The Reader Writes
May 1997 – Issue 25

Welcome to the “Readers Voice”! Here, we offer a page for readers to write about any subject they’d like. Many times this may simply be a letter too long for the e-mail page, though we encourage everyone to submit an article for this page. This is your space, and we need your help to fill it!

This month, we would like to present an open letter from Pete Willcock of the United Kingdom to Gil Amelio, CEO of Apple Computer, Inc. Mr. Willcock also sent copies of his letter to several other major Mac magazines in an effort to get someone at Apple to learn what the users have to say about Apple’s lack of a marketing approach.

By Pete Willcock

An open letter to Gil Amelio:

The message is not getting through, not in the UK anyway.

I recently visited an authorized Apple dealer and discovered the following in their sales literature, which I find patronising and detrimental to the future of Apple.

“One of the most elegant and popular computers in the world when it first came out was the Macintosh range from the US company Apple. Users loved the design of the computer and loved the way you interacted with it using the mouse and a simple to understand graphical screen. This led to millions being sold around the world to creative people who didn’t want to be burdened in their work by then primitive personal computers, with its clumsy screen and difficult ways.

Thus the Apple ‘Mac’ gained significant applause around the world, and many pieces of world beating software were written specifically to take advantage of its features. Unfortunately for Apple, time moves on, and the company seem to have problems keeping up. They still produce excellent computers and very powerful ones nowadays, but they seem to have missed the boat in terms of making their computers a mass market product around the world. The problem is that the PC has largely caught up in terms of ease of use, and is improving significantly every year. PC’s are also lower priced and have a huge amount of software available for them, including nowadays the major Macintosh creative design software such as Quark Xpress and Adobe Photoshop.

Whilst Apple computers are still the most popular type of computer in the creative arts industry (e.g. design and music) for home use they are hampered by a relatively small software base.

My advice is therefore quite simple, if you have used a Mac enjoyably in the past and have a particular familiarity with and fondness for them, or you use one at work and want a familiar and compatible system at home then a Mac is the right choice. If, however, you are new to computers and want a mainstream machine with the widest choice of applications go for a PC.” *

This is a guide called the Tempo Beginners Guide to buying a computer written by Nigel T. Powell, a corespondent for The Times Interface Supplement in London.

After an introduction that took up an A4 page, there was then a glossary of components that took up another page. This was followed by a further two pages which explained peripheral devices and then there were pages referring to what you can do with a PC, payment details and when was the right time to purchase a computer.

After copying this, I feel dirty. But the problem is that when a new user goes into a national computer store in the UK, the likes of stores such as Tempo and PC World, are subjected to the PC bias. It is easy to understand why the Macintosh is such a poor performer, especially in the UK.

Looking round their displays for software, I found no Macintosh software available.

It is no wonder Intel machines are getting all the sales, when you go into a computer shopping complex and find what at first glance seems to be a unbiased magazine recommending you to spend your money on a Wintel machine, with badly thought out logic. The PC may be almost comparable to a Mac when it is configured properly, but to get to that point, well, I am glad that I do not have to deal with config.sys for a start! The major fact still remains, that outside dedicated Mac stores, the only software on sale specifically for the Mac, I could find were that of which were bundled with the Performa. Because of this the PC seems a better choice. Some of us know different and it can be an expensive mistake.

In the high street it is no better, the major shops in Britain only seem to cater for the PC market. It is impossible to see Macintosh software available, in any of the most common placed town centre stores such as W H Smith and Woolworths.

There was dual formatted software available but this was extremely limited and only found by close examination.

In fact some electrical stores seemed to have phased out Macintosh computers all together, and because they do not stock a range of software outside the bundled kit, with the machine. The likes of Dixons and Comet, to name a few, have abandoned the Mac world (this may not be the case of all branches, I only am aware of the major towns in and around Newbury).

I know that if you go to a specific Apple Dealer in the UK, you can get good service along with a wide range of software. I however think that Apple themselves are not doing enough to sell themselves to the new users, specifically to those who rely on chain stores for electrical devices. I know now that if I was a novice user, and I would look at the PC and the Mac and saw a range of software available for one machine, and none for the other, it would not take a genius to predict what machine I would choose.

Most sales people tend to automatically focus a new user to a PC. I have been in a number of situations where I have appeared to be a new user, the response in all cases has been “Buy a PC” .

It is not the first time Apple has lost the opportunity. The Apple II, which was sold quite successfully in the US, was marketed over here as a expensive piece of kit. It seemed that the if the UK public wanted use of Apple equipment they had to pay for it. It was because of this snobbery, the likes of Commodore and Acorn took business away from them, that is why the Apple II never became a popular home machine England, as it was in the States.

It is no wonder that Apple is in a poor financial state, when a major distributor is negatively marketing their product. There was a time when there were stringent requirements to being an authorised dealer. Will we soon be finding them on market stalls and drive-thrus?

* Tempo Computers Buying Guide © Tempo Ltd 1997
The Tempo Beginners Guide to Buying a Computer
By Nigel Powell, Correspondent, The Times Interface Supplement


Pete Willcock

Leave a Reply