Actor Justin Long is a Mac — and so is the majority of the Penn.
According to Engineering freshman and Information Technology Adviser Jeffrey Shih, 55 percent of computer sales at the Penn Computer Connection are Macs, an extremely skewed number considering that Macs account for less than one-tenth of market share in the US.
The disproportionate number of Macs at Penn isn’t due to the hardware or the processing ability, Engineering senior and ITA Ritwik Lodhiya said.
“Apple products associate themselves with [a] kind of culture,” Lodhiya said, adding that he feels Apple’s marketing technique is based on finding the “right niche” rather than looking for a broader market like Microsoft.
This brand loyalty, however, is primarily founded on logos rather than capabilities, according to both Lodhiya and Shih. For Shih, “in the end, a computer is a computer.” In technical terms, Lodhiya explained, only two companies make processors and three make graphic cards, meaning that “in terms of actual performance, there’s no significant gap” between the brands.
But Chris Bradie, associate vice president of Business Services, believes there are differences between brands based on software and compatibility.
“Design, warranty, support, and features vary widely between manufacturers and even within a single provider, product lines can have great variation,” Bradie wrote in an e-mail.
“From our observations, the computers that we see students using most often are Apple, Dell, and Lenovo — generally in that order,” Bradie wrote.
Lodhiya said brand loyalty is created by companies, especially through advertising, such as Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign.
Engineering freshman Leah Suttner said that it was Justin Long’s personable and identifiable portrayal of a Mac that helped convince her to switch.
Now that she and her entire family have changed camps, Suttner is pleased with her decision. “They’re really easy to use,” she said. “You don’t really need to know about computers to use them well.” Suttner is also pleased with the comparative non-existence of Mac-targeting viruses — a benefit Lodhiya attributed to the mere prevalence of Windows computers, rather than any security differences across platforms.
College student Ying Ying Sun is a PC user and maintains she will always be one. In fact, she admitted she “is kind of afraid” of Macs, even though she is an ITA. For her, not switching over isn’t a question of loyalty, but of utility. “Everything’s in a different place,” she explained. “I can’t use them.”
According to Bradie, manufacturers “put a lot of energy and resources into trying to differentiate their products and … consumers take notice.”
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