The Other 95%: But… I Switched In 1998

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Date: Friday, June 28th, 2002, 01:05
Category: Archive

On the heels of Apple’s latest ‘Switch‘ advertising campaign, I’ve been constantly questioning the timing of Apple’s first major media attack on their competition. Why now? Perhaps why not in 1995 – during the pre-‘Second Coming of Steve Jobs’ era?

The marketing scheme is excellent. Take these regular Joe’s, and give them a platform to describe their reasoning for making the switch from the Windows to the Macintosh side. There’s one man describing the “dreaded blue screen of death” and another telling us how all his wintel files “opened flawlessly”. But alas, why now? (Click ‘read more’ for the full story and to weigh in on ‘Switch’.)


On the heels of Apple’s latest ‘Switch‘ advertising campaign, I’ve been constantly questioning the timing of Apple’s first major media attack on their competition. Why now? Perhaps why not in 1995 – during the pre-‘Second Coming of Steve Jobs’ era?

The marketing scheme is excellent. Take these regular Joe’s, and give them a platform to describe their reasoning for making the switch from the Windows to the Macintosh side. There’s one man describing the “dreaded blue screen of death” and another telling us how all his wintel files “opened flawlessly”. But alas, why now?

Ah yes. And slowly it begins to come back to me. I believe it was mid-1998 that Steve Jobs returned to his true love and revitalized the computer industry one more time. It was the bondi-blue gumdrop G3 machine that was fit for your grandmother. Hello (again). Introducing the iMac – the Macintosh for the consumer.

It was that computer – the iMac – that reintroduced Windows users to our beloved platform. Born-again Macintosh enthusiasts rushed to pick up the economically fit machine by the millions. There was no ‘Switch‘ campaign needed then, just the subtle introduction of the iMac.

Now let’s fast forward to 2002. A dragging economy, an again sluggish Macintosh community, and once again the Apple faithful looks for the prime target. The competition – Windows. Sure, it’s fun to poke at our competition now, but they’ve beaten us again and again in the consumer field. While the Macintosh may reign supreme on the multimedia level, consumers continue clinging to the Windows platform.

Perhaps, now more than ever the ‘Switch‘ is necessary. Maybe Apple realizes they have the potential to do again what was done in 1998. It was a cultural revolution. Everything became a hip bondi blue. Can the ‘Switch‘ be the beginning of bringing out the masses yet again and giving the consumer a reason to choose Macintosh over Windows?

In the era of “Dude, you’re getting a Dell” plastered all over our television sets, one fear is that the ‘Switch‘ campaign may only appeal to an older crowd. While 1998 brought iMacs into the dorms, the newer, more irregular shape of the iMac may turn off the butting college-aged computer junkie.

Apple still needs to find a way to appeal to the entire demographically spectrum. From the youthful age of three up until now, I’ve been raised along side the Macintosh. I’ve stuck loyal to company through the best of times and through the worst of times. I haven’t had the pain and suffering of Windows users, but in reality, we still account for slightly below 5% of the entire computer industry.

So will the ‘Switch‘ be effective? From my standpoint, it’s something that should have been done years ago. Prior to the iMac. Since we’ve learned to cope with two major platforms, is the Macintosh vs. Windows war still flourishing, and does the world really care now in 2002?

Take for example the eMac. By pushing it in front of consumers, Apple is doing nothing more than recycling an original iMac idea that’s, what, “so five minutes ago.”

What was firmly accomplished in 1998 with a cultural revolution is now attempting to be duplicated by Apple marketing. Maybe newer products, appealing to the middle-class American youth (how about a cheaper iPod or $1000 iMac – not eMac) will have a greater impact than a string of ads encouraging Windows users to make the ‘Switch‘ to the Macintosh side.

It’s a great idea, but just might be a few years too late.

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