by André Voshart
Apple Computer Inc. is fighting for a slice of the personal computer market by capitalizing on the astounding success of its digital music player, the iPod.
The company is working to lure students to their Mac computers by offering discounts and a free iPod mini with purchase — and its working.
For the first time, people are looking to these niche computers for personal use, but its important for students to see past the clever marketing and examine the facts before making one of the biggest purchases of their university career.
Buying a computer can be overwhelming and it doesn’t help that the options available are like Apples and oranges. Windows-based PCs (the oranges) make up the glut of the market and are the majority of — if not the only — computers in most big box tech stores.
Milind Yadav, an associate at Yonge Street’s CompuSmart, which sells both types of systems, says five per cent of computer users use Macs — nearly double from a few years ago. He attributes the increase to price drops and the iPod’s popularity.
Ryerson business management professor Ida Berger credits Apple’s clever marketing with its success.
“The idea of free promotion is very common and powerful,” she says, adding she also believes students won’t blindly follow the campaign. “I think students make the decision rationally. The magnitude of what they’re buying is bigger than, say, a free comb with a bottle of shampoo.”
Brian Lesser, Ryerson assistant director of teaching and technology support, cautions students to consider their program demands and career aspirations before buying into the hype.
Ashley Modjeski, first-year business management, did just that before she ordered her Mac two months ago during the promotion. She couldn’t be happier with her decision.
“I want to go into marketing. The Mac has a lot of good graphics programs if I wanted to pursue that career,” she says. And Modjeski isn’t the only one who is switching for good.
“They are coming in a big way,” says Yadav. Among Mac’s many positives, Yadav says they are less likely to crash because fewer viruses and spyware target its system, they are relatively inexpensive — $1199 for an iBook — and have overall better aesthetics and multimedia and style programs.
But Yadav explains there are advantages to owning a Windows-based machine. For instance, most programs are compatible with Windows XP, while a Mac version is released months later, if ever. As well, Yadav says the software for Macs is costly and selection is very limited. Mac users can buy Virtual PC, which lets them run Windows software, but with a minimum $300 price tag.
Most people working in an office environment would be safe with a PC since most of the software companies use is Windows-based, says Yadav.
Still, as Apple’s popularity continues to climb, Yadav predicts Apple users will double in a few years. And for satisfied customer Modjeski, this comes as no surprise.