Apple’s ‘Switch’ ads failure; no increase in Macintosh market share seen

“It has been a year, and the masses aren’t switching to Macs. Last summer, Apple Computer began airing the TV commercials that were supposed to chip away at Microsoft’s empire and sell more of its underdog Mac computers. There was the girl who switched to a Mac after her Windows computer ate her homework, the daughter who used her Apple laptop to rescue digital photos on Christmas,” reports Jon Fortt for Knight Ridder News Service. “With a year’s worth of sales numbers under their belts, three major market research firms show roughly the same thing — Cupertino-based Apple is holding its ground, but the only PC company attracting a lot of switchers is Dell Computer.”

“According to NPD Techworld, in the U.S. consumer market Round Rock, Texas-based Dell jumped from 30 percent a year ago to 37 percent in May, while Apple hovered between 3 percent and 4 percent,” writes Fortt.

“There are other signs that the numbers are not shifting in Apple’s favor. Subscriptions to Macworld, a major magazine for Apple followers, are unchanged at 400,000 compared with last year. Also, Apple said Wednesday that it sold fewer computers this spring than it did a year ago, though it brought in more money because more of those computers were high-end laptops,” Fortt writes.

Fortt continues, “The results of the switcher campaign so far underscore Apple’s odd status in the computing industry. Though its image is widely seen as cooler and smarter than its peers, that doesn’t always help the company outsell its rivals. ‘It’s not likely that Apple can do anything to change the structure of the industry,’ said Steve Baker, analyst at NPD Techworld. ‘For them to get to 5 or 8 percent market share doesn’t seem like something that can happen, given the way the business is going right now.” Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Our own SteveJack had an idea a while back and wrote, “Listen, Apple needs to put its money to use effectively for once. Take all of that ‘preaching to the choir/propping up the Mac magazines’ marketing cash and put it to good use instead by targeting a large corporation or two and getting them to switch. I don’t care if Apple has to use some of its $4.5 billion cash horde to get it done. Whatever it takes. Get a Fortune 500 company to switch from Windows-based computing to Mac OS X and Mac hardware. Nobody outside of current Mac users and Cupertino thinks a Mac can run a serious business. Think of all of the myths that would be shattered or altered; Mac software, software compatibility with other Wintel businesses, speed, productivity, IT costs, etc.”

Read SteveJack’s article, “I could market Macintosh better than Apple Marketing in my sleep” over on our Opinion section here.

Apple knows “Switch” didn’t work. Note how Music replaced it in the major tabs of their site’s navigation and switch became a minor tab. Note also: no new switcher ads in quite some time. Even though the campaign should have targeted “Adders,” meaning “keep your PC and add a Mac – we’ll let you choose your favorite after a month or so,” until Apple wakes up and SHOWS THE OS AND THE COMPUTER DOING COOL THINGS THAT WINTEL CANNOT DO OR DO WELL ON TV, instead of focusing on case designs and cutesy concept/image ads, Mac market share will remain stagnant.

Again, Apple, please show the OS, show iChat AV in action, even in beta form, show Safari, show iTMS, show Expose, show the Dock magnification – use the uniqueness and the reason we buy Macintosh (the OS and apps) to sell Macintosh. And fire TBWAChiatDay, (Apple’s ad agency) they’ve failed to tell you this and they’ve failed you, Apple.


  1. This is a great idea. They could make maybe 20 different 10 second ads showing just one (visual) feature each. Stuff like expose. Stuff like a digital camera connecting and launching iPhoto. Like creating a page of photos using iPhoto and .Mac.

    Above all, it should be positive. No knowcking other platforms at all. Just show the benefits.

  2. I don’t agree that the apple switch campaign was a failure. I was a former wintel user who had used macs in the early nineties. When it came time to purchase a new computer (a month ago) I “switched to a mac.” One month later, I couldn’t be happier. The switch campaign opened my eyes once more to the serious possibility of owning a mac. Previously, I had been ignorant enough to believe most of the myths surrounding macs. The switch campaign dispelled them for me. Everyone knows the PC industry has been in a major slump for the past 18 months. Some signs point to the belief that we are now ending that slump. Now that consumer spending is on the rise, apple should continue promoting the benefits of the mac platform to those PC buyers that are only now coming out of hibernation. It is my belief that a large majority of switching will occur when people seek to upgrade their computers. So keep the pressure on Apple!

