Dear Apple: Please think different(Repost)

 By Shamus Apr 4, 2007 32 comments

I originally posted this way back in July of last year, but it suddenly came to mind while talking about Macs yesterday. Rather than trying to grab some sort of summary quote, I’m just putting the whole thing up all over again.

* * *

I don’t have TV, but I’ve been hearing rumblings here and there about the new Mac ads. They come off as more of an insult to non-Mac users than an appeal to buy a particular product. Sigh.

Back in the mid / early 90’s, Apple had a brilliant ad. It showed Mom and Dad setting up the new family PC on Christmas eve. Dad was squinting at the sceen, and I think Mom was puzzling over the manual. The gist of it was something like this:

DAD: Not enough high memory?

MOM: Check the autoexec dot bat?

DAD: Maybe we’re using the wrong config dot sys.

(beat)

MOM: Maybe we’re using the wrong computer.

This was the only time Apple has ever had a real advertisement that was an honest attempt to appeal to PC users. It illustrated an issue which tomented users in the early 90’s. It was an infuriating problem and a complete mystery to the user as to why they needed to tell the computer how to organize memory usage. Wasn’t that, you know, the computer’s job? This ad took an exsisting weakness and exploited it.

I have no idea how that ad campaign fared, but it made me want to run out and buy a Mac right then.

But all of their other ads – including the infamous 1984 ad – have been appeals to style and attitude. Steve Jobs still thinks he’s selling soft drinks, or cars, or athletic footwear. “Buy this product and you will be one of the smart / beautiful / stylish people”. That’s fine for lots of products, but my Mom isn’t going to shell out an extra $1,000 for a computer with the same features she has right now.

I have friends with PC’s that are clunky and useless because of all of the spyware, adware, and malware they’ve accumulated. The thing never works right. It’s confusing to use. Apple could woo these people by promising them that life is easier on the Mac side. (Is it? I dunno. But that’s what advertising is for!) Some of those people might shell out the extra cash if they think it would lead to a better computing experience.

Apple really needs to take their own advice: Think different guys. Do you want to sell computers or run an elitist social club?

Even though I use a PC, I like alternatives out there that demonstrate that an OS can be stable and secure. It keeps Microsoft’s nose to the marketshare grindstone. Linux is more of a threat in this regard than Mac, but Mac isn’t even trying. Hipster 20-somethings already own a computer, so these ads will either make them feel good about the Mac they already own, or insult them. Is this how you sell things? No, it isn’t.

I’m convinced that the PC weak spot is the proverbial moms and grandmas out there. Baby boomers are a huge market segment, and they have more money than teens and college students. They own PC’s that suck, and could be pursuaded to switch if Apple tried talking to them. A guy nearing retirement isn’t going to buy a computer because some self-absorbed prat in a turtleneck tells him it will make him cool. Apple could go after these people and make a real comeback with market share, but they can’t because they are incapable of thinking different.

201225 comments. Neato.


  1. Harvey says:

    Actually, they sort of ARE tapping into the baby-boomer market.

    Who do you think is ponying up they cash so that these whiny 20-somethings can have an iPod and an iMac for college? :-)

  2. Telas says:

    While Windows isn’t quite up to Mac stability and simplicity, it’s written for an amazing array of hardware. The Mac OS is written for a very standardized and simple hardware configuration.

    I fix computers for a living. Most of the complaints I hear about Windows really aren’t for current OS versions, but are for Win98 or WinNT or (heaven forfend) WinME. Almost all of the virus and really egregious spyware infestations I see aren’t due to Windows on the system; they’re due to teenagers in the house. (There is nothing in the universe that will wreak havoc on an OS like a teenage boy with Mom & Dad’s computer and some free “alone time”.)

    Mac’s are cool. Out of the box, they’ll do 80-90% of what you want a computer to do. If you learn BSD, you can go behind the scenes and do the other 10-20%. But when it comes to business use, Windows controls the marketplace. And no amount of justifications will counter the cold hard reality of the marketplace.

  3. Joshua says:

    Now that these ads are actually out, we can see that they’re just like the old ad you quoted. So, are you pleased that Apple has followed your advice? If so, why is this posted under “rants”?

  4. Shamus says:

    Josh: Are they really doing this? I thought the current ads were just more “Macs are cooler” type stuff.

    If they are indeed making the case that they can offer a better computing experience, and are doing it in a way that will appeal to Boomers, then that would be very interesting indeed.

