Mac Gets Back

Microsoft has been running an advertising campaign to combat Apple’s popular Mac versus PC commercials. Though not as clever as the Apple ads, as a viewer Microsoft’s commercials at least seem effective. Apple’s latest Mac ad jibed at Microsoft’s increased ad spend but apparent lack of improvement in Vista. Apple, of course, spends its own fair share on mass market advertising, but its dedicated base of fanboys and legions of followers that get excited by the slightest movement by Jobs afford the brand the ability to make this snide commentary against the software giant.

In Apple’s new Mac release last week, the company noted the increased popularity of Macs in colleges, which makes Apple’s swagger justifiable. After all, if a generation of college attendees prefers Macs to PCs, a generation from now, Mac should be the personal computer of choice. In the short run, however, the lack of expected price cuts on the new Macs and gloomy macroeconomy might not bode well for Apple. ChangeWave Research observed  a drop in the number of consumers willing to buy Macs in September. Among consumers that plan to buy a PC in the next 90 days only 26% will consider Apple, and among consumers that plan to buy a laptop in the next 90 days only 29% will go Apple. These numbers are down from 30% and 34% just the month before. Risk aversion in this market will likely lead consumers to buy cheaper Windows driven machines with which they have prior, albeit imperfect, experience. This consumer research does not even factor Apple’s performance in the public (education) and enterprise markets. These markets influence consumer/personal computer preference and are not easily won by typical marketing. No doubt Apple’s past and projected future trajectory is impressive–almost as impressive as its brand management, but as the company’s newest commercial itself notes, advertising alone might not be enough to continue gaining market share.

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