Commentary

The Mac Attack

To be frank, I think this post is way overdue. So I’ll choose my words very carefully.

Macs suck.

From the operating system to the price; from the Mac Zealots to all important iCrap I have to buy.

Let me begin by having a short conversation about the operating system on the Mac. I used the OSX system to setup content for web design and found it to be average. That’s right, average. There was nothing special that worked on the Mac that I was using that I couldn’t do on my good old desktop/laptop. So, where were all the bells and whistles that I have heard so much about? Tell you what, we’ll table that conversation for the moment.

My girlfriend who is required to have a Mac for her school work recently needed a new power charger and since her computer was fairly old I looked into purchasing her a new machine. Since all she really needed was the operating system I wanted to get it installed on a different set of hardware, one that was in my price range (the silly goose that I am, I didn’t want to take a loan out like most of my friends have had to do to get their Macs). The operating system is not for sale. So, if the operating system did in fact perform better, I wouldn’t be able install it on ‘weaker’ hardware. I would have to pay an extra $200-$300 for a setup that doesn’t prove (except by word of mouth) that it works better than a PC with Windows. Sounds pretty sketchy.

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This is a topic of special interest to me since I got chewed out for being upset by some over zealous Mac user who told me ‘They don’t want to put the software on inferior hardware.’ Just so everyone is clear on this – IT IS ALL THE SAME! Macs ship with the same stuff as every other computer, that’s why you can run a dual boot Mac. And while we're on the subject: they DO break down. That’s right, just like every other PC, they are computers. Hard drives, screens, motherboards, power supplies, all are parts that have gone out on Macs owned by people I know.

Now that we covered operating system, let’s move onto price. It is $200 extra, on average, to get the same setup on a Mac as you would on a normal computer system. I know what you’re thinking, that’s $200 of well-spent style. Unfortunately, I am of the attitude that style is something you have and not something you buy. It’s too bad. I’ll admit, they are nice looking machines - but $200, come on…

And then there are the Mac Zealots. You know them, you’ve seen them, you’ve had to talk to them . . . you might be one. They make buying a computer seem like joining a cult. Can we please stop with that? That’s all, stop.

iCrap. Another time perhaps... too much to cover in just one blog.

I should say, I expect to be chewed out for writing this blog by a whole slew of Mac Zealots, but I am fed up with everyone telling me that Mac’s are better, blah, blah, blah. And then turning around and getting Windows installed on the system. And how about ‘My Mac doesn’t break down,’ - Did you by the iCare plan? Yes? Talk is cheap, a lot cheaper than a Mac…

Cheers.

9 comments about "The Mac Attack".
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  1. Angela Horn, February 26, 2007 at 4:52 p.m.

    I am LOL @ your post! I know a few who belong to the church "Our Lady of Mac" and their zeal borders on fanatacism...oftentimes crossing the border. The Unibomber had less venomous opinions!

  2. James Mills, February 26, 2007 at 5:08 p.m.

    Last time, I checked, you can buy the new operating system so I don't know how or why you were told you couldn't. I've seen it in stores. Your system may not have been able to run it if it was too old but I've had the opportunity to buy the upgraded OS. I didn't do it but I had the opportunity. It's $129, by the way.

    Also, Mac's are more efficient which is why they cost a bit more. A 2 ghz processor in a Mac can handle more tasks then a 2 ghz PC. Yes the chips are both intel but the coding and other parts are different. Many benchmark tests have proven Macs can handle more than PC's even though the Mac usually has inferior specs then the tested PC.

    I do agree that Mac's can and do break down. Mine has and getting it fixed was more of an ordeal then I anticipated.

    I own a Mac, I've owned a PC. They both have pros, they both have cons. Just like Chevy vs. Ford. Also, for the record, I don't have an Apple logo sticker posted on any of my posessions.

  3. Peter Stabler, February 26, 2007 at 5:15 p.m.

    Um, er, viruses?

  4. Aaron Kupferberg from Did-it Search Marketing, February 26, 2007 at 5:23 p.m.

    Oh boy you touched a nerve here. "I am of the attitude that style is something you have and not something you buy." So all your clothes are from thift stores and you are full of style. C'mon man. Last I checked style costs money or the homeless guy down the block would be the latest in chic.

  5. Maarten Albarda, February 26, 2007 at 5:45 p.m.

    My wireless network was plugged in and played recently when I bought a new master box for the house - not an Apple but a non-descript unbranded power block.

    I applaud Steve Jobs' marketing cleverness, as well as his designers for creating stuff that looks good/great and is simple enough to use. Wonderful that people are prepared to pay more for a piece of beautifully wrapped technology that does the same as all the other pieces of technology (both when they work and when they stop working). I really admire that, and after all we are part of the marketing community.

