These days Apple is doing rather well. In years past, Apple was in serious danger of bankruptcy. The only constant, however poorly or well the company is doing, is that everyone either loves or hates or is neutral about Apple, but PASSIONATELY LOVES, PASSIONATELY HATES or is PASSIONATELY NEUTRAL about Apple. I doubt anyone is passionately anything about Toshiba, or Acer. There are ThinkPad fanatics (of which I count myself a member), VAIO fans (never cared for Sony) and Toughbook lovers (never really used one). Apple, more than any other company, however, seems to create passion in all who consider them.
Is it the hardware? The software? The corporation itself?
I like Apple as a company. Not because I think they walk on water or anything like that. Simply, I like them because whenever I've had trouble with Apple gear, and I have had trouble, Apple always has worked hard to make it right. I liked IBM and still like Lenovo for the exact same reason, and feel the same about Mercedes-Benz cars, Hermann Miller chairs, Bosch kitchen appliances and Brenthaven bags. Expensive products one and all, but backed by companies that care more if you will buy another of their products than about cutting warranty costs on your current product.
My last Mercedes had what should have been a very expensive repair at 103,000 miles. The car had a 100,000 mile warranty, and Mercedes covered it without me having to ask. 13,000 miles later, I bought another Mercedes regardless of the new Audi A4 being a nicer car. I felt like a valued customer, and stayed with a brand that had earned my loyalty through superior service. I can tell similar stories about computers. I had an IBM ThinkPad T20 that was repair four times for motherboard issues. The computer had a three year warranty, and when it failed at age four, IBM apologized and sent me a new ThinkPad T42p as a replacement. Lenovo hasn't replaced any of my computers yet, but thats because none of them needed replacement. They have, through overnight shipment, sent me repair parts, even when I was halfway around the world, and never with so much as the slightest hassle. Again, excellent service that has made me a loyal ThinkPad customer.
Apple is the same way. In fact, my worst ever computer experience was with the then-new plastic MacBook (original CoreDuo) of May 2006. I bought the high-end black one, and it ran so hot as to shut down at random. Apple replaced it, arranging it through a retail store so I wouldn't have to wait for shipping. The new one had the same problem, and again Apple replaced. The third had a different problem, the backlight was dead. It could have been a shipping problem, production, who knows, but again Apple replaced it, and gave me a Mac Mini for my trouble (they asked what I wanted). The fourth MacBook was perfect, but I had lost confidence, sold it, and bought another ThinkPad. Still, when Rev B came out and the teething problems were solved, I didn't hesitate to buy my daughter a new Core2Duo MacBook for school. While I didn't trust those first-generation plastic MacBooks anymore, my trust for Apple the corporation was actually increased by this experience.
I don't know what it is that makes Apple-haters hate the company so much. I don't know why Apple-fanatics are so fanatical either. I like most of their products and trust the company to stand behind them, but that is as far as it goes for me. I love my Bosch dishwasher too, it is silent and the one time I had one break, Bosch sent a technician the next morning and it was repaired right the first time. I recommend Bosch dishwashers to people who ask how I like mine, but you won't see me or anyone else calling people stupid because they paid less for a Kenmore or paid more for a Miele.
I don't even think its the fact that Apple uses a different OS. Most people, in my opinion, don't really care about an OS. A few years ago when PDAs were still news people loved the Pocket PC OS. By the time smart phones replaced PDAs Pocket PC became Windows Mobile and people still liked it. They may very well like it again in 2011 when WinMo 7 comes out, but WinMo 6 is a dead product. Where are the former Pocket PC and Windows Mobile users now? They are on iPhone, BlackBerry, Symbian, Android or one of the many proprietary phone OS platforms and care about the cool features like visual voicemail, GPS and games, but could care less whether it is Symbian, BlackBerry, WebOS or some Linux variant used to launch those cool features. I doubt most iPhone owners even care that it is an Apple product or based on OS X, rather they care that it is a decent phone that is easy to use and has lots of cool applications. Are they loyal Apple-fanatics? Not likely.
