South by Southwest and Apple versus Dell

An old friend in the music business was visiting and we wandered around Austin’s gigantic South by Southwest music and film extravaganza and, of course, I was struck by the effects of Apple’s brilliant product design and marketing. IPods and MacBooks were everywhere and iPhones were rivaling Blackberries. Downstairs at the convention center, Dell had a bar, but upstairs where the exhibitors and bands register, it was Apple city -that distinctive white plastic casing was ubiquitous.

Apple has been on a roll of selling style and to end-customer wants instead of accepting industry commonplaces. Some companies shape the market, some tag along behind, and some are just lost.

1 Comment on South by Southwest and Apple versus Dell

  1. Thanks for mentioning SXSW. Dell is very proud of its association with social media, gaming and independent music and film.

    Having worked with SXSW organizers on this year’s event, I can report that the Apples in the registration area were there primarily because of legacy software considerations rather than a design or marketing coup.

    Also, it sounds like you didn’t get a chance to go by BlogHaus at SXSW, where MacBooks were the minority. A self-described Apple “crazy fangirl” friend even pinged me to give Dell props for that show of market impact.

    It’s very interesting and gratifying that the Apple world is taking notice of — and frequent shots at — Dell consumer laptops and desktops on design grounds. Less than a year ago that wasn’t the case. In the intervening time Dell has introduced machines that even Walt Mossberg admires, and just last week the Dell XPS 1330 beat out the MacBook Air and the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 in earning Laptop magazine’s Editor’s Choice.

    The post’s comment about “distinctive white plastic casing” underscores an important point, too. For a time, that singular look justifiably defined good design in personal computing. But a proliferation of compelling designs — and more attractive price points — from Dell and other PC makers is greatly expanding choice.

    It will be interesting to see what the PC complexion at SXSW looks like in years to come.

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