Question I hear a lot: “If the Mac is nearly virus-free / so great / [insert superlative here], why don’t they advertise the hell out of those things?” Fair question. Looks like they’ve started doing just that with a series of Mac vs. PC ads bound to stir the pot and sell a few pooters.
The dilemma is this: When you’re selling a product where the existing userbase has a well-established superiority complex, how do you push your real virtues without coming off snobbish? It’s one thing to sell advantages, another to knock the other guy. Thing is, negativity works. Patrick Coskren, on the MacOS-Talk list (with permission):
In political advertising, everybody says they dislike negative ads, but results show they’re very effective, which is why you see them so much. Perhaps the point of the ads is to attack the near-universal belief that even though Macs may be “easier” and “better” (for particular definitions of easier and better), Windows remains “good enough.” They want to jar people out of the complacency of thinking Windows is good enough, and push them to re-evaluate their platform choice. Windows is dominant (in part) because it’s … the default choice; if people actually make a choice, the chance they’ll choose a Mac is probably higher than the 3% (or whatever) the current market share would suggest. Just like if you’re running against the popular incumbent, it can be effective to go negative.
Apple also pushes the “virus free” message — a delicate button now that viruses are no longer unheard-of on the Mac. Even if it’s true that 99.72% of viruses are Windows-bound, it’s a bit of a glass bubble. Ars Technica’s John Siracusa:
It’s like an airline advertising that it has fewer fatal crashes than its competitors. This just isn’t done — and for good reasons. Putting aside the moral and ethical aspects, which arguably don’t apply to Apple, there are important practical considerations as well. The new “Viruses” TV ad pulls back a slingshot and holds it to Apple’s face. The backlash is inevitable.
If some portion of the virus-free aspect of Mac ownership is due to OS X being “under the radar,” then Apple has just posted a giant “kick me” sign on its back.
Not to make too big a thing out of it. I think the ads are well done overall, and kinda funny.