For those of you who know me well, this will be an interesting post. For a long time I have been a "PC guy." I like the cost structure, the form, the choices, and the options that the PC has always provided. Additionally, for a long… long… time there was a huge software differential both in choices and in lag time between development and release for the PC versus a follow up release for the MAC platform. Always being one for pressing the bleeding edge of technology, PC's were just where it was at. As I grew up, and began working in consulting, PC's were the platform of choice among almost all business partners and clients. Sure Apple and MAC had a few niche industries, but those were few.
Now, enter the 2000's and the component race to the bottom… sure quality and consistency may suffer a bit, but the trade offs were substantially lower costs while keeping moderate margins for manufacturers. Microsoft didn't suffer in the profit range as almost all manufacturers worked to ensure that their products and software conformed to running is whatever flavor of Windows Microsoft was dishing out at that time. So, quality continued to diminish market share closed, and major players like Compaq, HP, Gateway, and others began looking shakier and shakier… to the point where mergers were the only way to save brands… Heck it was either that or the need to divest a possible loss leader from a company for stock holders to maintain interest in the belief that executive management was looking out for the core business line a'la Lexmark and Lenovo… How is Big Blue doing today? Once a symbol of strength in quality of engineering and reliability for desktop and laptop machines (which the end user [business or consumer] paid a premium for) not you can find them in fortune 100 consulting and mainframe, but the Lenovo spinoff is all that is left of the PC business for IBM. Gateway and MPC merged and folded up shop, Compaq survives only as an HP product line (however, prior to that merger/acquisition it looked like HP was headed the way of the Dodo too…). Also, this race to the bottom, is beginning to really catch up with all PC manufacturers. This article about Dell clearly illustrates that point to me.
What you are asking does this have to do with the "Cult of MAC!" Well, interesting enough, Apple has had its rocky share of times itself. However, as almost anyone (really anyone) can tell you, with the triumphant return of Steve Jobs a bit back, Apple has held itself very successfully to the beat of a different drummer. Hearkening back to the high standards, morals, (and premium price of the IBM days) Apple has become the most successful technology company currently in the world. I have been amazed to watch the popularity, loyalty (occasionally stomach turning loyalty), and growth Apple has had in the past 10 years. There are many contributors to Apple's success, but one thing has been consistent in the success of Apple. They know how to find a fragmented market and then create a revolutionary product and service to penetrate said market. The iPod, iPhone, iTunes have really created a feeling of iWin (no pun intended) for consumers even at a premium price. Design, convenience, reliability and simplicity with a platform of robust (easy to use) features make most of Apple's products extremely desirable for consumers. Now in reference to the MAC itself, this has been a longer process, but one that I see is really gaining traction. Frankly, part of it also has to do with advertising… we all love the "I'm a PC, I'm a MAC commercials. Honestly, after being a "PC guy" for better than 30 years, I don't know if Microsoft's Windows 7 is enough to keep a person "loyal" to the PC platform… Granted, I really like Windows 7, but I am not actually buying "Microsoft" with the PC I buy, I am buying the lowest parts bid winner of the PC brand that "appears" to have the best price at that moment. Sure, some may look at quality, but with most of the industry experiencing up to or better than 33% failure rates in the first 3 years of owning (and this is an "OK" practice within the PC industry…). Microsoft has a long road ahead of it even given its install base.
However, I would like to leave you with the thought and copy of an email I received that spurred the genesis of this post. I have a student who I would consider a friend. I have watched him grow over the last year from a 17 year old kid who wanted nothing more than a job to pay off a $2200 behemoth of a gaming rig that he built… well that and play pirated games and videos on that box… to an individual who is driven and passionate about creating rather than sitting idle. A person who was also a "PC guy" who is singing to the beat of a different drummer:
There is a ton more to write here but it's 11:30 and I'm just trying to get a point across. I find myself never booting into Windows 7. I got this machine [MacBook Pro] to make iPhone games and use as a basic computer. I didn't realize how amazing this machine really is until tonight. I tried to Hackintosh a hp tablet and as usual it was a mess and turned out bad, I then went back to my Dell Mini cleaning it up for chris to (hopefully) program on and am reminded of the pain of the tiny screen and small keyboard, weak power etc. I then thought back to my gaming PC. The mother of all computers. This thing was so overly beast that Nasa would ask "Why do you need so much power?" and after considering all things in computers from OS to Power to Size, I would still pick this MacBook Pro. It's no gaming PC but it gets the job done. Its a comfy size that allows portability yet enough screen room to fit all programs and windows. Also give me a very large trackpad that I find myself using even when there is a Magic mouse sitting to my right. And I still prefer this machine over a cheaper hackintosh even though I have to pay more because you know everything will work right and you don't have to second guess wether or not to download that new update. iPhone, Mac, MobileMe all working in perfect harmony intertwined with my digital life. It really is much better than I had expected and I find myself wanting to delete windows 7 to give more space to mac. I would %100 recommend buying a Mac as it will not hold the role as a toy but will become the central core of everything digital. This is my half asleep and completely unthought out endorsement for Mac. I can't say a mac will be as amazing for you as it is more me because I bought my mac with a specific purpose to fill. Making an iPhone game, so my mac fills that role perfectly plus, everything else I need with a computer but with it having that needed tool aspect it just fits even better in my life as a %100 360 degree solution for everything a computer can solve. To summarize this whole jumbled rant: Buy a MacBook.
Overall, how can Microsoft and the "race to the bottom" PC manufacturers compete with that paragraph above. I began my journey into the Apple world through my iPhone. For a year, (until the 3G came out in Summer 2008) I even doubted the possibility that Apple could create a viable phone that could compete with the industry leaders of Motorola and Nokia when the deep pockets of Sony couldn't even make a dent in the market share of those two leaders. However, within 6 months of the launch of the 3G, I found myself drawn to the iPhone not because of it's phone capabilities, but because of the platform I saw it becoming. The potential of the AppStore. The possibility of convergence that Mike talks about… Last December 23rd, I purchased an iPhone 3G (my Christmas present from my family) and I have been enamored since. Last June I upgraded to the 3GS, passing my 3G to my wife. This platform has matured, and at last estimate, I am one of millions making up a 14-17% market share for Apple (who 3 years ago were NOT in the smartphone business… Like the months prior to my purchasing an iPhone, I am watching the MacBook platform from a different perspective and in all honesty, this 30 year "PC guy" is becoming enamored with a MAC. Time will tell if this is a passing fancy or the beginning of a possible long-term relationship. But for now, I can say there is an interest and intrigue that I have not felt about a PC product in a long time…