The World Is A PC

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Microsoft is now doing a bunch of “I’m a PC” ads.

I guess the Apple ads got under its skin, like a flea getting under the skin of an elephant.

The ads essentially say, “Human beings, even some cool ones, use PCs.”  I’m sorry, but this is an awfully wimpy response from the elephant.  When an elephant is confronted by a flea, he should do one of two things: ignore it or step on it. 

Should MS decide to step on the flea, they ought to make ads that incorporate the following facts:

1) Macs are very unpopular compared to PCs: Apple sold about 2.5 million Macs to the world last quarter.  That may seem like a lot, and for Apple, they are.  Their sales are definitely up considerably over the last two years. 

However, the world bought 72 million PCs last year.  This gives Apple a whopping 3.5% world market share, which means PCs have the other 96.5%.  Yes, 3.5% is definitely better than the 2-2.5% it was getting just a few years back, but when you go from losing 98-2 to losing 97-3, yes, that’s an improvement, but . . . .

That 3.5% doesn’t even look too good compared to some of Apple’s sales in the past.  Back in 1995, Apple sold 4.5 million Macs out of a total 50 million PCs sold.  That was 9% world market share, or 2.5 times as much as it is now.  Put another way, the average computer buyer is less than half as likely to buy a Mac in 2008 as he or she was in 1995. 

2) Where the future is, Macs aren’t:  PCs are a worldwide phenomenon.  Less than one in four PCs are now sold in the United States.  Asian PCs sales are now about double that of the United States.  There is absolutely no doubt that this difference will continue and grow in the future.     

The story is quite different for Macs.  Over half of the Macs sold in the world are sold in the United States.  Europe represents most of the rest.  Japan buys 4% of the total, and total Asian sales are probably around 10%.  Yes, if you look at the U.S. alone, Apple had almost an 8% market share last quarter, but market share in Asia is probably less than 1%.  The growth markets in the PC industry are in Asia, and Macs aren’t there. 

3. It’s just a PC!! Repeat after me, a Mac is just a PC.  There is no hardware difference between the two machines any more, they use the same type processor and are built with the same off-the-shelf PC components.**  The only technical difference between the two is that a Mac has some added routines built-in to allow the use of MacOsX.  That’s it.  If anyone says the Mac is better because it looks nicer, they are shallow people who are literally judging a book by its cover. 

(**What is true is that the average Mac will have a faster Intel processor than, say, the average Dell, but that’s because you have no choice in the matter with Apple.  It’s also true that Apple will occasionally make available PC technologies standard a bit earlier than the PC manufacturer, which might be good if you actually use, say, a Firewire port, not so good if you don’t.)

The only grounds upon which Apple/Mac users can possibly claim any measure of superiority is in software, simply because there is no difference in the hardware.  The funny thing about that is that the average Mac user can’t explain to you why MacOSX is better if you ask them for specifics; they almost always get mystical on you. 

Oh, they’ll mention a few concrete talking points, but when you look at them closely, you’ll see that these “advantages” would vanish if Macs ever became successful.  Take “Macs can’t get viruses.”  First, there aren’t as many viruses out there these days, it’s much more lucrative writing ad/spy/malware.  Second, Macs certainly can get viruses.  Third, it’s true Macs generally don’t get viruses, but that’s just because there’s so few of them around compared to PCs.  If you’re out to wreak havoc, who are you going to target, 97% of the market, or 3%?  Finally, what do you think is going to happen when a serious virus-writer does target that 3%, who think they can’t get a virus? 

4) The unifying theme: Look at who uses them!!  Any ad which just said what I just said would be boring, no, dreadful.  You can’t tell this story, you have to show it, and the way to show it is through the Mac user.  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here.  Take the hit that all MS can do is copy Apple, and use the same format, even the same look Apple does with the PC/Mac commercials.  Just turn the tables on the Mac guy.  If you can’t spoof Mac users as shallow, self-centered pompous asses ad infinitum, you’d better hang it up. 

Here’s a few starters:

PC Guy: How come nobody buys Macs?
Mac Man: Only cool people buy Macs.
PC Guy: (points to graph showing Mac share drop since 1995) How come there’s a lot fewer cool people around these days?
Mac Guy: Macs have become sooo much cooler that only the very coolest people, like me, qualify to own one.  That and global warming.      

PC Guy: If Macs are so easy to use, why do you need Apple Geniuses in Apple Stores?
Mac Man: Because Mac users need to talk to equals.  
PC Guy: But if nothing ever goes wrong with a Mac, what do you have to talk about?
Mac Guy: We talk about what geniuses we are.     

PC Guy: Why should I buy a Mac rather than a PC?
Mac Man: Because they are superior.  
PC Guy: How are they superior?
Mac Guy: Is it not obvious?
PC Guy: Well, no.  
Mac Man: You need to evolve some more.    
PC Guy: Couldn’t you just tell me why?
Mac Guy: Words cannot even begin to explain.  Only the greatest minds can understand and appreciate such wonders, and such people have no need for explanations.  All the deserving few need to do to get it is sit in a lotus position and chant, “MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAC” for a few hours everyday until enlightenment comes.   Would you like to join me? 

I know, MS will never do it, but wouldn’t it be incredibly entertaining if they did?

Ed

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