Critiquing Apple’s new ‘Get a Mac’ ads

Last night’s “Emmy awards… served as the launching pad for three new Apple ‘Get a Mac’ ads, starring hip young actor Justin Long as a Mac and stodgy-before-his-time actor John Hodgman as a PC. As is my wont, I’ll try to review them, mostly from the mundane standpoint of PC-versus-Mac accuracy,” Harry McCracken writes for PC World.

Accident” – Apple’s Mac OS X isn’t just safer than a Windows PC, portable Macs themselves are safer, too:

McCracken writes, “Seems a little oblique, unless you’ve ever damaged a notebook or its power brick in the way referenced by the ad. But MagSafe is indeed a wonderful innovation, although as someone who uses a MagSafe-equipped Mac and a non-MagSafe-equipped PC notebook.”

MacDailyNews Take: The ad’s purpose is not really to promote MagSafe. The ad’s purpose it to imply that Apple thinks about the details with Macs, as opposed to how the details are treated by Windows PC box assemblers and their main operating system maker.

Angel/Devil” – Windows PC fights inner demon upon being presented an iPhoto book created on a Mac:

McCracken writes, “This is one of a number of “Get a Mac” ads whose point seems to boil down to A) Macs all come with the iLife suite, while PCS have no standard creativity tools beyond Windows XP’s skimpy offerings; and/or B) the vaguer, less defensible idea that PCs are just plain terrible for doing anything that isn’t boring. For the record, iLife is a dandy product which continues to be ripped off by almost every competitor on the PC side. But Snapfish, Shutterfuly, and umpteen other free services let PCs create nice photo books. And judged in terms of sheer volume, PC users have far more fun tools to choose from than Mac users do.”

MacDailyNews Take: This ad is one of the weakest in Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign. However, we must point out the far weaker (because it’s just plain wrong) argument offered by McCraken (and often other Windows PC advocates), “PC users have far more fun tools to choose from than Mac users do.”

First of all, the amount of tools is meaningless when Mac users have the same or better quality choices. For example, and with made-up numbers to illustrate the point: a choice of 15 photo management options vs. a choice of 3 photo management options is meaningless when the Mac has the best three from which to choose. Same goes for Word Procesors and any other category of software.

Second, in case McCracken hasn’t heard, Macs can run Windows applications, too. Windows PCs can’t run Mac apps. Therefore Apple Mac users have the ability to run largest software library on earth, not Windows PC users. Windows PC users in reality “have less tools to choose from than Mac users do” in every single software category.

Also, did McCraken miss the part where the PC’s devilish side said, “Oh, fun, we tried that once, it was nothing but pain and frustration.” The truth in that statement will resonate with Windows sufferers.

Trust Mac” – Windows PC tries disguise in attempt to evade spyware and viruses. Mac doesn’t need to do anything:

McCracken writes, “Another riff on a major point in favor of the Mac platform–the fact that it’s nearly free of viruses and spyware… Even in a world of slightly more OS X security worries than before, that’s still a huge argument in favor of the Mac and against Windows XP. If I were marketing Macs, I’d continue to hammer away at it.”

MacDailyNews Take: Some of these Windows PC users just cling to the incorrect notion that Mac OS X has been affected by viruses and spyware. Or they can’t wrap their minds around the truth. Fact: Mac OS X is virus and spyware-free.

Full article here.

Related articles:
Apple debuts three new ‘Get a Mac’ ads – August 27, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows is inherently more vulnerable to severe malware than Apple’s Mac OS X – August 23, 2006
Symantec researcher: At this time, there are no file-infecting viruses that can infect Mac OS X – July 13, 2006
Apple: ‘Get a Mac. Say ‘Buh-Bye’ to viruses’ – June 01, 2006


  1. Thelonious,

    Actually, malware writers probably use Linux or Unix. I’m sure they have Windows boxes to test on, but not as their personal systems for everyday use. They are ubergeeks. They like feeling superior, and nothing gives them that feeling more than using a command line interface that 99% of the world doesn’t understand. Plus, they know the damage their software can cause, so they would want a system that is inherently more secure.

