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Apple, between crisis and opportunity

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The billboards of IT industries and the so-called 'dot com economy', computer stores that offer discount prices but are desolately empty, scarce traces of Internet advertising are almost gone. Perhaps the boom in the world of computers will return, surely the desire for bits has not disappeared forever, but judging by the climate that reigns in New York and making a comparison with the more or less recent past of our travels on the Mac tracks from this part of the world would seem that at least for now the distant recovery.

What strikes more than anything else the visitor who arrives here, aware of how things were between 1999 and 2000, the almost complete dissolution of road signs relating to computers. Until last year, not to mention what happened previously, there was no street corner that did not present a computer advertising. The main 'billboards' were dominated by HP, Intel, Microsoft, IBM, Palm and Apple itself. Even local retailers presented their logos and offers on expensive subway and street ads. Today it is difficult to find anything that has to do with the world of computers. Even near Javits, where there have always been blowers of PC and software, things are in a minor tone.

Apple, in truth, looks here and there with its 'Switch' campaign more than others do, but also for Cupertino the times of the announcements in Times Square and the welcome messages to Macworld visitors who appeared on the street corners are long gone .

A crisis that, as mentioned, also reverberates in computer stores. We have visited several in recent days and the idea that there is a fact that buying a PC from this part of the ocean no longer interests many people. Shoppers hang out around high-definition televisions, DVDs, TiVos and gadgets of this type. The IT departments are empty or almost empty and even the corners reserved for handhelds, for a couple of years constantly full of people looking for information on the latest gadgets, are desolately left to themselves, even without a permanent clerk who only deals with PDAs .

In this context, closures cannot be missing. At least two large retailers that we used to frequent in past years have closed. One of these, even a store on three floors of the CompUSA chain.

The exception, even if partial, is the presence of a few more people around Apple computers. Placed, such as from 'The Wiz' on Fifth Avenue, in strategic positions, with their showcase, next to the video and photographic department, the Apple products seem to enjoy special attention. The two specialized salesmen magnify the qualities of Mac OS X to those who, perhaps even by chance, pass in front of the Mac corner. It seems that retailers have understood that Apple is able, if not to avoid the storm, to navigate more safely in this sea difficult for its connection with the world of video which, despite everything, still seems to be pulling. It is not perhaps a coincidence that a customer, intent on choosing a digital camera and in possession of an always digital camera, was advised to purchase an iMac to complete his set.

Small things, surely, compared to the past which also had a very different taste for Apple, with iMacs scattered everywhere in the city, even in the electronics bazaars, a true monument to despecialization; scattered around Times Square and made of ads the size of an apartment, you have to settle for it.

Certainly at Apple right now they are satisfied and count on all this to start again. On the good image of Apple products, on the ability to still be, despite everything 'different', but above all they rely on the digital hub that here in NeW York really looks like something concrete and very real.

It is therefore not difficult to think that the main announcements of the Macworld will rotate around the strategy that links the Mac to the world of multimedia via Mac OS X and the Internet as a global communication system. Along this road, which not yet 'the next big thing' but something that perhaps underlies it, not only Apple will be able to overcome the current difficult moment, but to present itself in the front row for the departure of the new computer grand prix that sooner or later, you can not be sure, take the Via.