We humans seem to have a need to compare and contrast, to take sides, even when odds seem against our choices and our reasons. We do just that in politics, religion, and with the technology we buy and use, which results in technology religion wars which have waged as long as I can remember, and that goes back to the CP/M days prior to DOS, before the Mac, long before Windows and the various shades of Linux.
After having sample nearly everything sold to handle personal computer requirements, I chose and continue to use a Mac.
As Mac users, our reasons are many and varied, of course. As a subset of personal computing, the Mac should be little more than an asterisk, a footnote, thanks to the Windows hegemony, yet Apple’s little computer that could continues to prosper as traditional PC sales fall, and the newfound touchscreen PCs tread water (Microsoft’s Surface touchscreen device sales were down last quarter, while the Mac hit record sales; again).
What makes the Mac sufficiently special among personal computers to buck the downward sales trends despite having average prices which are double to triple typical PCs and notebooks?
Physical differentiations should be clear and include overall design and reputation, hardware and software integration, total cost of ownership (ToC), resale value, ease of use, security, quality of third party software, and the friendliness of the entire Apple ecosystem.
My first Mac was a 128k model, circa spring of 1984, just a month or two after the device began shipping in numbers where supply kept up with demand. I moved to the Mac from an IBM PC running DOS, which came after an Osborne 1 running CP/M, WordStart, SuperCalc, and dBase II. The Mac was the first of the mass marketed point and click personal computers and basically didn’t do much of value for a year or so; until MacDraw and the LaserWriter printer arrived.
Since then, I’ve owned everything, and nearly every kind of Mac; most desktops than notebooks. Why the disparity in a notebook world? Screen real estate and CPU horsepower. Most of my work is on a large screen Mac, and the notebook is relegated to travel use, hence the long lifespan of Mac notebooks; averaging about six years or so each; PowerBook 100, a couple of iBooks, a 17-inch PowerBook, an aluminum MacBook, and a MacBook Pro. No, iPads just don’t do the duty. Yet. I’ve tried.
Traditionally, the Mac was and remains a relatively small slice of the entire PC market, and specifically the enterprise segment– until recently. Mac sales to businesses have grown in recent years.
Why buy a Mac?
A Windows PC notebook of the $500 caliber can do much of what any Mac notebook can do. Ditto for $500 Windows desktop PCs. Technology writers often herald that a Chromebook is just a Mac at half the price (failing to mention that Windows PCs often are the same price as the Chromebook, and do far more) yet Mac sales are are record levels.
Here’s my list.
Installed base – Apple has a large and growing installed base for the Mac, many of which would give up their Macs from their cold, dead hands. The installed base prefer Macs to anything.
Runs everything – This separates the Mac from other desktops and notebooks. They run everything; macOS Sierra, Windows 10, Linux, and most x86 Unix versions. All at the same time.
Security – Windows 10 may be the most secure Windows ever and with fewer vulnerabilities than a Mac, but vulnerabilities do not an exploit make, and Mac users seldom worry about security issues of any kind other than phishing attempts.
Hardware – Apple doesn’t bother with Intel Celeron CPUs at the low end of the spectrum, preferring to populate Macs with higher end i5, i7, and Xeon CPUs which give the Mac longer life cycles.
Software – No modern operation system does more for desktops and notebooks than macOS Sierra, and it integrates well with the 1-billion or so iPhone and iPads on the market.
ToC – As noted above, my average Mac notebooks goes for about six years, and are either sold or handed off to others; never junked or salvaged. I have a PowerPC Mac mini that has been running everyday since 2008. Log life spans result in a lower total cost of ownership. Businesses now recognize that, hence the improved and growing sales to the enterprise.
Integration – This category not only means Macs play nice-nice with iPhones and iPads, but software works better on the Mac than on Windows PCs, and certainly have more capabilities than Chromebooks running anemic Android apps. Integration is a big part of the ecosystem which helps to generate software that is not only easier to use, but allows Mac owners to do more.
One can argue against any specific category from my list, or any item on the list, but collectively, Apple creates an ecosystem that is difficult for competitors to overcome on any measure other than price. Apple has over 400 retail stores. Microsoft has a few dozen. Where do Windows 10 users go to get support? India? I don’t know, and based on how much trouble they have, they might as well buy multiple cheap PCs instead of figuring out how to manage support, while support for the Mac is almost legendary.
Macs are easier to deploy and manage and require less support handholding; again, a reason why enterprises are adopting Macs in record numbers.
I’ve own CP/M, DOS, Windows, and Linux-based PCs, but what I use is a Mac because it does everything in a manner that eliminates (or, at worst, reduces substantially) the management headaches that too many of our modern technology marvels bring to us.
Why did you buy a Mac?