  5. Insanodag says:

    Well, I remember listening to a lecture from this marketing guy who pointed out that most car manufacturers tend to make their ads in order to make existing owners of their brand feel good about their purchase. The logic here is that few people will base a decision involving so much money on tv ads, but making owners of their cars feel good and proud of their purchases, will make them more likely to suggest the car to their friends, thus helping with word-of-mouth recommendations. I see the Mac vs PC ads as something similar, making the mac-owners feel good about outing themselves as happy mac-users to their pc-using friends, influencing sales indirectly.

  6. Joshua says:

    The old quoted ad specifically targets DOS’s weakness of needing to be micromanaged, and offers the Mac as a simpler alternative.

    The new ads target a lot of Windows weaknesses, such as locking up (1), difficulty upgrading (2), difficulty with multimedia(3), susceptibility to viruses(4), and kludgy security(5). You may not agree with the specifics of each claim, but you certainly can’t accuse Apple of focusing exclusively on the “cool factor” in this ad campaign.

    1. http://youtube.com/watch?v=XKsvlb9oDko (locking up)
    2. http://youtube.com/watch?v=ci2D1ig4df4 (upgrading)
    3. http://youtube.com/watch?v=AmBZvwKd5ic (multimedia)
    4. http://youtube.com/watch?v=GQb_Q8WRL_g (viruses)
    5. http://youtube.com/watch?v=VuqZ8AqmLPY (kludgy security)

  7. Heather says:

    As the person in the family who is called out to fix the computers of older females–family and friends and friends of friends and mothers of friends– I do believe that the best thing that could happen would be that those who don’t need the more dynamic, can run practically anything including tons of viruses and malware should move to the more simple, can only run these programs but they work and won’t crash in the middle of a project and necessitate a phone call to me at 10:30 pm computers that MACS seem to be. There is nothing worse than getting that phone call and realizing that the person in question has redownloaded all the crazy stuff she was asked not to download last time and that you have several hours of battling out trying to figure out which crazy screensaver/picture viewer/mp3player/weather software is causing the problem. There is a time for having lots of options (like hubby who programs or myself who likes to adapt everything top my own needs). However there is also a time for plain and simple, one movie program, one music program, one photo editing software and all of them play nice together so it doesn’t crash.

    A good example would be cars. Hubby and I are not big on cars. We need something that runs when we want it to run and which doesn’t need a ton of maintainence–my stepdad however LOVES to tinker. He knows his cars inside and out and when it stops running he knows what it is. He also likes to adapt his cars to his needs and knows what will and will not work when adapting. He is just as scared of crashing a computer as hubby and I are that our car won’t work–and neither of us is willing to learn all about the others favorite thing.

    A mac makes more sense for him and a PC makes more sense for us.

    Since we don’t watch tv we don’t see too much of the mac vs. pc comercials unless theyshow up on Youtube. The ones I have seen are certainly the “make mac users feel good about their choice” type and not the “convert others” type. Since a PC and a MAC are no where near the cost of a new car I would think that they would be in the “convert” mode instead of “feelgood”.

  8. Shamus says:

    Joshua: Very interesting. You are right, the merits of the arguments is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if Macs really are more stable, it matters that they see this frustration on the part of PC users and are trying to exploit it. Thanks for rounding up those links.

    I suppose the gripe now is that the ads are off-putting for other reasons, but at least they are trying.

    I wonder how well it’s working?

  9. Andre says:

    I don’t know how well the ad campaign is working on a sales basis, but I think the fact that the ads have entered into pop culture means the ad campaign is a success on at least some level.

    I usually chuckle after watching one of the ads, even though I’m a die-hard PC user. I find them funny and amusing. Maybe it’s because I know there’s some truth to what they’re saying… or maybe it’s because I know there’s also some untruth. Are PCs more susceptible to virus? Probably not, but the fact they’re more popular makes them the prime virus target. Are Macs more fun than PCs? That really depends on what you like to do with your computer: if you’re into creating or consuming movies or music, then perhaps a Mac is better (or so I’ve been told), but if by fun you mean games, you’d be shooting yourself in the foot by getting a Mac. Are Macs easier to set up than PCs? Probably, but who says that’s a good thing? One of my favorite and proudest experiences with my current PC was building it from scratch using parts I purchased individually. I’d never get that same experience on a Mac. Are Macs more sleek and stylish than PCs? Again, it depends. Macs are not particularly known for customization, so if you like the default style, you’re set; meanwhile, PC cases come in all sorts of shapes and colors, and can be mixed and matched to suit the users’ tastes. Just so you know, even though I like the ads, I’m in no more or less danger of going out and buying a Mac after watching them than I was before. But then, you and I are better informed than 80% of the people who’ll see those commercials.

