Apple vs. Microsoft

So a buddy on Facebook trashed Apple owners a couple days ago and it took but a moment for the thread to reach over 50 items.  Most of the post were three people: two apple apologists and my buddy egging them on.

I love my Apple items.  I’m writing on my Macbook Air and my iPhone is in my pocket.  What I love the most is opening the box of a new Apple product.  It seems to unfold from the box – friendly and waiting for use.  They have the best packaging of any product I’ve ever purchased.

I’ve fallen a bit behind on Apple gadgets.  I don’t have an iPad or the new iPhone.  Even though I have a new job on the horizon, I’m not really planning on running out to get either one.

What struck me most about the FB thread was how defensive everyone on both sides became so quickly.  I blame marketing.  Marketing used to tell us that we NEEDED things we WANTED and that we WANTED things that we had NO USE for.  That was pretty bad.  But once we bought whatever was advertised we could ignore the ads.  Nowadays marketing tells us not that we need or want something, but that a new product will help express our personality.  Genius and evil.  Since we will likely always wish to have a personality we will always be needing the next product.

Of course, the products do nothing of the kind.  I’m not sure how my personality is reflected by having the same gadget as 50 million other people.  It might mean that I like their ads.  The relationship formed works both ways too.  When my product is insulted it is an insult to me personally.  Garbage.

And so we have articles about the kind of people Mac haters and lovers are (independent thinkers vs. elitists, BTW.  Bollocs.)  When Apple does something stupid like push forward on the release of a flawed product the haters jump out and the lovers rush to buy to show their loyalty.  I figure they are both right.  It is a stupid engineering error.  It is also so easy to workaround as to make no real difference.  (I’m speaking here of the iPhone 4.0 antennae issue.)

Alternatively there was an article not long ago that Microsoft has stopped being innovative and their market share will slowly melt away.  Hard not to see why.  Vista and 7 are only iterations of XP with more useless features and slicker interfaces, but not much innovation.  But Microsoft was never innovative in their products.  Windows 95 stole the GUI concept from Apple.  Windows 2000 put in a directory that wasn’t as good as NDS.  The XBox is just a PC in a XBox case.  Their lack of innovation won’t kill them anytime soon.  Additionally their product line is so broad that it might not matter.  Normal consumers might not care about cloud computing, but if the Microsoft Azure platform works it will generate profit.

But the value of the product, its slickness and even its innovation don’t matter as much as their perception.  Marketing shapes that perception.  Marketing is telling us not to go get the best or the cheapest, but the one that completes us (until the next release anyway).

Whether the product is golden or garbage matters less than whether we are an Apple person or an anti-Apple person.  Silly marketing.  Can’t I just be the type of person who really likes the way things are packed in boxes?


One thought on “Apple vs. Microsoft

  1. Bruce Shaw says:

    Apple produces innovative products ahead of market. It’s as simple as that.

    Here’s my three big Apple experiences.

    1. I needed a computer because I was going back to University to take Computer Sciences and wanted something to log into the mainframe with. I also wanted something to help me draw pictures eg. for flowcharting and a word processor I could just use and not have to memorize a bazillion control codes. I had an IBM PC on the card and had already written the cheque to buy it when I asked the salesman a few “oh by the way” questions.

    Me: Will it display the APL character set?
    SM: Why would you want to do that?
    Me: I’ve noticed the Mac will let you draw pictures and print them.
    SM: Why would you want to do that?
    Me: So when you use the word processor, what you see on screen is what’s printed, right?
    SM: Yes, it’s WYSIWYG – you see the control codes, it prints whatever.

    I tore up the cheque in his face and bought the original 1984 Macintosh. While there wasn’t an awful lot of software available for it, it had MacPaint, MacDraw and MacWrite and a terminal emulator that would use the APL character set. I was member #2 of the Macintosh Owners and User’s Society of Edmonton (MOUSE – get it?). I bought several more Macs after that and even dragged one into work when we needed to create some forms – there still wasn’t Windows software available to do it. Most of them still work for their original tasks. One’s in my studio as a MIDI controller.

    Eventually, the cost-benefit analysis simply didn’t work out for a new Mac. The old ones still worked for what I needed them to do, and I was spending most of my time running Windows software for which there was no Mac or linux equivalent.

    Then I started taking transit to work and wanted quick, easy access to the web on the way in, or something to read electronic books with. I had a laptop but it would take almost the entire trip for it to boot and I needed a knapsack to carry it (and its many peripherals) around in. Notebooks were too limited and also took forever to boot. I started hearing about the iPad.

    Friends of mine have the iPhone and let me play around with it, but they didn’t quite suit me. I didn’t need yet another cell phone. I’ve already got two. I didn’t like the small screen. I’m old and my eyes are going. So the iPad, with its LACK of a cell phone, LACK of a camera and a whole bunch of stuff you get with an iPhone or a laptop or a notebook, is actually perfect for me.

    You have to actually experience the iPad to understand it. You can zip from app to app to app with a finger brush and they come up instantaneously. The screen expands with a two-finger gesture so I can actually read it with my aging eyes. You scroll from top to bottom with a flick of your wrist. Even with the case it’s so light you can carry it forever and not be afraid of dropping it in a crowded bus. It fits easily in my briefcase. The battery, even with heavy use, lasts waaaay longer than my laptop.

    Yes, a few things piss me off. I hate iTunes. OK, I hated iTunes until…

    I started with Bell as an ISP. A month later it was time to renew. I couldn’t. They never told me the phone number the iPad was tethered to, and they couldn’t look up my bill without THAT phone number. I switched to Rogers. A few weeks later the iPad started complaining about its Sim card. Rogers gave me another one, but it didn’t work either. I took the iPad into the store.

    It’s the Apple store in West Edmonton Mall. I walk in and the place is a madhouse. There’s got to be 200 people in there. I walk back to the service counter and before I even get there, a nice lady nabs me, gets my information and punches it into her iPad and has me sit at a table. She wanders off and my name pops up on the big screen at the back. I’m seventh in line. I boot my iPad and surf (free WiFI). Next thing I know a technician is there, greets me by name (WTF? the other lady is nowheres in sight), drags his personal iPad out, tries my SIM card in his (it works) and his in mine (it doesn’t) and says, “OK, you need a new iPad. I’ll be right back.:” And he is, unwrapping it as he walks. After making sure I’d done a recent iTunes sync (more in a sec) he put my Sim card in the new iPad, erased my old one and had me sign the receipt. No charge. No waiting. In and out in 15 minutes.

    So I go home, plug it into my computer and iTunes fires up automatically and starts syncing. An hour later and it’s done. Everythings back exactly the way it was except my icons (which takes 5 minutes to fix).

    OK. I hate Windows. Do not get me started about how much I hate Windows. It’s not ’cause I’m an Apple fan-boy, I’ve got issues with the Mac as well. Windows simply has huge technical flaws going all the way back to its original design. The Macintosh had this problem as well but it was a simple fix – Apple kept the GUI, ripped out the kernel and replaced it with UNIX.

    Be that as it may, I actually like Windows 7. I’m amazed that Microsoft, after all these false starts, came out with a half-ways stable operating system. It actually boots relatively quickly. It doesn’t ask me a bunch of stupid questions every time I want to do something. And it’s only crashed once and I suspect that was a video driver problem. Now if they’d just fix the kernel and run it on a proper chip, we’d be all set.

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