Is going after ‘Joe Six Pack’ a mistake for Apple Computer?

“The line outside Apple Computer Inc.’s new concept ‘mini’ store curved from the front door down the concourse and back toward the store’s entrance. Every age group was represented; the very old waited patiently, if not groggily, with the very young. It was 8 a.m. ‘We’re here for the experience,’ said one bleary-eyed participant, already in line more than two hours for the grand opening. Another standing nearby agreed; he didn’t even bring any money,” David Sheets writes for The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. “The line had formed last month in the Galleria shopping mall in St. Louis. But across America just last week, this same scene replayed at hundreds of Apple stores when the company unveiled its $499 Mac mini desktop computer and gum-pack-size iPod shuffle music player.”

“In fact, lines just like it also formed when Apple unveiled a redesigned iPod a year ago and a new iMac computer in 2003, as well as when Apple opened its first company-owned store in the St. Louis area at West County Center in 2002,” Sheets writes. “Usually, every line contains the same people — fervent brand devotees who’d sooner trade in a pet or parent than anything they bought from Apple. And they’re smart, too — smarter than most PC users, according to the online media researcher Nielsen/NetRatings.”

“But is Apple just as smart? After all, when a business like Apple that depends on brand loyalty starts hawking $499 computers to attract “other” customers (read ‘not as smart’), it raises the question: Is Apple playing dumb, or being dumb, just to raise its bottom line? The ‘smarter customer’ theory spawned from Nielsen/NetRatings’ research into Internet usage in late 2002. The California firm — a partner of the same ACNielsen that monitors TV-viewing habits — found then that only 8 percent of Web surfers used Macs to go online. Of that group, however, more than 70 percent had at least a college degree, compared with about 54 percent of all other Internet users. Furthermore, Nielsen/NetRatings discovered that more than half the Mac users had five years or more experience using the Internet, compared to only 41 percent of PC users with similar experience. The research group then combined the two findings to reach its conclusion that Apple users, in general, were smarter than PC users,” Sheets writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The Mac always was supposed to be “the computer for the rest of us,” meaning, “the computer for the masses, that anyone could use well.” Now, the Mac finally has a chance. Don’t be snobs – it’s not rocket science (unless you’re at NASA using a Mac) – help people who are new to Mac and show how the Mac community is the Mac platform’s strongest asset.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Windows users tell why they’re buying Apple Mac minis; it’s time for Mac users to step up and help – January 21, 2005
Switch from PC to Mac OS X for laser testing ‘has saved NASA scientists hundreds of hours per year’ – September 08, 2004
More evidence that Mac users are smarter than Windows users – July 16, 2004

28 Comments

  1. Apple avoided the problem with a great design. For Bubba, it is an easy and relatively affordable machine. For people who already have Macs, it is a great low end mac upgrade (certainly cheaper than upgrading my Cube) and is midway between a computer and a home entertainment component.

  2. Hmmmm…. “Joe Six Pack” eh?

    Now that’s an idea. Sell iPod shuffles in tiny six pack containers and put them next to the Schlitz at the local cash-n-carry.

    MDN Magic Word: complete …as in, “That would be a completely obnoxious idea.”

  3. And really…that’s the irony….because to use a windows machine effectively you kind of need to be an expert tech contortionist and computer doctor.

    Macs just work…easy to use even if you’re drunk all day…seems like the right solution for Joe Six Pack.

  4. amen MDN… this macs are only for rich people stuff is SO IGNORANT..

    the PC press keeps perpetuating it because they know it kills the Mac as a platform for the rest of us..

    I’m not even close to upper class.. I’m a student.. independent.. typing this on a rock solid (cheap) eMac.

    I’m not a snob. I’m a total goof. A total goof with a computer that doesn’t crash.

  5. It’s interesting that some analysts and writers are apparently brain dead, but manage to churn out hundreds of words in comprehensible sentences.

    Mr. Sheet writes, “Apple also must prove there’s more to the mini than its size and design, a lesson the company should have learned in 2000 with the cool reception to its compact Cube, a similarly stylish yet expensive desktop device Apple devotees found lacking in functionality. Apple withdrew it after only a year.

    If the Cube didn’t teach Apple anything, maybe the company’s loyal following will. That’s the price you pay for having smart customers.”