  3. Why not tell the world about the difference! Running a PC with Windows is to expose the PC with over 70000 virus this is not a good deal for small companies! It may not be sexy but it sure would sell a lot of of more Mac.

  4. Yesterday on a TV channel here in Germany that’s totally dedicated to computers and video games, one of the hosts was demoing the new Sony Ericcson T610 cell phone, and how it interacts with the Mac (a 17″ AlBook) via Bluetooth. He demoed software that allows you to remote control the Mac from the cell phone. During the demo, his PC colleague literally was staring the whole time in AWE of his Mac-using buddy, because of how easy the whole process was, and the fact that it all just seemed to work together. The Mac automatically recognized the phone, and vice-versa.

    These are the kind of experiences that Apple needs to build into their ads. SHOW THE MAC OS IN COMMERCIALS, for crying out loud!!!

    BTW the guy demoing the phone w/ OSX was a PC switcher. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  5. the reason I see Dell getting more market share is that I see their commericials a HECK of A LOT more than Apple’s. I haven’t seen one Apple commerical during prime or any other time whereas I see a Dell commerical ALL the time.

    And I agree that Apple needs to show OS X and not the damn hardware. The hardware isn’t THAT impressive, OS X IS.

  6. The reason they shouldn’t kncok the opposition is that it’s negative. If they don’t even feel the need to mention them, it’s much more positive.

    And in some regions (the UK for example) negative advertising explicitly naming a competitor is not allowed.

    The bluetooth example is a good one too – though not everybody’s experience is as good. I know of someone with sony phone that works better with XP than with X and iSync.
    Even so, the scriptable clicker utility would be a great thing to show off.

  7. I really do not think that Steve Jobs lives in a cocoon. He is very well aware of the Mac ads and has every single statistic of their results sitting on his desk.

    It isn’t always what you advertise but HOW you advertise it. The Dell ads are lame and cater to the beer-guzzling, chip-munching, couch potato 20-somethings, and end with an ad pushing their bottom-of-the-line $600 model. There is nothing there Apple wants to “compete” with! That’s NOT Apple’s market.

    Apple is much more like Porche. You don’t have to tell anyone how good it is to drive a Porche, you simply have to let them know on occasion that they are still there with a quality product. There is a very sophisticated subtleness in creating mystery. It gets people into the Apple stores to test drive them, rather than sitting on their Bud stained sofa saying “Mine can do that!” as Apple frantically attempts to show what is different. Apples doesn’t need to advertise like a cheap politician. It’d be insane for Porche to compare their cars with Fords, but this is exactly what people are advising Apple to do.

    Bottom line: Steve Jobs and company have done a fantastic job of producing high quality, leading-edge, products at great prices. I will let these same geniuses with their PowerBook full of stats and their highly inventive minds decide on the best advertising without any interference from this quiet, loyal, user. Thanks, Steve!!

  8. The “Style” ads have already searved their purpose: they have established Apple as a brand. But that is not enough. Now we have to compete—not with other PC makers, but with the myths and ignorance of the populace. Eveyone knows what a Mac IS…now we have to show them what it can DO.

    A great ad I see is this: an unsuspecting young man in a mall…his beautiful, smiling girlfriend drags him into an Apple store (he rolls his eyes, like “yeah, Apple, whatever”)…he is then awed as he moves from the iMac, to the G5, to the huge software isle, seeing some Panther clips in the store theatre, and hearing some amazing facts from the friendly Genius…when he leaves, he is excitedly dragging his girlfriend to get home…carrying his new G5.

  9. The Switch campaign was not a complete failure. I made the switch recently, replacing two aging PCs with an iMac and a PowerBook. However, switching platforms has one MAJOR problem. Software replacement.

