Apple’s Process Of Elimination

It is highly likely by now that many of you have seen this latest Mac commercial which is supposed to directly address Microsoft’s “Get a PC” ads.

Sadly Apple continues to ignore the price argument while Microsoft is well known for ignoring problems with customer service on the consumer side of things.

No one ever seems to "get" this aspect, yet both companies appear to do just fine despite both issues. Apple feels that its products provide value reflective of the price. Buy its stuff or go away. Microsoft offers Windows pre-installed on PCs for a song while leaving you to your own resources for support. Its feelings on the matter: call someone who cares.

Despite me not being a big fan of Microsoft's products, in the end most people will continue going for Windows loaded PCs due to price, availability, and, to a lesser degree, familiarity. And in the end, as history has been teaching me lately, blind reluctance to change will win every time.

Regardless of claims made, the Apple ads use careful wording for those not paying attention. Viruses. Had they said malware, then we would suddenly remember past articles where OS X was seeing bogus video codecs surfacing and malware was being installed. Lesson to learn here: Your TV tells you only half of the story. All OSes are susceptible to malware in one form or another. Windows certainly has more time in the light to this degree, but OS X is slowly beginning to catch up on the malware front. Give it time folks, it's already happening.


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  • cnfsed


    Full disclosure in ads? You’re kidding, right? Apple doesn’t talk about pricing for the same reason Microsoft doesn’t talk about customer service (in their ads): Don’t highlight your weaknesses in your marketing message!

    There are enough pundits / experts around to talk up the highlights (and lowlights) of both vendors — and I think the public is jaded enough that they understand that ads are not where you get truth; instead, ads are where you hear what the advertiser thinks are the key differentiators.

  • Jim

    One of the messages I clearly get from this ad is that there are many more choices – size, speed format – in the PC world, while there is only the one lonely Mac. I’m not sure that this isn’t a detriment to the Apple image, since most folks are thinking about their pocketbook first, and would enjoy the buying experience more when shopping for a computer if there was more to consider, at least the appaearnce of getting to choose how much bang they’re getting for their buck. If you eliminate the last message about the virus, this is a clear winner for the PC side.

    Jim, Ancaster Ontario Canada

  • Randy Allen

    This big price difference you are talking about is for cheap PCs, not quality ones. Compare Apple’s to oranges, and there is not that much difference. Sure, you are tying hardware and software to the same vender, but you can upgrade for usually $129, not $199, or $299, or $399… One price gets you the same OS, not 5 or 6 variations. Plus you have to calculate the software you get with the OS, iPhoto, iMovie, and others if you use them. MS doesn’t really give you much, regardless of what they show on the “I’m a PC” commercials.

    Microsoft’s biggest problem with viruses, malware, spyware is their own Internet Exploder. IE and Active X can just about guarantee you that you will be having to clean your PC every couple of months, or it will be used by some guy in a basement in Indochina most of the time, but he will occasionally let you use it. How nice of him.

  • zenium

    Well the last elimination question was funny. I support Apple Macs in a corporate environment. And, yes they do crash and yes, the do have application problems, and yes, they do have configuration issues.

    Example: Well 10.5 broke the print drivers for a Xerox color printer that used accounting code management.

    Example: 10.4 had a finder error that prevent creating a short cut to a subfolder from a network shared folder. You could only create the short to the root path of the shared folder.

    Example: Entourage! Well it seems to periodically just corrupt the database and then refuse to start. Appears to be a interaction with Mac OS X and the Entourage application.

    Example: In the one office 4 Macs have experienced complete hard drive failures in the last 6 months

    I do like the Mac interface and how they work. They’re just not THAT perfect as implied by the commercial.

  • Bob D

    The distinction between viruses and other malware is not just a semantic one. A virus is self-replicating. You can certainly, if you try, download something which will do damage to your Mac, but not which will be a threat to other Macs without them doing something stupid. A deadly disease which isn’t contagious is a tragedy for those who get the disease. A deadly disease which is contagious is a public health emergency for all. There is a difference.

  • Jeff

    You know what – if Apple does not make a computer in your price range, then go elsewhere. They are not going to build a piece of crap just to sell more machines, and so be it. I am perfectly happy with that as I would not buy something that cheap anyway, so LAY OFF!

