Discussing the Mac vs. PC subject is the tech geek’s equivalent to discussing politics or religion – don’t do it unless you’re ready for things to get nasty! With that in mind, I’m donning my flame retardant suit and delving into the subject!
Apple has a unique identity in the business world – largely thanks to Steve Jobs who was an equally unique character. Apple is also one of the most profitable companies in the world, so whether you love or loathe it, it’s doing something right.
Many Apple fans I’ve spoken to love their devices largely because of the build quality and simplicity of the user experience. The iPhone has done so well because it provided a simplified user experience which arguably made smartphones (and apps) accessible to a much larger audience. Apple then took that usage pattern and resurrected the tablet market with the iPad.
While the simplified and prescribed user experience of iOS is a benefit to many people, many tech enthusiasts see that same experience as dumbed down and restrictive – this is why ‘jail breaking’ started.
Personally, I was never quite won over by the iOS user interface primarily because of its lack of home screen widgets. That’s not to say I want to be tinkering with battery draining widgets all the time – I just want basic information like what’s on my calendar, and how many emails and SMSs I have to deal with. iOS doesn’t provide that, instead just has pages of icons. If you want to pull up any of the information about your daily life, you have to find the app and lookup the information. This is something the Siri system has tried to address, but it feels like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut, and still lacks the ‘glancable’ quality that other mobile operating systems have. Give me an iPhone running Windows Phone 7, and then I might be interested, if the price was right.
Even though I see the simplicity of Apple software as restrictive, I have at times considered buying a MacBook. It’s hard not to – the hardware is great, it has good internal specifications wrapped up in a tough aluminium unibody. In this case, the problem for me, time and again, is cost. I’ve always found the MacBook’s price tag unjustifiable – even for refurbished models - when compared to Windows laptops. This is frustrating for those of us who prefer Unix based operating systems like OSX and Linux. Fortunately, there is a middle road – buy Windows laptop and replace the operating system with Ubuntu or Linux Mint. That way you get the same stability and performance of OSX, but save yourself £500 or more.
The same applies to the iPhone – unlocked models cost a couple of hundred pounds more than the Android flagships and iPhone contracts push the cost of ownership even higher.
When looking at the second hand market, Apple fans won’t be surprised to hear that second hand prices are still relatively high. Because Apple makes such boutique products, the second hand market ensures that Apple products depreciate very slowly. This is good news if you already own some Apple kit and want to sell it to fund an upgrade. However, it’s bad news for those who would love to try something from Apple but don’t have the cash to get on the ladder
This is why the perennial argument of Mac vs. PC is academic – it doesn’t matter if the Mac is best (and I’m not saying it is), because if it’s too expensive for most people to buy, they’re never going to use it anyway. But hey, Apple has a very healthy bank balance already, so why should it care whether you can afford its products or not?
Image Credit: DaveOnFlickr