Thursday, August 10, 2006

Weighing a Switch to a Mac

I thought this comparison of the new Mac Intel-based platform with existing native Windows machines a thoughtful evaluation but was somewhat disturbed by the "switching experience" case study the article included.

New York Times: "The physical designs of Apple’s desktop and notebook computers are often innovative. The iMac, for example, is a space-saving desktop unit with an all-in-one enclosure that conceals the computer’s components behind the monitor. And the MacBook, a new notebook with a glossy screen, includes a new keyboard layout. This week, the company introduced the Mac Pro, a line of desktops replacing the Power Mac, completing its transition to Intel chips.

But while Apple’s selection covers much ground, it is less diverse than what is available from companies like Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Sony and Lenovo. For example, Apple does not offer ultraportable notebooks, a tablet design or as wide a choice in processor types and speeds. And when it comes to pricing, Apple no longer offers notebooks in the sub-$1,000 range, or desktop units in the sub-$500 range, as do other makers.

Consideration should also be given to the compatibility of any devices like printers, external hard drives and cellphones that may be connected to a computer. In some instances, only Windows may be supported."

The Switching Experience

Danielle Wang, 26, of Austin, Tex., bought her first Mac six weeks ago. She took the advice of a friend and decided to buy a MacBook to replace her Windows-based laptop, a Sony Vaio, which she said had been stolen.

Early in the transition, Ms. Wang said, it took time to get used to the Mac interface; the menus, the location of buttons and other items were different. “It was difficult,” she said. “The first three days, I was constantly thinking about returning it.”

Ms. Wang uses the MacBook mainly for applications like e-mail, Web browsing, digital music, games and instant messaging; so far, she has not encountered problems finding Mac software, and she still maintains access to Windows-based computers for other programs she prefers to use at home.

In comparing the MacBook and the Vaio, she said the graphics were clearer on the Sony.

“The Sony Vaio is more lively,” she said. But she prefers the look and design of the MacBook."

What I find primarily disturbing about this particular case study is that essentially Ms. Wang opted for a Mac for esthetic reasons not because of product functionality. It reminds me of Steve Jobs boast at Mac World several years ago when the I-Mac was introduced with its unusual shape and color combinations. He essentially said it didn't matter how powerful the machine really is but that it looks "cool". I would like to think computer users are not that shallow.
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