Apple Ad Response
by Alan Zisman (c) 1992. Originally
published in Our Computer Player, October 16,1992
You've probably seen them, if you've looked through
any of the PC magazines
these past few months. Apple's three pages of ads, looking very
and personal. Each of these presumably personal testimonies ends with a
heart-felt "This is making it easier?" followed by Apple's response,
Who are these ads meant for? Placing them in magazines
aimed at PC users,
it's obvious that the target is the potential Windows user. This seems
to be Apple's new strategy, since their high-stakes, long-running
against Windows' creator, Microsoft, was blown out of the water. In
ads, Apple has taken a positive approach, pointing out Macintosh's
and ease of use.
In these ads, however, Apple seems to be trying to
emulate George Bush
in the 1988 election campaign: spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt
your opponent, while staying quiet about your own position. Like all
propoganda, these ads contain a series of partial truths; let's look at
the whole picture.
"All I really wanted to do was simplify my job" says
Ad #1. A noble
goal. We can all sympathize. We all sometimes feel that way working
computers (even Mac owners !) "So I bought Windows. I added extra RAM.
I bought a bigger hard disk. I replaced my video card and monitor."
for you. Windows certainly will run better and look nicer with all
upgrades. So, for that matter would a Mac. A local Mac dealer has signs
up throughout the store suggesting that customers not even think about
running the Mac's System 7 with less than 4 meg of memory. I have
running on one computer that's an old 6 mhz Compaq Deskpro 286 with
kb of memory, a 30 meg hard disk, and a Hercules monochrome monitor. It
can be done, but I wouldn't really recommend it.
"I bought a half-dozen new programs, installed a
mouse, configured the
system... " Yes, again, to get the most out of Windows, get Windows
Windows will run your old DOS programs, but if that's all you want to
why bother? And then there's Macintosh. There too, with the addition of
the SoftPC/SoftAT emulation software, you can run your old DOS software
on a Mac (as Apple liked to point out in an earlier series of ads
"Make your next PC compatible a Mac"). But for most users, that's an
bigger "why bother"? Obviously, if you buy a Mac, get Mac software. And
as for configuring the system, most users find they can use Windows'
installation, where all they need to do is feed in disks, and choose a
printer. Yes, Windows will often run better with some fiddling... so
plain DOS, or for that matter, a Mac.
"... and as I sit here watching my spreadsheet crawl
on my PC, I'm thinking
to myself, "This is making it easier"?" Again, another half truth.
environments, such as Windows or Macintosh, must do more work to draw a
screen than a standard, text-only DOS program. Excel, under Windows,
often seem slower than 1-2-3 or Quattro-Pro under DOS. Of course, so
Excel on a Mac. And comparisons reported in MacUser showed that Excel
under Windows ran faster than Excel on a Mac. (PC Magazine reported
results for PageMaker 4, doing desktop publishing on both platforms).
unless he had the minimal setup I mentioned earlier, I wouldn't report
any of my spreadsheets as "crawling" under Windows. Finally, if our
user had gotten an accelerated video card when he was upgrading hid
he'd find significant speedups running his work under Windows.
Let's go on to page two. Different hand-printing.
Another Windows horror
story, I suppose. "I Feel Like I'm Being Pecked To Death By Ducks".
phrase, that. "At $149.95 per PC, Windows sounded like a deal. Then I
all new programs at about $500 a pop". If that's how this guy is
it's no wonder he feels so bad. Anyone paying $149.95 (US) for Windows
is being robbed. And if we're to think he's going to Windows from DOS,
why'd he pay $500 per program, when he could take advantage of the
upgrade' programs that all the major software companies are offering?
let users of DOS products switch to Windows products for $100-$150
You don't even have to phone the company--- most software dealers have
these packages right on their shelves. Of course, if you buy a new
say a Mac, then you'd need to get all new software at $500 a pop.
"I shelled out a couple hundred per machine for extra
idea. See System 7 example above. "I ponied up $300 each for networking
cards." If you didn't have them already, that's what you'd need to do.
True, the Mac comes with built in AppleTalk network support, but that's
a slow, limited networking capability. To attach your new Mac to your
office network, you'd have to (yep), buy expensive networking cards.
mouse ran $100 and a bigger hard disk ran $275". I just bought a bunch
of mice for the machines at my work for $18 each. But yes, you can pay
$100 for a mouse. But Apple never mentions that the Mac is the only
I've ever seen where the KEYBOARD is not included in the package ! "And
as I stare at the invoice for what it's going to cost me to connect
all together, I think to myself, "This is making it easier"?"
Hey -- nobody ever said networking would make it
'easier'! More productive,
sure. But easier? That's why companies hire network managers -- to have
somebody to take the flack.
Finally, the last ad, titled "Sitting in coach between
two sumo wrestlers,
(I pull out my laptop)". This one is almost true. The new Mac
with their built in trackballs, are easier to use than a PC with a
'mini-mouse'. And lots of portable PCs DO have screens that "flicker at
me like a dim bulb". (We'll ignore the new generation of colour-VGA
screens (for PCs only) that are getting more and more affordable). The
PowerBook series are nice machines, but somewhat periperal to the main
thrust of this series of ads.
In this series of ads, we're comparing (sorry, I can't
and oranges. Starting new by getting a Mac vs. converting your existing
computer to a networked, Windows system. You can go out and buy a new
all equipped with lots of memory, a good-sized hard-drive, a mouse, a
high-end video, third-party network support, and built-in sound
can also go buy a new PC and get it with all the right features and
Windows pre-loaded to start up when you boot up.
And there's the rub... Windows and the Mac are similar enough in
and more and more running the same software to have Apple scared.
in a difficult situation; the Mac is technically a superior machine --
it's operating system is more elegant and easier to use than Windows'.
Despite recent price cuts, the Mac remains significantly pricier than
or even more powerful PC clones. Apple no longer has a monopoly on easy
to use, graphical computing -- it's being dragged into a competitive
where price is an important factor in buyer's decisions. And it doesn't
IBM, Compaq, Zenith, and the other high-priced PC
companies, have been
dragged unwillingly into the price-cutting competition of this new
Apple has tried to stay out of it, feeling that it wasn't selling the
product. They seem to be realizing that this is no longer the case, but
are trying a strategy of misleading advertising, rather than try to
with lower prices. While the Mac is a great computer, I don't believe
Apple's current marketing strategy will benefit the company or the