    HELLO! Apple DID learn its lesson from the Cube debacle! The fact that the Mini is priced at $499 and not at $799 or $999 is the only piece of evidence you need that the Mini is NOT the Cube. It’s like the writer completely ignored the most important feature of the Mini (here’s a clue – LOW PRICE) to comform to his assertion that Apple is a company that doesn’t learn from its mistakes. While I can tolerate intelligent contrary opinions, I just have one word for the writer’s “logic” – idiotic.

    Nothing but another gasping grasp to create the impression that Apple is a dying company in the face of all the evidence to the contrary (booming iPod sales, booming Mac sales, booming software and OS sales, booming music sales). People like Mr. Sheet would no doubt have written the Allies were on the verge of a military rout by the Nazis after Berlin fell….

  6. I have a Cube. And a Mac mini.

    The Mac mini is no Cube. In fact, it’s about 1/4 the size of the Cube.

    Lesson learned: The Cube was not small enough.

    MDN Magic word: “develop” …as in, “This Mac mini thing just might develop into a winner.” Ya think?

  7. It is the right solution for the masses, and really M$ and the rest of the industry are headed in the Mac direction. Consumer appliances need to be simple and effective. Winblows is effective but the drawbacks outweigh the benefits looking forward.

    They are showing it with their Media Edition but are still a long way from it, working on Longhorn.

    When the Mini is turned into a set top box or they tell me I can plug my Mini’s firewire port into my cable box’s firewire port and use the “Record To VHS” function to send that recorded show to my Mac Mini the we will have convergence.

    The Mini will end up with many uses in many places in the home. Joe six pack can buy one today, in 2 years buy another and eventually have a wired house. One in every room. One in the car. One in the motorhome.

  8. Only the Mac community could question the arrival of new customers after years of languishing in market share obscurity.

    ‘Joe Six Pack’ as you put it doesn’t have a computer today, PC or otherwise and still isn’t going to get one. But, if he or she should, yes it is a good thing.

  9. “Nothing but another gasping grasp to create the impression that Apple is a dying company in the face of all the evidence to the contrary (booming iPod sales, booming Mac sales, booming software and OS sales, booming music sales). People like Mr. Sheet would no doubt have written the Allies were on the verge of a military rout by the Nazis after Berlin fell….”

    Booming Ipod sales? Yes…Booming Mac sales? no.

    No one creates the idea that Apple is failing in computer sales; the numbers tell the story.

  10. We (Mac users) should not support this kind of talk because we (and Apple) will be hurt if we get stamped by the media with an “elitist” label. Personal disparagement (lack of intelligence) is a sure-fire way to turn off potential switchers.

    We should welcome anyone WISE enough to switch to the Mac, regardless of level of intelligence.

    This has probably been said before, but “You don’t have to be a genius to appreciate a product designed by one.” That would make a good slogan for Apple.

  11. “No one creates the idea that Apple is failing in computer sales; the numbers tell the story.”

    Yeah, that is why they had a 26% year over year increase in computer sales when the rest of the computer industry had I believe an under 10% year over year increase in systems shipped… Yup, they sure are failing at selling more systems… Dude, its all in the numbers, try looking at them sometime…

  12. Seems like every time the words “market share” appear in an article, youse guys all fight over why Apple has or has not gained or lost it.

    It’s pretty simple math. It’s not really got to do with the growth of the market versus the growth of Apple. It’s a VERY simple formula:

    A’s market share = number of computers A sold / total number of computers sold

    That’s it. If 100 computers were sold in 2003, and Apple sold 3 of them, it had .03 (3%) share for the year. Do the same math again at the end of 2004, and you’ll have another market share. If 2004’s number is greater than 2003’s number, then they gained. That’s it. Do it monthly, daily, hell hourly if you want. But stop trying to pretend their performance against themselves and against the “industry trend” has anything to do with it.

    That feels better. Feel free to yell at me now.

  13. Probably, I am the only Mac user who thinks the Mac mini is too cheap ( 150$ ), because people are going to buy the mini in order to save money for not needing to buy Tiger and iLife anymore.

    The timing of The Mac mini is a brilliant move to gain market share, which is absolutely necessary, but I believe after the succes, they will need to drop it. If Apple has gained enough ( at least 8% ) marketshare, people will be willing to make a quality investment in more advanced systems. ( Apple will have created a new market! )

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