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ATPM 4.05
May 1998


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Apple Cider: Random Squeezings from a Mac User

by Tom Iovino,

No One Likes a Bully

Who can forget the tough kid on the schoolyard who roughed you up from time to time and took your milk money? The toughest kid in my school used to make the targets of his attention eat bugs. Fortunately, his family moved to another city before he worked through his list and got to me.

In many ways, the second fiscal quarter of the year had been a big bad bully to Mac fans for the past few years. If you add up the losses over Q2 in 1997 and 1996, Apple lost $1.5 billion. Yes, that Billion with a capital B. I would have to win this week's $15 million Florida Lottery 100 times--and gleefully hand my winnings over to Steve Jobs and company--to replace those funds. No other fiscal quarter has consistently been so large a headache.

And, this year was actually setting up to be another heartbreaker. Q1 saw a legitimate profit. Apple's death watch slackened for a few days. The stock rose substantially. Of course, we were setting ourselves up for disaster.

Well, surprise, surprise, surprise! Apple has turned a profit in this, recently the bleakest of quarters. The company with more lives than your average house cat gave the bully a good kick in the shins.

And this profit occurred even with the decision to drop Claris and Newton cold.

How on Earth did this quarter not flop? Well, G3-powered machines have been selling briskly.

And why is that?

Apple--gasp--launched a humorous, effective ad campaign.

Finally, the company is getting the commercial exposure it has been hungering for all these years. Sure, the 1984 ad was dramatic. And the Think Different ads were introspective. But they never really motivated the average consumer to run right out and buy a Mac.

But now, well, the Snail ad caught my attention. It made the point that, head-to-head, the G3 chip was greased lightning compared to the Pentium II. Is this necessarily true? Of course it is. The speed advantage has been demonstrated in numerous tests. And it is also pretty sizable. But even if the advantage weren't so great, it's the job of advertisements to make people believe that it is enormous. This reality has been grasped by other segments of the business community a long time ago.

Say someone were to blindfold me and give me two glasses filled with ice. A cold can of Coca Cola is poured into one. An icy Pepsi is poured into the other. I doubt that I could tell the difference between these two colas in this blind test. However, watch your TV for a day or so and I guarantee you'll see clams from both companies stating that their drink is the best thing since sliced bread. Both companies seek to make a lasting impression in the consumer's mind that they have a decided advantage over their adversary. You'll see the same strategy repeated for cars, TV networks, shoes, and dozens of other products. That's because it's a proven strategy. Tell people you have a great product again and again.

Even better than the Snail ad is the one called Flaming Bunny. In this one, Apple is taking this concept a step further, parodying the oft-seen Intel commercials. Even the choice of Disco Inferno playing in the background is a perfect foil for Intel's retro '70s soundtrack. Burn, Baby Burn! I laughed for quite a while. This one was so good, I have it on my hard drive right next to the venerable 1984.

These ads have breathed a new life into the Mac community, and they have encouraged lots of people to buy Macs. Gee, what a novel idea.

But what now? All of this success, yet another bully has come on the scene. Intuit, developer of the extremely popular Quicken accounting program, has announced that they are no longer going to be providing a Mac version. Yikes!

"Hey," Intuit is saying, "I'm taking your kickball and going home. Just try to stop me."

I was never able to balance my checkbook before Quicken. Before I bought my first computer--a used IIsi--my wife and I resorted to keeping a four column ledger sheet of withdrawals and deposits in an attempt to get control of our finances. You'd think we were a small business.

But, with Quicken, we have been able to figure out where the money has gone and point fingers accusing each other of ruining our bank account. We've been able to create budgets that are mere momentary speed bumps on our path to emptying our bank account. We've been able to produce colorful graphics which clearly illustrate our family's slide to financial ruin.

Say, maybe it's a good idea Intuit dropped the Mac version!

All kidding aside, we have found Quicken to be very useful, and I'll wager that we're not the only family putting the program to work. So, why did Intuit decide to pull the plug on the Mac version of Quicken?

Apparently, Steve Jobs forgot to explain to the nice folks at Intuit that Apple plans on being around for a while. Oops. He says that he's been on the phone ironing this new wrinkle out.

Steve, how many times to I have to say it? Without applications, the Mac is a very expensive paperweight. Let's just hope that Steve remembers to keep developers such as Adobe and Macromedia up-to-date on the future outlook for Apple.

After all, with all of those bullies out there, we need as many friends as we can get!

Oh, yeah, by the way...

I just wanted to apologize to Rob and Michael, our intrepid editors, for the lateness of my article this past month. You see, my wife and I were busy celebrating the birth of our first child!

That's right. For those of you who remember my January column, we were due in early April, and, right on cue, little Dominic Louis Iovino arrived on April 5th! He weighed in at 7 lbs., 1 oz., and was 20.5 inches long. He, his mom, and his often over-emotional dad are all doing very well.

Little Iovino

As you can see from his photo, we're trying to teach him the right way to make a jump shot early, so he doesn't pick up any bad habits from the other kids on the playground.

As he gets older, I'm looking forward to showing him how easy it is to use a Macintosh and recounting the stories of how our favorite computer company was on the brink of disaster, but rebounded to prosperity. And, I'm also looking forward to someone installing a Change Diaper icon on my Mac.

Blue Apple"Apple Cider" is © 1998 by Tom Iovino, <>.

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