the psychology of mac heads

Hell freezes over; it must've been the liquid cooling: Hannibal on the Apple-to-Intel transition : Page 2

See, there's often a difference between what a company sells and what consumers actually get when they purchase the product. Apple Computer, Inc. has 'sold' slightly exotic, 'technically superior,' performance-oriented hardware for years, regardless of where the company's products have actually stood vis-a-vis the PC on the performance ladder. Or, to put it differently, the 'RISC' PowerPC architecture has been a core part of the Apple brand and the overall 'mythology' of the Mac platform since the 68K transition, even if that architecture rarely delivered on company's promises with benchmark numbers. So what Apple fans are mourning right now isn't the loss of some actual technical superiority of the Mac hardware, but rather the loss of the perception of that hardware's 'technical superiority.'


Apple fans will no longer have PowerPC and RISC as a sort of spiritual power center for energizing the user base. ... With the loss of the "inner geek" that represents a core component of Apple's overall brand identity, the company risks becoming yet another "me too" PC vendor, like Dell, Gateway, HP, etc. Of course, they also risk selling many more computers.

This is something marketing people trade off: people don't buy a product, they buy into an image. You don't buy a cola, you buy a drink consumed by pretty young things in exciting situations. You don't buy a car, you buy the solution to all the frustrations in your life.

So people buy a Mac... they take their sleek machine home and feel like they're one of a the cool kids now. See how damn nice that brushed metal sucker looks! Plus all those other Mac people start telling them how superior everything is. Eventually they start telling other people how superior it is, even though they couldn't explain the difference between RISC and any other architecture if their life depended on it.

It's not based on anything real, or anything the user can actually identify for themselves. Most users only notice extreme differences in performance, ie. fast load vs. two minute chunky load. However, the user still feels good about the difference... and hey they want to know it's superior, you know how much these things cost??


Anonymous Anonymous  

June 11, 2005 6:29 pm

It's not based on anything real

That's pretty harsh.

Mac has been around a very long time. It's a refined product with a distinct usability focus. It also presents an alternative to the predominant product - the annoyances of which provide a lot of the "real" impetus to try somethng new.

I've spoken to a few non-IT people who've switched to Mac and they certainly are able to articulate reasons and benefits that don't include "it's cool".

I've spoken to a good number of IT people similarly able to describe good reasons.


Blogger 200ok  

June 11, 2005 11:11 pm

Sure, some people do know exactly what they wanted but I've met too many people who just say "I love my Mac, it's pretty" (I've had that exact wording a couple of times).

Really it's mostly that marketing in general is not based on anything real. Buyers perceive one product as superior to another, and that's all that really counts a lot of the time. They might rationalise the decision with various points, but a lot of purchase decisions are made on a gut level which is astonishingly easy to manipulate.

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