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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Techies need eye candy too

Apple, Dell vie for visual appeal to consumers

Published: November 30, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

1130073.jpgIs it the “Sunshine Yellow”, “Espresso” or “Flamingo Pink” that grabs the attention of countless individuals who purchase Apple Computers?

Consumer reports show that in 2007 trendy, stylish laptop computers receive much higher ratings than laptop computers that are designed strictly to be practical and durable. Consumers prefer to buy a new laptop computer approximately every two years, and enjoy a new and wide selection of laptops to choose from.

The computer industry (a collective term to describe the whole range of businesses involved in developing computer software and designing computer hardware) has become competitive in a new sense. The constant battle between Microsoft Windows and Apple computers is now based not only on which company issues the computer offering the newest technological advances, but which also is the best “eye candy”.

Apple computers took the lead with the company’s release of the iPod. Recently Apple computers have manufactured laptop computers which vary in size and color and are even light-weight. People gravitate towards Apple computers for their slick and trendy appearance. Although it seems a bit insensible to buy a laptop because of its “fun colors” and “eye candy,” this only goes to show the manner in which consumers make purchasing decisions.

Consumers of any industry are more prone to purchasing an item when the advertisement, label, or packaging has a great visual appeal. In the perfume industry, for example, customers at stores such as Sephora choose to buy one fragrance over another because the bottle is more attractive.

Similarly, advertisements of shiny and colorful iPods and Apple laptop computers found in many magazines and newspapers such as US News & World Report and The New York Times, as well as on billboards found in Times Square catch many people’s attention because they are visually appealing.

People enjoy the prospect of opening their briefcase or knapsack and pulling out a slick laptop which is bright and shiny, rather than a boring Dell computer which is generally metallic and clunky. Additionally the desktop setups of Apple computers are extremely popular and the special features are known as “eye candy”. The idea stems from the fact that users of Apple computers find the visual appeal of the desktop to be most remarkable because of the color schemes and the way in which the icons, and windows on the screen rotate, jump or fly with a click of the mouse.

In response to Apple’s competition, Dell computers which uses Microsoft Windows has recently put more of an effort into designing a laptop with consumers in mind rather than its more frequent corporate customers. Dell management is striving to up the “eye candy” appeal of their laptop computers by issuing them in a variety of colors, accompanied by the new and improved upgraded desktop version Windows Vista, rather than Windows XP.

Dell has unveiled more fashionable laptops which are slim and colorful machines. Windows Vista allows its users to have a more visually appealing desktop, somewhat comparable to the Apple desktop layout. The marketing strategy used in this situation is solely based on visual appeal.

In reference to college students, this market based appeal is quite relevant. Many students, particularly freshmen in college, purchased their laptops this past August before the beginning of the school year. Those first-year students who have developed an interest in specific areas of study such as business or graphic design may influence what type of laptop they purchase. Although Dell computers lately has been manufacturing laptops more for popular consumers, the industry still maintains a slight business and corporate setup with all of its programs such as Microsoft Management, and Outlook Express.

On the other hand, Apple computers are widely known for their excellence in graphic design and photo editing programs. Well known designers and organizations such as the Accessories Council in New York City uses Apple computers to design labels, and advertisements for merchandise and special events.

The computer industry is one of the many businesses where its competitors must strategize properly in order to best sell their product. It seems quite peculiar that businesses such as Apple and Dell have to focus their marketing schemes on visual appeal and “eye candy” rather than on what would appear to be more relevant: durability and technological advances. “Eye candy” has progressively taken its position in the computer industry as an important determining factor in what to purchase.