The following guest commentary was written by the staff of the YieldPig investing blog.
Thanks to the iPad, the "Mac" faithful are lining up like its happy hour at Jonestown. Frankly, I don't get it. I'm not a Mac person. I was for about a year in the mid-1990s when
experimented with selling a cheapy Mac through the big-box office-supply stores. Incidentally, that was during Steve Jobs first sabbatical. I felt cool for a little bit, but the novelty wore off quickly. I guess the machine was easy to use, but it felt a little junky.
The company took a different marketing tack with the return of Reverend Steve. Back then the stock was around $10 a share. Now it sits crossed-leg guru-style at the top of a chart that resembles the Himalayas at nearly $240 a share. Interestingly enough,
march has been just as successful. However, IBM is still considered the Lawrence Welk to Apple's Beatles.
There's no denying that Apple has made lots and lots of money for lots of people. I guess it's well-deserved. It's a profitable, well-run company. Its products knock the cover off of the ball when it comes to being cutting edge. Its products enjoy a cult-like devotion from consumers who believe.
I don't have the same devotion. I know it's not cool, but I guess I identify more with the nebbish who portrays "PC" in the Apple commercials. The actor playing the "Mac" is too cool for my speed. He comes off as if he's waiting on the next big thing, thinking about going to work. The "PC" looks as if he's ready to get it done now, providing you have the correct paperwork. We know that there are all kinds of fun apps on Macs and iPhones and now the iPad. But who has time for fun these days? Have you looked at the charts?
I can't say that I'm totally not a buyer. I do have a second generation iPod shuffle that can hold around 250 songs. There's no touch-screen display (my son has that fancy model) showing me the album artwork. No, I have to memorize the song order. I have to instinctively know that the Alex Chilton songs will, logically, be before the Replacements songs. I dig knowing that I can carry 250 45s in my shirt pocket and, ironically, iTunes downloads cost about what 45s did when I was 13 years old. I wouldn't call that drinking the Kool-Aid; I'd compare that to going to a meeting or two and taking some of the literature that was handed out.
I guess my main aversion to the wonderful world of Apple is cost. Its crap is expensive. A new Mac costs more than the first PC I bought in 1991. Granted, it can do a lot more and it's guaranteed to make my hair grow back but how much stuff do we need a machine to do? I am typing this comment on a $199 netbook. The two primary things I do as far as computing is concerned is write and check a couple of things on the Internet. My netbook goes for the same price as an iPhone.
I don't have an iPhone. The phone I have is smart enough. I can call home, the office, my parents. My wife and I can text each other (usually grocery lists or child-fetching instructions) and, if I need to, I can check my email. But, alas, I can't play TapFarm. That's OK. All of the Apple stuff reminds me of the modern furniture you see in magazines. Cool-looking, but hopelessly uncomfortable. My mother-in-law, yes the one that swears she needs an exchange-traded fund that shorts the Chinese yuan, has a Mac. I was using it the other day and honestly I kind of got the willies when I had to roll that little ball on the mouse that moves the cursor.
And now we have the iPad. I have just gotten to the point where I'm less annoyed by the incessant iPhone diddling at extracurricular school functions. Now there's a new gadget to keep dads occupied during soccer practice. It's the new must-have and even at $399 a pop (that's a good deal right?) Reverend Steve will sell a boatload of them and in a year to a year and a half will knock the price down a hundred bucks and sell two or three more boatloads. It'll change the way we do things.
will do a special.
But the truth is that everything is the same. The plaything is a little different. Not much, but enough to make the "Mac" faithful get that zombie look and chant: "Yes, master. We hear and obey." No thanks. I'll just kvetch about how expensive they are and talk about how I actually typed every paper I had in college on a Smith Corona typewriter.