Apple Computer equips their stealth army with mini recruiting weapons

By SteveJack

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


  1. Some marketing and education from Apple would be a nice companion to the Mac Mini. Ever since I discovered the magic of OS X, I have been amazed at how little Apple does to tell the world about how great its operating system and hardware is. I notice that there is an Ad ready (maybe playing now) for iPod Shuffle, where is the one for Mac Mini and/or OS X?

    I need some marketing help in converting PC users. In my discussions with PC users, it usually starts as a hardware discussion over Ghz of PC’s vs Mac’s. Its painfuly frustrating as the average PC joe in the street automatically thinks that Macs are slower because the Ghz don’t line up. I have already heard comments around the new Mac Mini along the lines of “Wow, they charge that for a 1.x Ghz processor. My grandma is running a faster PC”

    The next discussion usually involves me explaining that OS X is built on unix, stable, virus free, sexy and a whole new operating system from the one they know of years gone by. (Almost none of the people I talk with are aware that apple re-wrote their OS). They are amazed by iLife and the richness of the OS user interface. When I am walking them through this stuff, they usually say at the end “well if its so cool, how come apple doesn’t tell anyone about this stuff?”

  2. My friend of 30+years has finally purchased his first Mac and it’s the Mac mini. We’ve had a friendly feud for years about our choice of computers: he’s in IT and a stalwart PC/Windows user and I have been Mac-only since 1988. He was contemplating a Powerbook before Christmas, but couldn’t resist the Mac mini.

    I can’t wait to see what happens once he’s had it for a while.

  3. Pete, if we all get our wish, Apple may start advertising OS X and its hardware once Tiger comes out. In the meantime, Apple’s retail stores are its current marketing for the platform.

    I think Steve’s done playing nice with the industry. If the banners at WWDC were even a slight indication, I’d say he’s ready to go for the kill.

    Can’t wait. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cheese” style=”border:0;” />

  4. I am still mildly concerned the underground vibe of Apple will be diluted (ie in that the market share grows and more whack fools get in on “our thing”) but I have to say that seeing people’s eyes open and say “wow this is good” is cool.

  5. One market that the Mac Mini might end up taking a chunk of is the gaming console market – it’s almost inviting itself under the TV. When people buy gaming consoles, it’s not for the console, but for the games it can play.

    Problem is, with gaming consoles, it’s hard to get games developed as developers must have three licenses from the console manufacturer: (extracted from Wikipedia)
    -A license to develop games for the console
    -The publisher must have a license to publish games for the console
    -A separate license for each game

    In addition, the developer must usually buy development systems from the console developer in order to even develop a game for consideration, as well as obtain concept approval for the game from the console developer.

    With this in mind, since Apple doesn’t restrict entry on game developers (more software choice sells the hardware), it could start a “virtuous circle” for gaming – far more people can make games for the Mac Mini, which means more people will buy it for the games, and game developers will focus more of their attention on Macs as a development platform.

  6. I agree with Pete. Apple needs to start a major educational marketing campaign to let all these switchers and adders know what the real deal is on the Mini.

    What the campaign needs to point out is:

    OS X is a paradigm shift from the classic Mac OS. I have talked to many many PCers who have used a Mac at sometime in their past and think they know from that what it is like today. OS X changed everything and they need to be informed of this.

    Low Gigahertz on the PPC chip does not equal low speed. I think the best way to point this out would be to compare it to AMD vs. Intel for those who have a bit of technosavy. For the others just say for different chips the measuring process is different and that you can more or less double the Gigahertz if you want to compare it to an Intel chip.

    They can use their current monitor. They can also use their current keyboard and mouse if they want. Even if the mouse and keyboard are the outdated PS/2 style a 5 dollar PS/2 to USB adaptor is all it will take. They could also buy a KVM switch and have both their PC and Mac hooked up to the SAME monitor keyboard and Mouse AT ONCE and just flick a switch to change.

    They will not have to battle viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware, or other malware (Let them know that currently there are ZERO viruses in the wild for OS X. Contrast this to the over 70,000 viruses that exist for windows. Almost every article that mentions something on this says Macs have RELATIVELY FEWER problems with malware that windows. For the last four years we have had ZERO problems so it should pointed out emphatically that “Macs currently have NO PROBLEMS WITH VIRUSES” not “fewer problems”)

    MDN has been calling the Mac mini “an amazing $499 software bundle and OS package that is literally unrivaled in personal computing history that includes a free Apple Macintosh computer” and I really like that angle. The software they will get includes:

    The iLife fully integrated suite (iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iTunes, and Garage Band – the integration is incredibly important and should be explained in a simple way so they will understand. Hopefully with examples.

