Columns for OSOpinion.com

New eWorld order
Apple’s revolutionary marketing tool

Published on OSOpinion.com, July 9, 2001
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eWorld, Apple’s short-lived Internet service, is regarded as another one of Apple’s memorable flops, and has been noted for its steep prices and slim offerings that were eventually blown over as the Web took charge as the king of the Internet. Nevertheless, former eWorld citizens still associate the ill-fated service with warm, cozy feelings of community coupled with a mournful disappointment that it no longer exists.

Now that Apple has learned from its mistakes, eWorld has a second chance—not as an Internet service provider, but as a collection of free services that Apple has already created.

Free at last

Apple kept eWorld’s fees high to allay expected demand—a demand that never materialized. Today, most of the content offered on the Internet is free, and if Apple brings eWorld’s services back online, it would be wise to offer them at no charge.

Offering free goodies to consumers can be quite profitable. Apple has produced many free, Mac-only products such as iMovie, iTunes, and iTools, to give consumers more reasons to buy a Macintosh instead of a PC. Instead of charging customers $9 to use eWorld for two hours a month, Apple could make it free for anyone using a Macintosh.

United Apple Stands

Part of what made eWorld so memorable was its friendly, colorful, and easily distinguishable artwork. The theme of the town square provided an intuitive interface for navigating eWorld’s online services, and Apple would do well to use this theme to unify its current Internet services.

This would create a marketing vehicle to attract new users to the Macintosh platform. Apple wouldn't have to lift a finger to create it—it's already there.

The following are four online services that would work well if brought together into a new eWorld.

Software Warehouse

The first building on the eWorld block could be a Software Warehouse, where users can browse through a selection of quality shareware and freeware programs that have been hand-picked by Apple.

Those who use Apple’s iDisk online storage already have access to a wealth of software and probably don’t even know it. Inside every iDisk is a folder named “software,” which contains a selection of Apple software as well as a batch of third-party software that users can freely copy to their own computers to use and enjoy.

There is also an extensive list of useful software for Mac OS X that can be found on Apple’s own web site. Under the Apple menu in Mac OS X is an option called, “Get Mac OS X software.” Choosing this brings a user to a web page on Apple’s site that lists many useful software titles for Mac OS X. This is an easy way to download some great software for Mac OS X when it seems the pickings are mighty slim.

Newsstand

The second building could be a Newsstand with the latest Apple news and product information.

Mac-users are always eager to know what Apple has planned for the future, and Apple’s tight-lipped policy on upcoming products has made rumor sites hot spots for the latest Macintosh dirt. A continuously updated online “Apple News Desk” could keep users informed on new products Apple is working on. This would help quell rumors and possibly generate new sales as users drool over forthcoming offerings on Apple’s showroom floor.

Public Forum

The third building in the town square could be a Public Forum where eWorld citizens with something to say could correspond with others.

Unknown to most new Mac-users, Apple’s web site offers dozens of online discussion boards where users can post comments or questions that other users can respond to. New users who have questions or problems with their computers seldom know where to turn, and this kind of community-based support would be happily received by users who need it.

eWorld Messenger

Fourth and finally, Apple is sitting on an opportunity that is waiting to explode. The popular way for young people to chat today is by sending instant messages, and the system is quickly surpassing e-mail and the telephone as the ideal way to communicate.

Apple iTools members each have a unique name with which to identify themselves, similar to the “screen names” used by America Online’s Instant Messenger service. It seems only a matter of time before Apple produces some kind of “Apple Messenger” program that allows iTools members to chat with each other online. Creating an Instant Messenger exclusively for Mac-users seems logical as every other major player from Excite to Yahoo to Microsoft seem to be jockeying for position in the personal communications race.

Rising Sun

The sun may rise once again on eWorld. While the online service failed as an Internet service provider, it could still succeed as a consolidation of Apple’s free online services. Once Apple opens the city gates, Mac-users can finally call eWorld home once again.


Author's background: Matt Johnson is a graphic design student at Wayne State College in Nebraska and will graduate this December. He has been a Mac user for 17 years and enjoys creative writing, drawing cartoons, and adding content to his web site, Cornstalker.com.