Category Archives: Macs

Why the spec sheet method of buying a computer is dead

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 09:  An Apple Store ge...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Poor Charles Arthur. Charles wrote a relatively simple post asking the question of why the Mac has proved to be so successful lately, out-performing the overall computer market and growing its market share. And in response, he got a 500+ long comment thread in which multiple geeks are arguing over how the specs of the Mac do/don’t compare to Windows machines.

I’m greatly enjoying the batting around of specs like people buy computers based on specs anymore. If there’s one thing that the huge demand for netbooks a few years ago proved, it’s that people buy because they can see how a computer can do something for them, not on megahertz.

In the case of netbooks, the “something” was being a machine they could carry everywhere, and do simple stuff on. In the case of Macs, it’s having access to easy to use, powerful software like iPhoto, iMovie, and so on – in a package that’s good looking, well designed, robust, and so on.

It’s about the whole experience: Compare buying a Mac in an Apple Store to buying a Windows machine in PC World and you’ll see what I mean. Compare the ability to take your machine back if there’s a problem with it to a Genius Bar and have someone help you sort it out in a way that’s friendly and not patronising.

This is the thing that advocates of the spec-sheet method of buying computers, or any product for that matter, don’t understand. What lifts a brand from being a making of generic boxes into a real identity isn’t simply the spec you get for the money, but the overall experience of buying and owning the product.

To give a non-Apple example, consider Dell. What set Dell apart from other PC manufacturers was the build-to-order approach which let you tailor the product to exactly meet your needs. You went to the Dell site, and you got exactly the machine you wanted. It was competitively priced, but it was rarely (if ever) the cheapest option. The experience was simple, straightforward, and gave you what you wanted. In short, a good brand experience.

Unfortunately for Dell, this was a part of the brand experience that was relatively simple for other companies to copy, and it’s lacklustre performance in the market coincides with other companies copying this approach. Now, I can get a totally customised machine from most PC makers – so what’s left for Dell to say is unique about its experience?

People buy Macs because the experience of buying, owning and maintaining a Mac is better than the experience with any other computer maker. It’s the experience that matters, not the specs.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Dell’s latest laptop borrows from Apple designs

Engadget reviews the Dell XPS 15z, which is supposedly a competitor for the MacBook Pro series.

Alt text

The short version: it’s cheaper, not as powerful, but does at least look a bit better than the old chunky XPS series.

When Dell tells you that the XPS 15z has no compromises, that’s not quite the case — it’s a solid choice at this price point, but corners were cut to get here.

(via Dell XPS 15z review — Engadget)

Malware, the Mac, and the wolf

John Gruber’s delivered a list of previous claims that the Mac is about to succumb to malware real soon now under the title of “Wolf!

The analogy John’s making is that the pundits should all remember the tale of the boy who cried wolf. But, as my friend Graham pointed out, John’s missing something: at the end of the tale, on the last occasion, there actually was a wolf.

There is no such thing as a perfectly secure operating system. Sooner or later, there will be a wolf.

Enhanced by Zemanta

OmniFocus Tips For Power Users

OmniFocus
Image via Wikipedia

OmniFocus is my favourite GTD app for the Mac, but it isn’t always the easiest piece of software to get your head around. This video has some great OmniFocus tips and tricks, and if you’re a user it’s well worth watching.

 

OmniFocus Ninja Tricks from The Omni Group on Vimeo.

Enhanced by Zemanta

In which I violate my own law of headlines

Does the Mac App Store let you use software for commercial use?

To which the answer is “yes”, thus violating Betteridge’s Law of Headlines. I reckon that if anyone can make exceptions, though, it’s me :)

As a bit of background to the story: reading through various Mac forums it seems there’s a common misconception that Mac App Store stuff is “personal use only”, and can’t be used for business (this thread is typical – but there’s plenty more out there). So I did some digging through the license, and asked some developers for their perspective, and ended up writing a far-too-long explanation of the details. I think I’ve managed to get the definitive answer, short of getting something out of Apple (and we know what that’s like).

Ken Case of Omni and Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater are quoted, but I should also thank Daniel Counsell of RealMac and Fraser Spiers of Connected Flow for their help – although they aren’t quoted, both of them contributed to me getting my head straight about the license and what developers were thinking.

Cult of Mac reviews the 11in MacBook Air

And boy, does Leander like it:

“Apple’s new 11-inch MacBook Air is astonishing. It’s unbelievable. It’s the most exciting consumer PC that’s come out for years. It’s a netbook, but it’s not a PoS. It’s blazing fast. It’s unbelievably light and thin. It’s beautifully made. Really beautifully made.

It has an older CPU and skimpy RAM, but it is NOT underpowered. For users like me, who aren’t editing Hollywood movies, it’s more than adequate. Heck, it’s a huge leap forward. Like Jobs said at the launch, this is the future of notebooks. Extremely thin and light, yet capable of running dozens of applications without bogging down. There are compromises, of course, but the most important things — portability, durability and functionality — are very much in place.”

I just bought one of these, and Leander’s right: it’s a really, really good machine. Subjectively, for non-computationally intensive tasks, it actually feels very fast indeed.

Magic Mac-ball says: No way!

I try not to get into the predictions game (partly because I’m too-often wrong) but I’m willing to bet that this little snippet from LOOPrumors is completely wrong:

“LOOPRumors received a tidbit of information today suggesting Apple is planning to develop a hybrid OS into their next iMac. The iMac should be equipped with both Mac OS X and a touch interface for iOS.”

One word: inelegant. That alone should be enough to damn this one to the bins of obscurity.

Sometimes, closed is better than open

Daily Kos: State of the Nation:

“I was a PC gamer, but the current generation of dedicated gaming consoles took care of that. My Xbox, despite being made by Microsoft, is stable, fast, and runs my games perfectly. How could a company that gave us Windows build such a great gaming platform?

Because it was a closed system.”

There will be open phones. There will be open tablets. There will continue to be open PC operating systems. And there will be systems which fit somewhere along the scale between “closed” and “open” (which is where I’d fit both iPhone, iPad and Android.)

But the winners with consumers will be more closed than open.

Sad news for old school Mac-users: Now Software Shuts Down

TidBITS Business Apps: Now Software Shuts Down:

“We’re tremendously sorry to report that Now Software, makers of the Now Up-to-Date & Contact software and its Now X replacement, has suspended day-to-day operations. Company head John Wallace has set up a site to provide support for existing Now Software customers; it offers downloads to those who need copies of already licensed software along with user forums for technical support”

Now Up-To-Date and Contact was one of my favourite applications back in the OS 7/8/9 era, and it’s a shame that what’s actually the second incarnation of Now Software is shutting down.

Kiwi: The best Mac Twitter client yet

As you’ll know if you follow me or this blog on Twitter, I’me a voracious Twitterer. I also can’t stand Adobe Air applications, which means that my options for Twitter applications are somewhat limited.

There’s a few around, of course. Tweetie is good, but hasn’t been developed for a little while and lacks support for “modern” Twitter features like lists and native retweet. Echofon has a lot going for it, but its support for multiple accounts is limited and, I find, a bit frustrating. And Socialite frustrates me, as it often seems to make my Mac show the beach ball of doom. Continue reading