Why Apple doesn't get more of my cash

Why Apple doesn't get more of my cash

Summary: One question that I get asked on almost a daily basis is why I don’t abandon the Windows platform and shift over to using Mac. When I posted my “30 things I’ve learned from using Linux …” post, the point that raised the most discussion was #27:"The more I use Linux, the less I want to buy into the Mac ecosystem."So why is it that Apple doesn’t get more of my cash?


One question that I get asked on almost a daily basis is why I don’t abandon the Windows platform and shift over to using Mac.  When I posted my “30 things I’ve learned from using Linux …” post, the point that raised the most discussion was #27:

The more I use Linux, the less I want to buy into the Mac ecosystem.

So why is it that Apple doesn’t get more of my cash? 

For many years I would turn without question to Windows for pretty much all my operating system needs.  I was a Windows person through and through.  However, over the past year or so I’ve experimented with alternative platforms, specifically Mac and Linux and I’m far more open minded when it comes to operating systems. 

Earlier this year when I was using a MacBook Pro loaned to me by Apple I must admit that I became quite attached to the machine, but not so attached that I whipped out my credit card and bought one.  Sure, Apple manages to make some really sexy looking hardware that seems to work well (I won’t say flawlessly because that wasn’t my experience), but over the years I’ve bought a lot of sexy hardware, but experience (both positive and negative) have taught me to be cautious. 

The problem that I have with Apple hardware is three-fold:

  • Cost Without a doubt, Mac hardware is expensive when you compare it to comparable PCs.  Sure, I’m not talking about a Toyota/Ferrari price gap, but it’s a pretty big gap nonetheless.  I know I’m supposed to look at Macs as a product rather than the more traditional view of it being a piece of hardware with some software loaded onto it, but I can’t.  I look at the CPU, I look at the amount of RAM that’s installed, I look at the capacity of the hard drive and I look at the video card spec.  I just can’t look at it in any other way.  And when I look at a Mac as the sum of its parts, I see a product that’s expensive.  Compare a Toyota to a Ferrari and you see where the extra money has been spent, when I compare a PC to a Mac, I don’t see it.The bundled iLife software doesn’t really help sway me either.  Sure the software is nice, but it’s pretty basic and without a doubt aimed squarely at the consumer market.  I’d have little or no use for it and would just be paying for software that I’d end up deleting. I’m pretty sure that if I’d bought a few MacBook Pros (because I can never just buy one of anything) earlier this year that I’d have found a way to justify the price (or be faced with a severe bout of cognitive dissonance every time it was bought up), but I didn’t, so I can’t.
  • Buying into a closed ecosystem Last year I gave in and bought my first iPod.  Since then I’ve bought more as gifts.  But no matter how much I like my iPod nano when it comes to ease of use and the quality of what comes out of the earphones (Sennheiser’s, not the crappy buds that Apple supply), I’m annoyed that I’ve bought into a closed ecosystem.  Each time I connect my iPod to iTunes I’m being reminded of the fact that I’m really supposed to be buying songs from Steve Jobs.  I’m also being reminded that there are some file formats that Apple find acceptable and others that aren’t.  If you have a WMA music library (all totally free of DRM) then transferring that to iTunes for use on the iPod is a long-winded process.  I’m also left having to manage two music libraries.  Basically, Steve Jobs is punishing me for having previously used Windows Media Player.  Even changing the battery is a huge hassle that really forces me into paying the AppleCare tax.I felt exactly the same when with the MacBook.  Apple’s goal with any product always seems to be to get you to buy more Apple products and to be more locked in a single vendor.  What I like about Windows and Linux is that I have plenty of choices as to what hardware and software to use and how I go about organizing my data.  I like having this choice.  Maybe Apple is catering for a segment of the market that wants fewer choices, and if it is, that’s fine, but I’m not in that market segment.  I don't mind spending time and money customizing and setting up a system as long as that system then goes on to do what it's supposed to do.After a number of years of failing to see the point of free software, I think I finally get it.  What I like about Linux isn't the fact that it's free (although there's nothing to quibble about there); it's the freedom that it offers.  Rather than the feeling of being forced to pledge allegiance to a particular way of doing things, Linux offers a freedom that's quite refreshing. 

