- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

Apple Computer Inc.’s Macs are cool, fun and secure, everything personal computers running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system are not, Apple’s new ad campaign says.

The six TV spots feature two actors: John Hodgman of “The Daily Show,” who resembles Bill Gates, represents PCs, and the younger, hipper Justin Long, who has appeared in “Dodgeball” and in other film and TV roles, embodies Macintosh computers.

The commercials show the two men comparing system features that highlight the strengths of Macs and Apple’s OS X compared with the operating systems of PCs, more than 90 percent of which use a version of Windows.

Mr. Gates is not named in the ads.

In the spot titled “WSJ,” the Mac is reading a Wall Street Journal review and tries to stop PC from reading it aloud because the article describes Macs as “the finest desktop PC on the market at any price.”

“I actually got a great review this morning, too,” PC responds. “They said I was awesome and so we’re the same.”

Mac asks what publication carried the review and PC stammers: “The awesome, computer review, weekly … journal.”

“Your average consumer mulling over a computer purchase doesn’t want to hear a point-by-point examination of virus protection or interoperability in a TV spot — they’re just looking for reasons to consider a particular brand, and Apple’s latest bunch of ads delivers just that,” wrote Philip Michaels, executive editor, online, at Macworld magazine, which is not affiliated with Apple.

But he noted in his blog that the TV ads feature the actors more than the Apple products they are touting.

In the spot called “Viruses,” PC explains that he has “that virus that’s going around,” and urges Mac to stay away because 114,000 known viruses appeared last year. He then “crashes” to the floor. Mac says the viruses affect only PCs.

That is true, but the SANS Institute, a Washington, D.C., research group, this week noted in a security vulnerabilities report that although the Apple operating system remains safer than Windows, “its reputation for offering a bulletproof alternative to Windows is in tatters.”

Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, said no operating system can be completely secure, but “a computer running Windows has so far proven less safe than a computer running Mac OS X.”

The last time an Apple ad campaign attempted to entice PC users was in the 2002 “switchers” spots that featured everyday users and celebrities who traded PCs for Macs, Ms. Kerris said.

The Macintosh was officially announced in a 1984 Super Bowl commercial directed by Ridley Scott that many analysts rank as one of the best ever. All of Apple’s ads have been produced by Chiat/Day in Los Angeles.

Ms. Kerris would not comment on how long the new ads were in development or how much they cost, or on PC’s resemblance to Mr. Gates.

Spokesmen for Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft did not return calls for comment.

The new Apple ads debuted as Gartner Inc. reported that Microsoft’s latest operating system, Vista, was being delayed again. But Microsoft insists it will meet a January deadline.

Apple has acknowledged the power of Windows. The company last month introduced Boot Camp software, which lets users load either Microsoft Windows XP or Apple’s Mac OS X on their Intel-based Macs.

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