Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Three mistakes Apple have made with the UK market

Posted on 26 March 2007 10 comments

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Everyone knows how much I love Macs and all things Apple, but even the most ardent fan-boy should be able to step back and cast a critical eye on occasion; and especially here in the UK, that time is most definitely now. Apple have recently made 3 key mistakes in the UK market:

  1. Apple TV

  2. The Mitchell and Webb UK Mac ads

  3. Mighty Mouse

01. Apple TV

It’s quite amazing how slowly the news is spreading that this device is essentially useless in the UK. “if it’s on iTunes, it’s on TV,” say Apple. But hang on – in the UK we can only get music and music videos on the iTMS. No movies. No TV shows. So if playing music through your TV is pretty much your only option, why not do it through the stereo?!? Now there’s a thought. Ok ok, it’s got a lovely interface and all that – Apple have come up trumps once again – but it looks like you can’t even play your illegally downloaded other videos through Apple TV. In fact, nothing outside of your ‘movies’ folder, either. Poor show…

02. The Mitchell and Webb UK Mac ads

Peep Show is a good programme. Mitchell and Web are competent comedians. But oh dear, what a terrible bit of miscasting. The series’ character Mark (David Mitchell, PC) is a geek, but he’s kind of cuddly and lovable in a pathetic kind of way, right? Whereas Jeremy (Robert Webb, Mac) is an arrogant, smug wanker. Unfortunately, because Peep Show is how these actors are best known in this country, these character traits are deeply ingrained into ‘PC’ and ‘Mac’. In fact, even without prior knowledge of his Peep Show personality, Webb is quite sickeningly smug in pretty much every one of these adverts, and all he’s done is reinforce the stereotype that Mac users are pretentious gits, and PC vs. Mac discussions I’ve had in pubs throughout London quite clearly demonstrate that PC users have a new (and legitimate?) reason not to ‘switch.’

UPDATE: A similar article by Charlie Brooker has been drawn to my attention, which you may find interesting.

03. Mighty Mouse

Ok, number 3 is in no way UK-specific, but let’s take a moment to reflect on the incredibly poor build of the Shite-y Mouse. And although I own a wireless one at home and a wired one at work, I’m not averse to telling just about everyone how crap that scroll wheel is. Don’t get me wrong – when it works, it’s great, but how many times has yours broken since you’ve had it? Go on, be honest. Well, both of my models have either stopped scrolling up or down (it’s usually one direction at a time) at various points; thankfully, if you didn’t already know how, there’s a way to solve the problem: Take the mouse in your hand, and vigorously move the scroll nipple up and down very quickly. And if it’s not feeling perky after that, well, you’re doing it wrong, man.


  1. John Arnor G. Lom

    John Arnor G. Lom

    16 April 2007 @ 06:27PM #

    01: Yeah, iTS (no longer a M in there) really, REALLY needs to improve in Europe on a whole… Not only because we, the users want it — but think of it… American users can get their Jon Stewart and latest seasons of LOST on the TV if they wanted to.

    Many europeans can’t, and I for one would gladly pay for an iTunes subscription to get one…

    Apple TV does have one thing going for it though: Podcasts. I watch a buttload of video podcasts, and would love to see them on my TV.

    02: Well, in a sense, we do tend to be pretentious gits, don’t we? But it really isn’t our fault… Apple makes insanely great products, and hence we, the users lead much better lives, have whiter teeth, more friends AND we are cleaner and more articulate… :P

    03: Mighty Mouse does grow on you, though… I use it marely for the eye-candy-factor, and it now feels completely natural to me. And let’s face it: Apple has never made a good mouse. I’m just glad we’re through with the puck-mouse…

  2. tiziana moore

    tiziana moore

    21 April 2007 @ 04:04AM #

    I have heard about the Mac/PC ads in Uk, and how bad they are compared to the American version. In the States, they used semi-unknown actors and I think this is what makes it really fun. And the Mac guy doesn’t seem that smug. Check them out at http://www.apple.com/getamac/ By the way, any chance to see the British version of the ads somewhere? I am really curious.

    I do have to say that I have heard poor review of Apple TV, quality wise, so maybe you are not missing much. (-:

  3. Toure


    21 April 2007 @ 10:46AM #

    definitely right about those actors. They are not clicking together at all and worse of all the Mac guy doesn’t seem natural to me. Mac should simply stick with the American actors and do a voice over. What a financial lost there.

  4. Sérgio Jardim

    Sérgio Jardim

    23 April 2007 @ 05:34PM #

    All I can do is to be jealous of you guys, because here in Brazil I can only dream about Apple TV. We don’t even have anything like TiVo here yet.

    Other example: a black Macbook here cost US$2565 (or, U$1066 more than it’s regular price). And this is the cheapest price in the market.

    Taxes here are overhelming… :(

  5. Adrian


    23 April 2007 @ 07:12PM #

    While I agree with the point about the adverts (really bad idea and I find neither peep show sympathetic at all anyway) but the original US adverts started out as pretentious folly.

    In this day and age can anyone seriously suggest that there is anything a Mac can do that a PC can’t and vice versa?

    There is very little difference these days between PC and Mac, slowly the hampering points of the Mac are being addressed Upgrading being the best example (new Intel architecture should help Mac become easier to upgrade). However the poor software support is still there unintuitive hardware (what the hell the mighty mouse was about…) but hey PC still has its failing points not least windows ubiquity leading to virus nightmares and its on average ugly hardware.

    Anyway its always nice to find people ingrained in one of the camps that’s willing to be objective about its own side :)

  6. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    23 April 2007 @ 07:26PM #

    Good points, Adrian, although I would question the “poor software support” – that’s only really an issue with Macs when it comes to gaming.

  7. Steve


    22 May 2007 @ 11:13PM #

    I’m feeling the same way about the appleTV in Canada… I keep trying to think of what I would actually use it for so I can justify buying one. Being pretty is almost cutting it. I do just rip a lot of DVDs to my computer so I can watch them on my iPod, so I guess those would play on the appleTV, but then I already have the DVD so there goes that excuse.

  8. riky


    01 June 2007 @ 03:56AM #

    love peep show but i think all the copies in the world are wrong…

    I don’t know about appletv because I watch movies and stuff on http://tvkoo.com…(just for windows now…cool if u have a old pc :)

    then, the MIGHTY MOUSE:
    It’s great, specially if u get a new one and send the old in back every 6weeks…has your money been spent for applecare or what?
    I’m so happy when ups rings the bell downstairs :)

    Now I wish to buy an Apple Refurbished MacBook…I’m sorry to start a new argument, but does anyone recommend the 30% discount from Apple Certified Refurbished ?
    Thanks all of u.

  9. modifoo


    26 November 2007 @ 06:44AM #

    Have to disagree a bit on the MagicMouse. I love the wheel/ball, great when working on bigger graphics/timelines.
    But the 3rd button often gets accidentally pushed, which is rather annoying.

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