Their interpretation of “The Computer for the Rest of Us” is that the Mac is a computer meant for the mass market, and its destiny is to be the machine that dethrones the “suits” who champion computers that are hard to use and frustrate users.
While this may sound like a perfectly reasonable interpretation of “The Computer for the Rest of Us,” other interpretations exist.
One such interpretation is that “The Computer for the Rest of Us” is the computer for the people who “get it”. Some Mac users clearly feel that using a Mac marks them as a different breed. They are not the type of people who follow the masses or conform to computer industry norms.
Much of this attitude can be attributed to Apple’s marketing. A small market share along with the slogans “The Computer for the Rest of Us” and “Think Different” has created a brand that has (more or less) created an aura of exclusivity around Apple machines. The Think Different ad campaign in particular compounds this exclusionist perception.
While the Think Different ad campaign was undoubtedly formed to help the buying public realize that Apple was out to smash accepted computer industry wisdom, their use of high profile figures that are anything but ordinary people helped create the exclusionist subtext.
Of course, there are many Mac users who truly believe that their choice of computer platform makes a serious statement about who they are or, in this case, are not. They are not the buttoned-down, mainstream, tie wearing, sheeplike public. They are individuals in the computing world. They are the people that feel they march to the tune of a different drummer.
“The Rest of Us” in this case is the people who are not “them” in the commercial. However, the exclusivist believes that the “them” (conformist, boring, stodgy people) are not restricted to the business world but include all those poor people who don’t realize that there are alternatives and willingly buy Windows.
Of course, the exclusivist enjoys some smug satisfaction about her or his computer choice. They are wiser, more independent, and less prone to follow the herd.
While the Populist user wants to see a Mac on every desk, the exclusivist would prefer that the Mac remains a niche product. If the Mac becomes ubiquitous, they will just be another face in the crowd, one of the herd.
Of course, I’ve been generalizing in these two columns. Every person is different. For some, the Mac means a lot; to others, it is nothing more than a tool that gets the job done.
Invariably, I find that most Mac users fall somewhere in between. They’d like to see a Mac on every desktop but are content to be part of a minority platform.