Brian Tiemann on Switching

Brian Tiemann on the friction of switching:

Canon lenses are not interchangeable with Nikon lenses, which are not interchangeable with Sony/Minolta or Panasonic or Pentax lenses. Which is why the guy who puts down $2500 on a new Canon SLR is making a pretty big brand loyalty decision, a bigger one than it seems at first when he just recommends a $250 point-and-shoot to his family. If he’s going to switch brands, he’s throwing away (or, well, Ebaying) not just $2500 worth of investment; it’s more like $10,000. And committing to making that same investment all over again with a new brand. That’s a big decision.

Operating systems are a lot more like cameras than cars in this way. You can switch from GM to Ford, or GM to BMW, without a lot of fanfare; you just buy the car and drive it home on the same roads and stick it in the same garage where you had your old car.

These are good analogies, and I think it helps explain the relative stability of PC operating system market share. What lenses are to the SLR photographer, software is to the computer user. But I think one of the many reasons why Apple has started making significant gains recently is that today there are many computer users who don’t have much attachment to Windows-specific software (or Mac-specific for that matter). They’re the equivalent of SLR owners who never buy any additional lenses other than the one that came with the camera.

So I disagree with Tiemann’s conclusion that the market is running low on potential switchers. I think “the cloud” is making more of them every day. The hitch, for Apple, is that they won’t be all that attached to the Mac (or whatever they switch to) either.

Monday, 3 August 2009