Subject: Re: (Non) return of the Mac ( 6 of 11 )
Posted by Douglas Adams
This whole 'Mac sucks!' v 'PC sucks!' debate (if that's the word I want to use) is an interesting phenomenon isn't it?
Because although we (or at least, most of us Ė those of us whose knuckles are more than a couple of inches off the ground) recognise intellectually that diversity and competition are good things which drive innovation and renewal, there's another more primitive, tribal part of us that just wants an excuse to hate and kill off the other guy. Even though the absence of the other guy would impoverish us, and the whole system from which we benefit.
I prefer Mac. That's my preference. I freely admit that having tried Wintel systems I donít understand why anybody would want to put themselves through all that grief, but thatís just me. If other people want to use Wintel that's fine, that's their preference. I only get worried if I feel that their preference for Wintel is so tribal that they want to prevent me exercising my preference for Macintosh. (The same goes the other way round, thought I don't think there was ever an immediate danger of Apple driving Microsoft or Intel out of business).
However, there clearly is an imbalance in the market place, and it's an odd one, given that the Macintosh's major plus points are simplicity and ease of use. It's interesting to work out why Apple have fared so badly in the market place when what they have to offer is what most people badly want.
Of course, Apple itself must take a fair share of the blame. The company became arrogant, complacent and greedy for a longish period, and suffered the consequences. The company has learnt a tough lesson and itís great to see it becoming a vital force once again.
But then thereís the question of price, and it turns out to be a curious one. There are two issues:
1) Cost of purchase, which for Macs has mostly been higher.
2) Cost of ownership, which for Macs has mostly been lower.
Both of these have counted against Apple.
Iíll repeat Ė both of these have counted against Apple.
Letís do the easy one first.
Cost of purchase is hugely important at that most important of all moments, Day One, the actual moment of purchase.
User interface, system integration, processor architectureÖ these are all rather remote issues when youíre standing in the store, whereas sticker price is right there in your face. How much of the green stuff are you going to have to hand over right now? Itís a big, big, big factor. Itís big for consumers, itís big for corporations. Whatever the reasons for the relatively higher sticker prices on Macs, there is no doubt that they have hurt Apple in the marketplace.
But how has lower cost of ownership hurt Apple? Hereís where it gets interesting. A company that buys Wintel systems will typically be paying more from Day Two onwards because of all the additional computer support staff which such systems need to configure and maintain them. Thatís where the extra money goes Ė paying the wages of computer support staff. And who do you ask when you want to know what systems to buy? Thatís right, your computer support staff. What do you think theyíre going to tell you?
Once a pressure like that starts to exert itself on the market, thereís no stopping it, because itís then reinforced by a natural tendency for everyone to want what the other guy has got, which in turn reinforces itself.
Does that answer your question?