Buying the Apple story
For years friends teased me about my unwavering loyalty to Macs. They’d brag about the prowess of PCs, their market dominance, their cheaper and more plentiful software.
They were right on all counts, and I didn’t give a fig. Not when the PC world copied Apple’s more user-friendly style. Not if my bank account was flat when it was time to buy a new computer. Not when Apple’s sales appeared to be on a terminal, downhill slide.
And I was right to hang on. The little company that could is such a power house it keeps raising the bar in the consumer electronics world. I think storytelling has played a major role.
Check out the 1984 ad that introduced the Apple Macintosh computer. Gives me the willies even today, but it became a topic of conversation and a launching pad for sales. People who saw themselves as iconoclastic, rules-breaking creatives had a new toy that set them apart from ordinary geeks.
Years and many computer versions later, the Mac vs. PC ads played on the story all faithful Mac users believe: that PCs are a sorry excuse for a computer by comparison with our beloved Macs. Here are two that tell the Mac story with humour. The first focuses on the security issues that plague PCs, the second on the long history of buggy Windows operating systems.
Mac enthusiasts have their own stories to tell. Here’s a short video comparing a 2007 PC with a 1984 Mac.
And if imitation really is a form of flattery, all the Mac ad parodies are ample indication of the power of Apple’s storytelling. A Google search on YouTube turns up dozens. You’re on your own here. I sampled quite a few of them but didn’t find any worth sharing.
While PC users were crowing about all the games and cheap software they could use on their machines, Apple’s innovators were dreaming up new ways to persuade consumers to part with their cash. The iPod was followed by the iPod Touch, the iPhone by the iPad. The company’s stories became upbeat, modern, fun. One narrative remained, and it’s been an underlying story from the start: Apple/Mac products are for the in-crowd, for those more savvy, more insistent on quality.
Never mind that the graphics argument (superiority of Macs) no longer holds as much weight, that Microsoft Office is the heavyweight champion next to Apple’s iWork (which I use and prefer), that PCs still rein supreme in the personal computer world (in spite of their susceptibility to viruses), or that other companies are coming out with competitive products (such as the Blackberry and Kindle).
My only stake in the company is as a consumer, but, I confess, I’m one of those smug Apple users. I bought the Apple story years ago and never stopped believing it, even when the company was on shaky grounds. I believe it still.
That’s a successful story.