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The Psyche of PC Owners

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Apparently I’m not the only one wondering if Microsoft is going to take a big belly flop with Vista: David Morgenstern at eWeek has a column asking “What if Microsoft Held a Vista Party and Nobody Came?”.

Previous to that, the Gartner Group suggested that the big dive itself might be further postponed.

None of this can hurt Apple or Linux adoption. Indeed, the long delayed Munich Linux switch is back on track, Apple’s Mac sales are strong, and even Consumer Reports thinks Macs are great.

Well, I think Macs are great too, and with Google now providing on-line word processing and spreadsheets, I have no hesitation in recommending a Mac to current PC owners looking for improvement. The relative lack of worries from virii doesn’t hurt the concept, but I’d still push Macs even if that wasn’t an issue (tomorrow I’ll get into why I push Macs rather than Linux).

But here’s someone who thinks Apple is insulting PC owners with their ads (if you’ve missed the ads on TV, Apple has them at their website). He says:

This has been the mantra of the Apple cult for going on 20 years now: “We are smart and sophisticated and everyone else, especially those who use computers running Windows, are complete dopes.” And perhaps even more important — “They cannot hope to be as cool as we are.”

Hmmmm. Do people really invest that much of their psyche in their operating system choice? Certainly some people have vested interests in Windows – I expect strong feelings from someone whose business is selling Microsoft products (though even most of those folks are OS agnostic and are well aware of Windows problems). But your average computer user? Do they see their OS choice as a metric of their own self worth?

I doubt it. A lot of folks didn’t even know they had a choice until recently. Quite a few others probably don’t fully understand what the differences really are. As to the rest, I just don’t see much “pride of ownership” with regard to their computers. For the average PC owner, their computers are more a constant source of trouble than anything they’d want to brag about. When I hear PC owners talking, viruses and spyware are the most common subject, followed by “slowness” (which usually came from being infected by viruses or spyware!). Their computers are needed: email and access to the Internet are now a normal part of most people’s lives. But those benefits come with a big dose of annoyance attached.

No, I think Apple’s ads are unlikely to arouse any inferiority issues. I think the more likely reaction is what I hear: “Mac’s are expensive, aren’t they?”. Well no, they really aren’t, but you wouldn’t know it from those ads. A simple “From $599″ splash at the end would help a lot, I think. Then the reaction would be “Wow, Mac’s ARE cool – and I can afford one!”

And that’s the message for today, folks: Macs are cool, and you can afford one.

*Originally published at APLawrence.com

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A.P. Lawrence provides SCO Unix and Linux consulting services http://www.pcunix.com

The Psyche of PC Owners
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