    That’s right, the Mac is not “as vulnerable as a PC” because the system architecture is inherently more secure. That’s not saying malware and viruses are impossible on a Mac, but much more difficult to develop.

    A great many of the servers that host websites, DNS, etc. are Unix, as is OSX. If a virus writer really wanted to maximize his or her damage, Unix would be the ideal target.

  2. I have been using Mac’s ever since they came out

    Never bought a PC ever. I only got one, ONE virus in over 20 years of using Mac’s.

    What virus was it? The WDEF disk virus about 18 years ago.

    Since then I’ve allowed the bad guys a go at my box, a few have made it in over the years, but it wasn’t easy for them. I’ve learned to stay off wireless and bluetooth, not that they are insecure, but to stop all the numskulls from trying and annoying me with their attempts.

  3. I defy any non Mac user to get anything out of these commercials. These commercials and all the others seem to want to “inform” the viewer in some esoteric way.

    Not one of these or any other Apple commercial will make a PC user want to find out more about a Mac. Why? Because they don’t say anything to intrigue a PC user. They really are geared to Mac users already. And why does Apple feel the need to market to Mac users? Now that’s the 100,000 question?

    Show the friggin computers Apple. To convert PC folks, you have to show it to them. Simple. That may intrigue them to go into an Apple store instead of Best Buy for a new cheap box. In order to see an Apple computer the average PC user has to make an effort to get to an Apple store. These spots do not compel them to do this in any way.

    Wasteful advertising. Apple is just too clever by half!

  4. People who write spyware, adware, trojans and viruses are criminals. Criminals always pass on harder, or protected, targets and move on to softer, less protected targets. No car alarm is unbreakable or tamper proof, same with house alarms.

    How they work is that the miscreant will realize that you’re a hard target and pass you up for the numb nut who left their car running in front of the convenience store or who let mail pile up in their mailbox and their front porch.

    Allow this explanation to stand as a unification theory between the ‘security through obsurity’ folks and the ‘our O.S. is bulletproof’ contingent. Yes, OSX is a very hard nut to crack, but the malware folks would much rather spend their time on the uninformed masses who uses the softer operating system.

  5. The reason to keep the GUI off-screen is so it doesn’t look dated overnight.

    Since there is a new GUI coming, why waste these ads’ future relevance by showing today’s Mac OS X Aqua when the “______” GUI is right around the corner?

    Otherwise they’d have to re-edit and that would seem bait-and-switch-ish, seeing Aqua (most new users have never seen Aqua to begin with, so it is utterly new to them coming from Windows) and then showing “______” interface.

    When the black iMacs ship in Spring 2007 with Leopard, it’ll all make sense.

    Jobs will have his all-black computer reborn if it is the last thing he does.

    Also iMac Pro will be a 20″ and 23″ Cinema Display with the computer built-in. Classy.

  6. People need to understand that the world of malware is different now. The “uber-geeks” who create viruses and worms solely to gain a “1337” rep have been mostly replaced by criminals seeking to profit from breaking into or taking over computers. And a lot of these guys aren’t even particularly great at programming — they’re “script kiddies” who make minor variations of existing malware.

    Given this reality, to say market share plays no part in the Mac’s security is a little naive. Attackers leave the Mac alone because there’s little profit to be had, partly because there’s fewer Macs to hack, and also because the Macs better security features make it not worth the effort.

    Mind you, I’m not saying “security through obscurity” is true. I just get tired of hearing certain arguments, like “The Mac would have 5% of the viruses” (as if hackers were bound to statistics), or “hackers want to break into a Mac because it would make them famous” (they don’t want fame, they want money).

    When there’s enough Macs out there to make a profitable target, we’ll see Macs attacked. But I doubt they will be automated attacks like on Windows. OS X is just too tighly nailed down to be taken over by a script.

  7. I’ve been hearing the same lame argument from people for well over two years that OS X is not as safe as people think and that it is all about market share. I call BS. Why? What hacker wouldn’t get off on being the one that cracked the Mac? In all these years that security by obscurity has been the mantra, no one thought it would be cool to be the one to hack the Mac? Not saying it isn’t possible, but obviously it is more difficult than some believe.

