Reader Request: Mac vs. PC

We live in an awesome time with regards to technology. On the surface, we've come a long way and can do so many things with what we have. In reality, though, we have a long way to go, and we've only tapped our capabilities potential. Computers, for example, have really only been around for 50 years or so. As amazing as computing seems to be now, I would LOVE to see what we can do with technology in another 50 years... or even 100!  The possibilities or limited only by our imagination.

OK, back to earth. While we don't know what computing will look like 100 years from now, we do know what it looks like today. Specifically, with regards to software (and even more specifically, Operating Systems). Today's post comes from a reader who asked the following: "What are the top reasons you would list for purchasing a Mac over a PC?"

While I really don't like the whole "Mac vs. PC" banter that happens all to often (shouldn't we be grateful that we have options?!), there are some valid points to both sides. Believe it or not, I don't always default to recommending a Mac. I like to ask questions and find out what you'll be using your computer for. Maybe you're a heavy gamer. In that case, a PC (i.e.: Windows computer) may make more sense. If cost is a top priority, I may recommend a system running Linux. For the purposes of this post (and to specifically answer the question at hand), here are the top five reasons why I generally feel like a Mac is a better system overall.

Reason #1: Software

For me, it's more about software than it is hardware. Mac OS X (the Operating System) is a very stable, very efficient and very secure OS. This is in large part because it's built on top of a UNIX core (UNIX is a tried and tested OS that's been out a long time). In short, that means you will suffer less software "hanging" (as well as "Blue Screens of Death"), endure fewer restarts, and less data corruption/loss. Trust me, it isn't perfect, but I routinely go weeks between restarting my MacBook Pro with Retina (I don't know any Windows user that can honestly say the same about their PC). In addition to the boring stuff like stability, Apple pays a LOT of attention to details. When I say details, I mean details that most of us would never care about, but someone does. For example, I've heard that most software engineers at Apple have a loupe on their desk so they can verify that every single pixel in a graphic looks exactly as it should.

Reason #2: Hardware Build Quality

As with their software, Apple pays a lot of attention to their hardware. If you know anything about Jony Ive (lead designer at Apple), he's obsessed with perfection. Not just on the outside of their hardware, but the inside as well. I've opened my fair share of Apple devices, and they are actually more beautiful on the inside than the outside. Their easy to work with, and Apple uses top-quality hardware components. One of the biggest arguments that PC users have against Macs is the upfront cost. Sure, you can buy a cheaper PC, but you're going to get a cheaper PC. They will use sub-par components and cheap materials to lower their cost. You can't expect the same level of build and component quality from a $500 PC than you can from a $1,000 Mac. Period. Along with that is the fact that using well-designed Apple products helps users to be inspired to do great work. That may sound strange, but I see it in my own work. If I'm working on well-designed hardware/software, I tend to work better than I do on cheap equipment (just like my car always seems to drive nicer just after it's been washed).

Reason #3: Total Cost of Ownership

Let's get one thing straight... when you buy a computer, the price tag you see is NOT the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). TCO is the upfront cost PLUS additional software costs PLUS warranty costs PLUS maintenance costs PLUS... and the list goes on. It can even include non-tangable costs like user frustration from downtime (these costs are very difficult to measure, but very real). You get the idea. Unfortunately, this is a concept that most people don't get. I did an analysis once to compare a $1,100 Dell PC with a $1,500 MacBook Pro. The Mac seems more expensive at first, right? It is, until you start adding all the additional costs. In the end, the PC was more than double the cost of the Mac. Want to create PDFs? That feature is included on every Mac, whereas on a PC, you need to purchase additional software. Want some awesome photo managements and video editing software? Free on the Mac, expensive on the PC. The list goes on.

Reason #4: Company Direction

Company direction? Not North, South, East or West, but where is the company headed? Are they financially sound? Are they innovative? Do they actually care about what they do? Apple is clearly passionate about enabling technology customers in a way that is interesting and fun, yet powerful and meaningful. I honestly can't say the same about Dell or HP. In fact, HP announced (within the last year) that they were going to spin off their PC manufacturing unit. Then, less than 2 months later, reversed that decision based on the simple fact that they found they can still make some money from it. Woah! Put the brakes on. What? No, when I buy my computer, I'm not ready to buy it from a company that looks at a product that I will use 18 hours a day in that way. I would prefer to buy my computer from a company that really cares about what they make and still innovates. Steve Jobs was famous for being different and thinking outside the box ("Here's to the crazy ones..."). When Apple announced they were no longer including 3.5" floppy drives on their computers, the industry laughed. When they introduced the first iPod, the world said it would never work (and the world, in large part, said the same thing about the iPhone and iPad). Apple still innovates, and they aren't afraid to be looked at as different.

Reason #5: Support

Year after year, Apple receives accolades for their high-quality support. Not only for phone and online support, but via their 400+ International retail stores. You can easily make an appointment with a "Genius" at one of their stores and have your issues looked at and resolved, usually same day. And did I mention this is FREE? They also offer FREE training courses for you to learn how to become an expert on any of their applications. Microsoft is starting to do the same thing (the highest form of flattery is to copy, right?), but I've heard from some Microsoft retail store visitors that their visits aren't regarded as pleasurable. When I travel, it's nice to know that I'm usually not far from an Apple Retail Store for support (not that I ever need it, but you never know) or even a spare power adapter, or other supplies. Their supplies are, for the most part, standardized, so I can pick up anything I need, quickly. It's very difficult to do that with a PC.

Bonus Reason: Virtualization

If you've been following me for a while now, you will know that I love virtualizing systems (read more here). On a Mac, this can be done using either of two recommended applications... my personal favorite VMWare Fusion or Parallels (also good).  Virtualization allows you to run a virtual install of another Operating System. For example, my Mac has Fusion running on it, and within Fusion, I can run any version of Microsoft Windows I want, or Linux, or even another instance of OS X. So with virtualization, I get the best of ALL OS worlds... all on a single computer. Believe it or not, I know others that lug around 2 (or more!) physical laptops to accomplish the same thing. Yikes!

Again, I don't always recommend a Mac, but it's what I use, and in most cases, it is what I recommend. If you're interested in knowing what would best suit your needs, contact me


Posted on June 24, 2013 and filed under Mac, Opinion.