Three new ‘Get a Mac’ ads are available (I love Group and Sad Song). I love this campaign, but in various blog comments I see statements about how they’re not good enough, and that Apple should advertise the Mac like they do the iPhone. In fact, I’ve seen comments like this since Apple began advertising the iPhone.
This isn’t likely to happen because there’s no GUI advantage of the Mac over Windows that can easily be portrayed in a 30-second spot.
What I mean by this is there’s really nothing Apple could show that Microsoft (if they desired) couldn’t easily counter with an ad of their own.
Think about it, what would you suggest be shown? Even something as cool as Time Machine could be countered in a spot by Microsoft’s Shadow Copy. We may know they’re not the same, but in the conext of an edited TV spot, they are. Editing is a beautiful thing, and there’s simply nothing either could show that the other couldn’t counter (rightly or wrongly) if they wanted to.
The truth is, when Windows 3.0 came out, even though Apple’s lead over Microsoft was still significant (at least to those who knew both OSes), the world saw them as essentially the same. Desktop. Icons. Windows. Menus. Yep, no real difference here. And once Windows 95 was released, any lead all but evaporated in anyone’s eyes but the faithful.
Apple could easily show the Mac’s great difference in the days of DOS (and the first two Windows versions), but that’s it. Sure, even now differences could be shown in a dedicated demo, or over time, but not in the context of a 30-second TV spot.
The iPhone is in a different position. The reason Apple can do this with the iPhone is because for all practical purposes other phone OSes are DOS compared to the iPhone’s! Apple can show all this stuff knowing full well that other vendors can do nothing to counter it, because they’ve got nothing.
And Apple was right. All you generally see from any vendor is a guy touching a screen, but they soon move away and show something else. Anything else. Just don’t show the user interface beyond the few touch screens and icons they hacked in front of Symbian, or Windows Mobile, or whatever.
This is even true for phone vendors’ web sites. They talk about web browsing, for example, but show precious little of it. To do so would invite a comparison they don’t want you to make. Heck, look at this video from crackberry.com regarding RIM’s new BlackBerry Bold (aka 9000). This thing won’t even be available until Summer, and the interface is weak. RIM would probably like nothing more than to pull the video, but it’s too late. And this new BlackBerry may be the best “contender” against the iPhone yet.
In my view, the reason the ‘Get a Mac’ campaign is so effective is that it manages to tout Mac advantages — and get jabs at Windows — in an age where I thought such jabs were not possible in a short TV ad given the similarities of the two OSes to the masses.
Last June, I wrote that I don’t think users of phones would be as gullible as computer users were 20 years ago. Consumers today are more tech savvy (i.e., they are less intimidated by technology). And while I’m sure some of the “touch screen” ads from vendors fool some people, I believe most will attempt to do what they saw on TV (or on actual iPhones) and immediately see the difference Apple offers. As I put it then:
Go to an Apple store and see the iPhone in action, then see those same tasks on the competitor of your choice. It will likely be no contest.
Apple needs to keep hammering that point home until someone else has at least a “Windows 3.0” interface for their phone.
For the Mac, however, that time passed long ago. They can show the advantages at the Apple Store, of course, but not in a 30-second TV spot. For such a short ad, the ‘Get a Mac’ campaign is both brilliant and effective.