    Why is it that I dislike the Mac ecosystem but still live and work within one maintained by Microsoft?  Simple, if way back when I got involved with PCs I'd taken the Apple route as opposed to the one laid down by Microsoft, I'd be so deep into it by now that I'd accept that ecosystem and reject Microsoft's one.  It's a matter of perspective.  If I'm going to make a jump, it's not going to be from one closed ecosystem to another (and it's after making a statement like that that I begin to understand why those who have lived in the Linux ecosystem shun the closed ecosystem of both Apple and Microsoft). 

  • Security Finally, that old chestnut - security.  While I have no doubt that Mac currently offers a more secure platform compared to Windows, I'm not convinced that it's secure enough to warrant the shift from Windows.  My main security gripe with Windows isn't that my systems are swamped by malware (they're not), it's the headache of applying patches and making sure that everything is up-to-date.  From what I can see the Mac OS gets plenty of patches and updates, so it's not like the security hassle is removed, only shifted onto a different platform. I'm also not sold on the fact that Mac will offer me security over the long term.  People who know more about security than I do (for example, Eugene Kaspersky) claim that Mac OS is no more secure than Windows, and as more people adopt the platform, it'll become a bigger target.  He makes the same claim for Linux, but the figure show that Mac usage is growing at a significant rate, and that makes Linux the better choice if it's security you want.


Topics: Apple, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Security, Windows

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  • Very well said

    I can't agree with you more. My fiance runs a Mac. It's nice and all, but it isn't all that great. It does what it's supposed to, but it doesn't really do much of anything better than my machine which runs Windows. In fact, he's in need of a new computer, and he wants a PC this time because he needs a better video card. He's in graphic design, and nearly everyone in his profession uses a Mac. He can't understand this because you can get a much more powerful PC for a comparable or even lower price. People ask me the same "Why don't you switch to Mac?" and I always reply with the same things you said, only not quite as eloquently. I always get a response that has to do with media, like that's all I am supposed to use a computer for.

    I'm glad that I'm not the only one that feels this way - meaning I like Macs just fine, but don't really see how they are better or worse than Windows, just different and more expensive. Can't even claim style, because Sony makes an all-in-one that looks (in my opinion) better than the iMac and it runs Windows.

    Oddly, the one thing that really bugs me about Macs are the little things that are different, like the button to close a window being on the wrong side of the screen. Isn't that crazy? All these differences that could be pointed out and that's the one that grinds my gears? lol. I'm such a nerd. But this kind of thing is enough to make a seasoned PC user (been using them since I was 5) pull their hair out and chuck their iMac out a 5th story window out of frustration.

    On a side note - I'm seriously considering a switch to Linux, but have zero experience with it. Any tips to make the switch smooth?
    • button to close a window being on the wrong side of the screen..

      No, the button to close a window is on the wrong side of the screen on the PC, as well as the TRASH & MY COMPUTER icons. You are just not used to the correct placement. And you want to switch to Linux?
      • If I remember . . .

        The Original Mac OS (7-9), the Close window button was on the right side, not the left. So it looks like Apple was the one who moved, not Windows. But I will admit that it has been a LOOONNNG time since I've looked at the old Mac OS, and may be remembering it wrong. As for the Trash icon, My company has locked it to the Lower right-hand corner of the screen, so I can imagine the MY COMPUTER icon can have the same thing done to it. If you don't like where they are, MOVE THEM!!!
      • Dude, for real, give me a break with the holier-than-thou crap

        Can't anything be fun with you people?

        I was just simply stating that for all the huge technical and specification differences between the various operating systems, it's amazing to me that the really irritating changes for the end user are the ones that are so simple and commonly used.

        As for the trash and my computer icons, I can move them to anywhere I want. Can't you?

        It's not a deal breaker, jerk. It's just an observation.

        Get over yourself.
    • Ubuntu/Kubuntu

      The beauty of Linux is it gives you an opportunity to test drive a new OS without any additional cost.

      Head out to ubuntu.com and download the latest live-cd distro. Personally I prefer Kubuntu (kubuntu.com) which has more of a Windows feel to it. Pop in the CD, reboot and take it for a spin.

      Also try browsing distrowatch.com and check out the numerous distros available. It includes screenshots, and links for downloads.
    • Re: Side note

      Try a Live CD to see if your hardware is supported. Kubuntu is a pretty good one to try for those used to Windows. Performance will not be all that great, but it will let you 'kick the tires.'

