Why buy a Mac? I don’t get it…
As a twenty-year plus Windows veteran, it’s obvious that I don’t need a Mac. They are certainly more expensive than a comparable PC for no additional perceived value (with the possible exceptions of musicians, desktop publishers, and Photoshop users). In fact, I have to confess that I looked upon Mac users as somehow less capable than a Windows user – they need bouncing icons to get their attention and a silly “sad Mac” face to know when there’s a problem! Their whole argument for a Mac being superior, it seemed, was centered around the lack of viruses and other malware for MacOS in a world where the next Windows virus was always around the corner – or already here. OK, this was perhaps a valid point, but it underscored the fact that Windows ruled PCs – it simply wasn’t worth it to write a virus for a platform with 0.00000000000000000001% of the market! Meanwhile, Windows ruled Corporate America – which was my bread and butter. You’d have better luck finding large bags of free money in a given corporate office than you would finding a Mac in one.
And yet, somehow, those Macs held on. Those crazy Mac fans kept buying their overpriced computers while somehow feeling good about themselves. Amazing! It wasn’t like you could walk into a nearby store and buy one – well, some people could, but other people, I don’t know, mail-ordered them or whatever. Crazy. Want a Windows PC? EVERY computer store carries those! Heck, you can price shop them! Not so much the “mighty” Macintosh; and chain after chain of stores that carried Macs folded (remember Computerworld?). Macintosh. What a joke! That closed OS, snobby users, expensive systems and peripherals. Doomed to failure. Hey, they are even abandoning Motorola CPUs to go to Intel. See? A PC in Macintosh clothing. And hey, they had to open their own retail stores – I guess no one else would carry them.
Of course, they went out of their way to differentiate themselves from Microsoft. The “Mac Vs. PC” ads – which were, at best, somewhat accurate – tried to portray how much better it is to own a Mac instead of a PC. Viruses were, of course, a common theme – despite the increasing proliferation of OS X viruses that simply didn’t get as much media attention. It all sounded a little desperate – like they were trying a tad too hard, you know?
Then the iPhone came out. More of the same brash, bold assertions about how it was the future of cell phones. People lining up for hours – days, even – to buy the silly thing. No one would ever wait in lines like that for any other phone. Sure, I stopped down to try one out, and came away cold. I had a Treo – it had apps, and while it didn’t have WiFi, it was awesome. Lots of accessories for it, lots of developer support, and decent speeds on Sprint. I even blogged about it at the time, in a piece called “I’d iPhone, But I Like MY Phone”. Comments flooded in about how I hadn’t given the iPhone a decent chance. Spend a little time with it, they argued, and you’ll get it. In a flash of intellectual honesty, I went down to the AT&T store and pledged to give it 15 minutes of play time to see what all the impassioned fuss was all about.
Then something happened.
I soon stopped fussing over what I didn’t like about the iPhone and focused more on what I did like – the smoothness of the OS, how seamless everything seemed to be. My Treo was starting to look a little long in the tooth. I took a deep breath. I threw caution to the wind. I bought an iPhone. This wasn’t just a jump to another phone; I also left Sprint after a favorable 10+ years and signed up with AT&T, who had previously demonstrated less than stellar coverage near my home. To say I was apprehensive was an understatement; but something just seemed right.
So home I went, off on a mission to activate my new iPhone. First, of course, I had to begin what would become a manic love-hate relationship – with iTunes for Windows. Ah, iTunes. It gives you hope, then takes it away, and repeats the cycle over and over again. Sometimes, it nearly seemed thrilled to lock up during a sync, driving me insane in the process. All the Mac owners on the forums were sympathetic, but apparently weren’t having the same problems as I and the other Windows folks were. Then again, of course Apple software runs better on Apple hardware – how else can they sell a Mac?
That wasn’t all I had to complain about, of course. The iPhone has no copy and paste? No MMS? Don’t get me started on Edge, which is slow as molasses at its speediest. Other phone owners are lighting up the forums talking about how horrible the iPhone is. No multitasking, which clearly, the iPhone is capable of – the Mail app is certainly getting mail in the background. Perhaps I made a mistake, perhaps I backed the wrong horse? Apple, you had to conclude, certainly was out of touch with what its customers want.
