Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Mac Advantage

While out on an errand to pick up a new inner tube for one of our bikes last night, Nate and I stopped into the new Mac Store on Boylston St. For those not familiar with this new Apple Boutique, it's the largest Mac store in the country, with an all glass front and three spacious floors connected by a plexiglass stairway. (The first time I went I ended up being able to go up the stairs okay, but not down. I had to take the elevator back down.)

I switched to a Mac at Christmas time last year when my entire family all chipped in to replace my sputtering IBM ThinkBook with a brand new MacBook. I love it. It's an amazing machine, easy to use with beautiful graphics and design. It's a lot hardier than my old IBM, and easier to service with amazing customer service. I will never go back.

But aside from a quality product, there is a sheer brilliance in Apple's marketing ideas. At a Mac showroom, everything is clean lines and minimalism. You don't have to wade through aisles of options on clunky track shelving as at Best Buy or Microcenter. The staff is easily identifiable my matching t-shirts. And no one pressures you to buy anything; having a conversation with a Mac staffer is like having a conversation with a friend. They'll talk to you simply about how much you enjoy your current Mac, or how nifty the MacBook Air is, even if you obviously have no intention of buying one.

Availability is another key part of the Mac experience. All over the store you find multiple models of the same item set up and ready to try out, so you don't have to wait in line to look at an item. And unlike most store demos, they work. Yesterday, while Nate asked some questions about the capabilities of his new MacBook Pro, I was able to pop over to an available laptop, run Safari and check my email, then browse the New York Times online. I can't imagine doing that at Circuit City. By encouraging their customers to actually use their products, they're already planting the seed for an eventual purchase.

On our way out, we passed a guy in a folding chair, waiting outside the store. Next to him was a white board that read, "Countdown to 3G iPhone! Get in line! I'm the first one--all the way from Venezuela!" I stopped to ask him if he had come all the way from Venezuela just for the iPhone.

"Yup," he responded with a smile.

"You're not here as a college student?" I pressed.

"Well, I thought I might check out Berklee College of Music while I'm here. I'm applying there for their singing program."

"That's a great school," I said.

"But really, I'm just here for the iPhone," he grinned. I can't imagine anyone traveling so far for a product from HP.

2 responses:

zakstar said...

I love that Mac products are so easy to use -- typically just drag and drop.

At my last company, IT was forced to buy a few MacBooks because a client wanted their reports in a Mac-only application. They were very confused by the laptops. I pointed out it's pretty hard to screw it up, you just drag and drop to install applications. It just seemed TOO easy to guys used to dealing with the PC headaches. It was funny to watch.

jrandom42 said...

No Mac advantage with engineering. The Mac hardware is not suited for the intense 2D and 3D modeling we do. Also, the software for doing such is not available to Macs. Attempting to run such through virtual machines is akin to waiting for the heat death of the universe.

Not going to happen anytime soon. For some reason, as supposedly good as the Mac is, it’s still a toy for the kids to us engineers.


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