Monday, March 23, 2009

The pretty "white-lies" of Apple's secret to success

What is Apple's secret to success? That's a million-dollar worth of question if you can give the answer to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

There were many attempts to discover the secret, Apple has been measured, spied upon and poked around many times but the answer remain as one big mystery.

But what do you know, on Thursday at the McGraw-Hill Companies' Media Summit New York, where Steve Ballmer was interviewed via webcast by BusinessWeek editor-in-chief Stephen Adler; Microsoft CEO finally found out one of the answers in his own "white-lies" version:

"The economy is helpful. Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be."

Is Ballmer right? Do they (Mac users) paid $500 extra just to get a fruit logo slapped on their hardware? Is this Apple's secret? Is that why Steve Jobs is so filthy-rich? Weeell... not exactly, but Ballmer does have a point there. Because let's take the white 13-inch MacBook for an example; it is sold for $999 which you'll get 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 2GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive. Let be honest here okay, for the same price you can get a better equipped PC laptop. But yes, it is a Windows-powered machine not a Mac.

Personally, I found the price is also one big obstacle for me to own the cutting-edge (literally) MacBook Air with the highest model. Which I have to pay a hefty additional $999 from the base price tag for the 128GB SSD instead of the lame ol' 160GB HDD, no wonder I keep thinking it is ridiculous and never get one. But that's just me though... ;-p

But why even though they know that they're paying more money for a Mac than a PC, they still buy it? Mac users can give plenty of answers and reasons on why they chose a Mac not a PC, but let's not delve into technical stuffs because perhaps the most honest answer is like what Scott Kriens (Juniper’s CEO at Sunnyvale) has said: "Everybody told me I should get one, it's not anything to do with negative perceptions about Microsoft. It's just that Macs are cool."

Ohkay, if talking about feeling is not scientific enough for you, how about this: according to researchers at Duke University and the University of Waterloo that when thinking about Apple makes people more creative. They conducted a test by showing brand logo of companies like Apple and IBM, and after exposing them to the brands, the researchers asked subjects to describe as many uses for a brick as they could.

Subconsious apple logo2The results are: IBM-primed subjects had strikingly uniform answers, most people mentioned a door stop or a paperweight. While the Apple-primed subjects averaged 30% more answers and independent reviewers also deemed their answers as more creative.

You must be asking, how creative? Gavan Fitzsimons, one of the Duke professors who conducted the study said: “But the subjects who had seen Apple’s logo also came up with uses like tying it around my roommate’s foot and throwing him in a deep pond." ~LOL~

Fitzsimons believes that the key to shaping behavior is unconsciously planting the brand image. And so Fitzsimons replaced his Thinkpad with a Mac three months after the test. “I figure I’ll be walking by it everyday and sometimes I’ll see it without thinking,” he said. “I felt like if I really believe this stuff, I should put my money where my mouth is.” ~bigger LOL~

And that's probably the pretty white-truth that Steve Ballmer has been looking for, the real honest answer to his problem why with all the large amount of money injected to promote Windows and even with help from Jerry Seinfield have all failed. It's like what Mark Slaga, chief information officer of Dimension Data, who says he received up to 25 e-mails from his employees asking for permission to use Macs at work. He concedes, "Steve Jobs doesn't need a sales force because he already has one: employees like the ones in my company."

That's gotta be one hell of a hard-honest feeling for Steve Ballmer to chew on... ;-)

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