I just Facebook’d Jonny Evans’ piece “The year of the Mac”. As I wrote in my posting. I saw it as an “Excellent piece that summarizes quite well the overall picture of Apple in the industry.” In a nutshell, Apple is on a roll. It’s posting sales numbers companies dream of. And, if I might add, it’s posting these numbers during a worldwide recession. Critics can say what they like, but that’s impressive. But that’s not the only thing that occurred to me.
My 19 year-old is a beautiful, intelligent young lady, with quite a set of social butterfly wings. She knows the trends way better than her earth-toned father (hey. What can I say? I love earth tones!). If I need to find out what’s trendy, I pretty much know she or her network of 5 gazillion Facebook friends have the answer. I also know what their demographic considers to be the computer. The Mac. And it’s not just because Macs are as wonderfully designed as they are, though I’m quite sure this has an impact. Some of her friends are hardcore geeks who know their way around a keyboard pretty well. They want Macs as well. My guess is part of it has to do with the free Xcode download Apple offers, as well as the Darwin underneath the hood of their Macs. Geeks who know know what’s really underneath the hood of a Mac, while the critics keep naïvely chirping, “they’re only pretty and expensive”.
Of course, it’s not just Macs. There are also the iPods and iPhones to be considered. It goes without saying those devices are the preferred methods of listening and communicating for that demographic. Ask any parent of a teenager if you doubt me.
But it’s the long-term effect of all of this I’m thinking about here.
I don’t believe my 19 year-old and her friends ever really even consider thinking about another company to fill their computing and mobile phone wants and needs. When they think computer or mobile phone, the vast majority of them think Apple. Oh, I’m well aware of how a lot of that has to do with branding. After all, I’m married to someone with formal schooling, not to mention PR experience in that area. No. Apple knows branding. But good branding only takes a product so far. The product has to be able to hold its own after the point of purchase. Apple’s products are doing that. And they’ve been doing it as long as my daughter can probably remember in her computing experience, which has improved significantly since her Windows-using days. In a nutshell, Apple has gained her and her generation’s trust for their computing needs. That’s pretty valuable. No. That’s really valuable. I bet folks in the business would say the ultimate value.
For the record, I’ve written about and have told friends and family how I’m very grateful what Microsoft and the paths they charted for the everyday consumer. I cut my teeth on Microsoft, and am a huge fan of Bill Gates, and I so appreciate his making his Microsoft Office applications affordable to folks like me, and especially for small business owners. His story is phenomenal, and he deserves the pioneering credit he gets for what he did for the IT industry. However, as happens, I think Microsoft lost a lot of its edge in the client computing world. Personally, I blame a lot of it on decisions made under Steve Balmer, but that’s beside the point. After many years, they lost my confidence. So much so that I took the switching leap to Mac after a demonstration by a fellow Mac user. I haven’t looked back or regretted my move since.
Apple now has the confidence of my daughter’s generation for both computing and mobile phone use. That’s a pretty awesome starting position with nice prospects (they’re still serious players in the world of servers yet). What’s more awesome is they seemed ready for it once the iPod hit. They have users who are confident in the products they are producing, both the hardware and software. For them, the table is pretty much set for the consumer market. And yet, they now seem to be making significant headway in the government and business markets as well.
It will be very interesting keeping an eye on them. Very interesting indeed.