Sure, you told all your friends who were buying their first computer that they should buy a Macintosh, but how many actually purchased one? If you're experiences have been like mine... none. Everyone I have verbally tried to convince to buy a Mac, has purchased a Windows machine instead. Then, I usually get to listen to their stories about having to reinstall the operating system or various other sorts of Windows-prone nonsense.
Truth is, people deeply fear doing things that are considered "out of the norm"... especially when they do not understand the subject well enough to make a sound decision on their own. It doesn't matter if you are their best friend or closest relative, if they are novice, their computer anxiety and fear of doing the wrong thing often looms larger than their trust in you. And to these, doing what everyone else is the only rational thing to do. After all, "everyone else" must be right... right?
To make the matter worse, once they have purchased their first Windows computer, it is much more difficult to get them to switch to Macintosh. Inertia is just too great (though iMac is having some success with about a 12 percent conversion rate). So, then you are left to sit by and watch your friends compute in manner that is at the least, less satisfying and gratifying than the "Power of the Macintosh Way".
There is a way you can help prevent this tragedy. If you were like me, your first Mac was a piece of sawed-off crap... but, it was a Mac... which made it a wonderful piece of sawed-off crap, that even made me feel a little smarter. Case in point: I bought my first Mac in 1991...a 1984, 128K Macintosh... one of the first... and I was in heaven. I was doin' the "floppy shuffle" (Mac aficionados will understand) like nobody's business and could not have been happier. In today's computing terms, that's like buying a Mac LC in 1998... can you imagine? Yet this "1984", 128k Mac was a user-experience dream-come-true, in comparison to the "1991" model PCs I was using in college. My ex-wife and I paid $175 for it and it was one of our most expensive (and prized) assets... we didn't have a lot of money at the time.
My point is, buy someone you love their first Macintosh this Christmas. They will forever be appreciative and you will forever be glad you did. More importantly, you do not have to put yourself in a financial bind. Cash poor, first-time buyers will be quite happy to begin computing with a "starter" Mac given to them as a gift. And once they use a Mac, we both know you've likely won a Mac user for life... perhaps even a card-carrying fanatic.
This Christmas, I'm buying my niece and nephew each a new iMac. Partly, because I love them and want them to have the best... partly because if I don't, their parents will most likely buy them a Windows PC, and partly because I got them a lousy present last year (you should have seen their faces.. it was like I had bought them underwear or something... bluuk!). Also, I'm going to loan some really good friends of mine the money to buy an iMac this year... albeit at 10 percent interest (hey, I'm nice but I do have limits).
Now, I know most of us can't afford to buy iMacs for our loved ones this Christmas, but you might be able to swing a $100-$600 Mac (many with monitors). I looked maybe five minutes (using Sherlock) and found several. For starters, you could try Shrevesystems and Liquidationstation .
Be creative! Y'know that 14" monitor you've been wanting to get rid of? Why not make it part the gift? How about that old 28.8 modem? Could you spare 16 MB of RAM? It doesn't have to be a fancy system, it can largely be put together using your hand-me-downs. The point is, you probably have quite a few friends and relatives, who may not have the money or maybe are just feeling trepidation, but would really love to have a computer. As I said earlier, they will be forever grateful and you will forever be glad you helped them get started on the right track.
Also, think about people that you normally wouldn't! How about grandma, grandpa, or that aunt or cousin that you hardly ever see? Why not your best friend's kids or maybe that really nice neighbor?
Finally, I'm sure you already know this, but if you do buy someone a Mac, try to be available for any questions they have and show them a few pointers that really make life easier, like "popup folders", "getting connected to the Internet", or where some "shareware websites" are, for instance. And as you know, there's nothing more frustrating than having a problem on your computer and not having anywhere to turn. To help stem this problem, you could even make that old System 7 or 7.5 Help Book you have part of the package! That ol' stuff is just taking up space anyway.
Go on... make someone feel REALLY special this Xmas. Tell them, "I care".