Robert and Dave are right. Macs don't work properly all the time. No personal computer does, or ever has, unless you get it into a working-perfectly-for-a-particular-task state and then don't change anything. Sound engineers and video techs who use their Macs (or PCs) to make money know that, which is why once they've got a system wired up and configured and working, they lock it down, keep it off the Internet, and avoid even innocuous things like bug-fix updates until they have a bit of spare time to tinker if something goes wrong.
We Mac-heads enjoy all those "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads, but we know they lie. The new Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" breaks things just as Windows Vista does. People have fun with their Windows PCs (seen all those games?). My in-laws had their iMac lock up after playing a YouTube video yesterday, but they managed to sort it out without my help. The brand promise Robert talks about of Macs "just working" is true a lot of the time, but not all the time—and not in the way we expect of our cars or fridges or TVs or stoves or pacemakers or jet aircraft or roadways or electrical grids or dialysis machines.
It's also true that, despite the problems—and I've had a few—I enjoy using my Macs, and do find they stay out of my way, more than I ever did with any of the Windows or Linux (or DOS or Unix or Apple II or PDP-11 or mainframe) computers I've worked with over the decades. In part that's Apple's doing, in part it's the hard work of the people who design the Mac software I like, and in part it's my familiarity with the platform, because if I have a problem, I also usually have some idea how to fix it. (After working with Windows a lot, it's true for me there too, but not as much.)
There are reasons people like me have stuck with Apple machines even when they weren't very fast, or very cool, or even with any apparent future. It's not just running with the underdog either. I'm not impressed with some of Apple's behaviour recently in markets where it now dominates, such as the iPod and online music and video sales. But it is no shock: Apple has always spun its stories, and has always had a streak of hubris—a pretty wide one at that. I don't think many people would like a computing world where Steve Jobs beat Bill Gates in the early '80s.
Yet when I open the lid on my MacBook to get something done, it generally helps me do it, and seems friendly in the effort. Even if you don't see it as much anymore, the smiley face is still there in spirit.
Labels: apple, davewiner, microsoft, robertscoble