I can’t keep quiet about this anymore. Will somebody please explain something to me? I just saw Apple's umpteenth "Get a Mac" PC vs. Mac commercial, this one addressing User Account Control (UAC). I've wondered for a while now whether anyone from Microsoft has seen any of these ads? I’m assuming no one has, or we’d have seen some kind of return volley. Right?
Now, I don’t own Microsoft stock, and I’m not particularly a Microsoft cheerleader: If the company wants to yield the PC/OS field to Apple, hey, that's cool. I’m sure the Apple world has room for at least one more consultant/speaker/trainer/author/columnist guy. But, then again, I’d have to learn a bunch of new stuff and heck, I’m pretty busy these days, so I’d rather not.
To give credit where credit is due, the "Get a Mac" ad series is nothing short of brilliant. The PC guy is just enough of a loser, the Mac guy is just hip enough, and the resulting effect is that Apple is teasing Microsoft while not getting mean-spirited. The Mac guy is almost friendly to the PC guy, often sympathetic to the PC guy for his limitations—but the sympathy is laced with just enough contempt to get the point across.
Much of the credit has to go to Steve Jobs as perhaps the computer industry’s marketeer extraordinaire. (Perhaps Pepsi should hire him as its CEO; I seem to recall that the two companies have a long-standing relationship that way.) Here’s a guy who runs Apple's famous 1984 ad, which showed PC users imprisoned in an inflexible industry, from which Jobs and Apple promised to save us all: Macs would free us from PCs!
Hmmm, let’s see. In the PC realm, I can buy my hardware from any one of a bazillion vendors, but I have to buy my OS from Bill Gates. In the Apple world, by contrast, I have to buy both hardware and software from Steve Jobs. This is a marketing triumph on par with Wisk explaining that its laundry detergent was the only cure for the dreaded “ring around the collar.” (The simplest cure for “those dirty rings,” of course, was to wash your filthy neck in the morning before putting the shirt on.)
And then there are the media images of Windows PCs and Macs. For decades, I’ve heard that the Mac-using population represents a pretty steady 3 to 5 percent of the computer-using community, so roughly one in 20 to 30 computer users has a Mac. And yet, whenever I see people using a computer on TV or in the movies, I'm seeing a trend: People who are intelligent, likeable, and/or creative use Macs. Boring business people in suits use nondescript, black Windows PCs. Aliens intercepting our TV and movie transmissions would assume that about half of the Earth's population uses Macs. (Wait! So that’s why those computers on the alien ship in Independence Day were Mac-compatible!)
I’m guessing that Microsoft’s silence is borne of the idea that if it responds to Apple's ads, it would merely draw more attention to Apple, and thus double the value of Apple's advertising dollar. Sure, that’s sometimes valid, but at this point, everyone has already seen the Mac ads. The gauntlet’s been thrown down, Microsoft. Maybe it’s time to pick it up.