    So I laugh at the portrayal of PC users as business-suit wearing nerds, and of Mac users as 20-something slacker types. That message goes both ways: if those two people (who are obviously both in the Mac camp, by the way) actually represented real people typical of either platform’s user base, which do you think has a six-figure salary, and which still lives in Mom’s basement? Just a thought.

    I think the Mac versus PC debate is humorous. In the end, does it really matter? I’ve got what I like, and someone else likes something different. As long as the trend is running toward interoperability (and it is), I’ll be fine.

  10. Luke says:

    All that talk about Mac is easy and PC is difficult is silly. Both operating systems are equally complex if you really look at them. And both really try to make the life of an average user easier.

    What you get with Mac however is a functional unix system, with a very stable, and very well designed desktop environment that seems to offer much better end user experience than Gnome, KDE or even Windows XP. For me this is the biggest selling point. When you buy a mac, you don’t just buy an Apple product. You get an OS that is part of the non-windows ecosystem populated by various linux and unix distributions.

    As for the commercials – I like them. I think they are amusing. And I think the Apple advertising strategy is extremely effective here. You see, Apple is not selling you product. They are selling you an “experience”. This is why all Macs look so pretty inside and out. They is why they put so much attention to the form factor, design and style.

    Why do people go to Starbucks and pay $8 for a fancy late, if they could get a regular coffee at Dunkin Donuts for a buck? Because Starbucks doesn’t just sell you coffee – it sells you the “experience” complete with funny names for cup sizes, servers, and fancy branded coffee blends and specialty drinks.

    We had this conversation the other day at lunch at my work. Starbucks used this business model to a great success and many other businesses followed them. This is exactly what Apple is doing. They already did it with the iPod. It’s not only an mp3 player – it is something more. A status symbol and a cultural icon.

    They are trying to do a similar thing with their computers with an amazing success. Steve Jobs managed to create a niche market for Apples – something that no one was able to do in years. Ask people on the street about or Ubuntu or Solaris and you will get blank stares. Ask them about Mac OSX and they will actually know what you mean. I call that an amazing success.

  11. ShadoStahker says:

    Shamus – I wonder how well it’s working?

    Depends on who you ask.

    Most (university-aged) PC users that I know fall into one of two categories.

    1) Less technical people. They find the ads funny, but don’t actually see them as a draw to go to the Mac. They either don’t believe that all of the claims can be true, or they have other reasons (such as price or familiarity) not to switch. (And since they are less proficient with computers, yes, learning a new OS is something that scares them.

    2) More technical people. Many of these people find the ads infuriating, due to some of the claims being half-truths or lies. They also may be annoyed at the depiction of every Windows user as a “suit”.

    There is another group, who have never been a “PC user” or “Mac user” specifically, who like the “cool factor”, and who have a fair amount of disposable income. These are the people I see changing over to Mac. This group runs from “no technical skill” to “computer engineer”. They are a visible minority around campus.

    I fall squarely into category 2, though I can and have used all varieties of Mac in the past. I constantly feel as though the ads are trying to talk down to me, and that the claims are partly or wholly untrue. In the first ad that you mentioned (the early ’90s one), they made a valid point, and did so in a witty, amusing way. These new ads are largely misleading points, and somewhat condescending.

    As for the points being misleading, Let’s cover the videos that were linked.

    1) Locking up. All computers do this, not just Windows. I’ve had the same thing happen to me in OSX.

    2) Upgrading. Let’s see, you (generally) need to upgrade a PC (or buy a new one) to upgrade OSs. And to go from OS9 to OSX? You (generally) need to buy a new Mac, since it’s almost impossible to upgrade one. And when they switch to OS11? Same thing. This is not a PC-exclusive thing.

    3) Multimedia. I’ll give them this. The iLife stuff is freaking amazing software.

    4) Viruses. The only reason most viruses are on Windows is because most people use it. If Mac gets a majority market share, all those people who forgot to use anti-virus software since Macs were “immune to viruses” will be in trouble.

    5) Security. Same with viruses. I do agree that the Vista “do you wish to do this?” pop-ups are realy overkill, however.

    In any case, you’re absolutely right that the baby-boomer market is where Apple should target some of their ads. I actually plan on recommending a Mac for my parents, for all the reasons that have been mentioned by yourself and Heather. But my father is becoming more and more computer-savvy, so which I recommend will ultimately depend on what he wants out of his computer.

    Thanks for reading my novel.

