Friday, July 27, 2012
Why I’m an Apple Fan (Boy)
Whenever I see Steve Balmer, I think, “what an idiot.” He looks the part; he acts the part; then he opens his mouth and removes all doubt. He IS an idiot. Why Microsoft keeps him as CEO in light of the poor financial performance and stock price stagnation is far beyond me. He has no vision. He is such a dork.
When asked about Apple, he always makes these ridiculous comments about how they only have 5% … or 10% … or 15% of the market. (Note how it is growing.) This is the fool that thought the iPhone “… has no hope of gaining a true foothold in the cellphone marketplace.” This from the head of the corporation that has had half a dozen failed attempts to produce a competitive smart phone. And I won’t even get into a discussion of the Zune vs. the iPod.
As one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits used to respond, “Steve, you ignorant slut.” It’s a simple matter of price. Windows boxes are much cheaper than Apple boxes, sometimes by as much as a factor of X2 or even more. Also, the wide range of Windows computers, especially in a business environment, has spawned a larger base of programs written for the most common operating system of all time. There are a few programs only available on Windows that I covet. And … yes … I have on occasion purchased a Windows computer due to its lower cost.
Plus, I don’t always like the way Apple does things. I’m working on a short article “The Ten Things I Like Better About Windows.” There are a few. For example, an overreliance on drag and drop when I would rather use keyboard commands. There is no “Cut” command in the Apple Finder system for moving files. I also like many of the Windows computer’s keyboards better than Apple. I’m not blind to the things that are better on a Windows computer.
But today, I would like to talk about that price difference. In some ways the higher cost of an Apple computer is an advantage like driving a Mercedes or a Lexis. Isn’t it nice to have shiny toys? I love opening my svelte Air at the coffee shop as I look down my nose at those people who just can’t seem to afford the luxurious creation I possess. Those poor hoi palloi that can’t afford the luxury of a fine crafted motorcar or computer. Makes me sad.
But then ostentatiousness is against my religion. I’m a devout cheapskate. So why does a penny pincher like me own so many Apple computers and other devices?
The Spanish have a phrase, “Lo barato cuesta caro.” That is, “the cheap turns out expensive.” At IBM Printing Systems we had a concept called the “total cost of printing.” That was the total cost to put the dots on the paper. It included the cost of the printer and supplies and consumables and time to print and repair downtime and all the other business costs of ownership. For example, a typical ink jet printer is cheaper than a comparable laser printer to purchase. But the cost of the ink cartridges quickly raises the cost of printing much higher than if you invest more initially in a cheaper to operate laser printer.
When I look at the total cost of ownership of Windows computers and the Windows operating system, it ultimately costs more than Apple. I was reminded of that today when I upgraded my office computer to the latest version of OS X called Mountain Lion. It cost me $20 to upgrade … and that is a one-time cost. I can use that same upgrade on every one of my Apple computers from my Mac Mini to my Air to my Mac Pro. For $20, all Mac computers in my home and business are upgraded.
Have you priced a Windows upgrade? I upgraded two Vista computers to Windows 7 and it cost me over $100. I also bought two new versions of Windows 7 for a couple of my Macs, and that cost is nearly $300. (I dual boot a couple of my computers to run Quicken on the Bootcamp Windows disk. Remember, I said that some programs are only available on Windows. Although there is a Quicken for Mac, it stinks!)
Just check any year’s edition of PC Magazine where readers rate their computers for reliability and other factors. Mac is not only always on top, but by a large margin. My wife's laptop -- an HP -- is posting a message every time it boots that the harddisk diagnostics report an eminent failure. And a BIOS update on one of my large HP servers ended up damaging the PROM and I had to replace the entire motherboard. I remember when HP made high quality products. But not any more. In fact, my current view of the Windows PC market is that I recommend either Lenovo or ASUS. Both HP and Dell are not producing quality products these days.
So, yes, Apple costs more, quality can be like that. I know Apple has a higher profit margin than any other Windows computer, and some Windows computers are real bargains. But, ultimately, lo barato cuesta caro. The reliability and lower cost of maintenance and operations actually makes the Apple products bargains. I'm using a three year old iPhone with original battery and it still works like new. I had to replace the battery in my previous smartphone, a Palm Trio, after only a couple of years. Sure, it was easy to replace since it was removable ... unlike the Apple design. But who cares if you can't replace the battery in your iPhone if it will last for two or three years. Most buy new phones every two years to get the latest and greatest.
Don't get me wrong. I think Microsoft is a very competent company, and I use MS Office (although it is overpriced and there are cheaper alternatives … but then again that’s the point of this article). Plus, I can get MS Office for the Mac. I think they do make good hardware. Their keyboards and especially their mice are good products. I’m no gamer, but I hear that Xbox is a very good box. Combine the Xbox with the truly revolutionary Kinect and you can see what these folks in Redmond can do. And I think they may have some good ideas with their new Surface. Maybe (yet again) copying Apple and Apple’s complete hardware / software manufacturing and integration will prove to be a success for MS. Time will tell if Surface is another Xbox or just another Zune.
So, enough justification for my bigotry … Apple rules … just ask Chuck Lincoln. (Oh, and buy some of their stock. Success in the marketplace is reflected in stock prices. Check MS’s stock prices over the last twelve years. Your honor, I rest my case.)