I’m not cool enough to be a Mac

macvpcFinally Microsoft is running an effective ad campaign. If you haven’t seen it, Lauren (cute redhead too) is given $1,000 to buy a computer. She wants it to have a large monitor and a comfortable keyboard. First she heads to an Apple store and immediately leaves when she realizes that Apple has one computer in that price range – the Macbook with a 13″ screen. She then heads over the Best Buy where she finds an number of machines that fit her price range and leaves with an HP that costs $699.

In this economy…

I have to say that this commercial is smart. If you need to buy a computer, absolutely price is a concern, and considering nothing else, it’s an area that Macs can’t compete in. Of course there are other issues. I’m currently writing this post on my wife’s Sony Vaio laptop which is just a year and a half old. I would have preferred to buy a Mac for her, but a month prior to getting married, the price of a Mac was prohibitive. She needed a computer to get things done, so I got her this computer for $600. It has gotten things done, but there is the “you get what you pay for” issue. Most of the time we’ve owned this machine, this computer has been a pain to use. Vista was horrible. The amount of call trialware on the computer was appalling. Over the year Microsoft has made Vista better, and I’ve done things to make the computer bearable. Honestly most people don’t care that much. They don’t expect much out of their computer which makes a Windows machine perfect for them.

Apple need to do a better job at the low end of the price spectrum. There is absolutely no reason Apple shouldn’t be able to provide a Macbook with a 15″ monitor for under $1,000. As people begin to pay more attention to their budget and bottom line, the extra dollars may be too much for their wallet. Apple needs to be more inclusive.

  • http://www.merujo.com Merujo

    I would love to be a Mac person, but the pricetag leaves me firmly in the PC camp. And right now, I’m lucky enough to have functioning machines with Windows XP. No Vista headaches. If my desktop dies, I can get a refurbished Dell machine with the XP disks at MicroCenter for $200. Can’t do that with a Mac – even Apple refurbs are dang expensive!

    I was at the Apple store with James on Thursday evening, and yes, the Apple vibe is awesome. But the cost is ridiculous.

  • Spencer

    I don’t know how I feel about the cost in general. When you leave the store, you walk out with a machine that has software on it, with OS X, and no trialware. Using a Mac is a much better experience. I don’t know that Macs should be cheaper, but I do think that they need to give you more for your money than they currently do.

    And the Apple store is most definitely a scene. I used to like going there, but now it’s more about cool than anything.

  • http://nonbreakingspace.com/ howard

    I think sometimes I’d like to be a Mac, but the price thing has always been a sticking point with me. And yet I know people who are starving artist types who will go the distance to get a Mac. I’ve never understood that.

    I guess what I’d need to know is what they’re doing that’s worth the extra cost. I’ve used Macs before, and I’d agree they have some good selling points, but I can get by just fine on a PC running Windows (even Vista, which in relative terms I hate ;)

    Perhaps if I learned that some of that extra cost went into ensuring the manufacturing workforce was better-compensated, or some such other consideration — maybe then I’d dish out a few extra bucks. Otherwise, being cool isn’t that important to me.

  • Lance

    I find the ad to be very effective and a pretty good shot at apple despite how the apple fan boys / fan girls are trying to spin it the other way online in blogs and on message boards.

    On the issue of the Mac experience being ‘better’ I’m not sure how entirely true that is. I feel like that Mac advertising never really puts out the full truth when it comes to this issue.

    Do Macs generally get less viruses and malware? Absolutely. The question then becomes why, and the answer has nothing to do with security. The answer has everything to do with market share. Virus and malware writers are focusing their efforts on the products that dominate the market, Internet Explorer and Windows. If somehow Macs were able to gain significant market share you’d see just as many viruses and malware targeting those computers.

    Are Macs very good at content creation? Sure, but they make it seem like if you are going to create content that you MUST have a Mac. It’s not mentioned that all of the popular adobe suite has been ported to windows long ago and actually runs faster on pcs because the pc market has always been ahead of apple in terms of cutting edge hardware.

    I’m not much of a vista fan either and have stuck with windows XP so OS X definitely wins in a contest of best OS. But I think windows 7 is going to change that. From what I’ve seen and the limited amount I’ve been able to play with it, it’s going to be everything that vista should have been and much more. For whatever reason Microsoft always seems to drop these ridiculous ‘transitional’ operating systems into their product lines (Windows ME, Vista, and to a large extent Windows 95) that eventually evolve into solid products (Me to XP, 95 to 98 and Vista to Windows 7) but probably should’ve remained in the lab and not been released to the public at large.

