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Not rich enough to be a Mac person

March 27, 2009

Microsoft — ruffled by constant ridicule by Apple — launched its latest counter-punch last night with an explicit jab at its cool but expensive archrival in a prime-time ad featuring one thrifty young woman’s quest to find a 17-inch laptop for under four figures.

“Lauren”, a feisty, red-haired computer-shopper, is given $1,000 to score a laptop with a 17-inch screen, and told she can keep the change.

First stop: the Apple store. Cue disappointment. The cheapest Macbook laptop, with a 13-inch screen, is $999. Lauren consoles herself that she is “not cool enough to be a Mac person” anyway.

Next stop, Best Buy, where a plethora of Windows-powered machines are excitedly examined. She walks out with a suitable model for $699.99. “I’m a PC and I got just what I wanted,” she exclaims delightedly to the camera.

Microsoft’s reasoning is sound. They can’t acquire Apple’s fashion appeal, and pushing value over coolness will strike a chord in the recession.

But the need to respond to Apple — which still controls only a tiny fraction of the overall PC market — shows just how well the Mac has set the terms of the contest.

And Microsoft’s point is still moot. What if Lauren has to take the laptop back in six months because it goes too slow and has a virus?

Comments
15 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Well, it wouldn’t have a virus if she had taken a few of the leftover $300 and bought a top-level anti-virus program. I work on a Mac 8 hours a day and have to relaunch crashed programs, oh, 5 times a day. I haven’t had to launch a crashed program on my PC at home in about 2 years (probably longer, but it’s too long ago to remember!)

Posted by Wes Smith | Report as abusive
 

With a PC you have a much better chance of one of your friends knowing how to fix it versus a Mac. Many IT places at businesses and colleges seem to have people with enough knowledge to fix Macs too unfortunately.Macs get viruses too though. It doesn’t matter if it is a PC with Windows or Linux or a Mac. Computers break period.When someone asks me which is better I tell them which ever you have some experience using and are comfortable with. If you need help you will find more free help from people locally if you use a PC.

 

It’s just not an apples-to-apples comparison. It would be more informative if we priced like hardware to like hardware, now that they are all running on Intel chips anyway. My guess is that to get a 17″ display, Windows-based PC laptop with equivalent hardware to the least expensive 17″ MacBook Pro, the two systems would be within $300 of each other, and a dyed-in-the-wool Mac user will gladly pay the premium in order to reap the benefits of the Mac OS and culture. Just because they sell a Windows PC that has a 17″ screen and costs only $700 doesn’t mean you’d actually want to own it. What is the price for all the hours of downtime, all the misery of lost data, the time spent updating antivirus definitions and waiting for scans to complete?PCs don’t suck, and Macs don’t rule, it’s more like ice cream. There is a favorite flavor out there to match everyone’s tastes.

Posted by Dave G | Report as abusive
 

i think it is a good move to position windows-powered pc as a low-price mechanism, which particular in the middle of the recession, but the thing is that how could MS change the “cheap” label when the eco is reviving

Posted by Tom Yue | Report as abusive
 

To be fair, Apple hardware IS grossly overpriced, compared to other manufacturers. Mac OS-X is, however, a vastly superior, Unix/BSD-based OS. For a free version of Mac, try something like PC-BSD (which runs on ‘Wintel’ machines).Linux is another free option, along with OpenSolaris. BSD, Linux and OpenSolaris are used extensively on commercial and institutional computer systems. They’re free and MUCH more stable and secure than Windows. (They aren’t as susceptable to security issues and disk fragmentation.) The catch is that you may have to spend more time learning to use them. If you have an older computer, try a lighter ‘window manager’, like the Xfce on ‘Xubuntu’.

Posted by Adam C. Sieracki | Report as abusive
 

Have you lost your mind?$2,500 for a computer? Add on those extras, then the tax.$3,000 — FOR A COMPUTER?I don’t care if it lasts four years. I don’t care if it “gives you a good experience” as filthy as that sounds.For people who don’t need a computer to do work they get paid for, anything above 400 or 500 dollars is an idiotically high price.But I suppose that’s what Apple marketing is all about, and why they have all these Mac idiots brainwashed. I’ve never seen such a bunch of whiny crybabies.Waaaah. Clicking on applications is sooooo haaarrrddd. The computer almost locked up on meeeee when I was transferring a fiiiile. The experience isnt the saaaaaame. I have to have things a CERTTTAIN WAAAAaaaaYyyyyyy.The $300 netbook of today is the $3000 Mac of 5 years ago and more so.Don’t you think Apple execs realize that so called “el cheapo” computers available now actually do a ton of stuff that “cheap” computers had no way of doing just five years ago?If people realize that, and free their minds of this brainwashing, then there is no more need to spend a ton of cash.Don’t you think Apple publicists skulk through these pages all the time and drop BS about the “Mac Experience” justifying the ridiculously high cost? If they didn’t have these Mac idiots lulled into a state of unconsciousness about how much money they’re being ripping off of, Apple would lose their profit margin business strategy and dehydrate.People don’t like it when they get called up on the fact that they’ve been fooled and cheated out of their own money. Build quality, my ass.

