After a failed Erol Morris campaign that never launched (apparently the ads just weren't cutting it) Apple has finally released TV ads for something other than iPods. Behold the Mac ads:Get a Mac
(I posted some YouTube links earlier; now they're on Apple's website)
Both feature a nerdy aging guy in a cheap suit who says he's a PC, and a hip young guy who says he's a Mac. In the first ad, the PC reads a quote from Walt Mossberg's article in The Wall Street Journal
calling the new iMac "the best desktop PC at any price." In the second ad, the PC complains about having a virus, while the Mac points out that he's doing peachy. Both ads are brief and done with a great sense of comic timing, I think. No word on who directed them yet - they certainly seem Morris-ish.
(Edit: there are six ads; I had only seen two when I wrote this.)
The ad about viruses might seem like a taunt; it's often been said that Macs are no safer, they're just less popular. Personally, I disagree, but we won't know until Macs really grab more of the market share (they are now in the perfect position to do so). I think that the confidence Apple displays in the ad is actually a positive thing: they wouldn't so boldly make security an issue if they weren't sure about just how safe OS X is. It's an intriguing thought that either their internal tests show that Macs are safe enough to brag about unconditionally, or they're preparing something that will boost security - who knows. Those who say the iPod became famous solely through marketing should think twice before dismissing this ad campaign; Apple's most likely smarter than you.
Two more Mac bits: after a long and uncertain battle, Steve Jobs has managed to convince media companies to stick with Apple's one-price idea for iTunes. Songs will continue to be sold at 99c each (record companies wanted to sell popular music at higher prices and discount poor sellers.)
A wild but allegedly well-confirmed rumor claims that Leopard (OS X 10.5, scheduled to come out by the end of this year or Q1 2007) may include BitTorrent-like software that would make participating Mac users into servers of data for Apple's growing digital media sales. What this means is that, like with BitTorrent, users would be uploading chunks of data they had downloaded from Apple to other users wanting to download the same. This would reduce Apple's server upkeep costs and, according to the system's developers, save the company hundreds of millions of dollars annually. What would be in it for the user? A reward system is described which would give users iTunes credits for data they served to others. (Keep in mind that the iTunes store will most likely start selling movies and other content.) It's also possible that this system would serve other data-sharing purposes. According to the rumor, the development team has full confidence in the system's profitability, security, and convenience to the user, but you can imagine the Legal department having doubts about it.
An interesting idea, sure to generate a lot of negative buzz (I say that because the above ads will do the same). But, if your idea of marketing is reading a bullet list of system specs and your idea of innovation is chronic featuritis, I can't help you.