ripping off apple

lots of news stories recently about various people “stealing” apple software, like front row or the apple operating system running on generic intel computers instead of apple hardware.

is this stealing? technically, of course, yes. kirk is an artist, so we have a vested interest in understanding the concept of intellectual property. and my machine doesn’t have a byte of bootlegged software. heck, i’ve even paid for a lot of my shareware. bottom line, don’t steal software!

that said, my sense is that apple knows exactly what they are doing with this software and, to a degree, even encourages its “theft”.

let’s imagine for a second that they had released front row as a general program for use on all macs, which they could have done in conjunction with a backwards-compatible hardware remote control. what’s the headline for that story? i’m afraid it would have been “look at all the things i can’t do with this software!”

whereas if they officially release it for one computer only but make sure that it can run on everything anyway, you have every apple evangelist, fanboy, and hacker gleefully putting it on their computer as if they are getting away with something big. what’s the headline for that story? it’s “cool! i got front row running on my old lc pizza box!”, ignoring the myriad and obvious shortcomings of the program. and everybody is all excited for exactly the reason that apple intended. it’s all about buzz.

am I too cynical about this? am i giving apple too much credit for marketing genius? i don’t think so. why haven’t they gone after the osx86 hackers more aggressively? because they know that if they get the windows hackerboy crowd buzzed about os x, it only translates into positive buzz and hype about the product. and those trendsetting early adopters translate later into large market shares for your product. pick any successful apple product. its success will have been due in some part to a guerilla marketing campaign.

it’s marketing 101. and nobody does it better than apple does.