  12. Joseph says:

    I converted to Mac about a year ago. It’s true, much of the ‘security’ functionality comes from the relative unpopularity of Macs as a target… But then, if it were that simple, you’d think ONE bad-ass cracker would have taken this ad campaign as a challenge, and there’d be at least ONE major Mac virus/malware scare.

    So without understanding all the technical details I am inclined to believe that there is some validity to Apple’s claims in this regard.

    As far as the others… Well, the idea that my Mac is better for entertainment than a PC… Well, the selection of games is rather poor. On the other hand, the built in media player software (Front Row) is more or less seamless. It works like a hardware solution. It doesn’t have every arcane button that some DVD players have and others don’t, and it usually doesn’t give you a hidden option in a menu somewhere to simulate the missing effect. There are things you just can’t do. Like, for example, crash it, or choose settings that will cause it to fail in some inexplicable way until you randomly correct the bad setting.

    Some of the claims are absurd. Most have a grain of truth, and represent a real experience, even if Apple shouldn’t take credit for the experience (or blame Microsoft.)

    I was a computer geek for years. I used Linux because I felt I should use the system that could do more for me, rather than the one which was easier to learn, and because I got addicted to certain very powerful unix applications which wouldn’t run, or ran very poorly, under Windows. One day I decided I didn’t want to be a computer geek anymore (I couldn’t stop being a geek, any more than I could stop breathing… In fact, that’s pretty much exactly what it would take. But I can certainly stop trying to keep track of the latest generation of hardware and software…) and one of the steps I took toward this end was to convince my mom to buy a Mac. The theory was two parts. A> I figured she’d call me for tech support less frequently. B> I figured when she called me for tech support, I’d be able to say, “How should I know? I don’t have a Mac.”

    Well, she has not been calling me for tech support nearly as often as she used to. She can figure things out for herself, and the Mac builds her confidence so that she’s more able to solve her own problems (On Mac or Windows, most problems are solved by confident poking, not by specific knowledge. This should be a design principle for Linux distributions.)

    But when she does call me… I’m usually able to figure it out. My choice to convert to a Mac for myself really wasn’t driven by loving her computer (the interface is great, but the thing has insufficient RAM and runs at about the same speed as my new smartphone, if you aren’t foolish enough to keep more than one application open.)

    I’m not deluded into thinking that there’s some magical advantage of these computers, but… I’ve run a lot of Windows systems over the years, and a handful of Linux systems, too (fewer only because they don’t degrade over time if you don’t format the HD and reinstall the OS every 6 months.) With Mac, damned near everything works right out of the box, or right after downloading. The only time you need to consult help is when you want to learn to do something which isn’t obvious.

    Sorry, Shamus, but I’m the absolute opposite of a hipster. I abhor all that ‘experience marketing’. But when ‘experience’ means ‘user interface’, I pay attention. And the commercials are funny. See if you can find a clip of John Hodgman on The Daily Show discussing Ted Stevens’ infamous ‘series of pipes’ comments.

    Oh, and my Mac runs all those powerful unix apps I have grown to love, and doesn’t even require me to remember a lot of complex shell syntax. And since Microsoft can’t afford to go to court without having Mac OSX to fall back on to deny their monopoly, I’m not worried about what the market will do to my niche product. Microsoft will continue to bail it out until something else comes along.

  13. Matt says:

    ShadoStahker – I should probably fall into your category 2, since both my degrees are in techincal subjects. And yes, I work in a large organisation where PCs are mandated, so I have no problem with using them.

    But, as Heather points out, that makes me the person my circle of friends calls when their computer dies. And so I say to them: Look, if you want a games machine, go buy a nice PC (like mine), don’t download trash, install such-and-such anti-virus and anti-spyware stuff – and sure, I’ll come fix it when it breaks. But to people who want a machine for either “internet”, home use, or running their own business – I point to my iMac and my Macbook, and tell them that one has never failed, and the other only had the cover off to add more memory (which was the easiest installation I’ve ever done, and I’ve done plenty).

    From older family members who want a machine to run their digital camera and the odd email to friends running their own business, I’ve only had thanks from those who bought a Mac.

    Oh: My old laptop, which was supplied with OS 9.1, was happily running OS 10.4 when I sold it to a work colleague a couple of days ago.

  14. Tirgaya says:

    How well is the Apple marketing campaign working?

    [url=http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=2158]Check the facts[/url]

    To sum up, Apple experienced 31% market share growth in the US, while the PC market overall shrank ~2%.

    Are Macs more expensive than PC’s?

