When I was first getting into graphics, I yearned for a Mac (but could not afford one). That was way back when they were beige: not cool, but highly functional.
However, when they started that whole PC vs. Mac (Geek vs. Mr Cool) campaign, that really killed it for me. I can see why it worked: it played on base emotions, because nobody wants to be called a Geek – and you still see it played out in forum discussions: the superior, smug, “we’re cool” attitude. That marketing approach was pure genius, and the only fallout was to lose people like me who had already experienced too much of that in real life. No big deal, for the Cult of Mac had been well and truly cemented.
So it didn’t really matter if the marketing campaigns that came after it were boring and unimaginative: the consumer already had in mind that the product was the personification of cool. And I think Apple rested on its laurels, marvelling in this apparition it had created.
Now they need to do something, because that Cool has been tarnished by the likes of Samsung, which has used a similar strategy to say, We’re Young, We’re Really Cool, We’re Not Smug… Or to put it another way: Think Different… don’t be an Apple Sheep. It’s the same emotional marketing technique, simply updated and turned around.
However, I think Apple’s marketing team were not entirely wrong in their criticisms. Apple has some great products, but they are falling behind.
At work I use both a Dell with Windows 7 and a Mac with OSX Mavericks. I think the Apple hardware is generally unmatched, but if you were to ask me which OS I prefer, Windows 7 wins hands down.
There’s no danger that Apple will lose out to Microsoft of course, because MS is simply rubbish at consumer marketing and their brand-name is too tarnished with alleged Geekery, Greed and Arrogance.
But they will lose out to newer, younger companies, who have marketing clout and the ability to say We are New and Different.
Apple needs to find a way to say, We are not middle-aged and boring. That might mean fewer commercials featuring old men rambling on about technical matters against a white background. But they also probably need to realise that most of us are happy buying a compromised, less perfected product that hits the right price point.
If I had the money to buy my own Mac Book Pro, I’d buy a Dell XPS 18 instead.
And here ends my sermon for the day.