Apple Comeback Reflected in Growing Lists

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The re-emergence of Apple as a player in the computer industry has stemmed a long-term decline in related mailing lists and produced the largest hotline counts two list managers have ever seen.

ClubMac, the catalog of Apple software and peripherals, which just switched management from 21st Century Marketing to American List Counsel, has so many new buyers that it has started issuing monthly list updates for the first time. The last-three-month count of 34,700 buyers projected over a full year would reflect a 59 percent increase in the current 12-month buyer file.

Jim Marasco, director of product development for ClubMac, Irvine, CA, said the catalog is doing record call volume on every mailing.

"We've noticed an extreme surge in the last two months. The response rate has gone through the roof," he said.

ALC, Princeton, NJ, has seen the last-three-month count for another Apple catalog it manages, MacMall from Creative Computers, jump from 122,000 to 177,000 names, an increase of 45 percent.

"What has been an exclusive and limited universe is starting to open up," said ALC account group manager Missy Root. "It's been a shrinking universe for years that is starting to increase again."

The introduction of the colorful and user-friendly iMac line in August and the success of the higher-end Power Mac G3 line originally introduced in late 1997 has put Apple back on the map in an industry that has been dominated for most of the decade by boxes running on Windows operating systems.

The iMac has been the top selling personal computer in the United States since its debut, accounting for 6 percent of all unit sales and improving Apple's market share from 6.7 percent to 9.6 percent, according to research firm PC Data, Reston, VA.

The size of the prospecting universe has always been a problem for Mac mailers versus PC mailers, but Marasco said with the iMac boosting the percentage of first-time Apple users and Wintel converters, it will become that much easier to mail out to the right people. ClubMac has refined its prospect list "ten-fold" and is mailing to better names because of Apple's surge in popularity.

Jay Schwedelson, corporate vice president at Worldata, Boca Raton, FL, attributes the return of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as interim CEO to the jump in renewals from lapsed subscribers and the surge in new subscribers in the last six to 12 months for the enthusiast magazine MacAddict.

Jobs took over as CEO in September 1997 and has overseen the launch of the G3 and the iMac and Apple's push to increase its direct selling capability through the online Apple Store and other means. In the quarter ended Dec. 26, Jobs said Apple had reduced inventory to two days, bettering the efficiency of the industry's top direct seller, Dell Computer.

Worldata just assumed management of the 109,000-name MacAddict and Schwedelson said the publication from Imagine Media, Brisbane, CA, has larger hotline counts and is growing faster than ever. MacAddict is attracting not only Mac users but other young, energetic computer users that are "not just into graphics but at the forefront of technology," he said.

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