Apple Strikes Back
|A Bite of Nostaglia|
It's been decades of fear, loathing and nighttime attacks, duking it out over which computer does what better; but with Microsoft's (MSFT) fortunes fading and Apple (AAPL) on the rise, it may be time for this little nerd fight to take a cue from Belfast, Ireland: Getting along is now in everyone's interest.
Last week, I had the temerity, impudence and crudeness to recommend a mere PC -- in this case an Alienware m5550 laptop -- over a comparable Apple product.
From what I then heard from Apple fans, you'd have thought I was boiling children alive.
"Blatantly false," said one. "I was disappointed to see you hinge your entire article on an ill-informed shot at Apple Computers," growled another. "Please explain to me what limits in Apple software you are 'plagued' by," barked a third. And my favorite: "Your review comes across as biased and amateur."
Oh, I really love this job. You see, though I'm sure there are other people out there who've owned and used more Macs, I have yet to meet them.I bought the original Apple II more than a quarter-century ago, and I've used the machines steadily ever since. At Columbia University, in the 1980s, I used the first Mac and the first outboard 20-megabyte hard drive to run the early iterations of desktop computer-aided design tools. I worked on the first generation of desktop Avid editing systems while at VH1 and MTV in the early '90s. I created award-winning programming using Adobe After-Effects video tools and Digidesign's ProTools audio software while I was at "ABC News." I hold TV ratings records with content made on Photoshop and Quark Xpress. I often spent 17 hours a day sitting in front of a Mac Quadra. In fact, I owned a Mac Quadra -- and the first outback portable Mac laptop. And although I don't use a Mac at home now, the designers and some of the word shufflers in my shop do; we swear by them. The studio that produces my radio show uses Macs. And I will probably pull the trigger on a new MacPro sometime soon. Given this history, I believe I can safely say I know what Macs do -- and what they don't do.
Pick of the CropBack in the day, Apples really were superior. After all, Apple Computer was the first to snag -- er, commercialize -- the elegant, noncommand-based, pull-down-menu concepts developed at the Xerox Palo Alto, Calif., Research Center in the late 1970s. Sure, back then you grotesquely overpaid for a Mac, but it was worth it. While Windows and Unix machines were lucky to print a page, a few grand spent on an Apple and -- zap! -- you became a member of an elite club: The desktop publisher, movie maker, graphics shop and music studio in one. Having a Mac back then was heady, glorious, iconoclastic stuff. I lived it. And I loved it. But alas, those days of Apple's idiosyncratic greatness are over. Apple is now a mainstream brand. And a rather bland one.
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