I heard yet another anti-Apple media piece, this time on Jon Gordon's "Future Tense" on National Public Radio, yesterday. Gordon's guest was talking about the high price of Mac products compared to comparable PCs. It was the usual spiel, comparing processor speed and memory and various hardware. According to this news piece, the price gap has been increasing recently, based primarily on the "cachet" of Mac ownership.
The issue of usability was never once mentioned.
To me, the far superior user-friendliness of Apple products, in addition to superior overall construction, is well worth the price difference.
As an example: I occasionally take my Powerbook laptop to work. When I fire it up, the Powerbook notifies me that my "trusted wireless network" is not available, and asks if I would like to join an available network. I click on the network of choice, in the case of the network at work I type in the password, and I'm connected.
The PC laptop which I was assigned by work is the antithesis of user-friendly when it comes to wireless connectivity. Changing locations requires considerable fiddling through various levels of menus both in the Windows OS and in the proprietary software. Just a few days ago, due to a change in the wireless router at work, it took me over half an hour to reconfigure the PC to connect to the network. The Mac required about ten seconds. I have never been able to get the PC (a Lenovo) to connect to the internet via my home wireless router.
In physical construction, the PC laptop is a piece of plastic junk. The lid creaks, the keys are clicky-clacky little toys, and the trackpad buttons are sticky and unresponsive. Aesthetically, the edges are sharp, the whole thing looks clunky, and it's nearly as heavy as the Powerbook even though the PC is only a 12-inch screen and the Powerbook is a 17.
There's a lot more to consider than processor speed when comparing computers. I can't help but feel a trace of contempt for "technophiles" who can't admit that there's a level of quality and user-friendliness to most Mac products that's missing in most PC-based systems. These people are living in the past; their egos leave them stuck in the day when you had to "know how to use a computer" before you could do anything useful with that computer. Just like a driver doesn't need to know how to overhaul a V-6 to drive a car to the grocery store and back, a computer user shouldn't have to know how to reconfigure the hardware components of the box just to type a letter or log on to Twitter.
With a Mac, I feel I can turn the key and get to where I need to go. With a PC, I have to change the spark plugs, adjust the distributor timing, and flush the cooling system before I can go for a drive... and I'll probably have to do it all again before I can turn around and drive back home.
No, Macs aren't perfect. Granted, I'm a long-time Mac user, so I may harbor a bias. But there's a reason for that bias. Macs, straight out of the box, just work. I have never had that experience with a PC.
Call it "cachet" if you will. But PC makers come and go... whatever happened to Gateway anyway? Is Dell still the most popular PC? Honestly, I still hear people talking about how "my son-in-law can build you a much better computer than you can buy anywhere else." But Apple hangs on, and (for the most part) keeps turning out good products that do what they're supposed to do... to the point where they can afford to put big shiny stores in big shiny shopping malls, which are always packed with customers. The "cachet," if there is indeed a cachet to Mac ownership, is based on lasting quality and ease of use. Unless you're an engineer who lives to tinker with your computer, like street-racers live to tinker with their hopped-up Honda Accords, Mac products offer value beyond mere "horsepower" and "top speed." If "cachet" means wanting to get the job done with as little fuss as possible, well, I'm willing to pay for that.