What $500 Buys a Mac Customer: Leverage

The technical and business community is replete with stories about how just a little bit more skill generates an enormous amount of leverage. Here are some examples that explain why Mac customers are all too happy to pay a little more for their computers.

I took some golf lessons last fall. I was told by my instructor, a golf pro, that the average difference in handicap between the top 10 money making pros and the 2nd tier guys who struggle to make a living is about 1 or 2 strokes.

That is, as a very good pro, if you can improve your game by two strokes, you'll go from $100,000 a year to $1M+ a year. A very fine difference in skill generates enormous financial leverage.

Recently, my wife ran across a story about the differences between an average programmer and the very best. The span, in the number of lines of code generated each day is a factor of 10. A little more skill generates a lot more code. Yet, managers are generally unable to distinguish between these levels because they don't have the programming expertise to evaluate their people.

Finally, we know in business that executives who are just a cut above the rest can make a whole lot more money. CEO's are, after all, human beings, and it's unlikely that there is more than 20 I.Q. points difference between them. But add that special, undefinable knack, perhaps through experience, training and temperament, and a CEO can raise his (her) income from $500,000 a year to $50M.

That's the Mac.  You increase your efficiency just a little and pay a little more, but the gain ends up being huge. You don't trifle away your life messing around. Things just work. Software works with other software and is well integrated into the hardware. We all know this, but the recent Microsoft ad campaign, seeking to take advantage of tough economic times, would have us believe that we should buy cheap crap and fall down a rabbit hole of frustration and lost time.

What's fundamental here is that hardware is cheap, but software is hard.

That principle of personal leverage and productivity via skills is found in hundreds of books in the business section of the library or book stores. As my friend David Sobatta said in his blog this week, "...but for some of us 'good enough' is just not enough."

Which personality are you? For Lauren, good enough was good enough. Microsoft thinks that's cool.

I can just see the "Get A Mac" ad team at TBWA\Chiat\Day brainstorming now.