    Appleworks for word processing and spreadsheets (and which can save documents in a Microsoft Office compatible format),

    Quicken 2005 to manage your finances and balance your checkbook,

    Address book software which also prints labels,

    the iSync syncronization software to sync your calendar and addresses with your phone or PDA,

    The Safari Internet browser software (which also blocks popups),

    Email software which is also integrated with iPhoto and the Address book,

    Calendar/Scheduling software,

    and my favorite – iChat AV – free video conferencing software which is also best of class, can go to full screen, and is smooth with perfect voice video synchronization.

    They even throw in a couple of games in (Nanosaur 2 and Marble Blast Gold).

    Please feel free to add anything that I may have missed.

    P.S. The masses also need to be informed that MS Office is cross platform compatible and that discs and flash sticks can be read by either windows PCs or Macs.

    It would also be good to inform them of software makers that are willing to give them the Mac version for the upgrade price if they already own the windows software.

    Everything that I listed above could be fit on a ONE PAGE PAMPHLET that they should be handing out like popcorn at Apple stores and have available for download off their website.

  7. Jack A:

    AMD vs. Intel is not a bad example (to show that higher Mhz does not necessarily mean higher performance), but an even better example is Pentium M (“Centrino”) vs. Pentium 4-M. On many tasks, Pentium M can be competitive with Pentium 4 chips that are clocked up to 50% higher.

  8. How about Apple including a DVD with the Mac mini to explain the hardware, OS and software advantages, and especially a tutorial to help first time users find their way around OS X? How to use the dock, finder, expose, etc. And then a quick tour of all the iApps.
    (Heck, Steve himself could even have a word.)
    Better still� they could make the DVD’s freely available at all Apple stores to let those still sitting on the fence have a serious peek.
    I know a couple of switchers and after several weeks they still expect things to work the ‘Windows’ way, when I show them the easier Mac way you get lots of aahhs, but also a shrug of shoulders. I think a free tutorial would really help.

  9. mini + OS X + iLife + iWork = mighty (even mightier with Tiger)

    OS X advertising? I’m betting they’re waiting on the Tiger to roar.

    Free DVD explaining OS X, iLife and iWork (and how to swtich from a PC)? I think that’s a brilliant idea.

  10. Repeat after me (especially in the company of potential switchers):

    KVM switch, KVM switch, KVM switch.

    When all realize that they can keep their PC while they experiment with the Mac experience (and Apple’s amazing software package), you’ll get the switchers. In a fairly short time, they’ll find themselves preferring to do more and more on the Mac side of the switch, and the Mini will have won them over by introducing them to the OS. As MDN likes to say, it’s the OS.

    Apple Mac Mini – the Trojan Pony (yeah, I’m proud of that one – I so rarely get to be clever). You heard it here first.

  11. For kicks, I’m describing a fantasy interconnected world:

    1. Free internet anywhere – of course.
    2. Some type of online real-time profile – could be with cellphone, or could be with, say, mini-rendevous functionality, sending out some small signal to existing “cloud”.
    3. Place locator, mixed with a roving IM type functionality – as you get closer, you get pinged, and get a Harry Potter type map (on cellphone or laptop) of where people in your IM are located.
    4. Place locator mixed with roving INTEREST locator – say there is a local deathmatch tournament, you can just immediately join the network through rendevous type functionality, and play.

    Or even better, say you have an “eharmony” profile, or political interest profile – you know, where your interests are matched up with other people’s to the 90% or such. This service would ping you with say, if are within 1 block of people who share your interests, at the 98% profile. (Interesting way to meet new people, hey? So that deathmatch yoga sailing unix person, who you’ve always dreamt of meeting, is within 1 block, you’ll know!)

    Similarly, same type of functionality with say, shopping – put parameters in, get tracked locator of stores that are offering what you are looking for.

    This is combining location with Yahoo or Google local.

    This is all a fantasy, but I like dreaming.

    Maybe this type of functionality is why google is buying dark fiber, hey?

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