    No. Compare similar configurations and Macs are very competitive with Dell and other manufacturers. That assumes that the Dells of the world are making anything like the Apple. Try comparing a Mac Mini to a Dell.

    Macs are the “Starbucks” of computers.

    Luke… if you can’t taste the difference between Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts coffee then you are absolutely right to spend your money at Dunkin Donuts. Most people can taste a difference, and they prefer Starbucks. For the record, a large cup of coffee at Starbucks is about the same as Dunkin Donuts, $2. Your $8 coffee is actually some sort of espresso drink with foamed milk and all sorts of extra’s that Dunkin Donuts doesn’t offer. If you shop for similar products, you typically find them only at coffee houses, and they are priced competitively with Starbucks.

    I go on about that, not because I “love” Starbucks. I am in fact not much of a coffee person at all. I do it to point out that you make the same mistake comparing Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts as most everyone does when comparing Apple and Dell computers. You have to compare like to like.

    ShadoStahka:

    Macs can lock up of course. In my experience as a Mac user for the last five years the application that locked up most was Microsoft Office V.X. (Yes that’s a pointless jab at MSFT.)

    The real point isn’t that Mac’s don’t lock up, it is that they do so with far less frequency than Windows machines do.

    As far as needing to upgrade your computer with every OS release… you mention OS 9 and OS X. That transition occurred seven years ago. It was the equivalent of moving from Windows 98 to Windows XP Professional. Machines from 2000 will readily run the current version of OS X without a hitch, and they will probably run the upcoming version as well. Now run out and try to install Vista on your Pentium 3′s everybody.

    Mac’s are not “immune” to viruses, but like Linux the amount of damage a virus can do to your system is limited compared to what they can do on Windows. It is also less likely that a virus can infect OS X than it is to infect Windows XP or older. (Vista has some changes that should help, but the jury is still out on whether or not they will help.) Overall the security environment for OS X, and any UNIX based system, is far superior to that of Windows.

  15. Tirgaya says:

    Freaking link didn’t work.

    Here’s just the URL

    http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=2158

  16. Strangeite says:

    In the early and mid 90′s, during high school and college, I worked for my schools’ IT departments. I made fun of and scoffed Apple users as a deluded cult of people that had more money than brains. While I disliked Micro$oft, I was confident that they provided the most practical OS.

    Then I married Anna. Her father was a newspaper publisher and her brother a graphic designer. As such, she had always used an Apple. In 2001 we needed to get a new computer. She convinced me to buy an Apple (aaahhh the early days of marriage). While shopping around I was disgusted by the inability to upgrade the iMacs, so I paid the extra money and bought a PowerMac G4 Tower.

    Six years later. I have bought two PCs, an IBM laptop and a desktop I built myself, but that old G4 is still the primary family computer. Even for me. Just this week I have burned two DVDs of our baby for the grandparents, built a website in iWeb, recorded a few tracks in GarageBand and ordered a hard cover book of photos from iPhoto. This on a six year old computer that I have done nothing to, other than upgrade the OS, add more memory and put in a second hard drive.

    It is still our everyday computer. And the reason why is that I only have to reboot it maybe once every six months, never have to worry about spyware or viruses and frankly, because it just works.

    The Mac isn’t for everyone. They do cost more, but for me it has been worth it. I used to be the person that had to fix everyone in the family’s computers. Over the last six years, I have been slowly converting them all to OSX. Now I get a phone call from them about computer problems once every three months, and then usually we can take care of it over the phone.

    My biggest complaint with the computer is the lack of games (that is why I built the desktop 3 years ago), but now that they have switched to Intel chips and can dual boot windows, I don’t think that is going to be an issue.

    I guess I have in fact drank the kool-aid. However, I really hope that I don’t come across as one of those people that I was making fun of all those years ago.

  17. As a recent (less than one year) Mac convert, my two cent’s worth is this:
    I work in an educational environment (tech support for a school district), and for us, Macs make sense. We could not have supported PC laptops in the hands of all our students, even using tools like Deepfreeze. The level of control you get over the OS due to its Unix architecture is way beyond what Windows offers. As for the OS itself, my opinion is “whatever”. From the user perspective, it’s the same thing. You get M$ Office, Meida Player, Quicktime, Firefox, and all that jazz. You got iMovie instead of MovieMaker; you got a Dock instead of a Taskbar, and you use the Apple menu instead of the Start Menu. Whoopee. I like my Mac (Intel core 2 duo Macbook Pro), but I still use a PC too. I do like the Mac’s immunity to malware (I can troll the shallow end of the Intarweb with impunity), but like another poster pointed out, smart users can avoid problems even while using PCs.

