Tuesday, June 1, 2004

When Good Marketers Go Bad.

 The folks at Apple have a reputation for cranking out well-designed, well-integrated products, and generally marketing them in a way that's pleasing to the eye and all that.

An example of this integration is the Apple Display Connector, which carries a DVI signal, USB channel and power from my 
Power Mac to my Apple Cinema display. There's only one cable coming out of the display, which cuts down nicely on clutter.

Like all of us, though, Apple marketers sometimes have a bad day. And when that happens, look out!

Several of my acquaintances and colleagues have been discussing the fact that 
PowerBooks include a mini-DVI port, and an assortment of adapters to connect that port to various things, but not an adapter to connect it to any of Apple's line of flat-panel LCD displays, which all use ADC.

does offer a $99 DVI to ADC adapter, which takes DVI and USB from a computer (be it a PowerBook, the secondary DVI port on a Power Mac, or indeed any computer, Apple or not, with a DVI port) and power from an AC adapter, and combines them into an ADC cable.

When one purchases a PowerBook on-line, a display and adapter are presented as a bundled time-of-purchase option. However, if one visits 
Apple's online store to purchase an Apple Display "after the fact" - for use as the second display on a Power Mac, as an external display on a PowerBook, or as a display on a DVI-equipped computer from another manufacturer - the information presented is less than helpful. "Double your desktop area," the site says. "The Apple DVI to ADC adapter makes adding a second flat-panel display simple. Now only $99." No mention of it being necessary if you're not using the panel as a second display.

It gets worse, though. Select one of Apple's three display models, and thirteen "Accessories" are presented. The all-important DVI to ADC adapter is among them, yet for some reason it's listed 
fifth, while the top-listed item is a $19 VGA adapter that doesn't work with ADC displays, and is primarily intended for systems that don't even have DVI ports. In fact, nine of the thirteen accessories listed are of absolutely no relevance or usefulness to an ADC display. (If you're curious, the other three relevant ones are two color calibration tools and a cleaning kit). This is confusing at best.

So what's the cure? Well, the first step is to stop making the problem worse with all those irrelevant "accessories." There should only be four things listed, and the DVI to ADC converter must be listed 

Secondly and more importantly, the DVI to ADC converter needs to become a "default" for people purchasing Apple's flat-panel ADC displays. This can be done by having it "checked" by default in the accessories listing (much as a 56K modem is "checked" by default when one buys a Power Mac, but can be unchecked, resulting in a $29 price cut)... or by simply including one in the box with 
every ADC display Apple sells. After all, anyone who's using an ADC display as anything other than the primary display on a Power Mac is going to need a DVI to ADC adapter, whether Apple communicates that clearly to them or not.

So, yes, Apple's marketers had a bad day when it came time to sell ADC displays. Let's hope they have a good day soon, and untangle this mess.

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