On The Flip Side
by Michael Munger
Why Apple Is Such A Winner
September 7th, 1999
Predictably, industry "analysts" have sat and scratched their coconuts while they watch the success that Apple has enjoyed since Steve Jobs took over what looked like the Titanic of modern technology.
For their benefit, I decided to formulate my very own explanation for Apple's success. It is much simpler than it looks, you know.
Why does Apple succeed? It has nothing to do with the widely accepted theories. Is it just Jobs' "presence?" No. Charisma and firm leadership have an influence, but other people out there have such skills. Is it the simplicity of the Mac OS? No. Our favorite operating system was the simplest in the industry for a long time and during some of that time Apple still suffered from shrinking market share and a lack of profits.
What is it then? Where is the gap between Apple and its competitors? Why should anybody buy a computer with a bigger price tag while PC makers parade around with their higher specs (in MHz and CD-ROM speeds) and standards?
I say that the difference is not technical, but mystical. How come? Why are Apple's four product lines being described as "jaw-dropping," "huggable," or "drool-generating?" Because they are bold. Their design is not only stunning, it is also BOLD. It is out of the mainstream and it attracts people who either followed everybody grudgingly or stayed out because they did not appreciate what Macs and PCs were in the past.
I studied history for two years and I devour history books for recreation, and the best comparison I can establish to illustrate my point is a historical one. To be precise, let me go back to 1940. Just read it well and you will see something in parallel with Apple.
Why did the Germans stun their Western opponents and deliver a staggering blow to them in 1940? Here are some reasons exposed in William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:
"The Germans had a unified command, the initiative of the attacker, no moral scruples against aggression, a contagious confidence in themselves and a daring plan."
A daring plan, and the initiative of the attacker? Is this familiar? This is exactly what Apple possesses. Leadership takes risks and bold moves. Apple irritates the conservative and non-evolving PC makers and analyst by coming to market with something new and daring. The result? Devastating for Apple's competitors. Apple put several of the PC clone makers on the defensive stance. Some find it easier to copy than to equal Apple...
The PowerBook's elegant design is bold. The G4's supercomputer performance is bold. The iMac and iBook concepts themselves are bold. This is why they sell. It is not just flavors and shapes that helps Apple sell more of these computers, but their very difference from the rest of the marketplace.
There is a part of society refuses standards and prefers originality when combined with usability. This is why so many Mac users Think Different and say it with pride in front of any PC user. Maybe they do it without tact, but the point is that they believe in it.
Come with something bold and you will attract a crowd. This is what Apple does and this is why Apple is a success story these days. As long as bold products and ideas like Apple's present product lines are coming out of Cupertino, you can count on people to buy them.
It disturbs a few analysts out there, but really, who cares?
Your comments are welcomed.
Michael Munger is a French Canadian living in Montreal. He discovered the Mac in 1994 while studying journalism, the profession he loves and practices. He also studied history and communications. In addition to his work at The Mac Observer, he authors the iBasics tutorial column at Low End Mac, and cofounded MacSoldiers in 1998.
You can find more about him at his personal Web site.
You are welcome to send me your comments or you can post them below.
Most Recents Columns From On The Flip Side
On The Flip Side Archives