One remark Schiller made during yesterday’s launch event raised a few eyebrows. In noting that the majority of 12.9-inch iPad Pro customers had actually switched from Windows PCs, he pointed to the huge potential switchers market still out there for Apple. There are, he said, over 600 million PCs more than five years old.
What he said next generated laughter in the room, but may not have gone down quite so well with those owners.
This is really sad. It really is.
Now, he may be right. A Windows PC more than five years old is going to be creaking somewhat by now. But it seems to me that there are three types of owners of old PCs, and the remark may well offend all of them …
First, there are those who are still very happily using an older PC. It does what they need it to do. They are using it to access the Internet, store recipes, write, store their unedited photos – all of the many things that don’t demand much in the way of processing power. They could easily interpret Schiller’s remark as meaning that they are sad, to be using such outdated tech.
Second, there are those who’d love to have newer tech, but who simply can’t afford it. In a difficult economy, not everyone has disposable income available to invest in the latest gadgets – especially not the premium-priced tech sold by Apple. Again, they could easily see a very rich man making a joke at their expense.
Third, those who are already considering a new toy. They have the desire, they have the budget and they may well be taking a look at what Apple has to offer. But again, they may well be offended at a seeming dig at people who have left it so long.
There’s also an additional factor. While Apple always uses the term PCs to refer specifically to Windows machines, that isn’t always clear to everyone. Indeed, Tim Cook previously had to clarify this point when talking about the original iPad Pro, asking why anyone would use a PC any more. There are plenty of people happily using Macs that are more than five years old (their usable life being one of the selling points of a Mac), who may have felt they too were being addressed.
I don’t for one moment think Schiller meant it that way. I don’t think he meant to apply the term ‘sad’ to the owners of those older PCs, but I do think there’s a considerable risk that it may be interpreted in that way.
Selena Larson at The Daily Dot also pointed out that the remark seemed somewhat at odds with Apple’s high-profile reference to its environmental initiatives at the beginning of the event. While the company of course wants people to buy new products, continuing to use older ones is one of the most effective environmental steps individuals can take.
Very little senior Apple execs say on stage is unscripted. This is one remark that perhaps should have caught the eye of a PR person before it made it into the script.