It appears there are two possibilities: a) Windows hardware manufacturers do not understand marketing or b) Apple is seriously undervalued because they make good hardware and know how to sell it.
Let’s compare this situation to a familiar occurrence:
It is time for your group to be seated at the dinner table in a crowded restaurant. Where should I sit? If I sit by Ron, then I have to listen to him complain about his ex again. Gene knows really good stories, but his wife Jenny tells them better. But Jenny likes to hang with Ron. And Pete, Mr. Comedy, hasn’t even shown up yet.
Who do I sit with? Choose well and I get a conversation worth having. Poorly and I’ll have to listen to drivel all night, wasting one of the few opportunities a busy father of three gets to get out of the house.
A friend recently asked for some help choosing a new computer for schoolwork. He’s starting a new school and his old PowerPC Mac is far too old to even watch the lecture videos. Windows is cheaper than Mac, so he said go ahead. And thus begins the nightmare of too much choice.
First off, things would have been fine if the people who repackaged the factory refurb 14″ had simply done their job. Factory refurb suggests someone has gone through it and fixed any issues. Nobody apparently checks that the battery actually fits. But this was not the case. This was discovered only after having fixed the faulty spacebar on the keyboard.
So I undertake the two hour round trip to return this machine. Note that this is why I do not purchase a windows box online, for this same reason: I have to check everything myself, since clearly nobody else thought it was their job to check it.
I did my homework up to this point: I have two machines lined up as alternatives in case they do not have an exact replacement. And sure enough, they do not. Okay, I tell myself, I am prepared for that.
So I start with he first one in the list. It takes them fifteen minutes to find it in the back while the kids wait in the car. So I go through and check it for everything I can think of, the battery, the keyboard. they comp me the ten dollars difference in price for my trouble.
As I walk out I realize the processor is not the same i3 the first had, it is a Pentium. That can’t be so bad, can it? One google search later reveals that the Pentium is very poor compared. What? After all that effort in making sure these people did their jobs, I still get it wrong.
Conversely, how about a Mac purchase? You need to know only two pieces of information: what form factor you need, and whether or not a little power is good enough or not. That is it. I can order it online because I know what I get will be correct the first time. Period.
A month ago I attended a local c# developer conference. Many people had Macs. Every one I asked said they just use them to boot Windows.
Out of all the manufacturers, it seems that the only contender on par with Apple is Samsung. And even they have six different laptop offerings.
What really confuses me is that a lot of people were expecting more from Apple’s WWDC address last week. Their stock price has been in free fall for months. Why? They clearly understand how to make solid hardware, not even opening the floodgates of the OS debate.
But in the same breath, I’ve been really annoyed at many of the hardware and software decisions Apple has been making lately. Xcode 4 is no better than Eclipse or Visual Studio. There is no 17″ MacBook Pro for my ailing eyesight.
So why isn’t anyone else trying this simplified hardware model in the Windows world?
A new machine purchase is something has to be lived with for at least a couple of years, let alone just one night. It’s clearly important. And yet it is still so complicated to decide the “right” one.
At that dinner, I handed the Pentium machine to Pete and had a grand old time. The machine seems to be working fine.