Dear Rabid Apple Fans: Your precious Mac club is being disbanded. Blame iPad.

Summary:Within four years, iPad users will vastly outnumber Macs. And to the elitist Macintosh faithful, that news is too difficult to bear.

Within four years, iPad users will vastly outnumber Macs. And to the elitist Macintosh faithful, that news is too difficult to bear.

Today my long-time colleague and friend Mary-Jo Foley, probably the most seasoned Microsoft reporter in the entire industry made a revelation: She bought an iPad. And she loves it.

I think we can all agree that the summer is slow on tech news, and that even the best of us run short of material. God knows, this happens to me probably every week, and it forces me to get creative.

But Mary-Jo declaring that she's joining the Apple iPad ranks is important for its non-eventness alone, because this is evidence that the canary in the coal mine is dropping dead. And that canary is the Age of Elitism for Apple users.

In all truthfulness, I debated whether or not I was going to write a blog entry on Mary Jo buying her iPad. I didn't think it was that important.

After all, I bought one, and I wouldn't call myself the biggest Apple fan in the world. The device serves its purpose for me and it does what it needs to do. I ascribe absolutely zero religious or ideological motivation in the purchase whatsoever. It's just a friggin' tablet.

But then I read this response on MacDailyNews and it got me thinking. Mac fans sound like they are seriously threatened by the Average Mary-Jo buying iPads, aren't they?

How did they react? Not "Welcome to the club" or "Cool, she likes it" but instead in their first sentence they go as far to call her a "Luddite Soccer Mom", albeit in jest.

The very idea that Mary-Jo is a Luddite or even a Soccer Mom is totally ridiculous, as she's one of the most feminist and technologically progressive career women I've ever met.

But wait, there's more. They also want to "Vomit" if they read any more of Mary Jo's piece and that as she's "lived her life denying herself the best" for not having owned Apple product before, she therefore has "no credibility" with her opinions about the device and is also "cheap".

What does this sound like to me? It sounds like elitism. It sounds like the typical Mac fanboi crap that most of us regular people have been enduring from these twits for more than two decades.

This is not how you welcome people into your community, Mactards. This is how you alienate them.

The funny thing is about all of this is that while Mary Jo is certainly no Soccer Mom, or even a technological neophyte or a Luddite, that's exactly the sort of person the iPad is targeted at. And that's primarily who'll be buying them. In the many tens of millions over the next few years. Most of which have never owned an Apple computer of any kind before. Many will have never even purchased an iPod either.

Tens of millions of iPad owners and Apple neophytes is a Mac elitist's worst nightmare. Suddenly, the price of entry to become an Apple computer owner is no longer the equivalent to a major down payment on a luxury automobile. It's no longer exclusive. For just $500.00 anybody can own an Apple computer.

And that scares the living crap out of Mac fanatics.

At the 2009 Apple World Wide Developer's conference (WWDC) acting Apple CEO Phil Schiller stated there were 75 million Mac users worldwide. All indications are that the current rate of growth for Mac use is that it is relatively flat -- the Macs which are being bought (and in reported record numbers) are for the most part replacing the ones in the current population in North America. The recently reported growth numbers in Asia are certainly encouraging for Apple, but then again PC sales in Asia are extremely commodity and extremely high volume anyway.

[Note: I'm well aware of latest Apple sales reports that they sold more Macs last quarter than any quarter previous. That's a very good sign for replacement or expansion, but there is still very little market data other than Apple's own Chief Financial Officer's opinion to suggest that Macs are displacing or outselling Windows PCs in large quantities globally.]

Of those 75 million users, approximately 60-70 percent of them are probably in North America. That would amount to about 52.5 million if you estimate on the high end.

The early iPad purchasing trend indicates that within three years, we'll see anywhere between 50 and 80 million iPad users worldwide, as an extremely conservative estimate. And virtually all of them are going to be in the US, as the rest of the world is likely to latch onto Android instead.

Now, let's be perfectly clear. Macs aren't going away anytime soon. It's an important platform for digital content creation and obviously, it's the required and only platform for programming iOS apps, at least for the time being.

However, there can be little denying that most of the emphasis on application development for Apple products is for iOS, not for the Mac. The 2010 Apple World Wide Developer's Conference was almost entirely dedicated to the iOS platform. It was by its own admission "The Center of the App Universe." And when Apple says App, it means App Store.

I do believe that eventually, the Mac OS will be completely eclipsed by iOS. That day may not come for four or five years. Perhaps even six. But when it does happen, "normal" people will outnumber Mac users by a significant margin.

These aren't power users, they aren't digital content creation professionals, these are people that just want to get things done with devices -- their web browsing, their email, their multimedia content consumption, their document  viewing and editing, their social networking and their games.

They'll have zero interest in OS wars, and will have no institutional history with the Macintosh or fanboyism or Mac Culture at all. The only thing they will care about is can their appliance computer work to do what they need it to do, and when will their latest Apps come out. Beyond that, they won't care a whit about being part of an exclusive club.

And why is that? Because Apple now knows that their market is average people, and that they need to sell as many devices as possible in order to make money on their App Store. That means huge volumes of shipped consumer electronics and the elimination of platform elitism. To succeed, Apple knows it has to throw their existing fan base under the bus.

Good riddance. Sayonara, Jackasses.

Will the Culture of Mac Fanboyism come to an end with the popularity of the iPad? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: iPad, Apple, Hardware, Mobility

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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