Apple must respond

I’ve spent the last few months praising the gang in Cupertino for their agressive advertising. But it’s time to take the next step, reclaiming what was once Apple’s domain but was weakened during the “Dark Times”. Nothing more than Apple’s biggest support group, education.

As a teacher, I can give endless testimony of the superiority of Macintosh equipment and technology in the classroom. I love to point out that currently in my classroom gathering dust are four 386’s donated from the U.S. Mint. All are unoperable due to a variety of hardware problems. I can’t even find a charitable group willing to take the machines(?) off my hands. The standard response, “Costs us too much to get them working.” No kidding! Why do you think our school can’t use them? The funny part is that on the table right next to the clones sit 3 Mac SE’s and a Classic. All four work perfectly as a word processing center using ClarisWorks 2.0. Students from all four junior high classrooms use them daily for typing a variety of reports. My principal, when giving tours to prospective families, proudly points out our judicious use of donated equipment. Those little Macs are at least 3-5 years older than the 386’s to their left. I should also mention that we have both a Mac 5200 lab and a Apple IIe lab (No kidding). The newest IIe is from 1987, making it eleven years old!

Why do I mention all of this? Simple… Microsoft and Intel are now advertising to the education market on television. Apple must respond. I receive weekly email telling of teachers trying to prevent the changeover to Wintel machines. Apple has taken the first step, renewing TV advertising, letting everyone know that the company is alive and making the fastest machines. But it’s time to march into battle on a specific front: education.

Apple must make a stand. It may be only symbolic at first, but it would say a great deal about Apple’s renewal. In the Time magazine cover story about the Apple/Microsoft peace treaty, a side article mentioned that Jobs and Wozniak’s high school’s computers were woefully out of date. What a tremendous opportunity exists for Apple to step in and make the womb of personal computing the model for schools across the country in computer education. Apple could donate a complete computer setup involving at least 150 machines, a server, T1 or cable modem connection, wiring, printers, and other peripherals. Just to make things easier for students who have wintel machines at home, Virtual PC, SoftWindows, or an Orange Micro PC card could be installed. In return for doing this, Apple would be allowed to film a series of commercials for both television and school boards showing the possibilities and cost advantages of the Macintosh.

This is only a start. To truly show the Macintosh advantage, Apple would have to set up the elementary and middle schools that feed into the high school. But that’s only one of three types of school systems in America. An inner-city neighborhood as well as an isolated rural school community would also be setup. Teachers and administrators could see the educational advantage based upon the model that most closely resembles their own. Articles from these schools would appear in such educational publications as Education Weekly, etc… Apple must not be passive in this arena, only the agressive can make changes in education. Anything less is only whistling in the wind.

Hot Air
This month’s commercial follows the trend set by Apple’s “Toasted Bunny” ad. The issue that is addressed is the incredible heat put out by the Pentium II chip, especially the newly announced 350 and 400Mhz chips.

The Setting:

A plain white background. Once again the first shot is just like the “Toasted Bunny” ad. (The term ‘bunny’ is derived from the clean-room suits that chip making technicians use, commonly known in the industry as ‘bunny suits’.) The camera is looking out from behind the mirrored hood of a bunny. A person appears with a small hand-held fan, the hood shakes back and forth in a no. A table fan then is brought forth, the hood continues to shake no. Finally a giant computer fan is wheeled forward, the hood shakes up and down. The “bunny” then raises its hand indicating three fingers. Two more fans are wheeled into place. The camera changes to a high-angled view showing the “bunny” being blasted from three sides.

The voice of Richard Dreyfus comes on saying, “Engineers know that heat is the biggest enemy to computers. So while the latest Pentium II chips require three fans, the PowerPC G3 chip needs only one, small fan. Is it any wonder then why Macintosh computers last so much longer than the competition?”

The screen changes to show the inside of a G3 tower the camera panning across the inside stopping with the G3 chip in the foreground and the single fan in the background.

Rambling Thoughts
The second quarter numbers are out and once again Wall Street is amazed by Apple’s profit. It’s incredible to me how the so called “experts” have absolutely no clue as to what is going on in Cupertino. I had pegged my guess at 60 million (I’m a hopeless optimist!). What is impressive about this 55 million profit is that PowerBook sales, which are Apple’s biggest cash cow, were down significantly. The reason: many people are waiting for the much lower priced “Wall Street” line to come out. The key for the third and forth quarter will be the education market as this is the education market’s buying period. A great article that I recommend everyone interested should read is at http//

A tidbit for anyone interested: if you want to double the capacity of your Zip Drive, try finding a copy of Stacker. It works great and although it’s no longer being produced, I’ve seen a few copies still available at CompUSA. (Publishers note: please be aware of the inherent dangers of using compression software on any drive before using)

Until next month, enjoy.

Mark Marcantonio

Leave a Reply