In just 7 more days, Windows 7 will finally be a reality. Dozens of new netbooks, desktops, laptops and CULVs will hit stores and customers across the world will buy new PCs. People (like me) who retreated to XP in the face of Vista's terrible onslaught will finally get the chance to use a new OS. A casual glance around the tech blogs and news sites makes it pretty clear that the next few weeks belong to Microsoft. But that doesn't mean that Apple is going to let the Win 7 launch succeed without a fight.
Businessweek spoke to Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior VP of Marketing, and learned how Cupertino plans to handle the Win 7 launch. While most of the tech world is busy singing 7's praises, Schiller prefers to focus on the downside of the new roll-out. Upgrading from XP to Windows 7 won't be the simplest thing in the world for the barely computer-literate masses, and that's something Apple plans to take advantage of.
"Any user that reads all those steps is probably going to freak out. If you have to go through all that, why not just buy a Mac?" said Schiller.
Of course, by saying this Phil is ignoring the fact that buying a Mac and transferring files would involve either equal hassle, or a $99 yearly fee (customers who buy into Apple's One to One program can get their files transferred by Apple). For a lot of people, just paying $99 is probably a much easier solution than figuring out how to transfer all of their files. However that $99 does come on top of the fact that the average Mac costs 3 times as much as the average PC.
Schiller and Apple are hoping to convert a lot of new people over from PC to Mac. Unfortunately, by making that their goal they are ignoring some very crucial facts about their demographics. 85% of Mac owners also own a Windows PC, and 66% of Mac households have 3+ computers. People aren't switching away from PCs when they buy an Apple, they're just adding on another computer.
There are two reasons for this. The first is simply that people with a lot of disposable income are more likely to buy both Macs, and multiple computers. The second is that one Mac is not enough to satisfy many people's computing needs. For a family of four that just wants a reliable Internet PC, one Mac is plenty (but way more expensive than a PC). But if you are a gamer or someone who wants to build their own computer, a PC is your only real option.
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It's clear that the road to Apple's success doesn't lie in beating PCs, it lies in selling Macs. PCs will always be cheaper, more modifiable, and have more products designed to work on them. Apple can't change that and they don't need to. People don't buy PCs instead of Macs, and they don't buy Macs instead of PCs. This may come as a shock to Justin Long and John Hodgman, but the "Mac VS. PC" debate is much more complicated than a 30 second TV commercial.