— blending the mix

Mac versus PC – the problem’s the hardware not the OS

Something last week took me back to Steve’s post, and how PC design was turning the corner (despite IBM’s Thinkpad trying its best to bring back brick-based laptop design) and I decided to republish a post I wrote a year and a day ago regarding the “fad” that is Mac and why the battle Microsoft are facing is not with Apple’s software, but its hardware.

For some time now, I have underestimated the message behind the Mac versus PC ads.

Whilst the deeper message comes from largely listening to the audio – "macs are cool and easy to use and stunning and sexy and erm…well, just bloody better than the PC" (!!!) I think there is an greater meaning behind the actual look and appearance of the PC in the ads than is/has being/been discussed – and the issue is nothing to do with the OS.

When Apple talk about the PC, they actually mainly mean Windows – yet Windows has nothing to do with the design of the PC, so why are Apple knocking the PC? Is their OS actually so average that they have to knock something other than the Windows OS?! With Vista, Microsoft have brought themselves up to speed and have done a great job. It is more than a visual match for OS X Tiger and previews I have seen of Leopard does not seem to make much more dramatic steps ahead of Vista. But who also has control over how their product looks on the high street? Apple.

Microsoft’s biggest downfall, is losing/giving-up on/never having control of the dull, albeit improving presentation of the very machines in which their product is installed and as such, their OS gets tarred with the same brush. Even early Apple OS’s looked terrible, as did early Windows OS’s, but with design of the machine being so crucial to the Apple ethos, Apple have been able to control people’s perceptions of the software contained within – hence the dull, staid appearance of Mr. PC above. With good reason.

Would Ferrari be happy to put their engine in a Citroen C2? No.

Do Rolex package their unique mechanisms in a plastic case and strap? No.

Packaging is everything. And I am not talking about the box and wrapper!

With the Blue Monster representing a change in Microsoft’s approach to promoting itself as well as the market it serves, maybe it should also consider how the packaging of its product is seen too?

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2 comments
  1. Justin Davies says: July 26, 200812:15 pm

    Interesting post Paul… part of Apple’s success has been owning the hardware and thereby having control of the user experience. It also has stunted their growth -you can see how fast the ipod grew by being both platforms.

    But did you know how the name for Apple Macintosh was invented? I found out and have posted it here… http://justindavies.com.au/2008/07/23/how-the-apple-macintosh-was-named/

  2. paul.fabretti says: July 28, 20084:25 am

    Fascinating post Justin, but firstly, thanks for stopping-by! I totally agree with you on the hardware issue – the overall experience is as much the physical stuff as it is the on-screen – making things LOOK and FEEL right are essential.

    If I had heard of the TV show 😉 i’d likely have an opinion but on the evidence, it seems as plausible a story as anything, so I’ll happily go with you on it, unless/until someone proves otherwise. I suspect Steve J isn’t likely to field any calls on the matter though.

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