“Are you a Mac person or a PC person?” For more than 20 years, this question has become as common – and to some people, every bit as important – as, “Are you married or single?” “Would you like white or wheat?” “Scrambled or sunny-side-up?”
Apple was founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976, and the company’s debut was marked by the release of the Apple I and then the Apple II personal computers. Since then, Macintosh computers have developed a cult following of dedicated consumers who will buy nothing but Mac products; they are enchanted by Apple’s clean, colorful, futuristic designs and brilliant ad campaigns, which often seduce people away from buying the more traditional-looking PC.
“I grew up with Macs; my dad always used Macs. They look different and they look fun, and you look like you’re having fun when you use one,” said freshman Maeve Odonnell, who owns an iMac.
Mac users are a small but devoted population at GW. According to Resnet, Mac owners constitute approximately 7 percent of computer users in residence halls. But in the last 18 months, Apple products have become mainstream.
Still the favorite of graphic designers, music professionals and educators, the popularity of the iPod, Apple’s MP3 music player, has increased the company’s visibility, especially at GW. The iPod’s tell-tale white wires hang from the ears of students around campus. And it has caught on with Mac and PC users alike. In July 2002, Apple introduced iPods for Windows, and its iTunes software followed suit in October 2003.
Senior Leah Bannon has an iPod with 4,000 songs on it.
“I love it. I got it off eBay. I wanted to get it because I listen to music nonstop, and I wanted all my CDs in one place,” said Bannon, adding that she would recommend to people not to buy an iPod off eBay. “It’s only about $50 cheaper and is kind of a hassle.”
iTunes is one of the fastest growing Apple products. The rapidly expanding iPod user base relies on iTunes to organize its MP3 collection. The iTunes Music Store offers 99 cent-per-song downloads.
GW students have discovered another great benefit to iTunes: anyone connected to iTunes has access to all the music of any other unlocked iTunes because GW the residence halls are part of a network. Illegal downloading isn’t possible with iTunes because each user’s play list is locked against copying. But a user can listen to the thousands of songs all friends have downloaded (or uploaded onto iTunes from CDs) as long as his or her computer is connected to the network.
“I think it’s a great way to get around illegal downloading problems on campus. I have no need to download music when almost everything I would want to listen to is available through file sharing,” said sophomore Meri Wolff.
While a record 750,000 iPods were purchased during the 2003 holiday season, according to a Feb. 15 New York Times article, it’s too early to tell if the high sales will continue. But some GW students will stick to their Macs, even if they go out of fashion.
Freshman Ashley Williams’ iBook accompanies her to most classes so that she can take notes. Macs have always been her computer of choice. Williams said she is “happy with Apple for integrating everything,” and she loves Macs for their stability, among other things.
“Macs really are just plug ‘n play,” she said. “They’re so easy to use.”