Sunday, February 28, 2010

I'm a PC and I am OK with Macs

Make no mistake, this post is full of opinion.  However, my opinions are based in fact and my experience in the field of technology.  I have extensive experience and certifications on both Windows and Apple products.

Advertising would have you believe that you have to be an Apple fan, or a fan of Microsoft's products.  The truth is, both are important technology companies that excel in different areas.  Most Mac users would tell you that Microsoft Office is one of the better word processing programs available to install on their Apple computer.  Many PC owners would tell you that their Apple iPod works well with their Windows PC.  These are just a few examples of how these two companies have products that play nice with each other.  In fact, a recent report found that 85% of households that have an Apple computer, also have a PC.  This is not a huge surprise as it was also reported that Apple only has a 7.4% market share of computer sales in Q1 of this year.  If all of this is true, why does there seem to be a huge line drawn between Apple and Microsoft?

The truth is, Apple is a strong technology company, but they are an even better marketing company.  They advertise in a way that sets their products aside from everything else and market them as both stylish and easy to use.  They are very successful at this, and in my opinion, they take it so far that they mislead consumers as to the truths about their products.  Now that is not to say they are a bad company, but their marketing often speaks louder than their products themselves.  The culture behind their brand is one that many people get excited about any new product that they put their name on, regardless of its functionality.  Their products are not always the best, but they are often the most desired.  Ultimately, does this help or hurt consumers?  To be honest, that is one question I am not sure of the answer to.

The main advantage that I see is that they get people excitited about technology in a way that no other company has done.  Without the iPhone, how many people would have a smartphone of any type today?  Apple creates consumer excitement that pushes technology into new areas.  Because of the successful marketing of the iPod, consumers now have a huge variety of options for portable music players.  The same pattern can be seen with most their other products. Another area that Apple excels at is their product design.  They were the first to offer colorful options for computers with the iMac.  Similarity, their current line of computers are dripping with desire in their aluminum clad minimalist design.  Their design innovation causes other companies to put more effort into that area than ever before.  This is great for consumers.  Lastly, they make technology seem approachable for everyone.  Why are Apple computers easy to use?  Often, it is because they told you it would be and you have that expectation going into it.  If you sit two people down that have never used computers; one at a PC and one at a Mac, both will struggle.  But if you tell one of those people that their computer is easier to use, he or she will be much more mentally prepared to explore.

You cannot look at the good without also exploring the bad.  Apple's marketing approach can be misleading which is a great disservice to consumers as a whole.  Their advertisements are only partial truths and make their products look good at the cost of other options.  One could make the argument that this is the purpose of advertising, but in my opinion, they take it too far.  As far as ease of use?  The truth is, what you are used to is what you find easy.  If you have used a PC for years, you will have a tough time switching to a Mac.  If you have used a Mac, you will find PCs similarly confusing.  Both Windows and Mac OS X have come a long way and both are more intuitive than ever.  Another negative factor is the cost of Apple products.  Because of their desire and design, Apple gets away with charging much more for the majority of their products then you would pay for an equivalent product from another company.  When you get down to it, Apple makes a very attractive and well built computer.  However, you are often paying several hundreds more for an almost identical computer as an average PC.  In fact, most of the newest technologies are first released on Windows PCs and then find their way over to Apple.  Lastly, Apple is very Xenophobic in terms of technologies.  If you want to run their operating system, you have to buy a Mac.  If you want to sync your music player with iTunes, you have to buy an iPod and so on.  This stifles innovation and consumer choice.

While I have a tendency to be harsh on Apple, I will knowledge that their innovation and design has a huge impact on the technology industry as a whole.  Without them, many of the gadgets and technologies that I love today would not be what they are, or may not even exist at all.  There are many more advantages and drawbacks to Apple products than what I mentioned here.  Many could be argued either way.  My advice to you is make the decision yourself for any product that you purchase.  Do not rely solely on marketing or what is "popular" to make your technology decisions for you.  Do your homework, keep your mind open and enjoy the experience.

1 comment:

  1. This is an outstanding article. Very unbiased and truthful. While I am a PC guy for obvious reasons, a leading company in Design and product innovation (Apple) should not have to distort the truth in its advertising. It does a diservice to the consumer and to themselves. Great information and keep up the great and easy to understand posts.