Apple's Stigma of the 90's

As I’ve interacted with PC users of various ages (mostly my own customers), I’ve noticed a disturbing and unsettling trend amongst them.
None of them have noticed that Apple is actually a PC company now, only their software is truly different, and even that’s not different, since it’s just FreeBSD with an OpenGL powered User Interface, that really, isn’t all that different from Windows in it’s basic operation.
Unfortunately, during the 90’s, Apple went through a Dark Ages of sorts, not helped by Steve Jobs being forced to leave the company in 1985 due to struggles with then CEO John Scully, he rejoined the company in 1997, but by then the damage had been done. That decade had been marked by boring grey boxes which were underpowered, overpriced (the performa line of computers was dreadful) and lacked software that would drive mass adoption by the general consumer.
A decade of bad decision after bad decision had left apple running on fumes, and they were just about destroyed by the proliferation of PC clones, running on an intel compatible x86 architecture, they were cheap, powerful and easily upgradable, but they ran DOS or early versions of Microsoft Windows, which had one weakness that was Apple’s strength.
They had this lifeline advantage that sustained them... the graphics were unbeatable, if you were in the print and/or design businesses, you weren’t serious unless you had a Mac, this advantage still lives on in Apple computers today. When jobs returned to the company, Apple had gotten so desperate to compete that they had committed the sin of allowing mac clones, more boring grey boxes that threatened to dilute the company’s image and confuse its product line with excess variety and no clear purpose. Steve stopped this, the clone makers lost their licenses. What he needed was something like no computer ever seen before, simple, easy to use, powerful, aesthetically pleasing and most importantly, iconic.
The answer, came in the form of the iMac.
Everyone can remember what the original iMac looks like, most people can draw surprisingly similar pictures of it. It has become a part of the cultural memory, and every year since then apple have updated their now cutting edge product line with new designs, more power, better software and like before, excellent graphics.

But it’s not so simple, because not only has culture remembered the iMac, the culture has remembered the sins of Apple during the early to mid 90’s. It has left a stigma on the company, so deep that some people still remember that “A Mac can’t run windows” or “A Mac is not as powerful” or “A Mac’s software is completely different from Microsoft’s software, it’s not as intuitive” or “A Mac uses expensive, proprietary peripherals” or “A mac has no first party backup solution”, they don’t even consider Apple’s products because of what happened 15 years previous. Cultural memory has worked for and against apple, but considering their ever growing (slowly, but still growing) market share, and as the irrational mac haters get older and memories of the sins start to fade, things can only get better for the company. Not to mention the iPod, iPhone and iTunes, by making these products, Apple have ensured their long term survival, and not just survival, their long term prosperity and innovation and cultural icon status has also been assured with every advance.

In short, don’t listen to the haters, Apple have good things going for them.

When I wrote this, iTunes was nearing 10 billion songs purchased.

Some minor research for the facts quoted here were done to prepare this article, but it is mostly from what I have observed about those who dislike or are unenlightened about Apple.