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By goffperu
October 25, 2002

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When a large percentage of your money is invested in a certain company, I think it is normal that your antennae go up. You become a little more alert about related issues. I think I have been picking up something on my AAPL radar--a mental shift in thinking.

This is a very subtle phenomenon, and I might even be willing to entertain the idea that it is wishful thinking on my part. However, it seems to me that the average PC user has made a substantial change in his/her thinking about Macs. My PC-loving friends used to sneer and scoff any talk of Macs. Any discussion of Macs brought the usual litany of reasons Macs are irrelevant in their world: no software, not the industry standard, too expensive, not "serious" computers, etc. They spent hardly a neuron second considering the possibility of buying a Mac. A notable exception was the CRT iMac, which some PC folk agreed were cute and suitable for small children. This seems to have changed somewhat. Some anecdotes:

1) My stepfather was a PC devotee. He had a decked out Gateway, and used to tell me that he wanted to stay PC because he enjoyed "Communicating with the computer directly." He is a former Motorola technician, and liked to go into DOS and muck around. He has been playing around with C++, and was of the impression that Macs can't do that. I informed him that Codewarrior is great on a Mac, but that didn't seem to help. He planned to upgrade his Gateway with a new Dell this year. Well, something has changed him. He has decided to visit the Apple Store in Chandler, AZ, and says he will probably buy a Mac. He is primarily interested in UNIX command line access in OSX. I predict he will buy a PowerMac of some kind.

2) The Network Administrator at my school was a huge scoffer. He liked to call Macs "pathetic little toys." He went on and on about how all of the problems with Windows 98 were taken care of in 2000, and that XP is even better. However, the helpdesk problems continue on our school's PCs. Drivers, viruses, licensing issues, etc. Amazingly, he just requested and received an XServe to "test." He was recently heard saying that Jaguar is "really quite nice." He has some reservations about OS X Server, but I don't know what they are. Some expected features missing, I think.

3) My Technology Director hates Macs, and has only been dissuaded from "phasing out" our Macs by the furious protests of teachers. As we began discussing our upcoming student laptop program (all 7th graders, followed by 8th the following year), he started arguing that we should use PC laptops. Our computer teacher barraged him with facts and statistics, and the protests have stopped. The teacher training issue was very influential, but battery life, security, and licensing costs were also important.

4) The last anecdote comes from students. I used to get in daily debates with students about PC vs. Mac. This has stopped. Some of my former sparring partners have come to tell me that they either bought a Mac, or are going to buy one. I think that the major driving forces for this were the migration of gaming away from PCs, and the iPod. I am seeing a lot of iPods around, and kids wanted Macs to go with them. Several families I know of have bought iBooks.

Now, these are isolated examples, but I think they indicate that PC users have made a switch of sorts, even if they haven't bought a lot of Macs: Macintosh is now on their radar. When people think of PCs, Macs come to mind as a serious alternative. That is new. I think the string of innovations coupled with the Switcher ads have brought this about. This makes me very hopeful about future sales at the end of this recession...

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