January 11, 2005

And the Reason You Still Use a Windows Machine Is?

Apple machines just cost too much!

For $499 you get the Apple - Mac mini

The modular design of Mac mini lets you upgrade your current system to the elegance, simplicity and reliability of Macintosh. If you already own a monitor, keyboard and mouse, you can get up and running in minutes. Or choose any combination of new devices to meet your individual situation. And yes, Mac mini will take advantage of your two-button USB mouse with scroll-wheel and your favorite USB keyboard. Just plug them in.
Over the years, I've developed a gigantic aversion to the use of the word "cool" to describe things, but I must admit that this is one time when no other word will do.

What's Apple up to with this, aside from making computers beautiful? Always hard to say what the workings of the devious Jobs mindmeld might be, but Cringely might have more than just a small clue:
Apple will take a big risk in 2005. This could be in the form of a major acquisition. With almost $6 billion in cash, Steve Jobs hinted to a group of employees not long ago that he might want to buy something big, though I am at a loss right now for what that might be. Or Apple might decide to throw some of that cash into the box along with new computers by deliberately losing some money on each unit in order to buy market share.

We might see that as early as next week with the rumored introduction of an el-cheapo Mac without a display. The price for that box is supposed to be $499, which would give customers a box with processor, disk, memory, and OS into which you plug your current display, keyboard, and mouse. Given that this sounds a lot like AMD's new Personal Internet Communicator, which will sell for $185, there is probably plenty of profit left for Apple in a $499 price. But what if they priced it at $399 or even $349? Now make it $249, where I calculate they'd be losing $100 per unit. At $100 per unit, how many little Macs could they sell if Jobs is willing to spend $1 billion? TEN MILLION and Apple suddenly becomes the world's number one PC company. Think of it as a non-mobile iPod with computing capability. Think of the music sales it could spawn. Think of the iPod sales it would hurt (zero, because of the lack of mobility). Think of the more expensive Mac sales it would hurt (zero, because a Mac loyalist would only be interested in using this box as an EXTRA computer they would otherwise not have bought). Think of the extra application sales it would generate and especially the OS upgrade sales, which alone could pay back that $100. Think of the impact it would have on Windows sales (minus 10 million units). And if it doesn't work, Steve will still have $5 billion in cash with no measurable negative impact on the company. I think he'll do it.

UPDATE: We're having a small, polite religious skirmish of MAC vs. PC in the comments, but if you really want to get your geek on, try the comments at The Apple Mac Mini - Engadget - www.engadget.com

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Posted by Vanderleun at January 11, 2005 3:35 PM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

And the Reason You Still Use a Windows Machine Is?

Why, for the same reason 97.5% of the computer-using population uses them:


It's so tedious when the OSX/BSD/Linux types get on their high horse about their Wonderfull Operating System. And occasionally I find myself forced to remind them that most folks ( y'know, the vast majority that isn't software geeks ) could care less about the OS. People want applications: all kinds of applications, plentiful, varied and free ( or not). And we both know which OS fills that need, don't we ?

So, please, try not to fall into the tired olde trap of OS zeolotry in what is otherwise a very well written blog. I can get my daily dose of that on Slashdot...heh

Your Faithfull Reader


Posted by: Roy at January 11, 2005 5:24 PM

What the Mac Mini really needs is a laptop conversion kit, a keyboard-and-monitor combo that you can put on your lap to use the machine while you're on a plane, train, or your couch.

It could come in the size of a current laptop, or match the size of the Mini, perhaps folded so as to unfold to twice that size, like the folding keyboards for PDAs that match the size of a PDA.

Perhaps a touch screen, too, to make it a tablet PC.

Actually, I was astonished that Apple isn't already offering these devices on the "accessories" page for the Mini.

Posted by: Kevin at January 11, 2005 5:50 PM

No shortages of applications for any OS. Unless games are your only reason for working on Windows. No shortage of those along with no shortage of viruses, spyware, security holes and endless fiddling about. But hey, have a good time.

Posted by: Van der Leun at January 11, 2005 5:53 PM

I'll bet you'll be able to fry eggs on that thing.

Posted by: BJ at January 11, 2005 6:40 PM

Got that right, Gerard. The only thing that worries me about the Mac gaining market share is that we may have to abandon the luxury of laughing at Windoze users, who have to worry endlessly about viruses and downloading the latest OS patch because of some damned security hole.

The only real disadvantage of owning a Mac is not having immediate access to absolutely all of the latest games. But a) Mac conversion publishers like Aspyr and MacSoft tend filter out a lot of the duds so we don't have to. And b) over the last fews years, I've been surprised by how many major game titles have been released concurrently for PC and Mac, or for Mac shortly after the PC version. It used to be like that, then it wasn't for a long time, but now it's like that again. :-)

Posted by: Doug at January 11, 2005 6:43 PM

Oh boy! An OS war.