    What I don’t like about Apple is that they frankly are ripoff artists. Their stuff is made in China like every other computer, but they sell it for twice as much. And their so-called “educational discount” is a measly 5-8% off what you pay on the webstore. We only chose Macs because we could save a boatload of R&D by emulating what other educators have already done. Whether this pays off in the long run remains to be seen.

    What I like about (my) Mac is that I can actually go for a week or more without rebooting the thing. I have gone for a month, once – and it only rebooted because of updates. It IS stable, but I can still bring it to its knees by doing too much (run Parallels, Photoshop CS2, Firefox with 20 tabs open, and Handbrake all at once!). At first, I missed a lot of the cool little utilities I had on my PC, but I have found way more to replace them with, and all open-source, too. So life is good in Mac-land for me, but I still don’t tell everyone I meet to “get a Mac”!

  18. Andre says:

    Tirgaya: I CAN taste the difference, so I frequent a REAL coffee house, not a national franchise. Starbucks likes to paint itself to be where the *real* coffee lovers go, but it IS just selling that experience: if your choice is between Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, you’re probably not as into coffee as you might think you are. That’s like calling yourself a cigar smoker and then saying your preferred brand is Dutch Masters, not Black & Milds. The problem isn’t that you’re backing the wrong team; it’s that you’re not even in the right league.

    For the record, though, if I have to pick between Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, it’s Dunkin’ Donuts, hands down. Starbucks coffee tastes artificial, while Dunkin’ Donuts just tastes weak.

  19. Luke says:

    Tirgaya – good point. But I never claimed that the two taste the same. Being able to order fancy, shmancy, flavored expresso with foamed milk is part of the “Starbucks Experience”. And the coffee does have a different flavor.

    So I think the analogy still holds. Comparing Starbucks to Dunkin Donuts is like comparing apples to oranges. So is comparing Apple and PC. They are just different.

    One is not better than the other – they are just tools. And most importantly, no one ever said you have to run a single operating system.

    For example, I personally run XP on my home desktop that I use for games, Ubuntu on my laptop.

    I also maintain bunch of servers running Solaris, SuSe, Debian and Windows 2003. I jump between operating systems all the time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    These are all operating systems, they all do the same kinds of things – only in different ways. Some of them are better as web servers, some are better for office file and printer sharing, and some make awesome multi user research machines. Depending on what you are doing that’s what you should be using.

    I’m planning to buy a MacBook because my laptop is getting old. I need a small, portable one that would work out of the box, while still allowing me to run some of my favorite unix tools. Apple is offering exactly what I need here.

    IMHO limiting yourself to a single operating system and labeling yourself exclusively as a “Windows User” or “Apple User” or “Linux User” is a tad silly.

    I love working under Linux but I will be the first one to say that both Windows and Apple systems have their own merits, and there are many cases in which I would recommend them over say Ubuntu.

  20. Allan says:

    I saw this comic strip about mac vs pc, http://www.duelinganalogs.com/?date=2007-04-02.

    Yeah, that’s really all I can contribute to this discussion, I’ve only ever used a PC. Although I can say that in the UK they use different actors to the US adverts, and because they have David Mitchell as the PC it just makes PCs look better.

  21. Allan says:

    For some reason that link doesn’t work right, try this if you’re interested
    http://www.duelinganalogs.com/comics/2007-04-02.png

  22. ShadoStahker says:

    Alrighty.

    A few really good points have been brought up.

    First off, the UI. The Mac UI is actually one of the reasons I dislike working on a Mac. Sure, it’s something I could get used to, but there are certain things about it that just grate on my nerves. That’s just me, though.

    Secondly, cost. Macs do cost more. You definitely get what you pay for when buying a Mac, but there’s really not a lot to look of options when you’re on a budget. Comparable Macs and PCs will cost similar prices. But you can find cheap, budget PCs.

    As far as uptime goes, I am typing this on a 6-year-old laptop running Windows XP. I can leave this machine on for up to 2 weeks, so long as I’m not doing anything really heavy. I have left it on with 2 Firefox windows open, 10 tabs or so in each, while constantly using the computer for other things, for a week straight before I had to reboot. I try to reboot all my computers every couple days normally, but this can be done on a Windows computer with little trouble. (My fiancee’s desktop can do the same.)

    My Windows XP laptop and desktop are as stable as any Mac, because I’m intelligent about using them. With all the variety of software out there, of course it’s easier to screw them up, but if the user is intelligent about what they do none of that should ever happen.