      After that, you should try an installation so that you can utilize other applications.
    • PCLinuxOS

      Or wait a couple months for the new OpenSuSE 10.3 to come out. I am running the Beta and it's huge leap on many levels. Both are easy to load, maintain and operate. Go to justlinux.com register or not, either way there is a ton of good information there. There are other web sites as well.

      UNDERSTAND, Linux is not Windows, but if you are sincere and willing to try you can learn a Linux system very quickly. Usually in a couple of hours, within a week of solid use (WAG based on experience) you will find yourself in Linux more than Windows just because it is so much more intuitive and easy.

      No nagging pop-ups annoying you, no need to make sure you AV and AS is up todate, it pretty much just works. NOW if you have some exotic piece of software that you can't live without in Windows, don't bother with Linux. Seriously. ]:)
      Linux User 147560
    • You can also try Mandriva

      In the responses you've had so far to Linux on the desktop you've had two very good suggestions in Ubuntu/Kubuntu and PC Linux OS. I'd go with either of them.

      I use Mandriva Spring 2007 ProPack for it's completeness and ease of use. It has a wide range of software available for it and runs next to flawlessly on my machines. If you chose that route you can contact me for assistance at john_wilsonATtelus.net.

      As you're a Windows user I'd suggest avoiding the GNOME desktop in Linux at first and go with KDE. For that reason if you want Ubuntu download Kubunu instead.

      Live CD's are interesting though they don't have the wide availability of software a full installation does.

      Dual boot at first. As you become more comfortable you can boot into Linux and run Windows from a virtual machine inside it.

      Avoid SuSE and Fedora for now. I'm sure advocates of both will jump in but they are not and never will be for people getting their first exposure to Linux and want a system that's both easy to use and maintain from installation on.

      Good luck whatever your choice!


    • Thanks to everyone who offered Linux tips for me

      I did the Live CD and, as one replier put "kicked the tires." Like Kubuntu A LOT. Downloading the full program tonight. Just wanted to say thanks for the help! This is what I've been looking for out of this website - not fights over which is better, but honest, experienced help when it's needed. I appreciate it very much.

    • very well said

      Interesting comments. I've been in the computer trade since 1964and teh voracious defense of operating systems choice has been around since the first OS was developed. Like you I think MACs are fine for those who want them. I currently use Windows XP but it will probably be my last association with MS. The next time it will be a flavor of Unix or Linux.
      MY guess is that the biggest problem facing those who want to switch to Linux/Unix is learning the lingo. In the early days software developers were akin to cultists and they developed their own "cute" and somewhat mysterious vocabulary. This has carried over till now. When you couple this with the use of acronyms of which there are thousands if not millions, you need time to get up to speed.
      I wish you luck on your switching. It could be an almost religious experience.
  • Holes in the argument

    Point 1: Demonstrated to be false. Comparable systems generally have the Mac as cheaper. The "advantage" on the PC side is you can buy piece of crap computers for $599. Personally, I learned a number of years ago that the lowest priced anything is lowest priced for a reason.

    Point 2: This is just a poor attempt at self-justification. AAC is an open standard. WMA is not. iTunes will automatically convert and migrate your WMA for you. You can turn off the store icon in iTunes. Your argument is particularly weak regarding the iPod battery. You admit to being a guy who assembles his own system yet one of YOUR gripes (not generally, but as it applies to you) is that replacing an iPod battery requires some user assembly. You are aware that third-parties sell iPod battery replacement kits, right?

    Point 3: How much time and effort do you spend keeping malware off your computer? What about antivirus software? Where the Mac might be in terms of security TOMORROW is a stupid way to make decisions. Windows might have a hundred in the wild root exploits released into the wild TOMORROW. The fact is, OS X is more secure than Windows TODAY. As a mac OS X user, I am enjoying a better, more secure and more hassle free computing experience TODAY than a Windows user.

    I think the real issue here is that you know Windows is an inferior platform, but you don't want to admit you've been making a foolish decision in sticking with it all these years and so look for reasons to make the alternatives look just as bad. I predict that in a future column you will write all the reasons why Linux is a poor decision, too.
    • There are holes alright

      1. No, it has been proven over and over. Stop beating a dead horse. PC's are significantly cheaper on the low end, marginally cheaper in the mid range, and about the same at the high end.

