Tuesday, May 19, 2009


With the release of the Bondi Blue iMac (Aug 15, 1998), Apple was back on everyone’s radar. Jobs had done something no one else could do and that was to make Apple relevant again. With the iMac, Apple topped Sony in setting the standard for “cool” when it came to technology and Apple was only getting started.

In 1997, Apple was left for dead. A new rumor popped up every quarter about who was going to buy Apple. No one expected them to survive. Looking back on what they achieved in the next 10 years, you have to assume that Jobs had a big plan. Apple was a forgotten computer company. No one thought about Apple when buying a new computer. The business buyer certainly would not buy an Apple. They need to play it safe. They needed to buy from Dell or HP or someone who would be around for a long time. Apple was risky.

Apple had to overcome a huge barrier. They did this by going to someone who didn’t know any better. Apple had to go to the first time computer buyer; the home computer buyer. Why would someone finally breakdown to get a computer? To get on the Internet. What is the first time buyer worried about? Computers are hard to use. Apple ads stressed ease of use, “Three steps to the internet”. An average CEO would have developed another beige box but that does not match the Apple strategy. That was not going to generate any sizzle and Jobs is a marketing super star. He had to leap frog the competition. Small steps were not adequate to save Apple.

Apple launched a Jetson’s futuristic, fun computer that got the kids pulling mom and dad over to Apple display in the store. They put ads on TV with Rolling Stones music and computers tumbling and spinning. Computers do not tumble and spin. These are not computers. These are fun electronics. Apple was not selling computers. They were selling fun.

The commercials were so entertaining that people watched them over an over. When they went to the store, they did not see a strange looking computer that looked so different that they were afraid of it. They saw that cool computer they saw on TV. Apple overcame the commercial fatigue and got their message into the minds of the consumer. This was fun. Joe Average was buying an Apple and entering the Apple cult. For most companies, this would have been stellar success, far beyond expectations, but for Steve Jobs, this was just the beginning. The first step in a much larger plan.

Apple revolutionized the PC industry not only by bringing to market a very fun consumer computer but also by removing all peripheral ports except for USB. No other computer maker dared to be that bold. However, Apple was targeting the first time computer buyer who had no peripherals. USB was the easiest way to connect peripherals.

As it turned out, Apple loyalist were willing to accept a lot of inconvenience in order to move up to next cool thing coming out of One Infinite Loop.

The Bondi Blue iMac was only the first step in a series that would turn the world upside down. The next step would come in a matter of months and it involved FireWire.

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