Ask any Apple product user out there in the wilds of the internet or – gasp! – in the real world what made them buy their Mac/iPod/iPhone, and you’ll almost invariably get the same answer: they’re innovative.
I suppose this could be held out to be true if you were a technological neophyte who knew little about the technology that’s inside their purchase.
The problem with that is this: there is a very large number of people in this world who actually know what the parts and software that comprises an Apple product does – thusly knowing the inherent limitations of the device.
This creates a problem for Steve Jobs, and it’s the number one reason why he moves heaven and earth in attempts to make Apple products look cool – to make them fashionable status symbols.
If it’s white & shiny, or black & shiny, people are more likely to gloss over (hahahah… so punny!) the nagging problems that they encounter over the lifetime of the product – which isn’t going to be more than 2 years in reality due to Apple releasing a newer version of the flashy technojewelery that they paid a ridiculously large sum of money for.
What’s that? The product was worth all the extra cash?
You buy these things to look fashionable, and not based on technological superiority.
Want to know something interesting? The average uncut diamond is worth about $10 when you factor in rarity and the processing of rock to extract it.
Now, yes, that’s in its uncut state and cutting is where the art is – and where most jewelers will justify the 2000% markup.
Does this sound familiar?
Have you ever done comparative shopping between a Mac and a PC?
Technologically, the systems aren’t any different – yet the prices are excessively separate.
Side by side, the two machines might be different in appearances, but they’re essentially the same under the hood.
All the parts involved are mostly made in the same factories by the same manufacturers to roughly the same standards – though the Mac parts might be lower powered when compared to the same PC part.
The internal guts of these two computers might be arranged slightly different – but let’s be honest: a lot of PC makers arrange their parts in different configurations while trying to get a leg up, yet they all run Windows.
However, when we go to look at the price tags on each machine, you have to do a double/triple/quadruple/quintuple look!
The PC will be priced at $799.
The Mac will be priced at $2,799 (or more: see here)
You want me to pay $2,000 dollars extra for what is essentially the same machine?
Are you out of your freakin’ mind?
What’s that, Mr. Jobs? You want to make the same kind of money that HP, Dell, and Acer do in their PC divisions?
But you only have 5% of the world’s personal computer market! That’s madness!
Oh… wait… I see what you’re doing!
Jack up the price on every computer so that it LOOKS like you’re selling 3.5 units every time a single computer is purchased!
Your accountants must love you!
When Apple is making 3.5 times the money per computer, it really looks like they command 17.5% of the computer market when you boil it down to dollars and cents (cents, not sense)…
…when the truth is nowhere near that.
I have to give Mr. Jobs credit, though.
It takes huge, gigantic brass balls to make a money play like that.
The fact that he gets $5 for every $100 spent on personal computing is really an accomplishment – but it’s nowhere enough for a publicly traded company that has shareholders looking for money to put in their pockets.
What was Mr. Jobs to do? How could he make more money for the people who had invested their hard-earned dollars in Apple stock?
Why… take the technojewelry concept to the next level!
Jewelry isn’t very practical if you can’t wear it on your body, is it?
Thus came the Apple iPod.
Contrary to what Apple would want you to believe, the iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player on the market, despite it’s current cultural ubiquitousness.
All Mr. Jobs did was pair together function (which was being done already by other companies) with form – which was something relatively revolutionary at the time.
People could walk around enjoying their music while feeling good about how swell the iPod looked and accessorized their lifestyle.
Apple even cared enough about their customers to make a web store to sell music directly to iPod users – because, honestly, buying a CD in a physical/real world music store was just too hard with all the track ripping and what not.
They’re even generous enough to only keep 35 cents of every 99 cents (the rest goes to the music industry), only leaving them $475,000 a day in profits!
But… that wasn’t enough money.
Shareholders screamed MOAR!
They money hungry stock owners saw that the MP3 player market was saturated with products that did everything the iPod did and more!
The Microsoft Zune plays HD video and the current generation iPod doesn’t.
Sansa players have voice recorders.
Apple needed to up their game to find new revenue streams.
Steve Jobs said add a phone to the iPod and give it a touchscreen.
And behold, it was good.
Let’s add downloadable applications, he said.
And the Apple devotees rejoiced – spending $2.4 billion dollars a year on apps.
And things were good for a month or so – before competitors released phones that did everything an iPhone did plus a lot more.
Hell… the only thing the iPhone really brought to the cellphone market was the touchscreen – and that was very easily duplicated.
The iPhone was seriously lacking in certain areas as well, missing functions that other cell owners took for granted.
But… it was black & shiny! OMFG! More technojewelry!
