TV-PGNovember 18, 2002: Apple may not have any retail stores anywhere near Seattle, but they may be coming soon to Australia and Canada. Meanwhile, the company's market share continues to drop in education, though things aren't nearly as bleak as they could be, and Apple's latest Switch ad featuring De La Soul may best be experienced after a good night's sleep...
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Everywhere BUT Seattle (11/18/02)
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Say, you know how we generally try to keep you folks up to date on Apple's latest retail openings? Well, there's an interesting side effect that comes along with performing that particular public service: every time we mention that a new store is about to open, we get at least a half-dozen letters from folks like faithful viewer Greg Bentz bemoaning the fact that the upper left quadrant of the country is strangely devoid of Uncle Steve's little boutiques. It's like there's a black hole of retaily goodness up there. Intriguing, no?

While we can't say for certain why that might be, we're going to take a wild flailing stab in the dark and propose that maybe any Apple store that opens within three hundred miles of Redmond proper would simply implode and catch fire due to proximity to the Taste Vortex and exposure to high levels of negative shame ions. Or maybe Apple's just chicken. We find ourselves wondering if an Apple retail presence in the Seattle area might become a reality if enough Mac fans email Steve Jobs triple-dog-daring him to do it, or at least making that "bawwwk bawk bawk bawk" sound and doing the little strut with the wing motions.

At this point, though, the bad news is that it looks like Timbuktu will be getting an Apple store before Seattle does. The good news, however, is that a Timbuktu store may not be entirely out of the question. As faithful viewer Andrew Galbraith notes, the latest report over at Think Secret indicates that Apple is indeed planning a tentative step into establishing Apple retail stores in other countries, apparently beginning with Australia and Canada. (Based on what we're hearing, the Australian stores can't open soon enough: faithful viewer Jack Kennedy tells us that the country now has its own version of the Dell Dude who says "Get a Dell, mate!" Truly, evil knows no bounds.)

Further borderline evidence that the Canada stores may be in the kicking-around phase comes via faithful viewer Simon Lepik-Wookey, who found a Canadian Apple job posting in National Retail Sales that might indicate an increased retail focus in the Great White North. Don't get too worked up just yet, though; Think Secret surmises that the first Canadian retail store might not open until 2004 near Toronto. Still, every shred of hope is welcome. Just think, Washingtonians: a dose of Apple retail bliss might be just a few years-- and a quick hop across the border-- away!


 
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Maybe A "C" For Effort (11/18/02)
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Is it just us, or does it seem that Apple is having a really hard time getting its head back into the game, educationally speaking? Once the undisputed ruler in school computing sales, at least back in 1999 Apple could argue with Dell about who sold more systems to the folks teaching our wee kiddies. These days, however, Dell wins hands down again and again; we keep hoping that Apple will get its act together to start grabbing back its crown, but it just never seems to come to pass. C'mon, guys, this is no way to earn a gold star.

Things don't appear to be getting any better for the 2002-2003 school year, either. According to Scholastic News, Quality Education Data polled 450 random school districts and asked them about their computer purchasing plans this year. Apparently Dell scores a 35% predicted market share, compared to Apple's 21%. That's not exactly a photo finish, if you catch our drift.

On the plus side, Apple hasn't really slid all that much in the past few years, either; three years ago the company had 22.2% of the education market, and now QED has determined that that's edged down slightly to 21%. That's not exactly a death plunge, and indeed, there's something really gratifying about one in every five education computers sold being a Mac when the number's closer to one in twenty in all markets combined.

Better still, when you look at the installed base, as opposed to new machines being purchased, QED claims that "Macintosh is the single most common brand of instructional computer in schools today." Hubba hubba. Unfortunately, that still only comes out to maybe a 30% share, meaning there's more than twice as many Wintels of various brands lurking in our schools than Macs. And with Dell alone now selling almost twice as many educational systems as Apple (and various other Wintel vendors presumably filling out the rest of the pie), it sounds to us like the Mac's presence in school is just going to keep dwindling.

Unless, of course, Apple has some really big ace up its sleeve-- but we've been waiting for a Secret Weapon™ for years, now, and Apple has come up with pretty much zilch. About all we can hang our hopes on now is all the positive press and kudos currently being lavished on the state of Maine, who just gave iBooks to each and every single one of its seventh-graders. Will other schools follow suit and flood Apple with orders for portables and AirPort gear? Fingers crossed...


 
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Do WHAT With The Fluid? (11/18/02)
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Is it them or us? What with all the sleep deprivation these days, we can never tell anymore. Case in point: when faithful viewer brian informed us that the Yo-Yo Ma commercial had been joined by yet another celebrity Switch ad, this time starring rappers De La Soul, we immediately pointed our QuickTime-capable browser at the URL in question and clicked "Click to play" to, er, play. And hey, there are the guys talking about how they've done "a lot of their songs on the Mac." Okay, so far so good.

But then-- and please, correct us if we're wrong-- the group spends most of the rest of the ad saying "Oooh oooh oooh oooh." Now, we're not so sleep-deprived that we haven't figured out that "Oooh" is one of their songs; indeed, we're pretty sure we even remember it being mentioned in the long version of that classic "Concert" ad. Still, thirty seconds of commercial airtime ain't cheap, and we can't help wondering if a commercial so heavy on the "Oooh"s is really going to be worth the cost to run it. Granted, saying that the Mac is "a great brain" at the end may well make up for it, but we were just a little confused, is all.

So what did we do? We turned to Apple's "Read their story" link for further explanation of De La Soul's collective position on the Mac. That, folks, may have been a mistake, because take our word for it: when you haven't slept, trying to coax meaning from a statement like "I ain't a Mac, but I use the Mac to pimp my sounds, and I put it down like what?" isn't necessarily a real problem, but when they start going on about being "in the cave with the bear" and how "it's a rat, it's a rat," there's a definite inclination to assume you're just hallucinating the whole thing. Note to Apple: transcripts of freestyle rap sessions are perhaps slightly less enlightening than they are downright freaky. May we humbly suggest that an audio file instead of a transcript might have been a smidge less disturbing?

Whatever. We're going to listen to our copy of "Me Myself And I" a few times to clean out our skulls and then we're going to bed. Apparently we're old school, or something.


 
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