The Apple I Love
Over Thanksgiving while visiting the in-laws, my father-in-law and I were discussing his plans to upgrade to Apple’s latest version of their most excellent operating system, OS X. As a relatively recent convert to the land of Mac, he asked me very bluntly – “what’s to keep me from installing the OS X upgrade on multiple computers?” My answer, “Nothing”. The conversation then turned to the “Family Pack” version of the software, which allows for the installation of up to 5 computers in a household. He was a bit astonished that a company would provide a single user and family pack versions with no onerous regimen to verify installation like in the world of Windows. This is a common response to those who’ve lived in the world of an oppressive company that treats its customers more like criminals than consumers.
My father and my father-in-law both proceeded to buy Family Packs within weeks. Supposedly, 33% of Leopard sales are of the Family Pack variety. As Mike Schramm states on TUAW.com, the difference between Apple and Microsoft (in this case) is that Apple trusts their customers with trust, while Microsoft demands validation (the picture is funny too). In addition, Apple offers the customer a financially reasonable ($129 vs $199) alternative to “pirating”. Microsoft is more interested in pillaging its customer base with exorbitant prices and a half-dozen versions with varying features stripped out depending on whether you bought the basic, premium, or ultra-premium super-duper extended version.
Ever since I fell in love with the Mac with the introduction of OS X 10.1, I’ve felt that in many ways, Apple had my back. Sure, they are a company trying to please their stockholders and make lots of money, but they understood that the road to financial success was through a strong and loyal customer base – or at least, this has been my perception since joining the fold. This doesn’t mean that all their decisions have been customer friendly in the past, but it seemed to be the going concern in the last five or so years.
Apple has gotten in bed with some strange bedfellows as of late (content providers – record companies and TV / broadcast companies, phone companies). Many of these organizations have a nearly opposite relationship with their customer base. Many are more interested in suing their customers rather than creating a relationship based on synergistic goals of delivering customer needs and financial reward. I fully believe (and hope) that Apple felt that they had to work with these organizations to bring new technologies and innovations while intending to maintain the values which I have perceived. In some ways, this has seemed true – in others, not so much.
The “Family Pack” is a little piece of that customer focus. Leopard’s success is a shining example of the fiscal benefits of placing the consumer first.