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The New Mac User

by Derrick Story
11/26/2001

Dear Mac Reader,

I want to continue with a theme that I introduced in my last letter. In the simplest terms, I'm referring to it as "The New Mac User."

This is a subject that I really want your feedback on because I think it's important. But I'm getting ahead of myself -- let's go back a few weeks to the P2P conference in Washington DC.

After the conference, many of us compared notes about the proliferation of Mac laptops, especially the iBook. Almost every one of these computers was running Mac OS X 10.1.

Then, just recently, I stumbled across this interesting note from Nat Torkington, who is famous for many O'Reilly things including being the Program Director for last July's Open Source Convention in San Diego, CA:

"I can't remember if I included this in my report or not, but Mac laptops (mostly iBooks) and OS X were very popular at the Think Conference I attended. Part of this is probably because a non-trivial number of attendees were Early Hackers and participated in the microcomputer home hobbyist period that lead directly into Wozniak and Jobs starting Apple. Wozniak is still god-like to many folks."

Once again we're seeing more Mac laptops than we're used to noticing at a truly geeky event.

Now, one more development that I want to add to this conversation. I attended an excellent North Coast Mac User Group (NCMUG) meeting last week (in Sonoma County, CA) that featured Phil Schiller, Apple VP, talking about the iPod and Mac OS X. At one point Phil asked the audience to indicate by a show of hands how many were using Mac OS X on a regular basis. My guess is that about 25 to 30 percent raised their hands.

Now I consider user group meetings to be the heartland of the Mac community. Most of these people have been using the platform for years, some as far back as Mac OS 4. Yet their adoption of the new OS was a much lower percentage than what I'm noticing in traditional non-Mac settings.

Here's what I'm wondering ... I'm seeing all sorts of new people carrying around Macs using Mac OS X, but I'm not seeing as rapid as an adoption to the new OS by long time Mac users. When talking to one seasoned guru at the NCMUG meeting, he said in reference to Photoshop, "Even after Adobe Carbonizes Photoshop so that it runs on Mac OS X, that doesn't mean that any of my third party plug-ins will work. I have quite an investment there, and I need those tools."

I think he touched on an important point. It's one thing to migrate to Mac OS X if you have a new iBook and no real investment in existing Mac software, but it's quite another for long time users who might want to switch, but who see it as a temporary step backwards in functionality, not to mention the added expense.

So my two-part question is: Are we going to see the emergence of two categories of users in the Mac community, or is this just the different paces of adoption that will ultimately result in us being united again under Mac OS X? And a second question is, do you think this will lead to an increase in market share for Apple?

I'd love to know what you think. If I get enough responses, I'll pull them together into an article.

Until next time,

Derrick
---
Derrick Story
O'Reilly Network Managing Editor
derrick@oreilly.com

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