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Mon 15 Mar 2004

The Myth

Category : Commentary/macsmyth.txt

I'd hate to be known as an Apple groupie. It's possible to love the products built by this company, but to dislike the people inside who should have done a better job getting these products into the hands of more users.

While corporate IT departments have done a very effective job of blocking the entry of new Macs into the enterprise - and eliminating those wherever they are still to be found - Apple itself has been culpable, not least for having sales and marketing people who, one, feel the product sells itself and, two, have nothing but contempt for the so-called Mac fanatics.

Or, is this only confined to Singapore because it's too small a market for Steve Jobs to care about? But whatever the local Mac Users Group feel about Apple, you can be sure it's not warm feelings for the local Apple retail and consumer marketing guys.

Jesse Sng, a long time Mac user and developer, submitted a post to the local Mac users' mailing list, entitled "Selling Macs - The Myth" - and it expresses basically what I feel myself, so I'll put a link to his message. It is a carefully thought out analysis of why Apple has failed to grow its market share, at least here in Singapore.

"Often, Apple and Mac users would talk about superiority and totally miss the point because the customer is not looking for superiority but rather he is buying into an entire community or ecosystem. So selling him the idea that he is joining a fringe minority isn't going to help."

Come on, Apple. Why don't you staff the ranks of your sales and marketing team with people who are truly convinced about your products, rather than with people who think that the Mac is an easy sell, and well, there's always the dumb Mac user who is willing to pay for anything (and cheer anything) Apple puts out?

These are two things holding back the size of the Mac user base - Microsoft-centric IT departments that are hostile to the Mac, and complacent Apple people who take a cynical, exploitative view of the hard-core Mac user, rather than involving them in a healthy, expanding ecosystem. Or maybe this concept is too hard to understand?

As I have tried to describe in these writings, I believe that the Mac's small market share is in no way due to technical issues, like the "computer architecture" that Apple chose to adopt. The problems are, instead, "people" issues, and should be addressed as such.

Actually, "people" problems are both harder and easier to solve. Easier, because they are not intractable, unlike structural problems from choosing a fatal, dead-end technological route. But they are harder to solve simply beause they deal with people, and whether or not they have tried to align their objectives with the needs of their organisations.

I have yet to hear of an Apple marketing guy turning up at a Mac meetup. Perhaps he could learn a bit about how ordinary users are teaching others, even hitherto hard-core PC users, about why the price of a Mac is worth paying for. Perhaps he could learn that there are lot more ways to grow the Mac user base. And isn't this all that matters? But perhaps not. There are always other agendas.

Posted at 6:29AM UTC | permalink


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