Last week I updated my computer to Windows 7. It was easier than any major update I have ever done. At about the same time, of course, Apple began running the latest iteration of its commercial, apparently trying to tamp down some of the enthusiasm that has surrounded the newest version of Microsoft’s operating system. It’s always been a loosing battle, of course. Apple has never achieved more than 10% of the overall market share.
The whole Apple/Microsoft dynamic is full of irony and contradiction. Apple has long pedaled the notion that it was the ‘alternative’ to big brother, yet it’s hardware and software is almost obsessively proprietary. Bill Gates has long been portrayed as the ultimate corporate master, yet he’s now retired and busily giving away his fortune to the poor. Steve Jobs seems determined to work until he drops, or until he’s milked the last penny from the consumer market.
Interestingly, education has always been a big part of Apple’s success, beginning with the early Apple programs that made their computers and software cheap for students. There’s always been a notion that Apples were better at graphics, too, and they are favored in many graphics heavy departments, such as journalism. I doubt anyone could make that case convincingly, now. Yet the “Mac as Alternative” confidence game continues to find favor among many academics.
I find the “I’m a Mac” campaign smug and arrogant (almost unwatchable) but it fits into a lot of academics’ self-image very nicely. The rest of the world– an overwhelming majority– have chosen PC’s over Mac’s again and again, over decades, and through enormous changes in technology. Yet, the Apple ads say, they have always been wrong. Only this tiny minority can see the Matrix. The rest of you are just fat, unattractive dupes. I’ve been to that department meeting before…