    I wanted a Mac for a long time but until I had the cash for the computer AND all of the software, switching wasn’t an option. The wife needed Office – $300 with the purchase of a new Mac. I needed PhotoShop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver – $1,400. I ended up paying more to replace the software than I paid for my 17″ flat panel iMac.

    Yes, Apple’s prices are competitive now, but Switchers need to pay for more than hardware. If Apple really wants people to use their products, their marketing money would be better spent subsidizing softare for switchers.

    Then there are low-end users – a lot of people in my family are teachers. Despite the education incentives, teachers are stuck buying the $299 eMachine because that’s what they can afford and all of their freebie software is written for the PC. Despite the cost of the hardware, they might actually switch if all of those nifty little PC programs that they use to infotain our kids would run on a Mac. For that, Mac needs a Windows emulation layer similar to Classic.

    It’s not about the hardware, people. It’s the software that most can’t afford.

  10. What Apple needs to do is get accepted into the business community. People buy what they have at work.

    One way is to point out MS EULA agreement. By agreeing to that, MS has the right to see what is on your computer. If you run Autoupdate, it is sending way too much information to MS. It conflicts with all Gov’t, FDA, HIPAA, Banking policies.

    MS EULA states

    “You acknowledge and agree that Microsoft may automatically check the version of the OS Product and/or its components that you are utilizing and may provide upgrades or fixes to the OS Product that will be automatically downloaded to your computer. “

    Something similar is in the EULA of every new MS product like OFFICE!

    Apple needs to take advantage of this. MS is proclaiming its software secure, but look what happened this week. Every OS by MS has a critical security leak.

    If Apple can get the banking industry, or HIPAA certification, it would be a major marketing opportunity.

    If Apple can demonstrate that it’s OS is secure, and it does not scan your HD automatically for unauthorized material without your knowledge, large corporations will switch.

    Think about it, computers in banks, hospitals, gov’t agencies are running insecure software which the vendor states it is scanning your computer. That alone is worrisome. EVEN MORE DANGEROUS, is that a hacker could gain access to the autoupdate feature and retrieve information from secure computers.

    Most firewalls autoconfigure to allow MS autoupdate to penetrate it.

    – everyone here is forgetting the Retail Stores, which are the front lines of the Switch campaign. A very high percentage of people (especially at the high profile ) stores are windows users. I am always amazed at how people are constantly speculating to this day on apple’s demise. It reminds me of the US vs japan business models last decade: some people just don’t get long-term thinking

  12. I would agree with all points made here (clever…), the Switch campaign was successful, even though I found it to be lame, to the degree that some people legitimately were made aware and actually switched platforms, others like myself purchased a Mac (first since my selling my G3 4 years ago) to complement other platforms, and if for no other reason than to put the Porche-type msg alluded to out to the public.

    But as cool and high quality as the Mac hardware is (except for that unrelenting mouse problem), I strongly agree that advertising must be produced showing OS X in action. The new G5 commercial is cute, but is just another novelty ad. It doesn�t show me anything, except top-end high-priced hardware sitting there. It isn�t going to sway anyone. Some other people here have already made the critical points: Apple should save all the high tech, gee wiz effects and produce ads that show productivity.

    Show me things like I could see in the QuickTime movies on the website. I watched the original iMac movie over a dozen times and it was the demos within it of the iApps and the individual iApp product clips in action that brought me back. Work with some of the ideas contained in the clips of the other bundled software that is Mac specific � they�ve already got what they need right on their website! Put THAT in front of the unwashed masses. I like the idea mentioned of the Apple Store walk through. Show the Bluetooth possibilities. Show iTunes 4 and the Music Store; it�s got incredible support behind it right now. Show the ENTIRE package in action, not just the hardware and special effects.

  13. Maybe Apple should put some of their money in buying more time spots. I watch many of the popular season shows and I can count on my hands how many times I saw a switch commercial. I do agree that they need to SHOW the benefit of a Mac and not let some goofus talk about it.

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