Do Macs exist?

by Chris Howard Aug 09, 2005

If a Mac article falls in a forest of Windows articles, does it make a sound?

I continually read how well Macs are doing, halo affect and all. But I hang around Apple news sites, like MDN, MacNewsWorld, MacMinute, MacRumors, iPodLounge, Apple etc. Get the picture?  And even though those sites are sometimes quoting from Windows related sites, I’m getting a distorted view of the world - to me every second article in the world seems to be trumpeting the success of the Mac. Yet I doubt that the Windows sites are talking that much about Macs.

So I can’t help but wonder: “Do Macs exist at all in the minds of most people?” If Apple stopped making Macs tomorrow, who would notice? What non-Mac owners would notice? I suspect that 95% of the population wouldn’t notice - or even care. Especially those in the corporate world who probably account for 75% of Microsoft’s marketshare.

If you went to a non-Mac, non-techie person tomorrow and said “Hey, did you hear Apple are getting out of the computer business?” What do you think they’d say? Probably “Whatever” Although they’d probably hasten to add “But are they still going to make iPods?”. Why don’t you try it. See how many non-Mac, non-techie people you can find who’d care whether Apple keep making computers. But try telling them that from tomorrow they won’t be able to get Windows anymore. That would get a reaction.

You and I - and even the media and Windows techies - know how important Apple has been and continues to be to the computer industry. But to the rest of the population, I suspect Macs are largely invisible.

The Media - King Maker
The media made Linux - and continues to. They continually talk it up despite the fact for many years it has not been average-user-ready. As far as Macs go though, the PC press occassionally writes some nice patronizing story about how Macs are better - but do they ever tell you to buy one? Really tell you. I mean really tell you.

Case-in-point. A shootout of multimedia laptops in an PC Authority, an Australian PC magazine. They included the token Apple in their review - in this case, a 17” Powerbook. To summarize their conclusion, they said that although the Powerbook was a fantastic machine, you would have to weigh that up against the price tag and whether you needed a Windows machine. See, a couple of backhanders in there to discourage you. And “price tag”!! The winner of this shootout was $200AUD dearer than the Powerbook, and the only other recommended buy, some $700AUD dearer!! As I say, they don’t really mean it when they suggest you buy a Mac.

The PC media are not very politically correct. To them, it appears a PC is a personal computer running an x86 processor - and mostly Windows at that. It will be interesting to see if next year they finally welcome Macs into the fold.

Certainly the Macintel announcement has stireed up a little dust, with PC Authority devoting a WHOLE page to it in their news section. They also provided a small OS X vs Win XP compro - which they concluded was a draw. Further on they have a “pullout” on the Intel announcement in an article on BIOSes.

If I only hung around the PC media, the Mac appears to be a quaint footnote. There are articles about the Mac’s success but they’re buried in there, lost in the forest of articles about Windows - where they can’t be heard.

Are Macs really surfing a wave that’s gunna wipe out Windows? Or are they just paddling along in their own little pond?

Are we in the Mac world, getting a distorted view of reality? Are we believing our own publicity?


  • Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. Yes we are getting a distorted view of reality, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t right about the future—because as you have pointed out, the 95% are also getting a distorted view of reality. If the prevailing 95% view always dictated the future, we wouldn’t even have home computers ... the reason we do today is that a geeky crowd believed in it so much and achieved such results through their belief that eventually the rest of the world was forced to take note. If those people had based their actions on the then current prevailing view of reality ... well, I don’t need to tell you all the things that *wouldn’t* have happened.

    Obviously there is a tipping point in these matters. The debate does not exist where you’ve framed it. Everybody knows that the rest of the world is ignorant of the advantages we see. The debate is as to whether the tipping point is approachable from where we are and whether it is in fact approaching. You haven’t addressed that in any way.