Ah, the App Store. OK, so they finally admitted that web apps are not the way of the future and decided to run a play from the Palm playbook. Maybe we were seeing some evidence that Apple does care a bit – but what’s with all the fart apps? You never saw this kind of crap with the Treo. A few decent apps in the bunch, sure, but I wasn’t ready to invest heavily in this. I had to admit, however, that the iPhone 3G was a step up in terms of the hardware – oh, yes, forgot to mention that I bought a 3G. Got it the day it came out. The 3G was pretty sweet, a big improvement over Edge (which nearly drove me over the edge at times). And hey, once the new iOS brought copy and paste, life got a lot easier to manage with all the new apps I had downloaded. They transferred over nicely to the iPhone 3GS – which gave me plenty of room to spare for – you guessed it – more apps! I’d begun writing for an iPhone blog called Just Another iPhone Blog, and it’s sort of infectious to share with others about the cool things I’ve been doing. That sort of camaraderie makes waiting in line for the “Next One” much more palatable each time I do it.
If the only constant is change, then the only constant at Apple is new products. The press speculated long and hard that Apple was going to introduce a tablet – and how stupid can Apple be? Every tablet – every one – introduced to date has been a failure. I’ve used a handful of them, and they never did solve the inherent problem that you’re really still carrying a full notebook around with you – so why not just carry a notebook? And the clunky tweaks that Microsoft had to add to get the tablet’s touch screen to work? They might have had more success if the entire OS had been written from the start to address the touchscreen. A shame, really. And now that the iPad had been announced, it looked like just a huge iPod Touch; why would anyone want it? You can’t carry it in a pocket, it runs the same exact apps, and there’s no keyboard. Movies look great on it, however; and that Flipboard app is really kinda neat. You could even type out longer emails on it than you’d want to on an iPhone. At least the data plans aren’t too bad – not getting locked into a contract is a plus. You know, with a few productivity apps, you could almost leave the laptop at home on a business trip, and have your email, presentations, and spreadsheets with you, plus music and videos for the trip. I could even get an SSH app to manage my servers while I travel – or hey, while I’m at the beach! I could edit photos in the field right after I shoot them, and upload them for others to see. In fact, you could spend all day thinking of different ways to use the iPad, once you’ve gone ahead and bought one like I did. In fact, it’s been so great, that the only time I would get annoyed is when I had to use iTunes for Windows. But hey, at least I don’t have to power the laptop on as much, since I can do so much on the iPad. In fact, I gave my Windows laptop to my wife as hers isn’t working. I hadn’t booted it in months. The new laptop for the new job is a monster – but it’s heavy – so I prefer to use the iPad when possible. Between the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4, there’s really not much I can’t do. About the only thing I still need the laptop for is to run virtual machines for work – which I hate, because even with a fast CPU and lots of RAM, it still takes forever to boot and the VMs take forever to start up and get going.
You know what’s interesting? While covering the 2012 CES for iSource (which, of course, is what Just Another iPhone Blog became – with a new focus on all things Apple), I noticed that a number of folks from the non-Apple parts of the company (from Phandroid.com, for example, our sister Android site) used MacBooks! How funny! Android fanboys “stoop” to using Macs instead of PCs! I’d been eyeballing a MacBook Air, and decided that maybe I should take another look at it while there were a few to check out. Have you tried the trackpad gestures in Lion? They make things so much simpler than they were in Windows. The whole experience is so smooth, so fluid, so… hard to describe. You really kind of have to experience it for yourself to “get it”. And the MacBook Air is almost as light and portable as the iPad; and the solid state drive (SSD) makes the whole system impressively fast. The whole package just…. works. Even iTunes works much better on it, not that I need it that much anymore. Oh, yes, I suppose I forgot to mention that I picked up that MacBook Air I’ve been talking about – indeed am writing this on it – but you knew that already, didn’t you?
So, why buy a PC?
I’m not sure that I “get it” anymore…