[Glyph-discuss] anecdotal video

Glyph Lefkowitz glyph-discuss@twistedmatrix.com
Mon, 27 Jan 2003 12:54:05 -0500 (EST)

>From now on, I'm using Bcc: and listing additional recipients in the message
body :).

On Sun, 26 Jan 2003 19:44:21 -0600 (CST), Gillian Andrews <gus@pyramid.twistedmatrix.com> wrote:

> Glyph, honey, the "switch" ads just aren't aimed at *you*, so don't even
> bother to take offense at the campaign.

I take offense because they target that audience with lies.  There are plenty
of positive things they could say about the mac, as I said.  It's quite a
pleasant environment, aesthetically -- as someone with more priorities in
computing than aesthetics, I would not care about that kind of ad.  It's more
stable than _previous_ iterations from Apple; they could go with a "it keeps
getting better" type of campaign.

When they unilaterally state that it's more stable than the alternatives,
though, I think that deserves some criticism.  At this point, I have a decade
and a half of experience with Apple products, and about half that with NeXTSTEP
and friends.

Despite pretty crummy experience with Windows, the Mac has been _less_ stable
for me than pretty much _any_ of Microsoft's offerings, excepting perhaps
Windows 95 before OSR2.

When I plan to engage in some "branding" myself, it upsets me that practices
like this make it nearly synonymous with "lying".  Some companies are actually
ethical about branding.  Apple is maddeningly close.  When it comes down to it,
it bothers me that they are lying when they don't _need_ to lie, merely because
this is how marketing works these days.

Apple is also particularly irritating because people who are habitually very
critical of mass media and advertising tend to swallow the whole thing.
Remember "Think Different"?  It's like they are specifically saying to a
cynical and skeptical generation: "It's OK to believe this ad campaign.  We're
different.  We're not just showing you beautiful people, like cigarette ads do.
We're showing you BRILLIANT and QUIRKY people, JUST LIKE YOU.  You want to be a
crazy genius, right?  Buying a mac will make you a crazy genius."

Despite my complaints, I like the Switch ads a lot better, because they're just
lies, not an implicit endorsement of a sinister corporatist agenda that
threatens to swallow North America, and much of the globe with it, whole.  All
"Switch" seems to be saying is "We sell an unequivocably superior product."

> They're aimed at people who want to *not* have to ask their computer any
> questions about why and how it does what it does, an ignorance that Macs
> indulge better than Windows boxes.

I don't take issue with that, though I think that claim may be a bit inflated,
it would be absurd to take salespeople to task for _every_ minor exaggeration
:-).  I'm specifically concerned about claims wrt stability.

> These people don't even know Linux exists.

They don't now, and hopefully they never will.  I sincerely hope that Linux
vendors will start using the amorphous third person when talking about the
operating system, as both the Mac and Windows do currently.  "Shut down `your
computer'" or "`Your computer' has encountered a problem", rather than "Could
not load module DRI" or "Spurious interrupt 0x817A at IRQ7" or something
actually descriptive.  (Hopefully we can preserve a small button in the UI that
allows you to get at these errors.)

For example, WalMart is now carrying Linux PCs, and WalMart knows a thing or
two about fostering ignorance that Apple could learn from ;-).  Sadly, this has
nothing to do with technology or principles, it's "We don't want to pay the
Microsoft tax, and we're bigger and meaner than Microsoft will ever be."

> The target audience is people who buy Macs because they are, as the
> relatively tech-illiterate mother of a friend of mine said, "the computers
> that will jump in your lap and lick your face."

Is this perception because of the actual superiority of the product, or through
aggressive marketing?  I did a lot of technical support for Macs in high school,
when exactly the same claims were being made about a vastly inferior product.

(To be fair, they were still portraying it as competing with DOS at the time.
The ad campaigns hadn't caught up to Win95, which it was still better than.  It
wasn't until NT4 that they started seriously losing the race.)

The folks that I did tech support for "loved" their mac.  Even I did.
Macintosh users tend to be vastly more attached to their machines than Windows
users.  Nevertheless, they treated the machine as magic, as a temperamental
beast which would randomly fail.  The difference between macintosh users and
Windows users in this regard is the perceived empathy with the machine.

Mac users will perceive crashing to be the machine being sullen, upset, or
"sick", whereas Windows users tend to perceive it as the machine being vicious
and spiteful.  This usually translates into a perception of increased

> Fund your own "switch" campaign if you don't like it.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to compare this statement: "Fund your
own war on Iraq if you don't like it." ;-)