  8. I was hoping they would show the one where the Mac Guy makes the PC Guy strip naked, strap a red ball to his mouth and march at gunpoint into a seedy biker bar at 2 a.m. for tequila, tattoos, a donkey show and a Motorhead serenade. Free PC wallpaper photos of the event will be available for download at Hodgman is probably holding out for more money to shoot this one.

  9. My problem with these ads is that, while John Hodgman supposedly plays a PC, he actually is representing average Joe, the ads showing him as dumb, underachieving, boring, etc. That’s not a positive message to lure a potential switcher with but an insulting one, and you risk the viewer rooting for the underdog.

  10. I agree with gheem. Show the frickin OS! Or at least do an ad with them talking about it. Before Vista gets out!


    As files and folders morph up and down on the Mac OS desktop:

    PC Guy: Is that some special effect you’re working on?

    Mac: Huh? Oh that’s just Mac OS ten.

    PC Guy: Everything looks so nice. I didn’t know Macs were like that.

    Mac: Yeah, check this out, all your windows — uh, well my windows, they’re translucent.

    PC Guy: What does that mean?

    Mac: You can see through them. Check it out. Check this out.

    CLOSE UP: PC Guy looking at the Mac OS desktop.

    PC Guy: Can I get one of those?

  11. You see, this is my problem. When we get hit, we’re going to get hit hard and it’s going to be embarassing . People with their “call me when it happens” attitudes are a large part of the looming disaster.

    A week or 2 a go the department of homeland security released a warning about Windows and everyone went off about how poor Windows secuirty is. Funny thing is, they’ve also released warnings about problems in OS X.

    Instead of releasing asinine commercials Apple should be releasing best security practices videos and white papers to prevent compromises.

    How many Mac users can identify the background processes running on their machines?

    Few that I know of. I keep my system clean. There are about 207 processes that show up in the background. At first glance they all look standard. I had to stop and wonder what “blued” was for a moment, but nothing unusual. Then again, how hard is it to hide something? Not hard at all.

    I hope that Apple looks at some of the security measures that are being included in Vista. That’s right ugly old stupid Vista.

    I’d like to see them including something with functionality similar to Little Snitch, for instance.

    We have an opportunity to nip this in the bud, before it becomes chronic like it is on Windows, rather than sitting around wrongly thinking we’re immune.

  12. ===
    “hackers want to break into a Mac because it would make them famous” (they don’t want fame, they want money).

    When there’s enough Macs out there to make a profitable target, we’ll see Macs attacked.

    See, this is just bullshit.

    1. Mac users SPEND more money (and “have” and “make” more money than a typical PC users) = ATTRACTIVE TARGET.
    2. Mac users have LESS understanding of security and access control = ATTRACTIVE TARGET.
    3. Mac users are laissez-faire about security= ATTRACTIVE TARGET.
    4. Mac users have broadband more than typical PC users many of whom are on dial-up to this day = ATTRACTIVE TARGET.

    If a hacker COULD get into Mac OS X easily, Macs would make a GREAT platform for illegal activity.

    But the Mac is INHERENTLY secure so they CAN’T.

    That’s not to say there aren’t weaknesses or exploits in theory, but all get patched up quickly thanks to parts of Mac OS X being based on open-sourced Darwin code and Apple’s need to remain secure in order to brag about it.

  13. Oh and any “obscurity” the mac platofrom has makes it (drumroll) = ATTRACTIVE TARGET.

    A hacker would LOVE to host pron sites on some Mac Pros on a T1 in some unsuspecting company…

    No one is LOOKING to see if anything unusual is going on on a Mac, whereas the IT dept is scrambing to pick the nits out of every Windows OS workstation…

    BUT, since the Mac is INHERENTLY secure, even this “negative” aspect of the Mac (that ti’s low market share actually is a BOON to would-be hackers) is MOOT.

    Kick the FUD in the balls and tell MS I sent ya…

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