Before anyone accuses me of being Mac Fan Boy after yesterday’s posting, please let me clear something up. While Microsoft does many, many things wrong, that doesn’t mean that we’re alone in the IT universe in being a little sloppy from time to time. There’s still a huge amount that we do right. I just wish we did it more often and consistently. And I still see no reason why we should make buying our products so difficult.
Apple is also far from perfect. Their latest ads featuring the comedians Mitchell and Webb seem to be everywhere right now. They first caught my eye because I quite enjoyed some of Mitchell and Webb’s comedy and could immediately see that they are an obvious (no, make that, blindingly predictable) choice for the UK versions of the ads that Apple has been running in the US for some time. But the main reason the ads caught my eye is because they come close to exploiting a change in advertising law that came into effect 10 years ago to allow ‘comparative advertising’ in EU markets. Under this law, advertisers are allowed to mention the name of their competitors and make comparative claims against them. Apples dances carefully around the law by comparing "I’m a PC" man with "I’m a Mac" man. We all know that the PC is a Windows machine, while the Mac is the cool and exciting alternative that people should be choosing.
The trouble with this advertising campaign is that is lays down claims about a PC that are hopelessly out of date. Sure, there are a lot of old PCs out there, running old software. And some of them may even be as unreliable, dull, and virus-infested as Apple’s ads claim. But these PCs are increasingly in the minority. Apple’s advertising is akin to a car manufacturer comparing their latest 2007 model with a competitor’s model from the 1970’s. The comparison isn’t just unfair, it’s quite unsavoury too.
Charlie Brooker captured my mood very elegantly writing in The Guardian yesterday. Read the article here. And the comments from online readers of the article are entertaining too. Thankfully not everyone seems to like the nasty negative campaigning side of Apple that is so inconsistent with what their core brand values should stand for.
The bottom line here is simple. Use what you like. If you want a Mac, buy a Mac. If you want a PC, buy a PC. Do your own research, don’t believe the hype, and think carefully about what you actually need to do with your machine before you spend a penny. For anyone with their own mind the choice should be simple.