I am an enlisted member of a stealth army. If you’re reading this, chances are high that you are in this army, too. You know it well, it’s Apple Computer’s army that’s composed of millions of Mac users worldwide. I’ve been in for years and years, so it’s nice that Apple finally armed me with a usable recruitment weapon called the “Mac mini.” Before General Jobs’ Macworld Expo keynote this past Tuesday, I was armed with something that weighed 50 pounds, resembled a giant white molar, and cost 800 bucks. The new Mac mini will do wonders for my back as it weighs in at just 2.9 pounds and is only 6.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall. And it will do wonders for the cause as it costs just $499 for the base unit.
As a consultant and contractor, I visit many companies. In my travels, I run into many Microsoft Windows-centric operations and people. They have no idea that I’m “SteveJack” and they’ve probably never visited MacDailyNews, but invariably, probably because I’m carrying a PowerBook around, I get asked, “what kind of computer should I buy for my mom, my dad, my sister, my grandmother, myself, etc.?” When the question arises, I usually take the opportunity to crack open the lid and show off Mac OS X, explain the Dock, and demo Safari, Mail, iTunes, iChat AV, iMovie, iPhoto, etc. They are almost always suitably amazed. Then they ask me how much my PowerBook cost. After the shock subsides, they usually ask, “what about the cheapest Mac?” They always seem very interested in the sticker price; it’s a Windows user thing. Before this past Tuesday morning, the best I could do was explain about the eMac blob or try to talk them into an iMac or an iBook.
I’ve had middling success at best with the eMac/iMac/iBook as weapons of recruiting. It was getting easier to use in the face of drastically escalating Windows problems; people I have been running into in the past year or so had Windows computers so fouled with malware that they barely ran properly. Some of their home computers didn’t even run at all because they were so busy running adware and spyware. The fact that Macs are immune to this worsening mess made my Windows to Mac switcher/adder success rate better than in previous years, but still nowhere as good as it should’ve been.
In the past two days, thanks to the Mac mini, I’ve helped more people decide to buy their first Mac than I have in the past two months.
People are sick and tired of Windows problems. I mean really, really, really sick and tired. Enough so, that some of them actually listened to me and took the eMac/iMac/iBook plunge. But, now, with the Mac mini available, it seems like everyone who asks me about the Mac is ready to do it. It’s really a remarkable change. $500 seems to be a magic number for those Windows users looking to get out.
Now, I also run into a vast amount of IT types who can’t even hear the words “Apple” or “Mac” without visibly getting hives. But, just today, two of them ordered Mac minis so they could “try out this OS X (they say “ex,” not “10”) stuff.” Most of them, however, went into rants about lack of keyboards, mice, monitors, expansion slots, software, etc. You know, the usual. There will be an initial period of backlash; people protecting their Windows turf at all costs. We already can see examples of this in some media outlets. Just realize that it’s going to happen and it will probably get worse as more people get Macs and spread the word themselves. The backlash will subside eventually. But, the really interesting thing is that even most of these IT types seem a bit intrigued by the Mac mini. I know this by the questions they asked about compatibility with MS Office, whether Macs supported USB, if VGA monitors work, and other questions they never would’ve asked me before Tuesday. I’d have to say I’m amazed.
Mark my words, I’ve seen enough in just two days to know that Apple has changed everything with the Mac mini. The personal computer market will never be the same and we’re about to witness a marked gain in the Mac user base. You watch, these new Mac mini people, after they spend some quality time with Mac OS X and the iApps, are going to be in the market for an iMac or iBook or even a PowerBook or Power Mac in the future. The Mac army is growing and on the move again! Don’t you love the smell of Napalm in the morning?
SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.
Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple finally stops overreaching for ‘switchers’ and goes for ‘adders’ instead – January 12, 2005
Headless iMac for $499? Please, Apple, let it be true! – December 29, 2004