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The Apple Effect 5

Posted by DarrenG on January 27, 2010

There can be few who don’t know that later today Apple are holding a product launch event and that, if fevered speculation is to be believed, a new tablet style device will be announced. And as my close friends will attest, I am a Mac user and a huge fan of their products.

So what is it about Apple that drives this fanboi devotion to their product and the fever pitch of anticipation whenever they launch a new product? Why do Mac users display a unique devotion to their chosen platform that is quite unlike anything you see from users of other products?

Apple have the unique ability to whip up a storm of rumour and gossip months before any new product is unveiled. This free publicity is priceless but in this case all the hype has been whipped up despite the actual product being unknown. Can you think of any other company who can cause such excitement ahead of an event to discuss an ‘unknown’ product?

However, like Marmite, Apple as a company and Mac as a product is something you either love or hate. You’re either Mac or PC and it seems very few stay in the no-mans land between the two camps.

My background is PC. Well more accurately my background was Sinclair – Amiga – PC and only very recently have I moved into the Mac camp. For the greater part of my working life I was heavily involved in, and reliant on Microsoft PC’s for my income.

Very much by accident (and as a result of an accident) I became a Systems Engineer spent 20 years installing computer networks and servers and administering them on behalf of their owners.

So how could I become a dyed in the wool Mac user? How could I change my allegiance so completely?

At work I came across Mac’s. We had clients who ran studios where Mac’s were much evident and design houses where high-end Mac’s, both industries that have always favoured Apple’s product. And so I had, by necessity, to get a little experience of them, if only to ensure they all played nicely with my PC’s!

But it was the launch of the Intel based Mac line that changed everything. For the first time I could invest in a Mac laptop and run Windows and Mac OSX side by side. This was not possible with earlier Mac’s.

And so I bought one. Not to use Mac, goodness me know! I wanted one because their laptop hardware was so much nicer than anything designed for Windows. I planned to use it purely as a Windows laptop with the benefits of all the nice little features, slot loading DVD drive, backlit keyboard, magsafe power connector and of course Apple’s key differentiators, the design.

The rest as they say, is history. Very soon I started ‘playing’ with OSX, Mac’s OS. Initially I just wanted to expand my knowledge of how it functioned so that I could become a little more comfortable when I had to use them on-site. Very quickly I found I was spending more time in the Mac side and less and less in Windows. It was so much smoother and more pleasant. Things just worked, apps were designed to work and it almost never crashed!

And so the seed was sown, I became Jekyll & Hyde. By day I turned up on site in my suit with my Microsoft Windows hat on but by night it was T-Shirt and jeans Mac user. When the time came to give up the day job I chose to commit to Mac and bought an iMac desktop as I wanted to use the kit and not spend most of my time tuning it to keep it running.

Now, some 5 years later I’m on my third MacBook, one has been passed on to a colleague and the original one is our home machine, all working as well as the day they were eagerly removed from their boxes. Even the boxes are works of art, no anonymous brown packaging for Apple, good lord no!

Yes they are different, yes, they are more expensive initially, and yes they require an initial investment from you in unlearning some PC habits. But they require much less user maintenance and work, every time. Soon you will find you are using it like any other consumer product. You won’t be cursing it because the hour glass has appeared yet again or it has lost its network settings or it has blue screened or hung. My income relies on my IT working as it is entirely web based. I need access 365 days per year and I can and do work from wherever I am in the world so for me, Mac offers the reliability and ease of use I need.

And so today I shall, like millions of others, be tuning in to the webcast at 6pm GMT to see what Apple unveil. If it is a tablet then I shall almost certainly get one but I will at least want to see what it is before I place the order!

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  1. Chris Lowry Wed, 27 Jan 2010 10:38:23 UTC

    I have to say, I disagree with the statement “But they require much less user maintenance and work, every time.”

    My experience of the Macs I’ve used is that software crashes about as often as programs in XP; as in Final Cut Pro, Firefox, and a few others. Not a lot, but then XP doesn’t crash a lot either. (I think we are all agreed that Vista was a #fail!)

    My experience of my home built PC is that it has been flawless. My experience of my Mac Mini was that it just didn’t have the capabilities for PC/Mac/Linux networking – I found myself having to go into the command line to configure some settings! That is linux territory, and a far cry from the simplicity I was promised!

    Finally, the hardware. Because you are stuck buying their produce, you have to get it repaired with them. My desktop, the power unit goes, I buy a new one for £30, no problem. My mate, his iMac stopped working, he had to pay about £200 for a new power unit! And then it broke again 6 months later!

    Mac have a lot of good going for them, but when me and Maft built my PC nearly a year ago, it cost under £600 for Intel Q9550 quad core 2.83ghz processor, 4Gig ram, Wifi, Ridiculously good Graphics card, 2 DVDR drives, firewire and 640gig HDD. I went to the Mac shop, and the most similar option we could get was over £2000.

    It is NOT going to provide me with £1400 extra productivity or £1400 less crashes, and if it breaks outside of the warranty, I suspect it will cost me a lot more to fix it.

    That said, they are very pretty!

  2. DarrenG Wed, 27 Jan 2010 10:57:36 UTC

    Each to their own but I stand by that statement. I don’t know what you were trying to achieve with your Mac Mini but I’ve never had to delve into the command line to configure a network setting!

    If you buy a MacPro and a disk fails you don’t have to get it repaired by Apple, parts are readily available. Mac Mini, iMac etc are all laptop hardware and as with any PC laptop, are not user repairable, nothing unusual there, that’s not a Mac issue, the same would happen with any similar form factor PC based design.

    I commend your home build experience, but I neither have the time nor the inclination to build a machine and then mess about with all the drivers and issues that need tweaking to get it running properly. As has been demonstrated on many occasions, a comparable ‘branded’ high-end PC will have a similar cost to a comparatively specced Mac Pro. How much would your home build have cost from HP or Dell, rather more than £600 I suspect.

    I don’t want to start yet another PC/Mac flame war, my post was simply a summary of my experience and I’m glad you’re happy with your choices too.

  3. MaFt Wed, 27 Jan 2010 11:06:53 UTC

    FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT 😀

    I’m happy to say that I like both and I was actually in the middle of posting a blog saying as much when Darren beat me to it…

  4. Steve Hearn Wed, 27 Jan 2010 17:42:39 UTC

    I have a similar story as a heavy PC user for many years. It was OSX Leopard that finally made me go out and buy my iMac, as well as the frustrations with virus software programs on my PC although to be fair to Microsoft, that is it not really their problem. But I made the switch. To cut a long story short, I love my Mac BUT it had me in knots and problems the first year. Apple simply do not acknowledge very experienced PC users who understand how computers work in connection with the Mac switch and problems with having a Mac. My iMac has crashed once or twice & froze on me once and I have had many other niggles that were Apple’s ‘fault’ & not my mine. Today my Imac is 3 years old and runs well but still throws me a side ball from time to time. I must say again that I love the Mac, as a cartoonist it feels like the Mac is made for people like just like me. Photoshop no longer crashes as it used to on the PC and in general it does ‘just work’. I still like Microsoft and believe they have a good product and I love the Mac, but I am also a critic of the Mac and do not simply rant about them as some of the Apple heads do! Ok, Jobs keynote in under an hour, gotta fly!

  5. Micro$oft or CrApple « MaFt’s Musings Fri, 05 Feb 2010 13:54:53 UTC

    […] the end of 2008 one of my bosses gave me his MacBook Pro (see here for proof: "…5 years later I’m on my third MacBook, one has been passed on to a colleague…") as my […]

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