TV-PGJune 27, 2000: Apple's web site drops into fourth place in the PC Data ratings; Steve is not amused. Meanwhile, students at Northwestern learn Italian by making their own soap operas with iMovie, and the next big thing in the industry is fast food computers-- where will Apple be?...
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Falling Off The Charts (6/27/00)

Great web sites never die-- they just slip into fourth place. If you're the type of person who follows every nugget of info on the goings and comings of Apple, no matter how trivial, you're probably aware that has been consistently hitting the top spot in PC Data's weekly stats measuring traffic to computer manufacturer web sites. For a solid month now, Apple's been ranked number one, ahead of such heavy hitters as Compaq, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard. What makes this feat all the more amazing is the fact that PC Data suffers from the affliction of Wintel Tunnel Vision so prevalent in the industry, and is therefore only tracking the traffic of Windows users. Think about that for a second; for the past month, more Windows users have visited Apple's site than Compaq's. Here's hoping that Steve rewarded Apple's web team by popping for a few extra stock options and Tofutti Cuties all around.

But alas, all good things have endings. According to The Mac Observer, this week Apple took a spill-- tumbling three slots to land at number four. While that may not sound all that terrible, especially since we're only talking about Windows traffic here, keep in mind that this is an Olympic year. Third place at least gets you a bronze, but fourth? Well, let's just say that not many fourth-place contestants get their picture on the Wheaties box. Which means that, even if Steve rewarded Team with shares of AAPL and vegan frozen treats last week, his fiercely competitive and mercurial nature probably has him brandishing the cat-o'-nine-tails right now. Especially for letting the site's traffic slip beneath Dell's. (You can bet that Mike Dell's dancing a little jig right about now.)

After flogging his web department, Steve can at least take solace in the good news following's decline in the ratings. For one thing, at least traffic to his site is still beating out the likes of Gateway, IBM, and Intel. For another, the actual volume of traffic to Apple's site has barely dipped at all; it's just that traffic to the sites in the top three spots increased a whole lot. And lastly, there's always next week for Apple to claw its way back up the charts. The Mac Observer assumes that most of Apple's Wintel-based traffic is due to its QuickTime movie trailers, which sounds pretty reasonable to us. So we figure that if Steve really wants to pump up his web traffic, it's time for Apple to acknowledge the fact that porn makes the web go 'round. The Charlie's Angels trailer may be cute, but imagine the stats if Apple were to post previews to major "adult entertainment" titles as well. Of course, then Apple's own site would fall off of the KidSafe list of "approved" sites, but hey, it's a small price to pay for the smiting of one's enemies.

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Progressive Learning (6/27/00)

Okay, we've always heard that Northwestern University's a pretty tough school, but this is ridiculous. Rumor has it that students there who are learning how to write and produce soap operas actually have to do it in Italian. Folks, believe us-- we've been on the air for almost three years now, and we have to say, learning to produce a soap opera is hard enough without having to do it in a foreign freakin' language. When juggling three adultery plot lines, explaining the sudden reappearance of a character who died (twice), and trying to come up with a "switched at birth" twist that hasn't been used within the past six months, the last thing anyone needs is to have to conjugate foreign verbs and try to remember whether "divorce" is a masculine or feminine noun.

Oh, wait a sec... Seems we were mistaken. Those aren't broadcasting students; they're third-year Italian students (as in, students of the Italian language, not scholars from Rome). Apple's posted another one of its patented "feel-good" stories about Mac use, and this one's about how Italian students at Northwestern are picking up the lingo the fun way. These lucky pupils are writing and producing their own Italian-language soap opera, "Navigare Il Fiume d'Amore Senza Remo" ("Navigating The River Of Love Without An Oar"), and they're doing it entirely on Macs. Yes, they actually get class credit for watching Italian soap operas and then making their own-- with the help of Canon DV camcorders and iMovie. Ain't that a kick in the head?

Now, here at AtAT our Italian skills are limited to whatever's on the menu at Bertucci's and what we've managed to pick up from watching "Cartoon Planet" ("Sono una tazza di tè"-- "I am a glass of tea"). That's why we had to turn to BabelFish to learn that "causa" is Italian for "lawsuit." Unfortunately, our extensive legal department (read: a small promotional teddy bear wearing a Westlaw sweater) tells us that just because we were making soaps on the Mac years before Northwestern started horning in on our action doesn't mean we have any grounds for a case. Oh, well... Suing an academic establishment is probably terrible PR anyway, and seeing as how we're not Apple Legal, we'll probably steer clear of such moves. We've got all the drama we can handle right now, anyway.

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Have It Your Way (6/27/00)

And now a quickie from the Realm of the Not Hardly Relevant: an outfit called KFC Computers recently announced a new laptop computer with the immensely engaging name of "E-3173." This rather blah-looking thing boasts a Pentium III running at up to 750 MHz, a maximum of 256 MB of RAM, a 14.1-inch screen, a 24x CD-ROM drive and a standard floppy drive... nothing all that compelling, really. Rumor has it that the Colonel isn't happy with the sales of this KFC laptop, and has therefore decided to run a special promotion: from now until the end of July, anyone who purchases an E-3173 will receive a nine-piece bucket (regular or crispy skin) and a side order of Spicy Crispy Strips®.

Which, of course, leaves the door wide open for a vast untapped market: fast-food computers. Pretty soon we bet you'll see Dell buying Domino's Pizza, after which Dell's online store will let you configure your PowerEdge server with optional hot-plug power supplies and an extra-cheese Ultimate Deep Dish. Delivery of both within thirty minutes or its all free. Meanwhile, we hear Gateway is sniffing around Chick-fil-A and plans to go head-to-head with KFC, and Hewlett-Packard's making a run for the border and bundling USB-powered Chalupa warmers with every Pavilion. Yo quiero Service Pack 3.

So the big question is, which fast food service should Apple buy and integrate into the Mac family? McDonalds? Too late-- the fast-food behemoth is already in acquisition talks with Microsoft. Burger King, then? Not likely, given that Steve Jobs is vegan. In fact, Steve's personal diet philosophy pretty much rules out every big chain out there-- except perhaps for Subway, who's got that Veggie Delite without cheese or mayo. So how about it? Gimme an iMac DV with extra RAM, but hold the oil and vinegar on the foot-long...

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