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FROM THIS EPISODE

The seduction of the Apple Computer

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat on KCRW.

The New York Times reported this week that iTunes now sells more music than Borders Books or Tower Records. It all started with a different kind of computer, and just look where Apple has taken it.

They built a brilliant computer line and maintained the brand. Then they branched out, built itunes and the ipod product line and changed an entirely different industry. All the while, they never really changed much. They waited for the customers to come to them.

For decades, I had been a loyal PC user.

But I never owned a Mac. By the time Apple Computers had begun to seriously penetrate the market, I was living with my third PC.

It was only when the first Ipod hit the market, that I experienced the Apple motto: think different. Before the iPod, MP3 players had a reputation for being counter-intuitive and complex. But the iPod sparked a national love affair, driving millions, young and old, to run and buy one. The smooth movements, simple, sturdy design and curious click wheel caught the imaginations of consumers who were tired of the same old thing. Apple created a machine that satisfied a tactile instinct that no other computer company was able to address.

But the real masterstroke was yet to come. Once millions of new Ipod customers experienced the ease and simplicity of this music device; many would be inspired to make the switch to a fully loaded Macintosh computer.

At first, I was highly skeptical. My world operates on seven PCs. But the office next to mine uses only Macs. Though I know the Microsoft system pretty well, I couldn't fix most problems. I noticed the guys using the Macs never had to call the IT guy.

They laughed in the face of web viruses. And they held onto their computers for far longer than I had. Suddenly, I realized I might have it all wrong. What was I holding onto to? Technical glitches, viruses and a continuing cycle of obselence? It didn't make much sense.

A month ago, I took the plunge and bought an Apple PowerBook G4. The transfer of data was astonishingly easy and I honestly can say this piece of machinery ranks high in my book. It's different from all the others, in every way. I get that lovely feeling every time I turn it on. It meets me on so many levels. It assumes I am intelligent and it responds with style and grace. It gives me room to create, and keeps the technocratic garbage out. It clearly identifies a problem and gives a solution. It's easy to see why Apple is such a strong brand -- consumers identify with their products and hold them dear.

In an age when your tools are your best transportation, perhaps its time to take a bite out of the Apple and see just what the Garden of Eden really looks like.

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat.

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