Thursday, April 21, 2005

Cult of Mac, Not!

This post on the BBC website trots out the old non-Mac users safety net that Mac users are a cult. I am a 2 year Mac user, but I am real tired of hearing this one. If you look at a product, cars, computers, whatever, and on the issues you care about one product is clearly better, what is the problem? The clear answers are that people don't like having their choices challenged by outsiders once they have been made and they don't want to spend time to figure out if some products might be better for them or not. This is why price is the key decision in most product purchases, it is just too much work to figure out the differences between products for most people. And if pricing is making up 90% of a decision, people usually go for the low price. Microsoft has long understood this. They have always had low or similar pricing compared to competitors. They have always released products that, just look at their marketshare, have been good enough to hold people from considering if something might be better enough to evaluate. And the linchpin in this scheme has always been the promise that with the next version, no matter what product, things will be even better. And people have held out hope that maybe, just maybe, the next version will be good enough that the gnawing feeling I have in the back of my mind about Windows or, usually more generally, my computer will go away. Apple is just starting to accept price as the key decision making variable as the key to greater sales. Apple has realized that if the price is too high, it doesn't matter if all the other variables are in their column, the masses can't get past the first mental hurdle. Apple has seen an uptick in sales because some people have reached the point where they are done dealing with the Microsoft sales cycle above, and of course, experience with an iPod demonstrates how good Apple is on all the intagibles. The Mac community has to realize that the reasons that lead them to buy a Mac may not hold for everyone. Mac users love trying to appeal, just like Apple has historically, to people's feelings when trying to sell them on a purchase. Microsoft has long appealled to reason (hey we are nearly as good and cheaper!), and we see how has been the winner in that battle. Brand value is all about getting users to emotionally associate with your product, company, an identity. But people detect this, and not being comfortable with emotion, default back to the rational, the price. If you want to convince people to get Macs, use reason and not passion, and maybe then this cult of Mac nonsense will stop.