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TMO Interviews Jeremiah Cohick, TV Spokesperson, Switcher & Former Mac-Basher

TMO Interviews Jeremiah Cohick, TV Spokesperson, Switcher & Former Mac-Basher

by , 9:00 AM EDT, October 8th, 2002

"I used to bash Macs." So says Jeremiah Cohick, the subject of one of Apple's most recent Switch TV commercials (see Jeremiah's Switch ad at Apple's Switch site). "That was more a move out of ignorance," Jeremiah added as a follow-up.

Many Mac users have known PC users who bash Macs, and more often than not the bashing has been done without any true understanding of the Mac platform. Jeremiah's message offers us a glimpse at what can happen when a Mac basher actually gets a taste of the Mac. The Mac Observer (TMO) talked to Jeremiah to learn what this Switcher is all about and why he Switched in the first place.

Jeremiah -- don't call him Jeremy if you want him to like you, his Web page admonishes -- describes himself as upbeat, and a typical student. "I am one part geek," he told us, "and one part artist, with some entrepreneur for flavor."

He's headed to college in 2003, after having graduated from high school this past Spring. Like many geeks, it was learning HTML in school that got him really hooked on computers. "In seventh grade, my computer teacher showed everyone how to make web pages in Notepad," Microsoft's version of SimpleText. He was hooked, and he now has plenty of credentials from the PC world to prove it.

He has used Windows 95, Windows 98 SE, Windows 2000 Pro, Windows XP Pro, Windows 98, Windows Me, Red Hat Linux, and most recently Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. His first family computer came from Gateway, and the first computer he could call his own was a Windows 95 Packard Bell 133 MHz PC that quickly earned the nickname "Packard Hell." Right now, there are three Windows machines in his house, in addition to his Macs.

With such a history of Windows use, and a bevy of Windows-loving friends surrounding him at school, it's no wonder he used to say things like: "Apple is dead." "It looks nice, but it's still junk" (about the iMac's debut). "There is nothing your Mac can do that Windows cannot do cheaper." "Macs are great if you're an artist," and our favorite, "Which do you prefer: Macintrash or Trashintosh?"

Why not? From Jeremiah's standpoint, Microsoft in the mid-90s was earning its monopoly power. "Microsoft has the computing industry," he remembers thinking. "Microsoft knows what it is doing, and Microsoft should lead." Throw in a dash of Apple's proprietary hardware systems that were "compatible with no one," and you had someone who legitimately thought that Apple's product weren't fit for friends and family. When people asked him what kind of computers to buy, he says "I would usually discourage them from buying Macs."

That's tough talk from someone who really hadn't used a Mac that much. "I tried Mac OS 9 on a Performa when my computer science teacher challenged me to try other operating systems," he says, but it wasn't enough to impress him. Mac OS X, on the other hand, made his head turn.

"I tried the Mac OS X Beta on a Power Mac G4. WOW! Mac OS X is the reason I switched. Coming from Windows 2000, Mac OS 9 was not compelling, but OS X appeared as a rising star with all of the geeky stuff I liked about Linux, and an even better GUI than Windows."

"It just works," Jeremiah says in his Switch commercial, which is something that many other Mac users also feel is true about their OS of choice. In contrast, Jeremiah's experience with Windows was more often one of frustration than not. "My family's Gateway 2000 machine arrived with modem problems," he explains. "We waited for THREE HOURS on Gateway's tech support and my technically savvy mom spent over an hour working with the tech guy on the phone. I don't want to even start on the problems we had upgrading to Windows 95."

He had fewer problems a couple of years down the road with Windows 2000, especially on the PC he put together himself. Though he was satisfied with that operating system, he found a new level of satisfaction once he got an iBook with Mac OS X. "I noticed that I spent more time getting stuff done and less time dealing with frustrating problems."

That's a theme that has run throughout Apple's Switch campaign, and one that seems to resonate with many Switchers commenting at TMO and other Mac sites on the Internet.

So what happens to a former Mac basher who makes the switch? What do his Mac-bashing friends think of his betrayal of Big Redmond? "My friends flipped out when they saw the commercial," he said. This was in part because he wasn't allowed to talk about the process of making the commercial ahead of time. Once the commercial came out, he says that "some of my friends shunned me, but most of my geek friends admired my boldness and were constantly peeking over my shoulder to see Mac OS X in action on my iBook when I brought it to school." Some of those friends are even considering a Mac as their next computer purchase, though "most are still on the fence."

That includes Jeremiah's father; the elder Mr. Cohick is still a Windows user through and through. In Jeremiah's Switch ad, he announced to the world that he is working on evangelizing his father. "My dad is not a techie," Jeremiah told us, "but he is learning -- and loathing -- more about the three Windows computers in the house."

Fortunately, his dad has a sense of humor about being targeted by his son on national TV. "My dad was mildly amused by my comment and I was just goofing around when I made the comment at filming," Jeremiah told us. "It's true, but I didn't expect that to get in there."

Will he switch to the Mac? "It's just a matter of time," says Jeremiah, smiling.

You can find out more about this Switcher at his personal Web site.

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