My first computer was an Apple II and I’ve been using Macs since 1985. (I couldn’t afford them when they first came out and I didn’t get my hands on one for a year.) For quite a long time, Macs were more expensive but so far superior that they were still well worth it. Then there was a short time in the late 90′s when they were still expensive and the operating system road map had seriously lost its way. Microsoft caught up and technically surpassed the Mac OS briefly but I was still an apologist for Apple because the usability and interface was always superior. (It was a tough few years to be an Apple fan but I bought my first brand new Mac when even some of the apologists were concerned that they might go belly up.)
Then there was the Second Coming of Steve. Not long after that came the iMac and then OS X. It made up for all of the lost time and lost ground, practically in one fell swoop. It was far superior to anything Microsoft was offering and today that’s more true than ever. Vista is a desperate, flailing joke, albeit a $6 billion one. Microsoft will never catch up now.
OS X really is that advanced, it’s constantly being improved and Microsoft’s incompetence has finally caught up with them. They can’t buy their way out of this one because they lack the fundamental management skill required to recover from the mess they made. It’s very much like selling your soul to the devil. They’ve taken every underhanded sleazy, unethical shortcut they could find to ham-hand their way to a “monopoly.” It’s over and was short-lived. It’s time to pay the piper. I saw that all along and, combining that with my anarcho-capitalist principles, I was always opposed to government anti-trust intervention. “The market will correct it,” I said. I was right and the correction has begun.
It’s not blind Mac fanboi-ism that fuels my predictions of Microsoft’s demise in the OS space. It’s convergence – Ubuntu Linux has recently reached the tipping point where it’s better than any Microsoft OS, even for Mom and Pop that just want email and web browsing with no headaches or geek stuff. Right when Apple’s firing on all cylinders and Microsoft can’t find a way to stop tripping over their own feet – or is that their fundamental incompetence?
They’ve never, ever competed successfully in an open market without an unnatural advantage. They’re basically a complete failure as a company that has been propped up for 20 years by sleazy practices building on an unnatural monopoly that they stumbled and fell into. They have nothing of value to offer and that’s always been true. They’re an inept middle-man always trying to find a way to get paid for bad copies of popular products, by positioning.
That’s why they’re scrambling to spin what is the most colossal failure in their history – the train-wreck that is Vista. They devoted the lifeblood of the company’s resources for 5 years developing it. In the process, they spent $6 billion and hung the future of the company on it. As with everything else they’ve ever done, they failed. But this time the market noticed. And they can’t cover it up because they have legitimate competition. The computer industry has outgrown them. This is the end-result of unearned success – an unsavory combination of arrogance and incompetence.
So, Apple introduced new iMacs yesterday.
I was bored today when I saw FSJ’s post about the new iMacs that contained a link to Dell’s website. So I clicked. And then clicked a few more times and configured me a Dell Optiplex 745 Ultra-small Form Factor hunk o’ crap as close as I could get it to the new iMac base model. (That Ultra-small Form Factor thing is clearly designed to compete directly with the iMac; it even has an option to mount it behind the display in the flat panel’s stand.)
As usual, I couldn’t exactly configure something truly comparable because they don’t offer an integrated camera (ala iSight) and microphone or the exact same processors among other discrepancies. But I got as close as I reasonably could. In the end, the Dell had a slightly inferior processor, no webcam, no microphone, no Firewire, inferior audio and vastly inferior video. (They offer nothing better than Intel GMA integrated graphics in the Ultra-small.) I’m also not sure about the wireless capabilities of the Dell because I didn’t care enough to look, but I doubt that it has Bluetooth or 802.11n.
Anyway, the Dell was pretty much maxed out to come close to comparing to a base model iMac. (The hard drive was maxed out; the largest they offer for that form factor is 250GB. I could have added more RAM, a better processor and bigger flat-panel monitor to compare to the higher end iMacs but then the hard drive would be too small as well as widening the gap with their pathetic GMA graphics and making the price disparity even worse.) It was $1527 without any of the anti-virus or “security” options – mostly certainly necessary if you really hope to compare any Windows OS to the OS X experience. So we should add about $150 + annual subscription for that. But I didn’t out of mercy.
That’s just a tick over 25% more than the iMac it almost competes with. The better equipped iMac being $1199 and in addition to it’s other advantages, being gorgeous while the Dell is bland at best and butt-ugly in my opinion. Add to that the fact that you can run any OS that the Dell can run (and quite a bit better), in any combination along side OS X on the Mac, for free. Also the Mac’s usable life will be longer and should you choose to replace it before its usefulness is exhausted, it will have double to triple the resale value of the Dell.
At this point, the anti-Mac zealots generally respond with something like, “But I’m not buying a Dell either. Macs are expensive. I can build a computer better than the iMac for X.” (Where X is generally $400 if said zealot is delusional and/or lying and as high as $900 if they’re just delusional.)
In that case, you can subtract the Dell’s few nearly-comparable strengths (Small form factor, time-savings over build-yourself, integration and warranty) along with the $300 you’ll save over the iMac. If I’m feeling particularly vicious, I point out that the Mac comes bundled with useful software that would cost you more than $300 to replace on the white-box with horribly inferior knock-offs and you still need at least $100 worth of anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-adware and anti-suck software for the privilege of using a terribly inferior operating system.
So I’ve decided I’m going to just smack the next person that I hear say, “Yeah, those Macs are nice, but they’re expensive.”
And I’m also going to start listening for any mention of Dell so I can pipe in with, “Yeah those Dells are bland, boring, mediocre quality and can’t run a decent OS, but at least they’re a lot more expensive.”
And this, class, is why Apple is reporting record profits and growing sales at THREE TIMES the rate of the overall PC market.
The times they are a changing. I put little stock in market share numbers because they’re skewed against Apple in a variety of ways. But even if you believe them as they’re reported, Apple has doubled their market share in two years or so. That’s no small feat. At that rate you Apple-haters are going to have to ditch the term “niche” in just a couple of years.
This is just wild speculation, but I predict that 5 years from now someone will find a reasonably reliable method of measuring actual market-share (some web stats will be a more accurate measure by then) and the numbers will look something like 30% Mac, 10% Linux and 60% Windows, with the the Mac and Linux numbers still growing. In addition to Windows being on the decline it will also be harshly (to Microsoft) fractured at roughly 45% Windows Vista, 45% Windows XP SP3 (you know they’re gonna have to) and 10% Windows Whatever-the-&*^$-They’re-Calling-It-By-Then. Beta 2.