    I will admit that I have reformatted my laptop a few times in those 6 years. Each time was for a disk space issue, where I figured that backing everything up and formatting was easier than trying to organise it all on the computer.

    And for the coffee analogy, I absolutely detest Starbucks. The coffee is bitter and disgusting. I stick to Tim Horton’s (a Canadian equivalent of DD, which offers all the options of Starbucks, and then some), and even those more expensive coffees are cheaper and better there.

    I have to say that I’m happy to find Mac users who won’t just tell me I’m wrong for saying what I do. I have Mac-user friends who are good about that, but online you frequently come across the evangelists on all three sides (Mac/Windows/Linux).

    I need to get a better look at iPhoto (see what it can do) before I recommend Macs to my parents, but it’s looking more and more like I will.

    I will always keep a windows PC for gaming, but who knows. I may eventually get a Mac, one they either fix some interface issues, or Windows introduces the same issues and makes it a moot point.

    I think that if their market share keeps growing, however, they will really need to start including an antivirus program (iVirus?) with their default software.

    Oh, and Joseph. What Unix apps are you talking about, in particular? I’m definitely happy that OSX doesn’t balk at apps not made explicitly for it.

  23. Tom Zunder says:

    I run Xp, Ubuntu Linux and Mac OS X.
    I love to tinker.

    The adverts are a little clever-clever but they do make one smile, or rant!
    I liked the iMac ads where Jeff G opened a box, plugged it into the mains, plugged the modem into the wall, and was set to go.

    Now, my views:

    Number One for Gaming: Windows XP, not for system reasons but due to the need for a stable platform and marketplace for game companies to aim at. Transgaming only works for a small subset of games, but you can run WoW or Guild Wars on Linux with it’s help. Mac games are fine, rare and expenseive.

    Number One for Tinkering: Linux, it is a tinkers paradise. Having said that XP and OS X can be greatly tweaked configured and customised so it’s not as clear cut as all that.

    Number One for Stability and Ease of Use: Mac OS X. You can freeze an OS X machine, but you have to try hard. The system is rock solid, it shares all the stability and security of a good Unix with one of the smoothest and intuitive interfaces ever. Oddly the more ‘Windows’ trained you are the longer it takes to cope with OS X, you have to unlearn stupid ways of doing things since on OS X they are nearly always sensible and ‘real world’. Linux comes a very close second, my Linux boxes are stable, and just run, except when I am tinkering! XP is much better than before but just not as good.

    Which one is right for me? All 3, I am a geek.

    Which one for normal ordinary people who just want no trouble? Mac OS X.
    Which one for you? Well, it depends, what kind of user are you?

    Oh, and I have had to use Apple’s support services, I had a dodgy key on my keyboard. Smooth, smooth, smooth. Like a dream. Same when my son’s iPod had a problem. I’d pay a premium just for the service and support they give, and I compare that to Dell Gold Support which is also pretty good.

  24. Ok. I can get a new windows laptop for playing DVDs and browsing the internet and printing off the network printer in the house for under five hundred dollars.

    On the other hand, reading Mossberg I realize that it will take four or five hours to delete all the crap on it and it will take 3-4 minutes to boot up, every time.

    If I get a Mac, I gather it will cost twice as much, but it will boot up in 20-30 seconds — and no adware or other crap built in when I boot it up.

    While I used to program in machine code in the early 1970s I’ve better things to do these days …

    I may very well buy my first Mac ever when I buy a laptop for my wife this summer for her birthday.

    I can’t believe I just typed that.

    But that is what Apple should be showing on their advertisements. Two people buy laptops. One a Mac, one a Sony. Five minutes later, the Mac user is printing out a report or a form from a website. Five hours later the Sony laptop user is finally able to reboot with *most* of the adware and crap off of the computer, and it still takes four minutes.

  25. Strangeite says:

    ShadoStahker: When looking at a computer for your parent’s, don’t just look at iPhoto. The real beauty of iPhoto is how seamlessly it integrates with not only the rest of the iLife suite but with every other program on the OS. My 9 year old son is able to download pictures from his camera using iPhoto, build his own website in iWeb, import songs to his website using iTunes and add his own personal videos using iMovie. It is more than easy, it is just naturally intuitive.

    As to cost. You can buy an old G4 tower for less than $200.00. It will run OSX and iLife without any problems (I have a 466mhz G4).

  26. Steve says:

    I have to wonder what some of you are doing with your PCs.