Shareholders screamed MOAR!
They money hungry stock owners saw that the smartphone market was saturated with products that did everything the iPhone did and more!
So here we are now in the era of the iPad – and I won’t make a stale joke about feminine hygiene products.
In it’s most basic sense, the iPad is just a jumbo iPhone/iPod Touch – which as usual isn’t upgradeable, and the early adopters will curse it’s lack of Flash and/or Silverlight, among it’s dozen or so shortcomings.
It doesn’t bring anything new to the market, and I’m sure the stock owners are a bit puzzled since it will be VERY easy for a competitor to top the iPad with very little to no research & development costs.
Sure, there’s the App Store and another potential for $2.4 billion dollars in revenue a year – and maybe that’s enough for stock owners.
However, they really have to be glancing over in Google’s direction with a little bit of nervousness – and not just because of the price difference in stocks (at the time of my writing this blog, Apple was at $200 USD a share vs. Google’s $543), but because Google seems to be hell-bent on taking on both Microsoft AND Apple.
Have you ever seen a Google phone? One that either runs on Google software or is marketed directly to the masses by Google themselves?
Prime example is the Nexus One cellphone.
It does everything the iPhone does and more – and usually for less!
Wow. Do you have any idea how tedious it’s getting to write statements like that? Do you?
In the end, as hopefully you can see by now, is that Apple doesn’t offer the world anything that’s better than the competitors.
So why oh why do the Apple fanboy/fangirls of the world continue to scream at the tops of the lungs that ‘Apple is the best EVAR!’?
What is it that inspires such blind and almost unequivocal (see Linux fanboys) devotion?
Have I mentioned the white/black & shiny?
Oh… I have?
That’s the sum of it.
If that’s so, why is Justin Long still on TV poking fun of John Hodgman’s PC after what seems like 20 years?
Apple still feels insecure, that’s why.
And it’s a justified insecurity because someone in the Apple hierarchy has a level head on their shoulders and sees the truth of the matter i.e. that ultimately, Apple products are inferior.
Why that person hasn’t been fired personally by Steve Jobs is an incredulous miracle, but I think it has a lot to do with those stock holders.
Apple Computer nearly died a long slow death not very long ago, and shareholders would really rather that not happen again – thus the reality checker at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.
As far as Apple’s computer line is considered, the fans will shout words like the afore-mentioned innovation, as well as words and concepts like ‘easy to use’, and ‘virus free’.
Easy to use?
I suppose they are when you take into consideration that using OS X and its various iterations is sort of like taking the Windows experience, making it prettier (though Windows 7 is pretty gorgeous) and then dumbing it down so a kindergarten student can use it.
What’s that, Infuriated Mac Fanboy?
Windows Vista/7 ripped off OS X?
Truth of the matter is that Microsoft had been working on a visual update for Windows long before OS X hit the market, and there is reams of data to back that up readily available from the U.S. Justice Department if you know where to ask (data related to investigations into Microsoft’s anti-competitiveness).
However, I’ll let David Pogue deal with the Vista vs. OS X battle over here.
Finally, let’s address the ‘virus free’ banner that Mac fanboys/fangirls like to wrap themselves up in before facing the world.
Yes, there are very few viruses out on the interwebs that are specifically coded for Macintosh computers.
Is it because Apple computers are inherently bulletproof when it comes to malware written in someone’s basement by their no-good, Cheetos-eating, Red Bull-drinking miscreant of an offspring?
Is it because it’s easier to write anti-virus code for a Mac?
Is it because Steve Jobs flies around the internet and eats all the potential Mac virus bombs before they can be delivered!
Oh wait… no… that’s not it at all.
The reason Mac users go their entire Apple product using lives without encountering a nasty virus that wants to corrupt their data or hijack their internet connections is this: 5%.
Five measly percentage points.
Why would virus writers – who depend on vast numbers of computers to distribute their ill-meaning wares to other vast numbers of computers – bother writing a virus that would only effect 5% of the computer ecosystem?
There’s no money or no glory in 5% of the world.
If you were walking down an alley and you saw a dollar with 5 pennies on top of it, which would you pick up? The dollar or the pennies?
I dunno about you, but I’m sure as hell taking the dollar – and that’s exactly the way virus writers see the internet…
…and that’s the exact reason why Macs are virus free.
They’re not popular enough.
If you’re a Mac user and reading this blog, take great comfort in your binary isolation.
But beware, Mac User: if Microsoft, Google, and Linux all suddenly disappear like you wish every night before falling asleep, guess who’s gonna be the most disease-ridden girl at the Internet Prom?
It sure as hell ain’t gonna be Sun Mircrosystems.