Give Me Mac or Give Me Death


 I hear this all the time, “It is just a computer, what is the big deal?” And I feel sorry for the person who asks. Their expectation of what a computer is and what it “should” or “could” be has been lowered to come in line with the type of machine that they have owned in the past or what is currently being offered on the Dell bargain pages. They have lost that twinkle in their eye, the one that something as simple as running a 10-line basic program on an old Atari computer once brought. They have become jaded, apathetic and complacent with the current state of technology and user experience on their Windows or Linux boxes. Some have even become fixed on the idea that a secure operating system is the most important thing. Shouldn’t security be a side benefit to a well designed OS? Isn’t it more important to have an OS that is intuitive, powerful and fun to use but also secure?

 I used to think that my love for computers was because I have an interest in technology. I have recently discovered that that could not be farther from the truth. I am excited about computers when they aid in getting the creativity that is bottled inside of me out into the world. It is not the tinkering and tweaking and learning the ins and outs of the operating system on an expert level, it is the joy I get when I can easily create content on the computer and when I can just as easily share it with others. How many so-called security experts out there are not really passionate about security, but think they are? I equate them to the John McCain supporters in 2000 who were convinced that campaign finance reform is the most important issue. People get blinded by the most publicized issues and forget that it is more important to have a machine that is intuitive, helps you be productive and is fun to use. Oh yeah, added security is a side benefit of the Mac OS.

 Since June 2006, I have done more creative things with my Mac in the than I have done with any Windows or Linux box in the last 10 years. I have written over 100 songs, created 2 dozen podcast episodes, redid all of my web pages in iWeb and redefined the way I interact with the computer to be more fun and informative. Hooray for a computer that “just works” right at the point where creative inspiration hits.

 But I cannot ignore the “What’s the big deal?” sentiment. It is usually in response to me going on incessantly about the “almost religious” experience that I have had with my Macs. But I can’t help it. Like the new convert that has found Jesus–found liberation and salvation from the mundane and hopeless life that they have once led–I burst with excitement and fervor for Apple products and try to convert everyone I come in contact with. I am like a Macvangelist. But unlike the Jesus experience, which is free, Macs have a high price tag. I am finally finding out that it is really unfair to compare the Macintosh with any other user experience out there right now because not everyone has access to a Mac or can appreciate the experience. Now, I honestly believe that Macs win hands down on a cost/price comparison, but this is fodder for another story. The truth is that not everyone can afford to make the initial investment, and there is no try-before-you-buy like a test drive of a car.

 So I suggest a new idea for other Mac fanboys out there. If you really are looking for a higher conversion rate–if you can handle it, lend your Mac out for a few weeks to a friend who is on the fence. Once they drive the Mercedes-like Mac, a good many of them will not be able to get the feeling out of their blood. But you have to remember and accept that not everyone ends up driving Mercedes. Some guys want a cheaper car like the reliable Honda Accord that they can sup-up and enter in local drag races. These are like the guys that mod their PCs with LEDs and crazy cases. Some folks want a budget car that gets then from point A to B and works for a long time, and the Mac Mercedes is not for them. Maybe the reliable eMachines or Gateway is for them. This is perfectly okay. Accept it, personal taste and intuitiveness of an operating system are not the primary concerns of some people. And we need to realize that Steve Jobs’ idea on how something works is not “always” the best. Remember he is still keen on the one-button mouse when we have 5 fingers on each hand.

 Even if everyone could afford Mac, demand would drove sky-high for this computer Mercedes, the company may make compromises to cut costs and meet demand. The custom, high quality experience becomes cheapened by normal processes of mass-production. Saturation and adoption in the business market causes Apple to be a huge target to virus writers and hackers. So, God bless Apple, but keep the Mac exclusive. May we Mac owners become less glib about our experiences and more humble. And may we all understand that personal taste and preference are huge when we select devices that help us become more productive and entertain us. Amen.

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