. . . Monday November 22, 2004

Switch … Slowly

A few years ago, Apple had a one word sales message:

Switch.

But even as an Apple fanatic who can’t understand why any consumer would possibly pick Windows over OS X, I always thought that was a tough message to swallow. We use our computers every day. Some of us every minute. We know where everything is and how to use our systems. Making a wholesale switch is tough, especially when you don’t know exactly what you’re switching to and that switch will cost you more money.

But what if Apple could give users a little slice of the Mac experience? Now that could work. And it did.

Of course the product that has finally moved Apple way beyond their customary 5% is the iPod. But I think it’s iTunes as well. The software and the music store, we’re often told, are really there to sell the iPods. And that’s working. But Windows users are also getting a taste of iTunes, an excellent, easy to use Mac product. At least unconsciously, a light has to be going off. Now I finally understand why my irritating Mac friends are trying to get me to switch.

The strategy found them. It’s try before you buy. And it’s working. People who have taken a few hits of the Mac experience are suddenly jonesing for more.

Apple’s stock soared today on a couple of analyst upgrades. And listen to this. More than 13% of those who bought an iPod have either already purchased a Mac or they plan to in the next 12 months.

There is no way to overstate how big this is for a company that has been locked in a marketshare straight jacket. It’s enough to give you vertigo.

What’s next? Apple should get more software in front of more PC users. Aside from music (and the web), digital photos are the other big computer consumer play these days. Like iTunes, iPhoto is just wildy superior to the Windows experience. Apple needs to get that software onto Windows machines.

Warning to Redmond: Merit is about to squeeze its way into the computer buying decision process.


Concentration is important!