It’s always kind of thrilling to watch a Steve Jobs keynote. Jobs has a charisma that is unmatched in the tech industry. I think that’s mostly because in a world of people with pocket protectors and Babylon 5 posters, Steve just seems like a regular guy. He doesn’t talk about the things that make Macs work, just how much better you can work with a Mac. When another speaker comes on the stage, like the woman from Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit or even Paul Otellini, things just don’t feel right until he comes back. When he’s talking about Apple there’s a skip in your step, food tastes better and the air is cleaner.
That’s what they call the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field. It’s the part of Jobs that made you believe that 3Ghz G5 processors were going to arrive in 2004. It’s the part of Jobs that convinces you that 64-bit processing is going to blow your socks off. It’s the one that made you believe that all this time the G5 processor was superior to those silly Pentium processors. It’s the thing that actually made you believe that it would take a year for Apple to release the first Intel machines, making people feel safe to buy G5 based machines during the end of 2005, when really the intention was to release something at the next Macworld the whole time.
Essentially, Steve Jobs has mastered the Jedi Mind Trick. Where Obi-Wan would say “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” Jobs would say “nobody wants droids! People want to change the world, and at Apple we help them do that! Droids!? No. Ideas! Innovation!”
Apple unveiled the Macbook Pro, essentially making every Tuesday prediction of “New Powerbooks! First Post!” obsolete. Jobs claims that this thing is up to 5 times as fast as the Powerbook G4. He doesn’t really reveal which one they’re comparing at the keynote. Is it the fastest Macbook Pro with the slower current PBG4? Plus, these aren’t real world performance measurements. No matter which company’s releasing benchmarks they’re never in real world performance measurements and never will be.
In 2003 when the G5 came out Apple had a marketing video about how 64-bit machines were the future of Macs. Of course, elsewhere on the Apple Campus they weren’t so sure. Today we’re being told that 32-bit machines run circles around 64-bit machines. Granted, these 32-bit machines feature two processing cores compared to the previous generation’s one core. And nowadays Apple doesn’t measure processor performance with Adobe Photoshop filters. They now use a vague measurement of performance units per watt.
Steve Jobs could sell a barrel of oil to a man on fire.
One of the differences between Mac users and PC users is that PC users hate change. PC users are afraid that the next version of Windows is going to break something. They believe that everything is hunk-dory, so why bother changing? Mac users, on the other hand, expect change. Many programs today don’t work on Jaguar, essentially forcing people to upgrade to Tiger in some instances. But Tiger’s such a great OS compared to Jaguar that most Mac users don’t really mind. Out of all the Mac users I know only one is still on OS9. There are likely a whole lot more Windows users (proportionally) still running Win98/Me compared to OS9 users.
Mac users welcome change and this latest transition is evidence of that. It’s also evidence of how Jobs is like Hitler in a way. Not anti-semitic, but able to use charisma to blindly rally people behind a cause. 5 years ago Mac users would rather not be anywhere near an Intel processor because it was associated with Windows. Somehow they got the message that Intel is boring, forgetting that IBM used to be the enemy. Now that Steve Jobs is hanging out with the Intel guys, hey, maybe they’re not so bad after all. Plus, IBM can be the enemy again because we’re not so close anymore.
I don’t really care if it’s a G5, an Intel chip or a hamster in a hamster wheel driving my Mac, as long as it works well. If the Intel chip is the best choice now, I’m fully behind the decision. All I want is the Mac experience. That’s what you pay the premium for.
I think that, despite the slump of sales the Apple probably will have this year, they’re looking at sunny skies. I don’t think that the Barenaked Ladies effect (finding a really great thing, like a band, recommending it to people only to see the band get suckier as it’s fanbase increases) will occur, but I don’t know for sure. Now is a great time to be a Mac user…just don’t get too close to the Reality Distortion Field.