Saturday, May 06, 2006

Crossing over to the Dark Side

I once asked Siva if he used to be a Mac salesman. Apparently I'm not the only one who's asked him that. I'd describe his sales technique as the "making you interested by telling you the product might not be for you" style (if this is cryptic, forget it then -- insider's joke).

At the same post, he tells Kenneth and I to get a Mac (actually he wants us to look at Apple's ads, which is essentially the same thing). He needn't bother, at least for me.

I'd just placed an order for a MacBook Pro.

First time I heard the name, I thought it was a new burger gone wrong. Now it's sweet music to my ears. Never thought I'd be blogging about this. Heck, it's just a computer. Nothing to do with librarianship. Why announce to the world?

Or so I thought.

Look at the way Apple tries to convince us to get a Mac. After I wiped off my drool, it dawned on me that libraries could learn a thing or two from Apple.

To use a poorly conceived analogy, I posit that libraries tend to market themselves like Microsoft. We tell people what we can do, substantial people use us, and we enjoy institutional brand recognition or awareness.

Perhaps we should be like Apple, where we would be marketing the experience and appealing to customer emotions, where we'd be shameless about saying how we are uniquely different from the competitor and also touting the fact that we have seamless integration among the featured products.

I did say it's a poorly conceived analogy. I'm just trying to be snazzy like Apple in talking about marketing libraries. I ain't no Steve Jobs, that I'm sure.

I've never considered getting a Mac until recently. It was when I started exploring Digital Art. The PC worked fine and I was perfectly happy... until I met enthusiasts fanatics very passionate Mac users who, through conversations and correspondences, slowly but surely planted the thought about using a Mac. They told me if I'm into the right-brained stuff, then maybe I should think of a Mac. They didn't rave or rant. It was like a " by-the-way" thing which led me to find out more.

When the MacBook Pro came up, bloggers were posting stuff about it. Naturally I followed the posts and conversations in order to understand what the hype was about. Even went to an Applestore and discussed with the salesperson the merits of getting a Mac. He didn't even try to sell me one. He asked why I wanted one and how he felt about using them.

Someone then told me, "It's about the User Experience". Overall, a PC might be able to do the same things as a Mac but it's how the Mac enables the same things to be done together that makes the difference. That's when I really began to understand, even though I've not used a Mac up till that stage. That's when I'd started the journey over to the "Dark Side".

This hypothesis just came to mind: People don't buy a Mac just because they view Apple's ads. The process starts with existing users enjoying the Apple experience, which leads to pesistent Word of Mouth, which makes people like me being aware and keen to know more, leading me to ads that are snazzy and conversational, and finally a decision is made to own one.

Libraries can learn a thing or two from Apple. And it ain't just about marketing.



  1. Hi Ivan,

    We Mac users would like to think that you are crossing over FROM the Dark Side.

    A little essay on why we use Macs in our school district if interested:

    I actually discourage people from buying Macs. If the market share for them gets too big, virus writers might consider Macs a more worthy target.

    All the best,


  2. Doug, I think you're right. I probably have crossed FROM the Dark Side :) If Macs do get hammered by computer viruses, it just means one less selling point. I think it has enough selling points to still make them more attractive than Windows. Whether it's clever marketing or hype, I don't know. All I know is once the idea got planted and germinated, it was only a matter of time that I crossed the line.

    Folks, click here to Doug's blog post he included above. Worth a read.

  3. and I too saw the light just about Xmas and I have never looked back - sure I still have the same ole dubious skills but it feeeels so much more real!!
    I also loved the ads although like all marketing it takes a basic truth and lies about it...!
    catch u over at my place ..

  4. i could tell that u were switching soon ;)

    btw, i think the ads are more for those already using macs.

  5. Anonymous1:07 am

    There is a website that prepares articles called migration kits.To quote the site "a Macsimum Migration Kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation". The guy who runs this site, Dennis Sellers is an experienced hand in the Mac Universe and always appreciates feedback.

    Migration kit articles are at this link. You will see Library Management is on the list in Feb 2005. The posts are organized by date. Welcome and congrats.

  6. When I read the title "crossing over TO the dark side", I thought this was about a Mac user who switched to a PC :)

    It's strange for a Mac user to see the Mac "side" being referred to as the dark side ;) But then again, it's all relative isn't it.

  7. Anonymous3:59 am

    welcome to the Fun Side. A PC has never made me smile while using it. A Mac is always like a breath of fresh air.

    Seeing that you are in Singapore. If you have any Mac questions, you can always ask a fellow Singaporean:

  8. Anonymous5:10 am

    Visit and in that order.

  9. welcome dude! haha.. u've made a wise decision.

  10. Welcome to the Force ... the Mac Force!! I'm sure you'll have lots of fun with the Mac. Enjoy!

  11. Hi Ivan

    I came upon your site via the blogger who convinced you to try blogging. I see you now have 4 blogs! Your post on Mac evangelising amuses me as all Mac users I know are Mac evangelists, too.

    I've recently launched my own litblog, Fusion View at - an East/ West view on writing, culture and the arts. I am a Malaysian-born writer based in the UK. It's turning out to be an interesting experiment as many of my original readers of my novels are books people and I sense that there is a certain resistance to coming online to experience my blog. Meanwhile, I am picking up new tech-savvy readers of the blog from all over the world.

    As a librarian, where do you see the future for books as digital technology advances? Especially, in the context of storage and also ease of access. The traditional book publishing industry in the UK is at a turning point I think as the cost of books becomes more and more expensive to produce and the impact is already bening seen in the kinds of books that are now being published (ie more populist, less place for non-mass market books)

    All the best
    Yang-May Ooi, Fusion View

  12. Hi Yang-may, it would seem that ALL Mac users are Mac evangelists! LOL

    Where do I see the future of books? IMHO, books will still be the dominant means of disseminating information. The trend in UK you mentioned is new to me. I would think printed books will still be around but for mass markets (for reasons you mentioned) while niche-market books will migrate more to digital. We shall see.
    Thanks for the question!

  13. Hi, Ivan,

    Yes, I am also a Mac user as well.
    I highly recommend a book which I think that help you in conceiving new ways of marketing the library. It's called "Influence" by Robert Cialdini.

    It will be great if the library can get 20 copies of that book.

    yours sincerely,

  14. the force is strong in this one...
    once you've turned into the light there's no turning back. now just wait for iPhone...


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