I've just been looking at some of the latest TV Apple Mac ad campaigns. Is it just me or do these ads focus too much on Windows Vista?
What surprises me about these ads is that while they are clever, funny and just a little tongue in cheek, I can't help but feel that because Apple seems to be more and more focused on Vista (which gives me the impression that there's worry over at the Apple camp over Vista). From a marketing point of view, the idea behind the ads is obvious - Microsoft's spending a lot of money on Vista ads (as are PC manufacturers), so why not ride the wave for a while.
But who are the ads actually targeting?
The pool of people who really know what Windows Vista really means is small. Out there among the PC-using masses the level of Vista awareness is still pretty low (heck, I come across hundreds of people every month who can't reliably tell you what operating system they have, I still get responses like "what came with my Dell" and "I bought it three years ago.") The masses are aware that there's a new operating system but for most this is something that'll be included with their next PC.
If you've already used Vista then you also know that some of the ad content is nothing short of bunk. If you've used Vista to any degree then you know that installing Vista is pretty easy and that security features such as UAC aren't all that bad (if you've lived with a Windows PC that had an program like ZoneAlarm or BlackICE installed on it, UAC doesn't seem so bad). The out of the box experience for a Mac and a PC isn't really all that different (and as someone who's been using WiFi for years, the out of the box experience I had with Apple's WiFi drivers was far short of the promised "it just works") and the ads gloss over one highly compelling reason why you want an office PC in your home - gaming.
Over the past two years Apple's seen enormous growth in Mac's install base. Since the launch of Mac OS X Tiger nearly two years ago, it's seen a 25% increase , but in real terms this still only represent 5 million new users. Against the might of the world’s Windows-based PCs, an installed base of 20 million is almost negligible. Personally I'd issue a wedgie to any marketing person suggesting another PC/Mac comparison ad and start emphasizing some of the real-world upsides to Mac ownership. After all, one of the features that Apple's been pushing as of late is the ability to run Windows on a Mac. If Windows is so bad, why go down that route?
One big upside of buying a Mac that springs to mind is iLife (although if you wanted to be picky you could point out that the price premium that you pay for a Mac more than covers the cost of buying similar software for a PC). This software is pre-installed and ready to use. That's gotta be a selling point.
Another market that Apple isn't targeting is the Windows-using iPod owner. That's a massive market of people that already subscribe to Apple's way of thinking that Apple is currently overlooking (although here I think that Apple needs to be careful not to associate the iPod too much with the Mac in case people think it only works with a Mac).
Thoughts? If you are a Windows user, do Mac ads make you want to switch? If you're a Mac user already, do you think that the ads do a good job of highlighting the real upsides of Mac ownership?