Why am I still using a PC? Because for 10 years
MACs were too expensive, so I have 10 years
experience with Windows apps and OS.

I know MAC users who have 10 years on Apple OS
and apps. A couple think MACs are elite, but the
rest realize its just another hardware/OS combo.

I'm not interested in MACs because I haven't seen
anyone do anything with a MAC that I can't do for
less money on a PC with either Windows or Linux.

I wouldn't recommend buying one of these because
its seemingly cheap. For that same $499 I can get
on eBay and buy the parts to build a REAL computer
with a 2GHZ+ CPU and a powerful graphics card.

Some would consider getting one of these for a
computer inhibited relative to use as an email
and web only box, but they could buy a nice
500MHZ machine for this, again on eBay, for about

The people who will buy these are already MAC
users, or they've never owned a computer and
don't know any better.

Posted by: User9374826 at January 11, 2005 6:49 PM

As an earlier reader noted, for the applications. I use a Tablet PC with Franklin Covey software, and I'm not aware of any way to do that with a Mac. So I stick with Windows.

Posted by: Andrew at January 11, 2005 7:12 PM

No SAS on the Mac, so no Mac for this dog. Even if it were ported tomorrow, I'd rather have a root canal than spend another $4K on more compu-crap (hardware AND software) and a week loading apps and porting data. But I wish Apple luck, and hope they get scads of new users.

Posted by: slimedog at January 11, 2005 7:54 PM

"So, please, try not to fall into the tired olde trap of OS zeolotry...

Indeed. You too? Like those numbers you cited? Not saying that Macs are all that great a share of the market. But 97.5% are not using Windows. You just lumped Linux, Unix, BSDs, MacOS and other minor OS users all into 2.5%... Huh?

I think some sceptics here are discounting one of the greatest reasons of the iPod's popularity. It just works. It has less hassle than the vast majority of the competition. Don't discount newly computer literate people desiring a little less hassle in other areas of their computing experience.

Will every PC user consider an Apple Mac because of this cheap, silent, small computer? Well, duh. Who even said that? But could enough current PC iPod users (obviously not a core set of all PC users!) now consider a cheap, silent, small computer that works even more efficiently with the iPod?

I mean it seems to me the zealots are the ones who can't stop thinking Apple is even trying to compete with Windows PCs anymore. It almost looks like paranoia.

Posted by: Eric Anondson at January 11, 2005 8:02 PM

Like others, it's largely apps. Buying anything made by Apple seems to be about 1/3 fashion/lifestyle/political/etc. statement. I also gotta say, no offense to the Mac fans in the house, almost everyone I know who lives the iLife (read that if you haven't seen it, it's hilarious) is kind of smug about it. It's a computer for God's sake, not a medal of honor.

That white is beginning to creep me out too. It reminds me way too much of stormtrooper armor or everything in THX 1138.

Posted by: Nathan at January 11, 2005 8:12 PM

Rather than gross market share which includes windows machines in all sorts of legacy positions (that terminal every bank teller uses, the endless cubefarm machines that give lifetime employment to IT departments everywhere, ) I'd like to see a break out of market share over the last five years based on what individuals in homes choose.

That would be an interesting curve. And I also note the observation of Cringley above where he points out that Apple could make this a loss leader and cut prices until they lose $100 per machine.

I've had lots of windows machines over the years starting with the two door IBM PC running dos and rolling right up through windows xp. But I simply got tired to doing all the driver and virus support for myself and for everyone else who could use me to fix their machines.

Now I simply declare I am out of the PC frittering business but if they get an Apple I'll be glad to work with them.

Saves days of my life.

But hey, if the PC guys want to go on dealing with extreme security issues of an os that will never ever be fixed, if they all want to go on suffering and eating a new virus for breakfast lunch and dinner every day... well, God speed and God bless.

Posted by: Van der Leun at January 11, 2005 8:23 PM

I bring up God because, as we all know, it IS a religious war.

Posted by: Van der Leun at January 11, 2005 8:24 PM

I forgot to mention, I kind of enjoy all the issues I have to deal with with my PCs. It helps me make the case at work that computer use isn't a right, it's a privilege :)

Really though, I don't have to deal with too many problems at all. I mean, that's partly because I quit helping other people with their problems, but I would imagine that people who cannot figure out how to open a folder rather than dragging and dropping it into another (then running to me screaming and yelling about how I need to do something about the disappearing folders on the fileserver [oh, i'll do something... something like disable your account, you fool!]) could really screw up a Mac too.

Posted by: Nathan at January 11, 2005 8:55 PM

Yes, it is true that fools are the most creative people in the universe. Numerous too.

Posted by: Van der Leun at January 11, 2005 9:09 PM

It's not just apps for me...it's PIRATED APPS.

I cannot afford to use legitimate software, so I have to settle for buggy warez with no support.

The alternative is to have nearly no software. I'm not willing to do that.