      2. I love how people complain that you need third party stuff in Windows to match what comes with a Mac, then turn around and use the same argument as a positive for the Mac.

      3 I spend no time or effort. The tools are easy and low cost.

      And no, you don't enjoy anything 'better' then a PC user. It is simple, ignorant, patting yourself on the back BS justification.
      • Holier than Thou?

        1. Macs are cheaper on the higher end. PCs are cheaper in the low end and about the same on the mid-range. (This is on the release of a new line-up) As Mac models age, PCs become cheaper and then you see the effect that you list as being right.

        2. Free tools are available for both, the problem is the hunt to find them. OOo is quite a bit cheaper than Microsoft Office for example and still cheaper than iWork 08.

        3. If you are spending no time or effort on securing your PC, you are doing it incorrectly. If you are spending to time or effort on securing your Mac, you are doing it incorrectly. If you know for certain that you are secure, you are doing it incorrectly. (Unless of course you never plug your PC into a network.) Then again, how are you publishing your posts in this TalkBack?
        • Psychic Powers????? :) (nt)

          • Telepathic Computing!!!

            It's the new wave, man. Even Adrian doesn't get it yet, and he's the self-professed
            King Geek. Heh.
    • I disagree a bit

      "Comparable systems generally have the Mac as cheaper."

      I have to disagree here. Generally the Mac is alway more expensive. If the PC I'm buying cost more it's because it's better than the Mac. I can get a gaming rig that costs more than the most expensive Mac and it is better.

      Comparable PC and Mac the PC almost always comes out cheaper but no much cheaper. You might only spend $90 more the Mac. For that $90 you get nicer looking box. So much like I'd pay extra for an Alienware PC for gaming all it has a pretty case, that looks great by the way, I could save save a couple hundred bucks building my own system and putting it in a white box.
    • re: Holes in the argument


      Point 1 (Macs are cheaper than PCs): Demonstrably false, over and over again. Compare the base model iMac to a similarly-equipped PC from Dell or HP. The latter examples will cost less than the iMac, period.

      Point 2 (Music files): No comment, since I neither own a music player nor use either AAC or WMA files. I play MP3 files through either WMP or QCD, ripped from my own CDs.

      Point 3 (Anti-Malware): Other than downloading and installing the utilities, I spend no time or money whatsoever keeping malware out of my computers. The utilities do that for me. And they do it rather well, thank you.

      The issue here is that Adrian has decided that the Mac ecosystem does not offer him anything over his using either Windows or Linux. But since that flies in the face of your religious beliefs...
      M.R. Kennedy
    • The holes have holes

      Point 1 - falacious - PC hardware is simply generally cheaper because of competition - it's been rendered a commodity - Apple takes it's cues from IBM - LOCK IN - they restrict consumer choice so they can artificially inflate prices. It's not the crap HW vs. "pure elegance" that Macophiles would like to believe.

      Point 2 - WMA IS a standard - if nothing else, by sheer ubiquity - I can play WMAs on my car stereo for God's sake, not to mention the hundreds of players personal players, CD players, etc. that support it - the $40 DVD player I have in my bedroom will even play CDs/DVDs of WMAs (and MP3s and MP4s and ...) - that sounds an awful like a "standard"

      Point 3 - none of my machines have been affected by malware - it consumes literally ZERO time for this. And having architected my fair share of high security systems, security of obscurity counts for an aircraft offering a smaller target profile than another but hardly qualifies as real "security" when it comes to an operating system. That the Mac is currently a lesser target unworthy of hacker attack is purely a matter of numbers, not inherent security.
    • holes in the argument

      such zealotry. Good thing the opinion piece wasn't about religion. You'd be wanting to hunt the guy down and stone him. If you only knew how pompous you sound.
      BTW computer hardware is now a commodity and the "you gets what you pay for argument" is more or less in the dust bin.
  • Story Blew Its Airbag in Comparison

    Yet another Windoze weenie using extreme examples to justify the price comparison. With Apple now using Intel chips, why not use the comparison of a Toyota to a Lexus? The engines are the same, the frames are about the same, but the extras are different. If you want to drive a Corolla, that's fine. I (a switcher) would rather drive a Lexus!

    BTW: One advantage MacOS has over Windows is that the user does not have to have administrator privileges to do what they need to do. That one fact alone makes MacOS X a more secure operating system than Gatesware!