What Apple Is

By Deane Barker on October 13, 2004

Business motivation: Kottke explains what I’ve always felt about Apple and what I’ve tried to get across with my endless Honda vs. Audi analogies.

Apple is basically a luxury computer and software company, akin to Gucci, Bang & Olufsen, and Calphalon in their respective industries. They aim to produce well-designed innovative products, provide a high level of service, and charge a premium for it.

Much has been made of Apple’s paltry OS/hardware market share, but when you think about it, when a designer label can capture even 5% of a market that competes heavily on price, that’s an impressive achievement.

Why don’t I think this will be the last word on the subject?



  1. Ok, I’ll be the first to bite.

    I just think the Honda vs. Audi analogy is flawed because a Mac is much more than just an upscale PC. The Honda and the Audi can pretty much do the same things, but the Audi isn’t any more capable of hauling your butt around than the Honda. A Mac can do most everything that a PC can do, and some things a PC can’t. Conversely, a PC can do some things a Mac can’t do. So I say, use a Mac where a Mac shines and a PC where a PC shines. If the job you need done can be done equally well with either, then the Mac is the best choice by far.

    The biggest difference between the two is how tightly integrated all the hardware pieces and software on the Mac is. If a person is well acquainted with tweaking a PC to get it to run — and run well — great; they may be able to save a few bucks over a Mac. But for MOST people (and most people aren’t as familiar with computers as the average Gadgetopia reader) a Mac is a better choice because you don’t have to futz with registries or BAT files or hardware incompatibilities, and all that crap.

    The place the Mac shines brightest is when it comes to viruses, worms, trojans, and spyware — there is nothing out there that affects a Mac (knock on wood.) And whenever I say that, you can bet that someone will chime in with something like, “The only reason that is true is because there are a lot more PC’s than Macs; if it were turned around, there would be just as many viruses for Macs.” While that may be, we certainly will never know.

    What I do know is that right now and right here in the Real World, people who have PC’s have serious problems with viruses, worms, trojans, and spyware, and people who have Macs just don’t. That hasn’t changed in the 12 years I’ve worked with Macs, and I don’t see that changing in the near future. So for right here, right now, in this chunk of the space-time continuum, unless there is some piece of software that ONLY runs on a PC, that has no Mac counterpart, and that you simply cannot live without (and I think that’s a rare situation) you should be using a Mac.

    And yes, I realize that if enough people take my advice and use a Mac instead of a PC the tide may well turn sooner. But even if it does, I believe the tools to combat the threats will be ready to go, and will be more effective than what we have today fight the virus threats on PC’s.

  2. ” A Mac can do most everything that a PC can do, and some things a PC can’t. Conversely, a PC can do some things a Mac can’t do. “

    Curious, can you give some examples because I can’t think of any one application that you can’t do on either of these platforms.

    BTW, comparing the two isn’t really fair. For the sake of clarity, I respectfully add the following.

    When buying a MAC you get HW and SW from the same OEM. A package plan. That is not the case with a PC. There a many options. If you were to buy a Sager laptop who do not ship an OS pre-installed, if you choose, then a large number of OS choices are available. Windows, Linux, BSD, BeOS, etc etc. You could also build your own PC from scratch. Neither of which is possible with an apple. (please correct me if I am wrong)


  3. What I was thinking of is some of the industry-specific apps that are developed only for one platform or another. I work in prepress graphics, and there are many vendors who develop solutions for their products that only run on one platform. Sure, you can go to a different vendor for a different app that does run on a Mac (or on a PC if that’s your preference) but there are pros and cons with each vendor, and the software platform isn’t the only consideration in making a choice.

    As for the custom-built Macs, there are ways of doing that, but it usually involves used parts, which is often a hit-or-miss proposition, and not for the faint of heart. One thing I see more and more Apple resellers offering is Apple hardware running some flavor of Linux. So even there we’re starting to see more choice.

  4. Actually with the exception of Windows, you can run all those alternative OSes you list natively on a Mac.

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