The day of salvation is finally here for Cal Poly civil engineering student Chris Decool. He comes bursting through the door of his one-story home on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo. His roommates turn their necks from the TV to see Decool wiggling loose from his backpack as he scrambles toward his room.
He joins his friends on the couch with his computer in hand and a smile on his face. “It’s arrived,” he says. Decool has wanted to ditch his PC for months now. The “I’m a Mac” commercials that air daily remind him that better days lie ahead. As the release date creeps closer and closer, Decool grows increasingly agitated, spending more and more time researching the new Macs on his PC.
To understand Decool’s anticipation for today, it’s necessary to fully disclose the details of his tumultuous relationship with his PC.
Doing homework on his computer is a hit or miss opportunity. Sometimes it can handle the workload, sometimes it can’t. When he works it too hard, it freezes and gives him the cold shoulder, Decool says.
Every other day another dead pixel interrupts the screen. As the fractured relationship goes on, the wall builds thicker and thicker, making it more difficult for Decool see the screen.
Since the end of last school year, Decool has looked for a way out of this relationship. His long, drawn-out battle with his PC urges him to abandon ship and Apple offers a sweet escape.
“I need a computer that will last me longer than two years,” Decool said. “I mean, look at this thing; it’s falling apart. I’m surprised it still turns on.”
It’s hard to overlook the resurgence of Apple laptops used by college students today. Apple dominated the market in the ’80s and ’90s, only to give up their position to Dell. Dell has held the title for over a decade now, but Apple has reclaimed the crown through competitive marketing strategies.
Apple’s latest “I’m a Mac” advertising campaign targets young consumers. It plays on a young person’s desire to be “cool” and different. A campaign that Decool thinks is successful.
“The new Mac commercials are creative, funny and simple,” Decool says. “They portray Macs in a youthful and fun way, but I wouldn’t buy a computer based on a commercial alone.”
Recently, PCs have put together a rebuttal. Their hard-fought, new “I’m a PC” campaign features all types of people from different walks of life proclaiming themselves as PCs. It’s yet to be seen how effective it is. However, Apple’s marketing strategy seems to be winning over the hearts of the college students.
In a study conducted by Student Monitor in 2008 among full-time undergraduate students who are shopping for a computer, 43 percent plan to buy a Mac, while 22 percent plan to purchase a Dell. This is a complete turnaround from the numbers published in the last survey. Three years ago, the same survey found that 46 percent of students preferred Dell, while only 17 percent preferred Mac.
Apple has reemerged as a premier computer company by creating a line of long-lasting, versatile computers with a user-friendly interface, while lessening the threat virus contamination.
Many of the computers propped open in Cal Poly’s Kennedy E. Library are Macs. Most of them were purchased within the past three years, suggesting that the move towards Mac in higher education is a new phenomenon.
In 2005, political science student Mallory Camp bought her first Mac. Like Decool, frustration with her PC led her to purchase the Mac.
“I knew other people that had Macs and they just seemed easier to use,” Camp says.
Camp describes the difference of the two platforms in a simplistic, matter-of-fact way. A fitting description since simplicity is something that Apple advertises.
A computer that requires no more time and attention than what students need it for does not go unappreciated.
After all, who wants to spend extra time scanning for viruses each time they fire up their computer, or closing pop-up windows every time they go online?
For that very reason, Darren Hom, a computer-engineering senior, bought his first Mac two years ago.
“You don’t have to format it or defrag it; there are no viruses. Plus, I like the little magnet charger,” Hom said, speaking about his MacBook.
The magnet feature was added to Apple chargers in order to prevent the ongoing battle between humans and cords from inflicting harm on the computers. When someone trips over the charger cable, the magnet releases, keeping the computer safe.
According to Decool, this type of attention to detail is what gives Mac the edge.
“They don’t mess around. they give you the best,” Decool says. “That’s why they’re more expensive.”
Apple hasn’t cornered everyone in its market, however. Although the trend seems to be moving towards Apple, PCs have an unwavering, loyal base.
Industrial technology sophomore Dan O’Brien has been a PC user since he typed his first word.
“I grew up on PCs, so I’m really comfortable with how they work,” O’Brien says. “I don’t think I’ll ever switch.”
Each computer offers something different to their users and students buy whichever suits them best. Take computer engineering sophomore Nick Powaser for example. He worked with Apple computers for a while, but the expensive price tag that accompanies them was just out of his range before 2007. That was the year he bought his MacBook.
Although there seems to be a division between PC and Apple users, Powaser plays a bipartisan role. He works with both a PC and a Mac at home because they both bring something different to the table.
“PCs are easier to modify,” Powaser explains. “Macs are more versatile, they are more of an all-in-one computer, and they’re easier to use and they don’t get viruses.”
Decool agrees that Macs are more user-friendly than PCs.
“The use of colors and the way it’s designed make it more inviting,” he says. “Plus the exterior is so sleek and sexy.”
Through attractive designs and stylish packaging, Apple has won over the college student population. A victory that will eliminate any end in sight for Apple, Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, says.
By establishing a base with young college students, Apple looks to be a much bigger factor in businesses for the future. The college students, who are familiar and comfortable with Macs, will insist that these systems be used in their businesses.