  • Mike

    @zenium I too like the Mac interface, and programming with Cocoa/Nibbuilder. I used Mac OS exclusively until I had two seperate HDD failures in one month (both HDD were in the same Macbook – the data on both HDD was unrecoverable) – the first and only times I’ve ever had HDD failures.

    That Macbook is sitting in the corner – I can’t trust it with HDD anymore, I’ll give it another chance when I can afford a SSD.

    Until then it’s back linux for me.

    Macs are not perfect, but IMHO they have less imperfections than any flavour of Windows.

  • Mike DiMichele

    Hey Jeff,

    I do believe that you should take your own advice, and lay off! You notice I did not yell at you.

    It is wonderful that you have the money to by an Apple computer. But, you do not represent the majority of consumers who buy computers. You are an exception of sorts because millions of consumers simply don’t have the money.

    Also, more money does not equate into better OS or computer, i.e. see Zenium’s post above about Apple in a corporate setting.

    You can not slam people for buying what they can afford or for what they personally see as value for the money they spend.

    Not everyone needs iPhoto,or iMovie. Or a computer so powerful it could support the Space Shuttle.

    I don’t know the number, but I do know that more than 50% of consumers only want to browse the Internet, use email, and look at a few photos of the kids.

    The new netbooks fill that gap, sort of. I think they are to small. But, they are selling to the simple user like wild fire for as little as $125 with Windows XP on them.

  • Doug Young

    I bought my first Apple computer last year, a MacBook Pro. As most tech consumers know, you pay a premium to get an Apple computer product versus a similarly-equipped Windows-based product. People affectionately (or derisively) refer to this as the “Apple Tax”. You’re paying extra for quality, software, integration, a coolness factor… and customer support like no other business on the planet. This is why, it turns out, I am happy I paid the Apple Tax and why I will gladly — nay, eagerly — pay it again in the future.

    My MBP was acting a bit sluggish (getting the dreaded beachball) when doing fairly routine tasks, so I went to their website. Apple has a wonderful feature where you can go online and make an appointment at your local Genius Bar, which is the tech support desk at your local Apple Store. I made an appointment for 10am — as soon as the store opened — and when I got there at 10:02 the store was already buzzing with activity. This, to me, is a good sign of a healthy business, especially during a recession. Apple engages with its customers like no other CE company around, and there were happy people browsing, asking questions, taking workshops, and above all, buying Apple products. Consumer spending, with regards to Apple products, seems remarkably recession proof. I watched one woman who had brought in an older Mac laptop, fairly long in the tooth in both hardware and software, and the Apple Store employee pointed out that although they could fix it, it would probably be a better idea to move up to a new laptop. Normally, this kind of news would be met with disappointment, dread, possibly denial. But, in the Apple ecosystem, this news often gets a warm reception. “Cool! I get to upgrade!” And Apple makes transferring your personal and application data so incredibly simple, even pleasant, that it transforms the entire ordeal from a chore into a joy.

    So, in the midst of all this, I walked in and sat down for my appointment with my MBP. The “Genius” (a pretty normal, affable guy) ran my laptop through its paces, made some observations, and then we had to make a plan: would I opt to let them completely wipe and re-image my harddisk to like-new condition, which assumed that I had all my data backed up (I did) and could weather the downtime to do so. How long would it take, I asked. He said, about 15-30 minutes, which fit perfectly into my schedule, so in the blink of an eye he plugged in a cable and my MBP was getting new life breathed into it. And sure enough, 16 minutes and 31 seconds later, my laptop was done. It was in better-than-like-new condition, since it had the latest and greatest OS plus iLife installed on it (as opposed to me reinstalling from original disks and then having to sit through update after update for hours on end). I took my better-than-like-new MBP home, and was delighted to be greeted with the one-time “Welcome To Apple” introductory sequence. However, at the appropriate time, it asked me if I wanted to restore from my backup, and I said yes, so it completely reinstalled my personal file and applications.

    Technical details aside, the reason I will pay the Apple Tax is because where else can you get free, local, friendly, personalized service for an hour or more, where you leave the store happier than when you went in, with your problem solved even better than you could’ve imagined on your way in. I would not even hazard a guess how one would accomplish this with a Microsoft based product but it would probably involve “geeks” and service invoices and shipping fees and turn-around times that ran into the weeks or even months. When I am dropping a kilobuck or more on computer hardware, one visit to the Genius Bar more than makes up for the difference in the Apple Tax. I guess you could say I’m a Mac, not a PC.