    Reformat the hard drive every 6 months? I’ve done it twice in five tears. Once because RealPlayer nagware cuased a registry problem and once because a shareware “alternative” to Norton Ghost caused a registry problem. Given the number of kernel rebuilds the typical Linux Lobbyist does over that time-scale I’m not complaining (though I should have bought Ghost when I had the chance).

    BSOD? Seen two in five years, one because I tried launching a game before the services had fully initialised after a power-up, one during the RealPlayer fiasco.

    I get the occasional lock-up (maybe two or three a year) but as has been said, I’ve had that happen on Linux too (even happens in OS2200 the most stable and secure OS I’ve ever worked on, they call it “taking a stop” though).

    If I had a complaint about using Windows it would be the fact that there are too many ways for third party software writers to do everything. Sanitising my system against RealPlayer (you get one chance to eff with my computer, then you’re gone) required in-depth knowledge of the OS that the ordinary person wouldn’t have, since the bastards that wrote it lodge it in every possible crevice of the machine.

    I think Telas has the right of it when he says the problem isn’t the inherent (and admited) weaknesses in the low-end distributions of Windows, but in the actions of those not possessing a fully-working sensible-node. I’ve run my XP home edition with Norton Firewall and AV products and have never been infected (not for want of malicious swine trying to get in either, as the logs show). My teenaged cousin ran a honeypot Vaio for about a year before he finally gave in and fitted AV software, by which time it was leperous with every kind of nastiness. His attitude was “it ain’t hurting me”, but then he had his Yahoo account stolen, his Google account stolen etc etc etc. Not only that, when his dad hosed the machine (no option, the AV wouldn’t start in sheer disgust) they were all amazed at the speed pickup. Teenagers, gotta love ‘em (before you strangle ‘em).

    This has run long but I just have to add that the current Mac ads make me smile ‘cos the Mac looks like Will from Will and Grace. The ads say to me “PCs are overweight, frumpy and look like Bill Gates but Macs are gay”.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Steve.

  27. Matt` says:

    “On Mac or Windows, most problems are solved by confident poking, not by specific knowledge. This should be a design principle for Linux distributions.”

    I agree – when something’s not working in Windows I can poke around in settings screens and control panel and all of those and figure out what needs to be done, Linux… not so much

  28. ShadoStahker says:

    Strangeite – The reason I’m concerned with iPhoto is that my father is looking for a decent image editing software on this new computer. Integration is all fine, but if it can’t do what he needs it to do in the first place then it isn’t worth squat.

    I have Photoshop and Dreamweaver for Windows, and can install those for him, but I would need to be sure that iPhoto and iWeb can substitute (for what he needs), since we can’t afford to buy Mac versions as well. Especially since the Mac we would buy is more expensive than the PC we would buy in the first place.

    In other words, easy and intuitive is fine. “Complete” is the deal breaker, though.

    Stephen M – The actually do have that ad. It’s one of the few I enjoy.
    Mac vs PC – Box: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PwiljBN5-8

    Tom Zunder – Thanks for the most balanced post thus far.

    Myself, I’m a gamer, so I require at least one Windows install. In the future, that may be a Windows install running through the Mac’s Bootcamp, but we’ll see when that day comes.

    My parents are casual computer users. My dad has specific computer needs that I need to ensure that the Mac can deliver on, but it shouldn’t be too hard.

    As an aside, I stopped by the campus computer store today, to check out iPhoto’s capabilities, and overheard two store clerks talking about how most of the people coming in to buy Macs were doing so because they were “cute”, and then told the clerks that they were just going to run Windows (bootcamp) on them, since they didn’t know OSX.

    So those are the people suckered in by the “Mac experience” lines, or the ones with way too much money to spend.

  29. ShadoStahker says:

    I think that last paragraph was unclear.

    The customers who were buying Macs were the ones who said they were just going to run Windows. It was the first question they had asked the sales clerks.

  30. Strangeite says:

    ShadoStahker:

    What specific photo editing tools would he need? iPhoto does most everything that an average user would need for editing photos. I do have Photoshop on my Mac but I would say 95% of the time I use the editing tools in iPhoto. If you can tell me what is some of the more obscure tools he would need, I will be more than happy to let you know if they are capable in iPhoto.

  31. ShadoStahker says:

    He’s still deciding what he needs to do. I explored iPhoto the other day, so I have a decent idea of its capabilities, but thanks for the offer.

    Honestly, I do think that is will be enough, and that Gimp can suffice if it isn’t.

    The next step is seeing if these people who learned computers in their late 30s, and always on PCs, would be able to switch to OSX in the first place. They’ve switched from Windows 3 to 9x and XP, so they should be able to.

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