    There’s also a much bigger software repository for the PC. Personally I’ve become too dependant on many particular software products to ever be able to fully switch to a Mac. I’ve tried to do this before with Linux and its fine for surfing the web, checking email etc but when I actually need to get something done, I find myself stumbling because there are just pieces of software I NEED. So If I can’t make the switch a Mac for me would be a secondary machine. As much as I’d like to have one, just like Lauren, I can’t justify the cost……….in this economy (I owe you a nickel Spencer.)

  • Spencer

    I never meant for this to turn into a Mac bashing post – I use both Windows and Mac computers, and without a doubt prefer my Mac to anything from Sony, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, HP, or any of the other hundred PC makers. Therein lies the problem.

    When Apple develops an operating system, they’re developing for a closed ecosystem. And while that may keep costs higher and limit the options for consumers, there is an advantage: they develop the operating system, develop the hardware, determine the specs all to work well together. With Windows, they develop an operating system that is supposed to work on hardware they are not responsible for. For anyone that has used Windows, you’re familiar with driver problems. The internal components come from a variety of sources depending on the manufacturer – and sometimes they work well with Windows, sometimes they don’t.

    From personal experience I can tell you that my Mac crashes less than any Windows PC I’ve used. Programs in OS X generally don’t bring down the entire system. In all I just feel my computer is just better put together, designed and just plain works better. I am sure that there are PCs out there that work well and are as well put together, but the experience will vary from vendor to vendor. AND I don’t believe those PCs are the bottom basement cheapos that they advertise all the time.

    As for more software – yep, there is, but a lot of it is crap – such as those $5 programs that you see in the supermarket for instance. There isn’t a major category of software that isn’t covered in Macs – and most have multiple options. And worse comes to worse, I’m running XP on my Mac, and it runs better than it did on my work PC – and I get to turn it off and run OS X when I’m done.

    All this said, it’s one of the big faults of Apple’s “I’m a Mac” commercials is that they aim to belittle and make fun of the very people they sell to. As such “PCs” get defensive because they’re not see as “cool”. And now we get all these people buying Macs simply because they are seen as cool and not because they actually like the product (or even know anything about it) and I think that obscures the fact that they are better machines (that cost more).

    I remember when people would ask me “why would you own a Mac”? I do feel a little bit redeemed these days when I do walk past an Apple store.

  • Lance

    I didn’t really think I was ‘Mac Bashing’ I’d actually like to have a Mac but given all my financial constraints they are just out of my price range.

    You are definitely right about Macs being a ‘closed system.’ That definitely does help curtail a lot of issues, but we see just as many problems with the Macs in our art dept as we do the pcs throughout the rest of the company. The few times I’ve been in a Mac store getting my ipod serviced, the ‘genius bar’ has been loaded with people who needed their Macs worked on for hardware failures, software problems and the like. It’s definitely possible that Macs have fewer issues, but they are not without issues that affect all computers across the board.

    Your 100% right on the “I’m a Mac” ads. There’s always been a level of ‘smugness’ in the Mac community, a ‘I’m cooler than you cause I have a Mac’ kind of vibe. Those commercials really embraced that, and I don’t think that was a smart move (for the reasons you stated so well.) Personally, they always rubbed me the wrong way because as I mentioned before they are just full of half truths. Macs are more secure, PCs are only for office apps, Macs never crash etc etc. etc.

    I have no issue with the product itself. Like I said I’d love to get myself a Mac and have even considered building a ‘hackintosh’ or purchasing a psystar machine with OS X for $600 so that I can try out OS X. Just a side note, but when I see a company like psystar can use the exact same hardware components and deliver a computer with identical specs to a Mac running OS X for substantially less I have to wonder what exactly are Mac users getting for the difference in cost? The only possible answers are sleek design and the apple logo.

  • Spencer

    Isn’t a product more than just the sum of its parts? Of course – Chrysler and Mercedes learned that the hard way. Saying an Apple and a Pystar are only different because of the logo and design is just like saying a Sebring and C class are only different because of logos. I’ve owned a Mac before they were cool, I like to think that I own one because it’s a better product experience. I think experience matters for something. (You actually inadvertently pointed out one difference, the Genius Bar is one thing).

    BTW – not all of the “I’m a Mac” commercials were at fault – the ones that targeted Vista, I feel are on target. Also – every ad is designed effectiveness. Were they a bit disingenuous, but there is a point to that.

  • Lance

    I agree with you on the vista commercials..those were on point and really struck a chord. I tried vista for a couple of weeks when it was released and hated it because I felt like it insulted my intelligence as an advanced computer user.

    I see what you’re saying about the ‘experience’ but personally it’s not something that I buy into.

    Then again I’ve built just about every computer I’ve used. I’m not loyal to any brand of car or electronics. I shop for best value and fit for me. I love my ipod because I think it’s the best player not because of the ‘experience.’ but that’s just me…..

  • Spencer