Posted by Mom | Report as abusive
 

“the two systems would be within $300 of each other, and a dyed-in-the-wool Mac user will gladly pay the premium in order to reap the benefits of the Mac”- Posted by Dave G _______________________The system I put together in early 2004 was faster than anything you could get off the shelf or even custom built by Dell, let alone then-PowerPC CPU based Macs. Even today it’s “ok”, though more comparable to low-to-midrange systems of today (think Mac Mini of today with some extras, if you are “dyed-in-the-wool Mac user”). The cost – back then – just under $1200 (monitor not included), plus a couple hours of my free time to assemble it. It is sort of comparable to top-of-the-line Mac when Mac came first with Intel CPU a couple of years later. That one, if I remember correctly, was starting somewhere around $2500 and going up fast if you wanted some nice extras. The difference – more than twice the price, not exactly $300 you claim.And yes, my box is running Windows – 2k initially, XP since M$ dropped 2k from support. No virus infections my antivirus program could not deal with ever. Only a few crashes, and those mainly because I tried to run simultaneously a set of programs nobody at M$ could ever imagine to be installed on the same box (like compiling C# and encoding DVD in NeroVision at the same time).

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

Coming home every day as an computer engineering student to un-reproducible errors that often had me and my fellow students stumped = too much time.Feeling frustrated every. single. day. that Windows would not do the simplest tasks without brow-beating the user into inane contortions of logic = too much effort.Working with MS boxes every day. Spending an inordinate amount of my day trouble-shooting my machine, our network, or helping others problem-solve = they don’t pay me enough.Coming home every day to a system that works. Flawlessly. Obeys every command seamlessly. And having had 1 crash in 4 years (I can’t think of a month in which the entire Windows OS hasn’t hung as the result of a mere program failing) = priceless.For serious professionals, there’s Mac. For everyone else, bask in your ignorance.

Posted by KS | Report as abusive
 

Being a software developer who works mainly with Microsoft’s .NET frameworks, I had avoided Apple’s computers in the past due to the high prices and lack of need. I finally caved in when I wanted to begin developing apps for the iPhone. After buying a $800 Mac Mini, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoy working with my Mac more than my PC. I enjoy the open source software such as Apache that comes with Macs as opposed to the proprietary equivalents (IIS here) on Windows machines. Other than this, there are a whole slew of advantages that Apple can tout such as system stability. I think that this might be a bit unfair as Apple’s OS X was developed to run only on their own hardware, while Microsoft’s Windows was engineered to run on all machines (Macs included). Unfair or not though, I still prefer my Apple and would happily pay the “Apple tax” on my next computer.

Posted by a programmer | Report as abusive
 

I have lower cost and zero issues. Then again, I use fedora for everything but those few applications that are only written for microsoft.Funny how sourceforge.net can produce open source apps that are platform independent, but the windows crowd (who uses sourceforge in ever growing numbers as a source for software) refuses to break the mold of helping microsoft blackmail us all into the mandatory ownership and usage of a system that is only needed through this self fulfilling prophecy of writing windows only source code…

Posted by bf | Report as abusive
 

I like my mac. When I had a PC there were always problems no matter what virus protection program I tried. I’m happy to pay for a computer that WORKS.

Posted by jill | Report as abusive
 

For me I buy the least expensive Windows laptop that is on sale and then wipe out Windows with Ubuntu Linux. The hardware doesn’t need to be on steroids because Linux seems to run well even on lesser speed CPU and memory configuration. No need to buy Office, AntiVirus, Firewall, etc apps. There are many apps available on Ubuntu repositories for free. And I’d venture to say that Linux is probably just as stable as the Mac OS-X.No need to slam Windows becuz it also works, just needs more maintenance. Lots of free apps on Windows as well. But hey, Mac fans are passionate about their machines, so I just say, may the force continue to be with you. Happy computing everyone!

Posted by ep | Report as abusive
 

I started with a Mac Toaster. It was an affordable box with the famous point-and-click GUI developed at Xerox PARC. M$ could not do anything like it until Win95, which was a heroic effort to integrate Windows with underlying DOS. — Find a movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley”. — Currently running W2K on an HP P1/633, no HS graphics or other bleeding-edge toys here. To run Windows, you need to do certain things like defrag, visit MS update, and sweep with a good virus ejector. No different than keeping a car on the road, put in gas, change the oil, and check tire pressure, etc.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive
 

If you have lots of spare time, are happy to run the risk of frequent virus attacks, enjoy using inferior software, accept all kinds of complications just to get a new application up and running – then go ahead buy a PC. On the other hand if you want the best and easiest to use computer and software, then Mac is the answer. If my experience is anything to go by, the complaints in this blog about constant crashes and other problems are totally false. I have used numerous Macs since they were first introduced from the 2E up to the latest MacPro models without any problems that were not of my making. Once you start using a Mac you won’t want to fool around with PCs ever again.

Posted by kay dee | Report as abusive
 

I’m now in the unenviable position of being able to add a further data point concerning Mac production engineering. This morning the wireless networking in my FIVE MONTH OLD iMac died.

Posted by Ian Kemmish | Report as abusive
 

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