An industry expert is offering Apple CEO Steve Jobs advise on how to grow the Mac market.
BusinessWeek's Alex Salkever outlines a six-step plan that he suggests Apple should follow if it wants to increase its market share. He warns: "iPods alone won't turn around sales in desktops and laptops. It's time for a bolder plan."
His first suggestion is that Apple should drop the price of its computers. "The PC market's benchmark price level is sinking quickly below the $1,000 mark. Even laptops are moving down into a similar range."
Salkever does not think that the success of the iPod is proof that Apple can sell nice designs at a premium. He tells Jobs: "You say the iPod, priced from $250 to nearly $500, proves that Apple can charge a premium for superior design. I disagree. What makes the iPod so hot in the consumer market is superior technology – the first workable user interface on a digital music player. That's the reason why the premium has stuck, not the nifty form factor or funky colours."
His next hint is that Apple should offer "terrific product designs at budget prices". He says: "We're in the era of cheap chic, Steve. Give us a really cheap, really cool PC, and watch them fly off the shelves."
The third point in Salkever's plan is that Apple should "ditch the all-in-one mantra". He suggests that consumer interest in computers with integrated monitors never took off and suggests Apple offer "a headless Mac at a decent price with all your nifty iLife software installed," then, he says, "the masses will at least give you a closer look."
The next suggestion is that Apple could offer a $200 bounty on a PC exchanged for a new iMac or iBook. "Think of the news coverage such an offer might generate. You can't pay for that kind of buzz," says Salkever.
Similarly Salkever suggests a try-before-you-buy program. He tells jobs: "Show her how much confidence you have in your products. And aren't they way better looking than a Dell? Everyone already knows what a Mac is, as evidenced by Apple's consistently sky-high brand-recognition ratings. Take it to the next level."
His final piece of advice is that Apple should create an advertising campaign based on the fact that Macs remain largely virus-free.