If you look at the PC world, they have some amazing deals out there. Even with the Windows tax, you can find sub $300 PCs that are functional if not stupendous. They work, and for a young child, or someone who just wants to surf, they will get the job done. They will also be cheap as hell, have a power supply that may cook after a few weeks, and dangerously sharp edges on the interior.
The raw MIPS will be there though, as will the 'Windows experience'. Once it boots, and before it dies a smoky death, it will be just like any other Win box. Whoopee. This is what all PCs out there have to contend with, $299, even if they cost $2999. The same vicious cost cutting philosophy that brings you those price points pervades the rest of the motherboards, hard drives and components, Taiwanese ODMs will kill to save $.12/1000 on parts. Can you say bad caps?
What you have is a cut throat competitive environment that leads to a fantastic price performance figure at any level, but it also has a down side, life. Things smoke out, innovation is a word that MS coopted when creativity fled Redmond, and they all come in a set colour scheme, black and silver of late.
Apple, the long forgotten subject of this article, is different. It doesn't compete against anything at all. The industrial design focus group is one turtleneck wielding man, not a watered down group of suburban housewives who fit into income category 12a, or teens in the hip-hop demographic. Nope, Apple needs to please one person.
The more important point, in fact the point is that it doesn't have an insane list of companies putting out the exact same product. It makes the case it wants to. It makes its own motherboard the way it wants, it uses the right CPU, GPU and monitor panels. Keyboard and mouse? The same, it is done the Apple way, not any other way, to its spec and with its components.
OSX? Neat. So what. More importantly, it doesn't have to use the caps that cost $.02, it can use the ones that cost $.05. Those will just work better. Need a 12,000RPM fan to cool a CPU that puts out 190W? Sure you can get them cheap, or you can get a water cooling rig that is not cheap, but it is silent, and works a hell of a lot better. Guess which one Apple chooses, and guess which one the PC masses choose?
In the PC world, if you did any of this, you would end up with a box that costs $999, and all you competitors would be at $699 for the same CPU spec, the same GPU, and same everything. You would sell all of 12 pieces while Apple would move thousands. Your company would go under before you could be laughed at by the big box stores.
Apple doesn't play there. In fact, it doesn't play any game at all, in any way. It just look down at all the PC players fighting it out and does its own thing. Sure, it costs twice as much, and can sometimes end in 'quirks' that prevent much needed functions from doing what you want, but it is done the way 'it should be'. Not perfect, but much better.
So, the thing that makes Apple better is not the design, OS, or a mouse button less, it is not playing the same rules that govern PCs. It is more a willingness to do the right thing, not the cheap thing. Because Apple doesn't play, it wins, and that really is the better way. µ
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