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iPontificate

Is Being Part Of 5% Really So Bad?
February 20th, 2004

Maybe this will come across as a little overly optimistic, but the more I think about this, the more I think it may be inevitable that Macintosh will always be the "computer for the rest of us." Meaning, forget about ever seeing Apple's market share in the personal computer market ever rising above a profound minority.

But maybe that's a good thing.

As much as we deny it, we Mac users actually enjoy when our computers can do something the other guys' can't. I know I sure have been telling clients that if they only had a Mac, all of these recent viruses wouldn't have even been a thang.

A client wanted to know why tons of icons keep appearing on her PC desktop, and how to stop it. I started by trying explain computer security and spyware, but that confused her. So I said the most satisfying thing I could to her:

"Get a Mac."

Another client wanted to know why her PC had slowed to a crawl and why, after installing some add-on themes to AOL Instant Messenger, then tossing the folder when she didn't like them, she was greeted with a string of error messages at startup. I quietly launched msconfig, prevented the offending files from trying to launch at boot time, thought about trying to explain the issues that can arise when deleting files from a PC, thought again, and said:

"Get a Mac."

But if 95% of computer users had a Mac, who are we going to make fun of? If five percent of the people had machines that constantly gave them the grief I see PC users deal with, that wouldn't be hilarious, that would just be pathetic.

I think the following from Seinfeld says it all (paraphrasing, so bear with me):

Jerry: So, what percentage of people would you go out with?

Elaine: I don't know....25%?

Jerry: 25%!?! No way! It's like, four to six percent!

Elaine: So you're saying 95% of people are undatable?

Jerry: Undatable!

Elaine: Undatable?

Jerry: Undatable! Have you been to the DMV lately? It's like a leper colony in there!

Recently, my wife and I were stuck in traffic after midnight on a freeway in Houston. Apparently, there was an accident and for a few minutes all lanes were completely closed. So, people began emerging from their cars and shambling around the freeway. Jenni and I looked at each other and I locked the doors. This was a crowd that illustrated Jerry's point above.

Maybe these troglodytes are never going to appreciate the beauty, the simplicity, and the superiority that is Macintosh. Maybe we should accept that, and stop trying to convince them that they would be happier with a Mac. It's like trying to teach a cat to play the oboe. It ain't gonna happen, and you might get hurt in the process.

Macworld magazine ran a series a guest columns on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Mac. They were the typical fare, but one line stuck out at me. Roger Ebert, the noted film critic, said in a piece that pointed out how prevalent Macs are on the big screen and behind the scenes, "since any reasonable person would choose a Mac over a PC, Apple's market share does provide us with an accurate reading of the percentage of reasonable people in our society."

It was like a basic truth had been revealed to me. I mean, we deal with unreasonable people all of the time. The guy in front of you at the checkout counter who spends ten minutes arguing over five cents. The guy who gets so trashed at the airport bar that he can't walk straight, and wonders why they won't let him on the plane. The guy that feels that you cut him off, so he races around you to repeatedly slam on his brakes. What is this guy thinking? That a good case of whiplash will ease his rage?

I say these people don't use Macs, will never appreciate Macintosh, and we shouldn't encourage them to join our club. Screw 'em!

We should be grateful that we have the sense to recognize greatness when we see it, recognize that the masses will never get it, launch iPhoto or GarageBand or Safari, and enjoy the satisfaction.

is an Idiot. He is the co-founder of IWS Interactive, a New York (and now Houston) based development company for Macintosh. Now he spends his time writing about, developing for, and getting clients to buy Macs. Oh, yeah, and he recently had a kid. So his days are filled with taking care of little Jack, then playing with his Mac. He wouldn't have it any other way.

You can send your comments directly to Gary, or you can also post your comments below.

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