    But really... better than anything else? No. Better looking? Sometimes? Value for money? That is a question in the same category as a Burberry handbag vs a plastic bag from the supermarket to carry your stuff around (hint: both are made from plastic). Or driving a second hand Kia versus a Porsche.

  6. Perry Bax from Mixdown Productions, February 26, 2007 at 6:51 p.m.

    I have had Macs for years and years.
    What I have to compare my experience to is all of the hand wringing and hair pulling I have seen friends and associates go through with there Windows machines.

    Call it the aggravation factor.
    I have been happy to keep mine at a minimum.
    'Nuff said.

    Perry/Chicago
    The Best Radio You Have Never Heard

    http://www.bestradiopodcast.com

  7. Michael Reilly, February 26, 2007 at 7:16 p.m.

    I am what you would refer to as a Mac Zealot, but let's be clear that it is really just an Us vs Them debate over a cult-brand that is regularly portrayed as the underdog.

    To a few points you mentioned. Mac hardware retains its resale value very well. It is built from quality components, which nowadays as you said, are the same components you can get for PCs. The operating system is for sale on the shelf at any store that sells Mac software. It is $129 for a single license, $199 for a family pack of 5 licenses. And unlike Vista, OS X will run on much older machines. I installed the last OS X 10.3 on a machine that was a 233MHz 2nd edition iMac from 1999 with only 384MB of RAM. It was slow, but it ran, it got on the network, used iTunes, Firefox, everything.

    Apple sells their OS for use on their hardware only. The main reason for this is that they can control the environment completely, so they can ensure things will work as expected. They don't have to account for every DVD writer sold, from the $200 name brand one at CompUSA to the $5 no-name one at the computer show. Because they know the hardware and how it interacts, they can offer advanced features and integration that would be difficult otherwise. They could not offer the same user experience if they did not control both the hardware and the OS.

    Yes, any computer hardware is prone to failure. AppleCare offers 3 years coverage, and in many cases, for known manufacturing defects, Apple covers replacement beyond the 3 year period. All software crashes once in a while, but now that the OS is based on Unix, it is far more stable.

    There aren't many bells and whistles to be added to the web development experience. One benefit of a Mac is it comes with Apache and PHP pre-installed and you can run all the other major server applications locally on your machine in the same Unix-style OS it will be hosted in. You can run those applications on a windows machine, but some things in PHP for example, don't work the same under windows. Apple recently released iWeb, which is a tool to build nice webpages. It isn't meant for a power user, but through premade templates, it produces some nice output.

    For me, the benefits are the little things. It's like buying a Ford vs a BMW. They're both equally functional for the most part, but you can look at things in the BMW and tell that the engineers thought about it when they designed it. It was designed that way for a reason, not just to look different. That's how Mac OS X is for the most part. You have to use it regularly for a few months to really start to take advantage of it.

    Price is a factor. Apple uses top of the line hardware for the most part, and often puts in new technology as standard features before they become common on PCs (like DVD writers, USB) so it is possible to use lower quality hardware and build it from parts and have a PC for much less. But if you're building it yourself, you have to consider the value of your time. And most people can't do that, so you have to compare pricing to somewhere they might shop, like Dell. And you have to compare even specs as much as possible. Here is one I tried today for a comparable system to the Apple iMac:

    Dell XPS 210
    Intel Core2 Duo (2.13GHz)
    Vista Home Premium
    1GB DDR2 SDRAM
    500GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive
    8xDVD+/-RW Drive
    256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro
    20 inch E207WFP Widescreen Flat Panel
    PC-Care Plus Bundle (3yr service, 24/7 tech support)

    $1,932

    Apple iMac 20"
    Intel Core2 Duo (2.16GHz)
    Mac OS X 10.4
    1GB DDR2 SDRAM
    500GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive
    8xDVD+/-RW Drive
    256MB ATI Radeon X1600
    20" built-in LCD display
    AppleCare Protection Plan (3yr service, 24/7 tech support)

    $1,943

  8. Jeffrey Ringer from Ringer/rg, February 26, 2007 at 10:23 p.m.

    To your point about things not looking better on a Mac vs PC, let me put it this way.

    It's the difference between watching Cable TV through your HD box (Mac) and watching your analog TV with rabbit ears (PC).

    Yes, it's that much better.

  9. Sean Mulholland, February 27, 2007 at 3:59 p.m.

    As a former art student who is one of the lone PC lovers in this community, I'll just say this: Macs are almost all branding. Some of that branding is very evident. The comparison of PCs to Ford and Mac to BMW that someone posted...that's a very old analogy I've heard 100x before.

    If all you want is the basics then yeah, a Mac is easy. But a PC can be just as easy. Go into anything advanced and the differences become moot. Go really high end and PCs clearly outperform macs dollar-for-dollar and in terms of raw horsepower.

    There's a learning curve to anything. I've had Macs crash repeatedly and had headaches configuring their options too.

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