Mac vs PC: Prices

     Let’s look at the situation now. Right now, there are a lot of people in need of notebooks for their computing needs. The economic downturn has caused even harder decisions among potential buyers. And now, Microsoft, over the past month, has released an advertisement series commonly known as “Laptop Hunters”. In the ads, people are given a budget to spend a notebook on. On the most part, they denounce Macs because of their overpriced line-up and settle for a PC notebook with a lower price and higher specs. After watching them, I had to look back at where I was in choosing these computers, especially the time when I finally transitioned to a Mac. To me, these ads did strike me about how much was spent in buying a Mac, but it also convinced me how gullible a lot of people can be.

     I want to start by looking through the message of the Laptop Hunters. While the price statement was definitely a plus, Microsoft, as well as some fanboys out there, also hide a downside. I won’t be biased about this because the same thing goes with the “Get a Mac” ads that have appeared since 2006. These ads will always show the plus side of the subject, attempting to overshadow any flaws it may have. I call it “Capitalist Propaganda” and, in my opinion, nobody must EVER draw conclusions from them. 

    So what is going on with these ads? Basically, the Microsoft ads are exploiting something Mac ads have been hiding, while the Mac ads have been all about exploiting what the Microsoft ads are currently hiding. In short, these two campaigns are attempting to reveal each other’s flaws, while unintentionally exposing their own; it’s a Win-Lose situation.

     Let’s look back at the Laptop Hunter ads. The customers here basically choose PCs over Macs because they are more affordable with the same, if not better, specs and allow them to have more hardware options compared to the very few customization options Macs offer. Microsoft also criticized Apple products as having what they labeled the “Apple Tax”. This tax refers to the premium, or the extra price one pays in order to change from a PC experience to the Mac experience. In this case, they believe that the Mac experience does not nearly justify the extra hundreds of dollars one has to pay to get a Mac with the same specs as a cheaper PC.

     However, while it is true that there is a premium to pay for the Mac experience, whether or not the premium is worth paying for is still up to the consumers. An ad shouldn’t decide for the people if a premium is bad or not. Let’s look back at what differentiates a Mac and a PC. A Mac comes with higher build quality (Unibody design and Aluminum enclosure), a more robust operating system (Mac OS X), a more complete set of applications (OS X built-in software and iLife), a more unified user-interface (Aqua), a one-stop place for hardware and software support (Apple Care), and lastly, the ability to run both operating systems. To most Mac users, including myself, all of these and many more were worth, if not more than, the Apple Tax.

     So now Microsoft is advertising low priced laptops. What are they hiding in these ads, you say? The irony in these ads is that Microsoft is hiding its very own product: Windows. Why did they keep silent about Windows? Simple. If they start advertising Windows Vista in these ads, the flaming and bashing will start rolling in, which is what Microsoft really wants to avoid. It’s funny to see Microsoft unable to advertise their operating system, which was a flop since release. Instead, they have to resort to the success of the hardware manufacturers and regain popularity through another company’s product. What’s also funny is that these scenarios do not necessarily favor Microsoft, rather it favors the hardware manufacturers. What if the actual scenario ended up like this:

     Some guy was given a budget of $1000 for a laptop. He goes to an Apple Store but cannot find a Mac that suits his specs. So he goes to a PC store and finally buys a $1000 15-inch notebook with a faster processor, dedicated graphics card, and larger data storage. When the ad stops filming, the guy goes home and starts his computer, which is booting Windows Vista. As he starts using his new notebook, he is suddenly plagued with so much trial software taking up the screen. Every single time he changes his settings he is alerted by Windows to allow changes or not. He also realizes that the new operating system is taking up too much battery, causing him to charge too often. It goes on for several days until the guy finally decides that Windows Vista is too hectic for him and wants to either downgrade the computer back to XP or possibly switch to Linux. In this scenario: Good for the hardware manufacturer? Yes. Good for Microsoft? No. The scenario above simply shows that other stuff can happen beyond what is shown in the ad and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

     But don’t get me wrong. Don’t think I’m not urging Apple to lower its prices. Also there are some stuff from Microsoft which I think are nice, such as Windows 7 and Xbox 360 (apart from the Red Rings). The whole point of this article is to look beyond these commercials you see on TV or on the web, whether it’s from Microsoft, Apple, or any company out there. Any commercial can hide a truth and obscure it with exaggeration and over-the-top examples. Only ignorant people would be foolish enough believe anything an ad tells them. It’s like saying one should a Chevy over a Porsche just because it’s more affordable, but it’s also like saying one should buy a Porsche over a Chevy because it can go from 0 to 100 km/h in five seconds. If you still want a Mac for whatever reason, don’t let that ad stop you. If you still prefer a PC, that’s still fine. Just look beyond the numbers and get the facts straight. Do NOT fall for Capitalist Propaganda!

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~ by Ian on April 10, 2009.

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