So if there is nothing all that exceptional for the Apple-fanatics to be so fanatical about, what is so bad to bring about all of the Apple hatred? Again, I just don't see it.
Looking at computers, Apple, like many companies, sells a range of products in a chosen market space. That particular market, for computers at least, is the premium price category. Does anyone criticize Mercedes-Benz or Bentley for not selling at $12,000 economy car? Of course not. Did Mercedes-Benz or Bentley ever say that everyone should drive an expensive luxury car or take the bus? Of course not. Cars are a huge market, with companies competing at the low end, the middle, the high end and the ultra-high end. Some companies compete in more than portion of the market, others limit themselves to single market. Some companies even grow or shrink over time. Volkswagen introduced a fantastic high-end ($100,000) luxury car called the Phaeton a number of years ago, with an exotic W12 engine (three banks of four cylinders). It was an amazing car, but it didn't sell, and no longer is producted. Volkswagen competes in the mid-range only. BMW tried to extend down to the upper low end with the 318ti hatchback in the 90s and Mercedes tried to edge into that market a decade later with the C230 hatchback. Both were fairly slow sellers and those brands have retreated to their traditional high-end markets only, using other brands (Mini and Smart) to reach lower. Hyundai, on the other hand, did a masterful job of moving from the low end to the mid range a decade ago, and is not starting a push into the high end.
So where does that leave Apple? Apple is at the high end, and chooses to limit itself to that market. Why should anyone be upset about that? Does anyone really care that Rolex doesn't make a $100 plastic watch? Swatch has lots of great watches that keep time just as well, but competes in a totally different market. You don't see hordes of angry Swatch enthusiasts whining about Rolex being overpriced and a poor buy, or any Rolex buyers looking down and saying that a Swatch, or Casio, or whatever will make you late for work.
Apple-haters have two arguments they repeat endlessly. First, they say that an Apple PC is the same as any other PC (same parts) only double the price. Second, they say that Apple computers are too limited so nobody should buy one. Both are stupid arguments that hold no water. Macs use a different OS, and that different OS is better at some things and worse at others. Which is better? There is no answer without knowing what you want to do with it. For a little more money, the Mac can also run Windows, both natively and virtually, making it even more flexible, though at a price.
As for the parts, what Apple-haters don't understand is that it isn't about the plastics on the motherboard or the other parts that you don't see, like the hard drive, RAM and processor. Those parts ARE IDENTICAL and if that was all a computer was made of, then their argument would be correct. Its the parts people actually can touch that make the difference, and not only for Apple, but for other high-end PCs as well. ThinkPads cost more than budget PCs partly because their cases are just made of better plastics. Latitudes cost more than Inspirons or Vostros because they have magnesium rollcages inside and are built to be easier to work on and to last longer. A premium laptop may very well be slower and perform worse than a cheaper consumer model, but it is built for durability, for comfort, for light weight, for long battery life and a number of other intangibles, including look and feel, that cost more money than is spent on the budget models. Does that mean everyone should buy premium? Of course not. But it doesn't mean that premium is overpriced, just that its more expensive. One truth in retail that goes back all through history is that a smart shopper will get what he or she pays for. You just cannot buy a car as safe, solid, comfortable and durable as a Mercedes-Benz for the price of a Hyundai. That doesn't make the Hyundai a bad car, far from it, but its no Mercedes.
You cannot buy an $800 15" laptop as nice as a MacBook Pro. Not because the $800 model isn't made by Apple, but because you have to spend more than $800 to get into the $2000 quality class. THere are plenty of very nice 15" PC laptops that are as nicer or perhaps nicer than the MacBook Pro, but they will cost about the same, maybe more, maybe less, but NONE will be in the $800 class.
I love the response people have to Apple. Every time Apple announces a product, people either think it will save the world, or will doom the company to bankruptcy. Both groups are quite hilarious, actually.
This post has been edited by coastie65: 24 January 2011 - 06:14 AM