    Dogger Blue had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 34
  • I was in London a week ago and befre leaving, a friend asked if I could bring her a MacMini as she had finally decided to dump Windows and was not able to obtain a MacMini for three weeks! They are selling quite well despite some media analysts’ impressions. I had to go to the Apple Store - what a place- and was shocked to see how full it was for late night Thursday shopping. Conversations I listened to in English and French in the non- iPod areas made it clear that Apple is gaining traction. Will it last? Who knows? But growth often follows a sigma shaped curve- investors hate the early part of that curve but love what follows- and we have to remember that Apple has been on that curve twice before, coming and going. They are being given a second chance and hopefully this time they will take advantage of the enormous buzz that they have created int he world. Which leads me to make a comment about your article: all the surveys show that Apple is one of the most recognized brands in the world, so you have really answered your own question.  Some PC users may diss it (often IT types) but it’s disappearance would make a thunderclap not a passing sigh!

    rjwill246 had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 1
  • If Apple stopped making Macs tomorrow, who would notice? What non-Mac owners would notice? I suspect that 95% of the population wouldn’t notice - or even care.

    I would hope they noticed that there were no longer any print ads, commercials, newspapers, or movies.

    davidbowiestyle had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 1
  • Do Macs exist in the minds of the non-Mac world? Emphatically yes. Five years ago when people saw my PowerBook I’d get a full thumbs up from the Mac users and if anyone else noticed it the reaction I got was “why’d you waste your money on a Mac when you could get a PC for cheaper?”

    About three years ago that began began to change. More people began questioning my use of a Mac instead of getting the brush off for being foolish to spend that kind of money, I began getting comments about how they’d buy a Mac if they were less expensive. And a few even paid attention when I explained how the Macs are more expensive myth wasn’t nearly as true as it once was.

    About 18 months ago I began seeing more PowerBooks than ever before and more questions about my Mac use. Yes, the Macs are more expensive myth continued but I was hearing lots of people express the opinion that maybe the extra money was worth spending.

    Today people know that Macs are more secure than Windows though many still think it is a matter of obscurity. They accept that the Mac OS is more stable than Windows. And people who I figured would never abandon Windows are doing so.

    davidwb had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 32
  • Are we in the Mac world, getting a distorted view of reality?

    Without question. 

    The same goes for any specific sphere of influence.  I myself am not only in the large urban center of Los Angeles, itself somewhat of a distortion field, but also in the sub-culture of Hollywood.  Everyone uses Macs, Tivos, broadband, cell-phones-as-a-primary phone, and so on.  So when I discuss tech gadgets, my assumption is that the person I’m talking either has it or at least knows what it is.

    But when I go back to my hometown in middle America, it’s a different story.  Most of them have cell phones, and broadband is getting more common.  They are aware of Ipods although I don’t know anyone who has one.  And Tivo and Mac are more or less nebulous ideas.  Maybe the most tech or media savvy person might have Tivo, but Macs are almost unheard of.

    But hang out in Mac world, and you get the impression that Macs are sweeping the nation instead of hovering around the 3% market share that they currently enjoy.  The same thing happened when the first Imac came out; this was going to be the one that put a Mac in the hands of every user.  That, of course, never materialized; in fact, I think Apple actually lost market share shortly thereafter. 

    This year it’s the Mac mini and the Ipod halo effect.  It remains to be seen if this will have any lasting effect but I think it’s a given that the Mac won’t be leaving single-digit market share any time soon. 

    Now talk is moving on to the Macintel.  Same old song.  THIS is going to be the one.  But don’t be surprised if it just turns out to be more of the Apple reality distortion field wreaking havoc on the poor hearts of Mac fanatics.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 2220
  • “0AUD dearer than the Powerbook, and the only other recommended buy, some $700AUD dearer!!”

    What does “dearer” mean?

    Gabe H had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 40
  • I think it’s some kind of crazy Aussie slang for “more expensive.”

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 2220
  • Middle America? Are they still using “White-out” on their monitors to correct mistakes?

