I have the unfortunate tendency to get myself personally involved in debates that actually don’t concern me much. In this case I’m referring to the age old and oft-fought Mac vs. PC. For me personally it started two years ago when I was in the market for a new laptop; it was going to be the single most expensive item I’d bought myself outside of a car, so naturally I did some pretty extensive comparison shopping and researching of specs. Now, needless to say this was just after windows Vista had been released, so pretty much every forum I visited was ablaze with fanboys and self-proclaimed technical gurus from both camps tauting the superiority of one or the other. I was amazed a the sheer vehemence and indignation; it was like somebody had kicked these people’s puppies while simultaneously stabbing their mothers with tuning forks.
Now with the beta release of Windows 7 and a pushed forward timetable to market, I’m seeing the same strife, and once again the self-righteous and ragers are girding their loins for battle. It got me thinking though, in this whole debate that’s not really what’s going on. Mac describes both a specific hardware and OS, while PC is really just a catchall term referencing a computer of any flavor whose size and sale price make it useful for individuals. In point of fact the original IBM PC was actually predated by the Apple I, so it could be argued that Apple WAS the original PC. And it’s not often you hear a straight debate between OSX and a Windows version in a closed environment, it’s always tempered by variations in hardware and marketing. That’s the real difference. Any discussion of Apple vs. Microsoft is pretty much cantaloupe vs. grapefruit. Microsoft makes software. That’s their thing. Then they license it out to whoever wants to put it on whatever kind of hardware, and hoover up the fees while hardware vendors compete over pricing. They’re not in the business of making something tangible. Apple is a computer manufacturer. That’s their calling. True, they write brilliant software (like OSX), but they do that to sell more hardware. They’re not licensing the iphone’s OS, they’re selling the damn handset. And they can charge as much as they do because they make sure that their code will only work on their hardware.
The fact of the matter is that both business models have a well earned placed in the gadget ecology. MS’s is designed for scalability, ubiquity, and market penetration. Apple’s is designed for per unit profit maximization and a narrow but deep slice of the pie.
As it happened I ended up getting a mid-range laptop running Vista, because I really couldn’t justify the price of a Mac. Just like I wouldn’t buy a new game console for the sole purpose of playing one game (no matter how awesome). And to be honest I haven’t had a lick of trouble with it. Well, excepting IE 7 (Goddamn you Bill Gates!).
A computer, like so much else in our lives, is a means not an end. A tool to be used however one may need, and no amount or marketing or branding will ever really change that.
Now stop stabbing my mother with that tuning fork!
Trolling and fanboyism can be found here, here , and pretty much everywhere else you might care to look.