Monday, July 27, 2009

Comparing Apples to Grapefruit

Spin and spin again:
The Mac Versus PC Debate Has Never Been Clearer: "Instead, Apple is content to keep churning out its high-quality, high-margin machines, and watch the profits roll in. If it happens to gain market share as a byproduct of that, that’s great. You can’t be so naive to think that Apple doesn’t care about that at all, of course it does, but it’s clearly a secondary goal, which most people don’t seem to understand.

It’s a metaphor that’s often used, but a way to think about it is if Windows-based PCs as a whole are thought of as a top selling car like the Toyota Camry, Apple’s Mac computers would be more like a luxury car, like a Porsche. Porsche sales are just a fraction of Camry sales because it does not sell any models in the low-end price range. But at the same time, Porsche makes more money on each car sold and maintains a premium branding. If Porsche started selling cheap cars, it would move a lot more units, but it would no longer be the Porsche brand that we know.

That’s not to say the Camry sucks or that the Porsche is perfect. They’re just two different cars that cater to different markets. And they represent the two different goals that most Windows-based PCs have (market share) versus Apple’s Mac computers (high-end revenue share)."
The problem with the metaphor above is that it assumes that Mac's are remarkably more reliable than Window's based PC's. That may not be the case.
There's bad news, however, for Apple, in this quarter's report: they've fallen to spot number two. For the overall year of 2008, Apple reigned supreme in terms of reliability. But in the first quarter of this year, Asus and IBM's Lenovo have had their numbers rise above -- both of their shares of the US market are smaller than Apple's 6%, according to this report, but Apple's 2% of calls to RescueCom still means Asus and IBM/Lenovo have them beat in overall reliability.

All the numbers above prove is that Apple doesn't spend a significantly larger amount of money on quality control. Asus, particularly, makes some very fine low cost machines, and most of them are well under $1000.
Not that I have anything against higher priced or higher quality machines.  but what are you really getting for a $1000 Macbook that you can’t get in a $800 Toshiba?  You’re not getting better speed, a bigger screen, or more memory.  So it must be the OS, right?
I don’t know how to accurately gauge OS reliability, because it’s very subjective.  I’ve never had a problem with Vista other than the occasional idiosyncrasy that any complex OS has, but I’ll grant that Mac’s have fewer problems than PC’s.  But not to the extent that Mac users like to think.
If you’re a consumer looking for a bargain computer, you’re happy to save money buying a PC. If you’re looking for a premium computer, you’re happy to spend more money buying a Mac.
If you like Mac, great.  Enjoy yourself, it’s your money.  Just don’t pretend that it makes you better, smarter, or more evolved.