Stop the Noiz

Macs Are Cool, but Marketing Can't Help Linux

Frank Fox - 2008.08.14 - Tip Jar

"I bought a Mac because it is so cool.

"It never occurred to me that I could use it to run a huge variety of software. I didn't listen to the talk about it being free of viruses. No one told me that it comes with a bunch of integrated software that handles my photos, tracks my music collection, and can help me make better home movies. I think that the people who say you can run all your Windows program using Boot Camp to load a copy of Vista, are lunatics.

"The only reason I bought a Mac is because I own an iPod, and iPods are cool. That, and I wanted to use it to play video games."

The only thing I can say, is God bless anyone like the person described above. Apple needs more people like you buying their product (just kidding).

I don't think people like that really exist, unlike Matt Asay, who wrote The Linux Desktop, Macs, and Barking Dogs. His message wouldn't be so bad, but there are dozens of people reporting this type of trash, basically calling Mac users a bunch of lemmings who have been brainwashed by Apple's marketing prowess.

You can put lipstick on a pig and call that marketing - or you can make a great product and call that marketing. Marketing doesn't create the product; its purpose is to broadcast a specific message about the product. Basically it teaches consumers that there is something to like about the product. To succeed in marketing, both the message and the product have to trump the competition.

In the case of Linux, your message is "low cost leader", e.g., your product is "free". But if no one is currently using it, then you have to pay for training. Add to that installation, maintenance, frequent updates, and fuzzy customer support, since who owns it. Your marketing message is quickly eroded by the true facts behind the product.

Compare this to Apple's message: "easy to use". Again, few people may be using it, but for the most part new users can be thrown into the water, and they will learn to swim on their own quickly.

Why? Because Microsoft Office for Macs isn't that different from Office on Windows. Add to this the easy install, low maintenance, automated updates, and clear customer support (Apple is responsible for the whole thing, unlike the Windows and Linux platforms).

The marketing message and the facts agree. Macs are easy to use. New users and old agree. So the message works, and the general opinion is that Macs trump the competition in this area.

If "easy to use" is the thing you're looking for, then it makes your choice of a new Mac look smart.

If cost is your primary concern, Apple isn't making any false promises about having the lowest price. You'll have to go beyond the marketing message and decide if buying a Mac makes financial sense.

Read a few articles on Mac pricing to see if they have what you want for a good price. Here's some links that may help.

I agree with Bob Sutor, vice president of open source and standards at IBM, on this one: Linux needs industry-specific software. Leave the lipstick at home and create some real advantages for Linux before you can expect anyone to take your marketing message seriously. LEM

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