Over on Apple Matters I came across an interesting post by Steven Leigh which considers 8 reasons why Windows users don't switch to Mac. Leigh is a recent Mac switcher and he has an interesting insight into the issues surrounding making a switch, but I think that there are several areas where he misses the mark.
The first reason he give is ignorance.
Ignorance is merely a lack of knowledge, and when it comes to Macs, most Windows users, myself included, are extremely uninformed.
There are more Windows PCs out there than Macs. Period. That's the main reason why Windows users are ignorant of the Mac platform. Sure, you can drop by an Apple store and take any Mac you want for a spin, but that's not the same as seeing it in action.
Leigh goes on to say:
Macs are so much easier to use; many beginners find it easier to do most tasks intuitively, without having to be taught or open a manual. As someone who has spent long hours teaching family and friends how to do simple tasks like email attachments, I can you tell that the same cannot be said about Windows.
I have to disagree with him on this point. Having had the opportunity to use a Mac for an extended period I can honestly say that while some aspects of the Mac OS are easier than Windows, overall claiming that the platform is somehow intuitive and there's no learning curve is disingenuous. It all depends what you do and how you use the system.
Another reason that Leigh gives for Windows users not switching is price.
The perception by Windows users is that Macs are more expensive than Windows PCs. This may have been true in the past, but the new Macs are very comparably priced to similarly equipped PCs.
True in part, but show me the $500 Apple system. I can show you plenty of decent $500 PCs. For the budget- conscious buyer, it's not what you get that matters, it's the price that they end up paying.
What about the lies ...
Let’s face it: Apple tends to bend the truth once in a while, especially about Microsoft and Windows.
Oh yeah ...
One of the “Get a Mac” ads states that Windows is for spreadsheets and pie-charts, while Macs are for “fun stuff” like photos, movies, etc. To Mac users, this seems both funny and true. Windows users, however, are thinking of the aisles and aisles of games that are available for Windows, while there is a half-shelf devoted to games for the Mac. I don’t know about you, but I can only have so much fun playing with photos. Things like this just sound like lies, and they sometimes present Apple as a company that has to lie about its competitors to get business.
This is probably one of the most blatant lies that Apple marketing has come out with in recent years. A lot of the time I feel that Apple is selling to existing customers who buy into the bias and FUD rather than trying to encourage more Windows users to switch. Lies create mistrust.
The Windows bashing doesn't help either ...
I remember watching the 20 or 30 minute Vista-bashing session at the WWDC conference and wondering why Steve Jobs is so insecure that he has to berate the opposition. Can you imagine shopping for a car and having the salesman only talk about what’s wrong with the competition’s cars?
Again, Jobs is preaching to the converted and fanning the flames of zealotry. The best people in industry are capable of turning a critical eye inwards towards their own goods and services and are constantly looking at ways to improve the customer's experience (notice how I said customer, not consumer, there's an important difference and a lot of companies have forgotten that). This constant "best iPod we've ever made" and "best phone we've ever made" is all hyperbole and given the recent number of backlashes we've seen against Apple, I'm guessing that the customer base has grown too big for the reality distortion field.
Leigh has some interesting views on Vista too:
I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret, but you need to sit down first. Windows Vista is actually a good operating system! There. I said it. The ugly truth is that Vista is the best operating system Microsoft has ever released, and for many users, it is good enough.
It might get to that point, but I don't think that it's there yet.
The final and perhaps most controversial reason why more people don't switch from Windows that Leigh gives are Mac users themselves:
Okay, I’m not talking about you or me here, but there are some Mac users out there who have just a little too much love for Apple. When they are shouting (or typing in all caps) about how much better Macs are, they’re not convincing anyone to switch, they are scaring them away.
I've been saying that for years, and every time I say it I get more than my fair share of ALL CAPS responses. I've just come to the conclusion that either Apple's keyboards are sub-standard and break so are only capable of issuing capital letters, or that some Mac users have simply pressed the caps lock key by accident once and don't know how to turn it off again.
Even well-intentioned Mac users can sometimes get a little carried away. I’ve had many friends lecture me for hours on end that I was stupid not to switch, and all it did was push me further away.
Most people looking to buy a new computer want a tool, not a religion.
In my opinion, there are four other very good reasons why people don't make the move from Windows to Mac.
- Time Changing platforms takes a lot of time. Anyone who says that it's quick, simple and pain-free doesn't do much with their system.
- Free support When I've asked people why they have a PC as opposed to a Mac, probably the most common reason that I get is that they, like many other Windows users, rely on free tech support provided by someone they know who's "good with computers." There is just not a big enough pool of Mac users out there to provide this level of support.
- The Linux effect The "anything but Microsoft" card that Apple is playing is losing traction given that Linux distros are now becoming a credible alternative. Why pay for a Mac when you can load Linux onto your existing rig and still be rid of Microsoft? Also, the Linux communities seem to be far more open and trustworthy that Apple is being as of late.
- Fear Final reason is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of spending money on something that doesn't do the job. Fear of being stuck with no support.