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Why Buy A Mac? I Don’t Get It….


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…


This article originally appeared on iSource.com.   You can follow the author, Joe Tomasone, on Google+ or Twitter.




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  • Yuri

    Great article! I also thought that Apple was just a fashion statement, until I tried a friend’s iMac for a couple hours.

    All I can say is, “WOW!”. I went from cynical Apple hater to Steve Jobs groupie.

    Intel can tell and pay the manufacturers to make Macbook Air clones. Intel can bash the heck out of Apple (for who knows why)?

    But.. At the end of the day, most people can now see that the Ultracopies of the Macbook Air are just crap in thin cases.

    Windows is run by a complacent monopolist.

    Ultrabooks are funded by a monopolist.

    When are these monopolists going to learn that you’ve got to give consumers what they want? They want Windows crap, and Apple art.


    • skywalk

      Hmm Intel processors are inside every iMac, MacPro, Macbooks just so you know.

  • I was the same way. I had dozens of phones (winmo, android,bb etc) before I got the iPhone 4 the day I came out. Decided I’d never look back. Now have the iPhone 4S 64gb. And an iPad, and an iPad 2 64gb 3G, two iPods, a MacBook air 13″ 256 (possibly one of the best computers ever?), a 21.5″ iMac, an iPod nano, 2 apple tv 2, and a bunch of accessories..

    Before that iPhone 4, I had never owned an apple device, and was convinced I never would. I was a huge Microsoft fan. Now I can’t believe that I suffered through it all for almost 29 years…. Lion is embarrassingly amazing when compared with windows.

    I don’t get it either…. Why buy a pc?

  • Sir Cake

    Really great piece, Joe. It pretty much sums up how a lot of us PC folks drifted slowly, perhaps even unwillingly – but inexorably – to Apples. Your ‘gateway drug’ was the iPhone; for me it was the iPod. I don’t know how much money I “saved” on frustrating, featureless, non-intuitive and crappy-sounding mp3 players before I finally broke down and got my first iPod. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than anything else I’d ever tried before.

    Now, a bunch of years later, and I have iPods, iPhones, iPads and MacBooks. Sure, every one of them was way too expensive. But they all let me be as productive (or decidedly *un*productive) as I want. They work.

    I don’t know what Yuri (above) is talking about – seems to me Apple, which sells the OS, the hardware, the software, the apps and even the music, is more monopolistic than Microsoft could ever hope to be. I don’t do “art” on my computer. I do work on my computer, and I play on it, too. Apples are more expensive because they are worth it.

    I am worth it.

    • Joe Tomasone

      You know, I had never really thought of the iPhone as my “gateway drug”, but in retrospect, it clearly was. It introduced the concept of “experience”, and while I like to tinker and customize as much as anyone else, Android just never seemed to provide the same satisfying experience. The Treo certainly didn’t. I’m getting that same “experience” feeling now with my new MacBook, and while I won’t go so far as to say it’s overwhelmingly superior to a Windows PC, it’s more than enough to make me glad I bought it.

  • Micah Madru

    I’m an avid Linux user (and could never imagine paying over a grand for a general purpose laptop) but I will admit that it does have a nice feel to them. The problem is the value in them. I recently had a debate with a bunch of apple fanboys on google+. I call them fanboys not because i’m trying to be insultive of apple users. But because that’s what they are.

    They made so many outrageous claims!
    – Macs are cheaper for same specs. Wtf that was a new one
    – Mac is better at graphical performance.
    – Macs have the lowest failure rates in the market. (Asus wins that one).
    – Apple macs most of their parts, whereas pc manufactures just assemble them.

    I was genuinely shocked at the misinformation that these apple fans were spewing. I showed evidence after evidence for my claims, and they dismissed them one after the other with a simple “do more research.”

    I’m wondering, what causes people to become such fanboys?

    • Joe Tomasone

      The same pride that emboldens fans of sports teams, and the same desire for them to WIN WIN WIN!

      I never really got around to the point in my article that I am not a fanboy of anything, really. I truly believe that you should invest in the right tool for the job, no matter who makes it. That is why I didn’t understand the value of Macs for all of these years – I simply used PCs because they were cheaper and got the job done. What I didn’t understand was how much nicer the overall experience could be.

      I actually compared prices for a 128GB 13.3″ MacBook Air and an ultrabook with comparable specs at Best Buy and found that the Windows PC was $400 cheaper. Previously, I would have concluded that the $400 difference represented no value other than an Apple premium for its product; but now, I believe that the $400 buys you a superior computing experience, and it is now a premium that I am willing to pay. The price differential was a lot greater in decades past, making it much easier to “become a Mac” nowadays.

  • rjb

    I felt I was reading my own thoughts and experiences when reading this article.
    Microsoft lover, .net developer. I said to myself, I am not buying Steve Jobs’s lies, I don’t need an iphone, blah blah, until those shiny displays at Best Buy, Future Shop caught my attention, slowly I started to want one more and more and I finally did.
    Same happened with the ipad, why would I want something like that?, I woult play with it in the Apple Store, feeling more and more intrigued, more and more eager to own one, then I fell for it.
    Right now I can tell you, unless Apple screws really badly, there is zero chance I would buy a phone other than an iphone or a tablet other than an ipad.

    And the Mac, well, I am feeling the same itch as with the iphone and ipad, worse yet, I have tried Apple products. It’s like when I tried some organic white cherries from California and could never eat other cherries anymore.

    Damn Apple..

    • GB

      Exactly! I was resisting Apple for years! Then I started noticing my students using more and more Macbook Pros and Airs. I tried it. I couldn’t resist anymore. I’m a convert.

      Why is Intel going rabid against Apple with paying manufacturers to make Ultrabooks? Shouldn’t Intel be trying to help Apple?

  • I too am a former Microsoft enthusiast and, like you, it was the Iphone that brought me over. Also, the old brick Ipod started the transition. I now run a service company with all Mac products and seamless integration across mobile offices in which we operate. Why buy a PC indeed!?

  • Will

    Why get a Mac?
    1. Because it can do everything a PC can do, only, in a fun, streamline sort of way.
    2. Because, if you need a break from the Mac OSX operating system, it’s one of the best Machines for running Windows, 7, 8, 9, etc.
    3. Because the iPhone (Siri),iPad, Mac, combination, is simply unbeatable. I don’t have to type things anymore. I simply think, say, and it does it. Thanks to my Apple eco-system, my entire home is automated in the coolest most productive way.
    4. I am a programmer and spent many years using Windows. Time on a PC was work. Work on a Mac is fun.

  • Jimmy Wade

    QUALITY!!!!!!! Need I say more!

  • The first conputer to offer “windows” was Mac..The modern interface is beautiful, and they are a pleasure to use.
    The Microsoft platform is primitive and now they gone to “touch screen”..revolting. I am proficient on both platforms. I’ll take Mac for any task any day, Thank you

  • Php

    Loads of bullsh1t!

    U never used mac how would u know?

  • Nice article. I am in the same boat as you. I just made the move from Windows to Mac myself about two years ago. I have to say since I did I have never looked back. Everything “just works” I know how you feel. they are a bit pricey. I hope to see the price lower soon. I think if they would come down on the price many more windows buyers would start using the Mac. I can say from personal experience price was what keep me from buying mac products for many years. Thanks