Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Mac isn't easy to talk about

I probably should give up on BusinessWeek, if Apple followed all the advice given it by them they would be long gone.

He flogs price on almost every point, 1) drop the price, 2) make it cheap and cool, 3) make it cheap by removing the monitor 4) make it cheap by offering a trade-in allowance, 5) Let the buyers try it before buying it. This one I actually think is a good idea. I have noticed that when people have 2-3 weeks to try a Mac they get over their Windows conditioning and start learning the Mac way and things start working better for them, though it is them changing and not the computer. and finally 6) Sell security, I am ambivalent about this one, because though OS X has not real viruses right now, to advertise that fact prominently would be seen as a challenge and so we might end up with a bunch of viruses, though it would take a very long time to catch up to Windows.

This advice is part of that inward gaze of cost control that companies take when they have no ability to innovate. Apple can innovate just fine, thank you very much, A mac costs about the same as any feature-comparable Windows box on the market usually less. Even if you take the lowest end computer out there by the time you add all the things you need to to make it feature comparable to the Mac you end up with a computer that costs even more then the Mac. I have long ago realized that you get what you pay for. The lowest cost stuff costs too much of my time to fiddle with to get working. I need stuff that works right away and always so I can be productive.

Strategy of Best
Apple makes some of the best quality computers around. They may not be the very first out with something but when they pick up a technology and run with it the entire industry tends to follow them. USB, Firewire, WiFi (Airport), and iTunes/iPod are all examples of that. Apple should not cheapen their position by going for commodity status.

The Headless iMac
I have seen the headless iMac talked about all over the Web and I am very doubtful that Apple would go there again. What do you mean again? Surely you remember the Cube debacle. I think Apple learned a lesson there. A cheap headless computer doesn't sell unless it is big-time expandable. Is that the right lesson? It is hard to tell without another test as everyone suggests with an enclosure with the guts of an iMac. I just don't see them doing it for a while yet, they can't afford the reputation damage a market failure that could be.

Try Before you Buy
I really like this idea. Changing computer platforms is a big risk for most people, getting their data across and installing the correct software is a very big deal. Microsoft has some intellectual lock-in going here. It is so hard just moving from Windows 9x to Windows XP that they think it must be even harder to switch to a completely different platform. Letting people bring in their PCs to Apple Stores and having everything migrated and some training time for free would be fantastic. If Apple takes all the risk of getting everything moved over and up & running, with 30 days to try it, it would allay most peoples fears. They could even do it on-site for a nominal fee.

Computer Risks
I just had a Thingish Thought after that last paragraph. There is some risk in changing computer platforms though not all that much, a few files here in there might not transfer perfectly.

However, there is a huge perceived risk in moving away from Windows for most people. Every Windows user has horror stories about when their computer died just when they needed it most. The perception is that Windows is popular because it is the best and therefore everything else is worse then Windows and since Windows is so bad that it is barely usable then anything else must not work at all and why would I waste my time.

The Mac isn't easy to talk about
The unofficial slogan for the Mac is "It just Works." I have seen it many times and there are lots of stories on the Web about someone being introduced to the Mac and doing something and going, "That's it? That was easy!"

The Mac is easy to show, if you have one there both of you can be in front of and do stuff to, preferably the new guy running the show and the Mac person just hinting at the way to go. People are amazed at just how easy it can be.

The real problem is that the Mac is not so easy to talk about. This is definitely a case of a picture is worth a thousand words. We need an easy way to talk about the Mac like Atkins is an easy way to talk about dieting. "It just works" is a great slogan but doesn't mean much to people who have not yet used a Mac.

It is a little better now, with iLifes' "It's Microsoft Office for the rest of your life." and Searchlights' "Like Google for your harddrive." but really doesn't do it justice. I need to think about this more.

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