February 06, 2007

Why a PC Works for Me

RECENTLY, I READ THAT Apple Corp.'s excellent "Get a Mac" television ad campaign was named Adweek's "Best Spots 2006 Campaign of the Year." I have to say I couldn't agree more with this designation. Not only are the spots funny and enjoyable to watch, I actually look forward to new ones. That's not something which happens a lot in advertising, and so I think the company and the creative team behind the ads deserve a lot of credit for their inventiveness.

Not only that, Adweek said the ads have apparently helped boost Apple's share of the total computer market from 3 pc to 5 pc, which is downright impressive when you consider the PC's dominance. After all, for years nobody used Macs except for graphic designers, journalists and college students. Now, even regular people are actually switching from PCs to Macs, even though Macs are generally more expensive than PCs.

Given this situation, it's only natural that I would dig in my heels and rant about things, even though this is a topic which generates a lot of heat. Why, right now, some Mac users and PC users are firing up their keyboards, ready to refute the most esoteric points of my bombastic screed. Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, but the comments don't work, and I don't know how to fix them, and it will be months before I can fix them. Besides, I don't have the bandwidth to play host to a flame-war between Mac and PC users, so carry on at alt-dot-whatever.

But anyway. I don't know if it's just because I identify with the PC character, or because I find him funnier, or what, but these commercials have actually made me more inclined to buy a PC. Here's just one example of the advertisements:

READER: Boy, that's downright alarming.

See! I told you! I identify with PC there, particularly because I'm prone to thinking and spitting out phrases such as, "It was nothing but pain and frustration!" Although I'm not as smooth, not by a long shot.

You see, at least with a PC, you know what you're getting -- an adequate and functional system that's relatively inexpensive and lets you balance your checkbook. I like that a lot about PCs. A Mac, on the other hand, is flashy and brilliant but it can cost considerably more, and users like me don't properly reap the benefits it offers, because we're boring.

Besides, I don't care if the Mac guy is nice and friendly and charming in the ads. The impression I have of buying a Mac is that it seems similar to the experience of buying a coffee from some overpriced, trendy cafe in which all the clerks sneer at the customers for taking a pass on the recently-overnighted fair trade organic coffee beans from Papua New Guinea, despite their heavenly drinkability and aromatic finish. Christ.

I gained this impression some time ago, during my one and only trip to an Apple retail store. In this store, the computers were made second to the alarmingly trendy decor and the staff, and all the clerks were seemingly clad in dark clothing. They were focused intently on their work, but in that way annoying people at dinner parties focus on pinot grigio -- you know, as if they've just received their sommelier's certificate. For someone like me, who considers situations like this nothing but pain and frustration, it was not a situation where I really wanted to inquire further.

Now, I'm fully willing to admit that yes, this was just one visit to one retail store, and it was a visit which lasted fewer than ten minutes. So consider that accordingly. Further, I admit I did not actually speak with any of the employees, I admit one can purchase a Mac online and cut out all the rigamarole, and I admit Macs are better for many users who need the high-end graphical power they provide. I don't want to deny any of those things. My point is simply this: the act of walking into that store was like walking into a fancy restaurant where one doesn't have a reservation. It just didn't seem friendly.

Thus, Apple might -- and I stress might, because things are going well for them -- want to consider tweaking things, or adding a less-intense shopping experience for those customers who are only interested in a computer and not a lifestyle. But, like I said, that's just me.

In the meantime, though, I'm certainly going to look forward to many of the Mac v. PC ads as they roll down the pike. Who knows? They might just convince me yet.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at February 6, 2007 06:17 PM | TrackBack
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