by Alan Zisman (c) 2003 First published in Columbia Journal
, September 2003
may remember the ad campaign from a couple of years ago… the copy read:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who
see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we
see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can
change the world—are the ones who do. Think different”.
when you read ‘Think different’ you think ‘Apple Computer’ then the ad
campaign’s efforts worked. (If you think ‘Should be think differently’
than your high school English teacher’s efforts worked).
last month’s column, we saw how Microsoft’s near-monopoly on personal
computer operating systems and office software, and the company’s
fierce determination to maintain its market share have won it the
less-than-complimentary nickname of ‘The Evil Empire’ from some
computer users. If you’re looking for an alternative, Apple hopes that
your desire to ‘think different’ will lead you to look their way.
company has its roots in the counter-culture of the 1960s and 70s,
originating in the mid-1970s as a two-person startup in a garage in Silicon Valley. Its founders, Steve Jobs and Steve
Wozniak (the ‘two Steves’) had a success with their early Apple II
personal computers, and the company grew rapidly. But IBM’s 1980
entrance to the personal computer market (their original IBM PC was
powered by Microsoft’s DOS) kept Apple out of the rapidly-growing
business market. Apple countered in 1984 with their Macintosh line of
computers, the first popular model to feature a computer mouse, a user
interface that was easier to use, and that showed documents on screen
that looked they way they would print out.
Mac debuted with a TV ad (directed by Ridley Scott of the movie
‘Bladerunner’) that featured an army of depressed, uniformly-dressed
worker drones, being lectured to on a big screen. Oppression ends when
an athletic woman hurls a sledge-hammer, smashing the screen. The
tagline: Macintosh—why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’.
the twenty years since, Apple has built a successful business by
maintaining its rebel cachet, with its Macintosh computers becoming the
favourite for artists, graphics and web designers, musicians, and other
creative professionals. But there’s been a tension there: despite early
ads claiming they were ‘the computer for the rest of us’, with Macs
priced higher than PCs, true starving artists have been tending
(especially lately) to use low-priced (or free) PC clones, perhaps
running some of the free, open-source alternatives to Microsoft’s
Windows and Office that I’ll look at next month.
Apple deserves credit for continuing to do things its own way; to
produce consistently produce computer hardware and software that isn’t
yet another beige PC clone. Apple’s products are more stylish and
better integrated than any PC. And while last-year’s PC seems
obsolescent already, Macs just keep on getting used, for years longer
than equivalent PCs.
hit some hard times in the mid-1990s; Microsoft’s then-new Windows 95
seemed good enough to lure customers away, and the company had seemed
to lose its sense of itself. Founder Steve Jobs’ return helped fire the
company’s will to succeed, and even in the recent tech-downturn, Apple
has continued to innovate.
new OS X operating system is eye-catching, stable, and powerful, and
their new G5 desktops are arguably the most powerful personal computers
available. While different (and in many ways better) than the majority
Windows majority, they are able to work with Windows-created documents
and play nice on a Windows network. If you can afford one, a Mac
desktop or notebook is an attractive way to Think Different.