Why Mac Users Feel a Mac Is Better than a Windows PC
Standard business school theory says that a company that sells the most product can’t be stopped because it just gets better and better at what it does, to the point where no one can catch up. But Apple has adopted some strategies that give it some important advantages that let it win against the competition provided by Microsoft.
If you have a problem, it’s Apple’s problem. Microsoft sells its Windows operating system to dozens of companies that make personal computers. This strategy has some benefits in that competition among these PC vendors keeps prices down, but it also means that Microsoft has to support a many different hardware designs and components (displays, hard drives, communications adapters, processor chips, and so on). And this includes not just all the variations currently being sold, but products no longer on the market but still in use, including PCs made by companies no longer in business. Outside of a brief period of licensing in the mid-1990s, Apple has maintained complete control over the design and manufacture of products that use its software. This vertical integration greatly simplifies Apple’s development efforts, allowing it to bring out new versions of its operating system much more often than Microsoft has been able to.
Vertical integration also has benefits for customers in terms of reliability and service. If you have a problem with hardware or software, Apple has a strong incentive to fix it. With the computer, operating system, and much of the software supplied by a single vendor, Mac users don’t have to worry about being shuttled from company to company. Regardless of the problem with the extensive suite of software that comes with a Mac, it’s Apple’s problem.
Apple is the industry thought leader. One of Apple’s roles in the computer industry is to pick and choose among the amazing new technologies. For the most part, technologies that Apple picks get adopted by the rest of the industry, particularly Microsoft. Apple may not have invented the graphical user interface, WiFi wireless networking, or the universal serial bus, but Apple’s adoption of these technologies made them industry standards.
Appearances matter. The original design team that created the first Macintosh computer included a fine artist who was involved in everything from graphical interface design to the artwork on the cardboard box that the Mac came in.
Apple also takes pride in arranging all the buttons and jacks in a pleasing way, questioning each feature, and eliminating unnecessary doodads. The result is something that isn’t just easy to look at but is easy to understand and simple to work with. A case in point is the Apple Remote that comes with each Mac. Remotes for most consumer products rival an airplane cockpit in complexity; Apple’s has just six buttons.
Apple’s leadership looks forward, not backward. Apple is also the company that decides when to tell a technology goodbye. Apple was the first to introduce 3 ½-inch floppy disks on personal computers and the first to drop them as a standard feature, as just one example. Unneeded features increase complexity and make machines harder to use and more prone to problems.
Apple provides top-notch products. Unit for unit, Apple is the most profitable company in the industry. How does the company do that with such a small share of the market? The same way that Mercedes-Benz or Armani does — by branding. Apple sells unique products that customers willingly pay for. The benefit to a Mac buyer is that no company can keep such an enviable position in the long run without delivering top-notch goods. You do get what you pay for.
Apple and Intel are partners. For most of the personal computer era, the Intel Corporation , inventor of the microprocessor and creator of the x86 series of microprocessors that power most PCs, was closely allied with Microsoft. But in 2005, Apple announced that it would be partnering with Intel. Now all new Macs use Intel chips. Strong hints have surfaced that Apple expects to take advantage of unique innovations from Intel in the future.