The Mac Turns 20

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Guy Kawasaki

The Evangelist

The list of Macintosh firsts is long, interesting, and debatable, but not even the high priests of Xerox PARC can debate one thing -- the Macintosh established evangelism as a secular business technique.

The word evangelism is Greek (as opposed to Geek) in origin -- it means "bringing the good news." Prior to the year 1 B.M. (that is, 1983), evangelism was considered a way to spread the good news of the holy gospel and to save people from evil.

On a smaller scale, the Macintosh Division of Apple believed that it, too, was bringing good news and saving people from evil. So it applied the term evangelist to me and other folks who went forth and convinced software developers to write Macintosh versions of their products.

The evangelism concept spread to other Macintosh constituencies, namely user groups. These hardy souls banded together to sell, service, and support the Macintosh when Apple was unable or unwilling to.

One example of the power of evangelism occurred in 1995 -- yet another year when "beleaguered" Apple was supposedly about to die. Apple created an e-mail list called EvangeList to counter the seemingly endless supply of bad news about Apple and the Macintosh in the computer and business press.

The list provided new-product announcements from developers, tips and tricks for evangelizing, success stories, and profiles. The list quickly grew to 44,000 subscribers. In some darker moments, the list brought torrents of e-mail down upon journalists when I pointed members to news stories that unjustly criticized Apple. The EvangeList is gone, but the lessons of Macintosh evangelism remain.

Don't see only hardware and software innovation when you look at your Mac. It also represents innovations in sales and marketing. In so many ways, our favorite computer has changed the world.

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