There I was, shopping for a new computer. I've listened to the Mac addicts and the PC loyalists out there and come to the following conclusions:
- If you want to buy a Mac, the last thing you should do is go to the Apple Store.
- I'm liking Microsoft's response to Apple's ad attacks.
- This comes back to search, I promise, so stay with me.
All of this as a result of the circumstances surrounding my being "asked to leave" the tres chic Apple store in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood last weekend.
Way cool, Chuck Taylor-wearing Justin Long wants to sell you a Mac. He pokes fun at PC users and the mountain of way-too-easy pot shots surrounding Windows Vista.
Let me say at this point at that I'm not a fan boy. I'm writing a book, have written hundreds of op-ed pieces on search, and I need a machine that allows me to type in the traditional Neanderthal "pounding on keyboard" method.
Disclaimer number two: I have Chuck Taylor's, and I wear them with my 8-year-old held-together-with patches denim. I'm not a suit, but I can tell you the suits I do have are far better than the human PC avatar featured in Apple's ads.
That said, I do have some business to conduct, and my Mac friends have been selling me pretty hard on buying one of their machines.
Like many of my kindred spirits in the business of doing business, I'm always seeking ways of combining resources to pull together the best path to efficiency. As I recently severed my relationship with my beloved ThinkPad, I thought I'd see what the Mac buzz is about.
Saturday morning, I was off to the Apple store in SoHo. I love shopping in SoHo and happily welcome the millions of tourists who can't seem to figure out how to walk on the sidewalks of New York, many of whom I found monopolizing the test machines in the store.
After 20 or more minutes of watching tourists, vagrants, and other free Internet seekers use and abuse the test machines, I was finally able to try one out. Eleven seconds later, an Apple employee wanted to use my machine, ignoring the dozens of people free surfing.
Everyone is struggling with matching user intent with actual buying behavior. We're often accused (in the interactive marketing business) of being out of touch with consumers -- the people who have to live with the consequences of a brand's actions.
In my instance, after pointing out that I had just gotten access to a machine, I was actually considering buying one, and that maybe, the Apple clerk could "boot" someone else off a machine to let me do my "test drive," I was asked to leave.
Way to complete the customer loop, Apple. As I was walking out the door, another disgruntled potential buyer (who actually stood up for me during my exchange with the Apple employee) walked out with me.
Back to the Search
Every day we deal with the search wars. Companies are collecting terabytes of data about user intent. Apple has done a great job of connecting to needs via advertising. Microsoft is coming back at 'em with a reality check for the consuming public.
Data mining is mission critical for companies in the digital age. Search engines are the connecting engagement point for many and their follow up behavior on a site can dictate how well desired actions in the connected world deliver.
Apple is trying to connect with the rest of the world (beyond college students dominating the Mac audience) via great ad campaigns. However, if you can't connect with your audience in the real world, you're flushing all your marketing efforts right down the drain.
People like me could care less about the volume of nauseating "cool kids" spending their parent's money at the Apple store. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to do some shopping on Lenovo's Web site.