TV-PGNovember 26, 2002: Apple posts two new Switch ads-- both starring Santa Claus. Now that's a celebrity! Meanwhile, David Coursey shamelessly shills for the Mac as Apple prepares to open its 51st retail store, and the CEO of Quark may have gotten a little goofy at an industry gathering last week...
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Ho, Ho, Ho... Har, Har, Har (11/26/02)

Strap on those novelty reindeer antlers and pour yourself a tall glass of Silk Nog, because the holiday season is officially upon us. How do we know? No, it's got nothing to do with the number of days until Thanksgiving or the first instance of white and fluffy precipitation accumulating on the garden gnomes; this year we know that the holidays are upon us because, as faithful viewer el jacko first pointed out, Apple has posted two new Switch ads featuring Will Ferrell as "S. Claus."

Yes indeedy, folks, rush right over and scope out "Santa and Lawyers," in which jolly ol' Saint Nick reveals that he "got his ass handed to him" in a lawsuit over the "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" controversy. Then take a gander at "Santa's iPod," in which Santa confesses that the thousand songs in his pocket include 980 Christmas songs, 20 Doobie Brothers tunes, and a Sheryl Crow track. Which is, um, a thousand and one songs in his pocket. Whatever. It's all good.

Now, to tell you the truth, over here at the AtAT compound we've actually been awaiting these fabled Will-as-Santa Switch ads for over a month now with bated breath; faithful viewers may recall that we hinted at their existence a couple of weeks back. We'd originally heard tell that Apple shot several hours of raw footage of Mr. Ferrell in his holly-jolly red suit, and in most of it the man was practically foaming at the mouth and screaming. Consequently, there was reportedly a fair amount of concern that, even with multiple hours of footage at its disposal, Apple wouldn't be able to edit together thirty seconds of it that wouldn't be deemed "too disturbing" for public release. Pessimists! After all, Apple was actually able to slap together a full minute of Ferrell it deemed "not quite disturbing enough to generate actual lawsuits."

The only bummer? Apple has clearly labeled these two spots as "parodies" of the Switch ads instead of as ads themselves, which almost certainly means that they're destined never to ride the airwaves during "Will & Grace" or the like. Internet-only parodies? Man, what a senseless waste. Here's a thought: we happen to have noticed that Apple has the good taste to be running Switch ads during "Sports Night," despite the fact that the show comes on at 3:30 AM just before Comedy Central turns into the All-"Girls Gone Wild" Network. C'mon, Apple; surely these Santa ads are perfect for late nights on a comedy network, no?

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Still Extending Its Reach (11/26/02)

Speaking of Switch ads, how come former-Windoid-turned-Machead David Coursey hasn't done one yet? After all, when he gave the Mac a shot earlier this year, he began a rapid transformation from one of those dime-a-dozen anti-Mac tech columnists into a guy who now practically gushes over All Things Apple. He's even writing a book on switching from Windows to the Mac. And faithful viewer davethedivine noted that the man's latest article over at ZDNet AnchorDesk is a self-admitted "blatant attempt to get you into an Apple Store and convince you to maybe even buy something while you're there."

Lack of a Switch ad notwithstanding, if Coursey actually manages to persuade anyone to go check out an Apple retail store, the good news is that now said people will have a decent chance of actually being able to find one. We lost count a good while back, but Apple sure didn't; according to a press release, this past weekend's two grand openings (in Denver and Emeryville) brings the total of Apple retail outlets to fifty. The big 5-0. That's significant for several reasons, not the least of which is that it means Apple actually hit its goal of having fifty stores up and running in time for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. It's always nice to see a company stick to a schedule.

There's also the fact that, with fifty carefully-chosen stores now under its belt, Apple now has retail locations within a fifteen-mile drive of a whopping 85 million people. That means that in the U.S., one out of every three Americans now lives less than fifteen miles from a big glowing Apple logo-- and considering that some conspiracy theorists attribute sudden, inexplicable platform switching like that of David Coursey to the of massive doses of Reality Distortion Field energy being pumped out of the giant illuminated store signs marking the entrance of each store, they're probably predicting a sudden unexplained increase in domestic Apple market share to roughly 30% within the next year or so. Of course, most of these same guys have also been putting waaaaaay too much nutmeg in their eggnog, but that's beside the point.

Regardless, the growth continues, and those fifty stores are soon to number fifty-one; Apple is planning a rare non-Saturday grand opening for the Apple Store Oakbrook this Friday, to coincide with its post-Thanksgiving orgy of retail delight. Mac fans of the Greater Chicago Area, prepare to welcome yet another new store amid "free stocking-stuffers, special values, and a chance to win a new 15-inch iMac." What better way to work off the Turkey Coma than by exercising your credit limit? And if anybody happens to see David Coursey stumbling around at said event with a glazed look on his face, well, you won't be particularly surprised, right?

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Nurse, More Spin Control! (11/26/02)

Ahhh, that trusty ol' Naked Mole Rat: always good for a heaping helping of Quark dirt. For days, now, we'd been hearing various intriguing but maddeningly vague mutterings among folks in the publishing industry to the effect that something somewhat disturbing was up with the makers of QuarkXPress-- and especially with the biggest of the bigwigs at the Denver-based firm-- but no one seemed to want to tell us exactly what was giving everyone the willies. Well, the Rat has finally shed a little light on the subject, and we're pleased to discover that Quark is really living up to its promise as a solid source of drama these days.

You may recall that it was only a month ago that Macworld UK was reporting that Quark was hightailing it out of the United Kingdom, in part because CEO Fred Ebrahimi "does not like the Macintosh platform"-- which all made perfect sense because, as we all know, the UK is such a bastion of incurable Mac fanatics. (Or something.) Now, it didn't take long for Quark to get its spin control in gear; no, the company was not leaving the UK, and Mr. Ebrahimi's alleged dislike of Macs was "hearsay." So what at first looked like a juicy chunk of Mac-flavored melodrama turned out to be nothing at all. Right?

Well, sure-- except that Ebrahimi just addressed a crowd of publishing professionals at an "executive summary" in the Big Apple last week, and apparently he came off as the poster child and celebrity spokesperson for Crazy-Frosted Insanity Flakes. It seems that Fred's presentation about Quark's future direction (the "pending integration of Quark Publishing System and Digital Media System within a framework of Microsoft's .Net and SQL Server technologies") was notably lacking any mention whatsoever of support for Mac OS X-- which is perhaps not entirely surprising given the fact that QuarkXPress is one of the last major Mac apps still shipping in a Classic-only incarnation, but still, you can imagine that these assembled publishing pros were a little anxious about what exactly Fred's presentation implied.

So get this: when they asked him about Mac OS X support, Ebrahimi reportedly totally lost it. Nutty Fred insisted that "the Macintosh platform is shrinking" and "publishing is dying," and is said to have counseled all those present who were "dissatisfied with Quark's Mac commitment" to "switch to something else"-- but also warned that switching to Adobe's InDesign would be "committing suicide." Attendees were reportedly rather shocked by this behavior, which, if we're imagining this correctly, sounds to us rather like one of those infamous behind-closed-doors Jobsian outbursts, only minus the warmth. Yeek. Stay tuned, drama hounds, because it sounds to us like Fred Ebrahimi's the one to watch...

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