I am one of those crazy, creative types, but without tools I'm just a guy with no outlet.

I make no apologies for my situation, I just play the cards dealt me.

For me, PC is the only game in town.

Posted by: -BLANK- -BLANK- at January 11, 2005 9:50 PM


You are quite right, it is a religious argument. Unfortunately for the heretics, it is only an argument for the Jobian forces. The Majority doesn't even know there is a war.

Anyway, enough silly crap.

I started in the computer biz in the 70's, have BYTE #1 on the shelf, was building multi-user, multi-processor S-100 systems in 1980, and was a dedicated holdout against the Evil Windows until WIN95 came along. I revelled in being anti-establishment, computerwise, and OS/2 was my vehicle. However, I came to realize that I couldn't do some of the things I wanted to do and remain true to my OS, so I finally accepted the fact that I had to get into the mainstream. Not that I liked it, or ever thought it was the solution for all my requirements. But, as any good capitalist knows, the mainstream is where the money is; and where the money is is where the applications are. And so it continues to be.

I notice that you like to reference the the nasty, horrible fate that awaits Windows users, namely the Plague-ridden, pustulant horrors that will surely befall us the moment we connect to the cesspool that is the Internet. Kinda reminds me of the condecension with which the Donkeys regard the Elephants.

I have set up quite a number of Windows computers in the last year, all for people who are not particularly computer literate ( one of them my 85 year old father ). Amazingly, not a single one has had any viruses, spam, spyware or Blue Screens Of Death. My own computers ( yes, multiple) run 24/7, never fail, and serve me faithfully. Could it be that things are not quite as bad as the media make it appear ?

Methinks, thou doest protest too much....


Posted by: Roy at January 11, 2005 10:24 PM

I wouldn't spend $500 on an underpowered Windows PC. Why would I spend $500 + software replacement costs for an underpowered Mac?

Posted by: Scott Janssens at January 12, 2005 7:33 AM

Should have mentioned my current box, 4.05 GHz P4 (HT), Intel HT motherboard, 1 Gig RAM, 120Gig HD, and the same video board as the Mac mini (since upgraded to an ATI X800) was built two years ago for $800.

Posted by: Scott Janssens at January 12, 2005 7:38 AM

Inertia. Pure and simple.

When I overcome inertia at last, the mini looks like an excellent answer.

Posted by: AMcA at January 12, 2005 11:50 AM

I love the bit about "your favorite USB mouse and keyboard." Most PCs don't have USB mice and keyboards, so you're basically out whatever that costs.

Getting the Mac Mini with the faster processor (which is still under-powered) and 512 Megs of RAM (which Dell is giving away free right now), and the wired keyboard and mouse, along with a warranty, you're up to $881.

For $849, I can go to Dell and get a computer with a faster processor, the same RAM and hard drive, a warrantee where they come to my house and fix it if something goes wrong, a DVD burner, and they throw in a 15" flat panel monitor for free.

And best of all, I can upgrade the thing myself if I don't think it's giving me good enough performance, instead of just throwing it out.

Posted by: John A. Kalb at January 12, 2005 1:03 PM

Windows users are like lemmings. Open a window and they'll all jump through it without thinking.....whatever the masses use. Hey, just because there are more Windows users does not mean it's better. You don't see everyone driving a BMW do you?

Posted by: G Carroll at January 14, 2005 9:50 PM

apple mac -- the betamax of computers. kind of putz it into perspective, doesn't it ?

Posted by: arklroy at January 14, 2005 10:08 PM

"the betamax of computers. kind of putz it into perspective, doesn't it ?"

Yes, it does. The Betamax was a better VCR but lost the VCR wars because of 2 marketing issues. Sony blundered by totally misreading the American market and not responding when their flawed approach became evident. And, the VHS companies provided lucrative incentives to salesmen for pushing VHS systems on unwitting customers. As a result, the low-quality product won.

Seeing as how you have been able to buy Macs for the past 2 decades, but not Betamaxes sort of shows that the analogy doesn't hold.

As for software issues, most mainstream applications are available for Macs. It is vertical market applications which limit the Mac option for businesses. In our office we replace PCs with Macs as needed. The new Macs will be our first choice.

Regarding the cheap Dells, maybe someone can provide a link for a P4 Dell that is selling as cheap as a Mac. By the way, a free 15" monitor is about as useful as a 28k modem. Yes, it will work, but...

Posted by: Remy Logan at January 15, 2005 5:43 PM

I got a PS2 for $149 with no monitor or keyboard or mouse. It's way cool.

Posted by: andy at January 16, 2005 12:20 AM

With the market share Windows users have one wonders why they even bother to make responses to such articles? I know if I were in their shoes I wouldn't even bother posting unless of course I was insecure for some reason. ;-)

Posted by: Johnathan Swift at October 14, 2005 7:24 AM
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