5 Hooks to Convert Non OSX Users

OSX BoxThere are many reasons you may want to change operating system. Or, you’ve already made the change and you want to convince others. So beyond the techie stuff, and ignoring the oft repeated adverts and headline stats, what OSX features can you use to convert the non-believers, or as we’ll call them from now on, the unenlightened (darkened?).

I’ll try to cover all the bases, from your gran who only uses it occasionally to those who run their entire life off the internet. It’s a difficult task, and I’m no marketer, but here goes.

  1. Photobooth – See, this isn’t a feature you see in Apple’s marketing material, I told you this would be different. Before I lose you, give it some thought. Whenever I go into an Apple store, about 50% of the computers have Photobooth running, with a bunch of people pulling stupid faces. When I showed my Mac off to my completely computer illiterate parents, the only thing that took away from it was Photobooth. It got an amazing response and made computers fun, something that a modern game could not do for people in their position.
  2. iPhotoiPhoto LogoThere are two ways to describe iPhoto. You could take the technical aspects and point out that it manages your photo library or you could just plug in your digital camera and show all the pictures being moved across, automagically, and then show how easy it is to get it printed or made into a slideshow, with just a few clicks. It’s a bit of a revelation to most people, just how easy it is to get pictures off your digital camera and into an exceptionally good looking slideshow, or even printed out in a fancy book. It’s also worth pointing out that because iPhoto uses the rolls analagy, it’s really easy to find photos.
  3. Spotlight – Many of the people you’ll want to convert to OSX aren’t heavy computer users, sometimes in fact, they are almost reluctant to use them at all. The net result is that people want to spend as little time as possible sat down in front of that beige box in the corner of the room. And when they are sat down, thinking about the world outside, they certainly don’t want to spend their time organising their data. In steps Spotlight. For some years people have been conditioned to ignore the fact Windows has a search feature. It’s slow, inaccurate and difficult to use. Spotlight, even with it’s limitations and faults, is in an absolute different league. It’s fast, reasonably accurate and “just works”. It will find that letter to Aunty Beryl you were looking for, and it will find it quickly. That means the people who don’t want to spend hours in front of their computer, the “norms” as I call them, don’t have to.
  4. Eye Candy – Building on the idea that most people don’t want to spend a lot of time in front of a computer, you might as well point out the little interface features in OSX that make it such a joy to use. With Vista, Microsoft have attempted to emulate some of this prettification, but can’t quite pull it off on the same level as Apple. The highlights include the genie effect when minimising windows, the 3d effect when switching users, the exquisite use of drag and drop including holding a file over a folder to navigate into it) and, of course, expose. Expose is really worth concentrating on. Not only does it provide some nice eye candy, but it is a revelation when it comes to switching applications.  So quick, so easy and mouse driven, which non-techies seem to like.
  5. The Hardware – I made some allusions to the beige boxes of old earlier, which isn’t quite the case these days but it’s not far off.  Today, your local computer shop is more likely to stock black boxes with cheap silver plastic glued all over them and, optionally, bright coloured lights.  Outside of the Mac word, with the possible exception of Sony, no computer manufacturer really caters for “adults”.  Take a look across the Mac lineup and you have well constructed machines that don’t look out of place in any living room or office that are full of clever ideas.  I can’t count the number of times the Mag Safe power connector has saved my laptop.  You’ve then got the superbly implemented track pads on the laptops, which seem to have much more functionality than any other trackpad on the market.  There’s also the whole plug and play nature of OSX, plug something in and it works.  It’s not like Windows which replies to a device being plugged in with a barrage of confusing dialogues that may or may not result in your device working.  I plugged a digital camera in for the first time, iPhoto fired up and asked if I wanted to open iPhoto every time I  plugged it in, which I did.  It just works.  The same goes for the devices you get with your Mac, the iSight works as do all the other components like the Wi-Fi (a.k.a Airport) and disk drives.  No fussing about with drivers and all sorts of other rubbish casual users don’t care about.

A few other bits of advice.  Overall, people are fed up with the security and reliability angle.  The tune has been playing for some time and anyone who cares has already switched.  Time to change the track.  It may also be worth pointing out everything you can do “out of the box”.  iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, iCal and Mail.  They all come preinstalled and they are all near the top of league in their respective fields.  I remember the amazing feeling I got when I realised iMovie is so easy to use that even I can use it to give my home movies a bit of spice.

There are some slightly more advanced features you can point out, if your dealing with the more computer literate, for that I’d recommend checking out my Hidden Gems series and for those that would appreciate it, 5 things that make Quicksilver awesome and 5 things you can do with Automator and Apple Script.