Monday, January 17, 2005

Why Apple is good for America

I'll be upfront. I don't own a MAC. Used them before, sure. But I don't own one and I don't plan to in the next 5 years (or how ever long before my Dell decided to die). I have never used an Ipod. Seen it. Heard lots about it. Even seen the commercials. But I've never used and Ipod.

But I think Apple is great for America, and here is why.

It's about capitalism, free markets, and competition.

If there has been one thing Apple has done poorly with over the last 20 years, it has been its ability to market itself to the population as a whole. The Mac OS is stable, easy to use, and visually attractive.

So attractive that Microsoft decided to rip much of it off and sell as its own invention.

Mac users are a strange, cult like bunch. Many tell me that they will never go back to the digital slavery that Bill Gates commands.

So, why would I ever switch from a PC to a Mac? That is the question that I ask. And I have found no answer. What is worse is that in all my years of television commercial watching, Apple has never given me an answer either.

The vast majority of Americans over the age of 30 first got to know computers from their work place.

Those of us under 30 may remember using the Apple IIE in the classroom. But wholesale everyday use of the desktop computer was mostly a business affair because of the prohibitive costs involved. It took about 10 years for that transition from work related PC use to home use take become a necessity. The evolution of the Internet to bring mindboggling amounts of pornography to your home computer had much to do with that. And in that time, a large portion of America became entrenched in MS product usage. There was no need for PC users to buy a home computer than wasn't compatible with what they were using at work and there was even less a desire to learn how to use a new operating system. Especially one whose major selling point was better visual graphics/visual editing.

And outside of the Mac OS, Apple had never been able to bring in newer technology/products that would give anyone the need to take more interest in the company's technological advances.

Until the IPod.

When marketing a product to a potential client base, the most important thing is to show the customer why they need to have your merchandise. The goal is to establish a beachhead in the customers' minds as the importance of your product to their everyday lives. And just as having 10 years of PC work related experience gave home users a reason to buy a PC for their home, by Apple making the IPod a personally important product to have, they will give people a reason to look at their Mac OS as a viable home computer option.

The introduction of the MiniMac is another step forward for Apple in breaching the wall Microsoft has built for itself around the consumers?buying habits. By making a computer that already fits all of the peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse) that the consumer already has, it makes it easier for people to just try the Mac platform. And being just $499, it is priced at such a point that some people will buy it just to give it a chance.

All of this goes back to one of the main pillars of capitalism and open markets: competition.

Competition leads to innovation. But when the MS platform is run on over 75% of all of the computers in the world, there isn't much need to make better and more stable products. By combining humans' love for music (IPod) with a viable and competitively priced product for home/work usage (Mac), Apple is finally looking to give people a viable alternative to Microsoft based products. If Apple can continue to incorporate their products with open standards technology (tech that is OS platform neutral) it should be able to continue its slow erosion of the MS Empire on our daily lives. And in the end, if that happens, MS will be forced to make better and more stable products. Everyone wins.

Who knows, maybe someday I'll own a Mac. But until that happens, I will continue to root for the underdog. It can only make the PC better, and that is great for America.

Update: I was just rereading the MiniMac page. I want one. Bad. IPod too. Accepting


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