    Seriously though, contrary to what we think in the Northeast, middle Amarica can’t be that backward. They’re exposed to the same national media, surely they’re at least aware of Apple Computer. Even Forrest Gump owned Apple stock.

    cloudwall had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 21
  • Yeah those crazy Aussies using their crazy Aussie slang. Pretty much any English speaker besides an American knows what ‘dearer’ means. I don’t mean to say that Americans are ignorant, I just mean that it is they who differ from the rest of the English-speaking world in their non-use of this word.

    Dogger Blue had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 34
  • It’s not about being backward.  They just have other interests besides tech stuff, just like they have other interests beside fashion, or movies, or politics, or anything else you or I might be into but that someone else might be only tangentially interested in.  For example, I hate fasion, but talking to fashion people, they seem to be under the impression that EVERYONE is as into it as they are.

    And Forrest Gump owned Apple stock because filmmakers are disproportionately enamored by Apple.  If you believed the movies, Macs are on every desk and in every cubicle in the world.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 2220
  • And don’t forget that with his Apple notebook, Jeff Goldbloom wrote a virus in about 20 seconds and uploaded it to the Alien mothership to save the day.  Amazing that they work on a TCP/IP network, and apparently had Bluetooth since he had to be inside the mothership in order to upload it. 

    Maybe it’s not just Middle America who is backward, it’s Earth.  Aliens apparently all run Mac OS.

    BergenDog had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 18
  • People in Redmond would certainly notice. After all, Microsoft has an unpaid R&D team in Cupertino. Who would set the bar for the Wintel world?

    TooManyToys had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 1
  • One thing I’ve noticed that until last year, it was rare to see someone hunched over an Apple notebook at any one of the dozens of cafes here in Berkeley, a big university town.

    Since last year, however, the number of iBooks and PowerBooks have grown exponentially. Half the time I walk into a cafe, there are actually more Apple notebooks than there are PC notebooks.

    So yes, Mac users were living in their own pond for a long time, but that pond is now turning into a lake. If the trend continues, that lake will connect to the sea and articles like this will be a quaint memory. It’ll take a few more years, but it seems at the college level, the resistance to going Mac has been substantially lowered. A 5% marketshare is definitely achieveable in 12-18 months, 10% marketshare in 3 years if Apple continues to fire on all cylinders.

    At that point, I think it will be hard for anyone to ignore the Mac because Apple should be selling 13+ million computers a year vs. 4 million today and be pulling in $30 billion in annual sales as opposed to some $12 billion a year today. It will have considerable influence on the industry due to its size in addition to its gumption.

    Paul had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 31
  • They might not have used Bluetooth…

    Remember that Airport cards would probably need to be fairly close to a base station in the mother ship as well, considering all the electomagnetic interference you’d probably get on an alien spacecraft that size.

    : )

    Probably used good old-fashioned 802.11b.

    vb_baysider had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 243
  • “And even though those sites are sometimes quoting from Windows related sites, I’m getting a distorted view of the world”

    If you take the time to talk with Windows users who don’t know much about the Mac (and sometimes it is people who are in charge of a huge IT department with hundreds of Windows computers), you’re gonna realize that they have a VERY VERY VERY distorted view of what the Mac really is. There are many myths about the Mac and they know them all. I mean they think that it’s the truth. It is VERY sad. Where I work (I’m a video editor), we switched from Mac to PC 3 years ago (believe me it was against my will) because the new IT guy in place was afraid of Unix. He knew next to nothing about the Mac and he took a decision that affected my work and the pleasure I had to work. My job used to be fun. It is way less exciting now.

    So yes, Mac users (who are in general more interested about their platform than their Windows counterpart) get a distorted view of the reality but I’m pretty sure that it’s even worse in the Windows world. I’ve been a victim of that. I would certainly take a pay cut to go back on a Mac at my job.

    Please God do something.

    gate had this to say on Aug 10, 2005 Posts: 3
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