My Mac panel consisting of:
Mary Ellen – Elementary student – 12 years old
Ringo - Heavy Metal rocker type – 16 years old
Bernard - Alternative artiste – 22 years old
Susanne - Yuppie Vasser gal – 33 years old
Alex - Business sales type – 43 years old
Aunt Selma – Mid west farm wife – 55 years old
Ted - Folksy down home widower – 64 years old
Gramps - Retirement home resident – 77 years old
Moderator: To start off our discussion of the Round Table, I would like to begin with your views on Apple’s strategy to recapture the consumer market. As we all know, the iMac has been a resounding success, with the recent holiday season sales still to be tabulated. How do you think Apple handled the iMac introduction and what other goodies can or should Apple endeavor to bring to the market place in this new year? Mary Ellen, let’s start with you.
Mary Ellen: Thank you, Mr. Moderator. I am extraordinarily pleased to be a representative of my generation on this panel and I would like to thank the staff of My Mac Magazine for their help and encouragement. I believe Apple has finally grasped on a stratagem that the public will endorse with enthusiasm. I think Apple has hit a receptive nerve and that is why the public reacted with such gusto. It has been a long time since that has happened. I, for one, heartily endorse Apple’s return to consumerism. The iMac is just the first of many products. I look forward, with great expectations, to their consumer laptop to be released this spring.
Aunt Selma: Land sakes, child, what big words you use. I feel a touch uncomfortable trying to keep up with you. At the county school I attended when I grew up, I don’t think we used words like extraordinarily, stratagem, enthusiasm, or gusto. Did I say them right? Anyway, I love my Macintosh but I’m not sure if I would buy this new gadget. I’ve never owned a blue toaster or aquamarine stove. Stoves are always white and computers are always beige. And I hear that this new contraption does not have a floopy.
Bernard: Darling, you said those words perfectly except for floppy. Why, I’d recognize that midwest twang a mile away. Even without my signature designer glasses, I can see that you love your Mac, but you must keep up with the times, dear. A Mac is a Mac regardless of colour. And this latest creation is a stunning fashion statement. Just you watch those Taiwanese PC manufacturers when they come out with their copycat models. Imagine an iMac exterior running the Windows OS. Oxymoronic, don’t you think? And if you really need your floopy, I mean floppy, there are external drives available now.
Alex: It doesn’t matter one iota what Apple does in the consumer segment. James Bondi Blue or no colour, Apple is dead. D-E-A-D! They lost the business market and it’s just a matter of time till they lose the consumers. This latest furor is the final blush before death. The eighth death of the cat; only one life left. They can leave floppies out or not. It won’t change the end result!
Ringo: Man, either you’ve been wearing that tie too long or else you have it on so tight it’s stopping the oxygen to your brain. Like, when’s the last time you used a floppy? And do you use your computer at your place of business, legitimately? Man all I know is NT is MT – get it?
Alex: NT is MT? I don’t get it. Son, my tie is just fine, but I do think you have those punk rock earphones on too loud. I can hear that racket across the table. For my sanity and your hearing, please turn the volume down to “excessive.”
Susanne: Really, must we lower ourselves to quarreling and are we not drifting away from the question? Personally, I think Apple’s return to consumerism is a great success. If my spies are correct, the new low cost laptop may have designer colours too. All my friends want one or the other. To top it off, I understand that Dior and Lauren are introducing computerware: clothing in matching and contrasting shades. Won’t that be stunning?
Gramps: Eh? What’s that? Who’s slumming? Speak up girl and don’t talk through your teeth! Tarnation, all that education and they still can’t talk clearly.
Susanne: Well, really!
Ted: Now, now folks. This here’s a friendly forum. We are all Mac devotees, so let’s not bicker. As far as I can see, Apple’s iMac succeeded where the Performa failed. It proved it has the appeal to entice PC users to try it. That alone may be the single most important result of its breakthrough design. First time buyers are concerned that they will end up as a slave to their machines when things go wrong. They want things simple, easy, and different. The instant access to the Internet is the key, the design is the allure and the Macintosh OS is the créme de la créme!
Alex: Not me. I used to be pro Mac but not any more. Apple should have licensed clones years ago. They waited too long to finally do it and when they did, they reneged and cancelled their agreements. I gave up on Apple when they stopped the clones.
Gramps: Pardon? All you people mutter when you talk. You say you’re interested in clowns, mister? Red Skelton was the best clown comedian there ever…
Alex: Oh brother! Not clowns, clones. Turn up your hearing aid, old man.
Gramps: You just leave your mother out of this, ya hear. Talkin’ disrespectful. If you were a son o’ mine you’d be in for a walk to the woodshed and a meeting with the ol’ switch!
Susanne: Please! Please! let us have some order here. Mr. Moderator, please!
Aunt Selma: I know I’m just a farm woman but, on the farm, the last thing we need is troubles. ‘Cause it seems that troubles and farmin’ go hand in hand. The good Lord gave us stamina and I guess we just plow on ahead troubles or no. That’s why I want a computer that is easy and trouble free. I don’t have the time to mess about with computer troubles when I got cows that need milkin’, chickens that need feedin’, and a garden that needs tendin’.
Alex: Very cosy and heartwarming. But why should I pay more for a Mac if I can get a PC cheaper? I can pick up a PC just about anywhere at bargain basement prices.
Mary Ellen: Mr. Alex, for a businessman you’re not too bright. You must realize that price is not the only measure of value. Cost of ownership also includes the vicissitudes of upgrades and maintenance. The cost of frustration however, is much more difficult to put a price tag on and to determine. Of course, you can buy a computer at Wal-Mart if that is what you really want.
Aunt Selma: Oh my, those big words again. What kind of ‘tudes did you say dear? I know that my Wal-Mart has some nifty corn huskers and slop boots on sale. Ooops, I mean at their regular price. They never have sales ’cause their prices are so low. That’s what the manager told me. Now I wouldn’t buy a computer there but I did pick up some feed for my chickens.
Ringo: Your ain’t no smart Alex if you don’t know that upgrade and maintenance costs can quickly amount to more than your original purchase price. These are basic computer facts, man. I got a friend Eugene who didn’t finish the eighth grade and he could have told you that. You sure your company makes money? Clean money, you know what I mean? No contraband.
Alex: I don’t know what you’re insinuating.
Ringo: Contraband programs. Illegal software. Copying someone else software. Duplicating a one-user program. Hey, scam man, you’re in business, you get the picture.
Moderator: Sorry folks. We are getting way off topic here. Although we just might take up the problem of software piracy on another Round Table. I must ask you to keep your comments focused on Apple’s new consumer products for this discussion.
Gramps: Software parrots! Tarnation, you mean to say they got talkin’ birds that run computers now? Where will it end?
Moderator: No sir, I think you misunderstood. I was speaking of software piracy, not parrots.
Gramps: Software parsley won’t fly. I can tell you from personal experience. They use parsley as a garnish to spruce up dinner at the Home. Boy, do they need help, ’cause the food stinks. Parsley won’t work on software, take my word. It sure don’t work on the food at the Home. And neither does the PC in the meeting room. Work I mean. Someone must be playin’ Star Wars games on it all the time, ’cause it always has the blue screen of Darth.
Ringo: You mean the blue screen of death. Man, I hope I don’t get that old. Maybe the iMac will help keep people young! I read that a big percentage of new buyers were seniors. That’s the kind of senior I hope I’ll be when I’m that age.
Ted: Seems to me that Apple has hit the nail on the head with the iMac. Only time will tell if their consumer laptop will mirror its success. If rumors of touch screen interaction are fact, and perhaps even a Mac OS Lite to keep costs down, it will be a winner and I forecast another mega hit for our side.
Bernard: I take off my rhinestone specs to Apple for a job well done. Although pink is really my colour, I can live with bondi blue. However, if someone at Apple is listening; fuchsia, periwinkle, and mango are awfully smart colours too. Picture a new mango portable and its companion periwinkle printer. Smashing!
Moderator: That’s all the time we have for this edition of The Round Table. Thank you for joining us for this premier edition. I hope you found it informative, interesting, and entertaining. If you have a topic that you would like my Round Table group to discuss, by all means email your topic and I will arrange to include it in a future session. Happy New Year and Happy Mac watching.
Note: The views expressed are solely those of the author and his imaginary participants and are not necessarily those of Apple or My Mac Magazine.
Ralph J. Luciani