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April 21, 2010



In a 1996 interview for Fortune, Steve was quoted saying "If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it's worth — and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago."

And guess what? It's exactly what he did. He reestablished the Mac's mojo to get a steady income source and then got busy with the next great thing. Once he found it, who cares about the Mac?

Steve is not known to be into nostalgia. Same thing with people (Steve Wozniak, Tony Fadell, etc.). He's working with them when he needs them, but doesn't care about them after.

Steve W

or maybe...

Snow Leopard was the focus last year because it was new then, and iPhone OS 4 is the focus this year because it is new now, and next year...


You never used a Microsoft product?? They release heaps of stuff with flaws which they fix later, or not, as the whim takes them. For a company as big as MS to only now come up with Windows 7 should scare the pants off them - but then I guess they are so big they can cope while they work out how to do it better.

I do agree with you that Apple are doing what they have always done and it's just been noticed now.

And while the Music Publishers have handed a lot of power to Apple they have also opened up a brand new sales stream, which while it may not have the margins of the past has also kept them going when the past has been left well and truly behind in the face of MP3.

At least Apple aren't making the book sellers sell books one chapter at a time ;)
well, not yet anyway.


one thing that apple has been consistent in is the way steve jobs dissed any technology before apple uses them, then sing the gospel of said technology after apple applied them in their product.

this is an interesting paradox - the fanboys are constantly being treated like drooling dumbasses and given great product to play with.


You know, I get real tired of price comparisons with no research to back them up. I just configured a Dell notebook on their website, attempting to make it equal in features to the Macbook (including some software to match iLife). What was the price when I was done? $2069. So a whole $120 less. Would I pay the extra to get a sleeker machine with a longer battery, OS X, and zero security concerns, that just works better? Yup, sure would.

The funny thing is, I see a lot of arguments for Apple has suddenly become terrible, and yet there are equally good arguments for everything they are doing and why. They want to make the best damn consumer technology products out there (inculding computers). I continue to believe that is Steve's goal. I've yet to been given a reason to refute that. So many want to attribute malice to these decisions, when in reality they are great business decisions that will help Apple see the future, while the other PC makers slowly go bankrupt.

Everything in the PC world has become a commodity, and you can't make money on a commodity. Just ask Dell and HP. At least HP made a wise move buying Palm. Maybe they can see the future as well. We may still have desktops around for a while, but new devices like the iPad and iPhone will be where consumers spend most of their time. And both will likely bridge the gap and become better computers than our desktops and laptops were.

And just because Apple doesn't specifically cater to your "important" markets in some presentation doesn't mean they still don't care about pro markets or publishing. As long as they keep putting out faster machines, what else will those markets need? It's just that those markets are no longer the primary users of Apple products. I don't see a reason for Apple to stop addressing them, heck, I secretly hope they will buy Adobe and turn Creative Suite into something good again.

As the old saying goes, never attribute to malice what you can attribute to stupidity, though in this case, seems to me you can replace stupidity with "smart business decisions"

Nunuvyer Bizniz

You write, "Paying attention to customers is not the Apple way. The Apple way is deciding what you want, and then giving it to you at price point that Apple decides not the competition. In Steve's mind, Apple has no competition."

I think Steve is right. Apple has no competition. Why compete with dinosaurs for peanuts when you can build the future and make money?


So I-man, one of the things that really ticks me off is someone thinking I would make a price statement without anything to back it up. I will forgive you for lack of attention to the right side of the blog where you will see some articles about i7 laptops which has the details that you are seeking.

Just to bring you up to speed...

In February I bought a HP i7 laptop for my self and a HP i5 laptop for my wife.

You can see the specs for mine at this link.


You can see the invoice for the two laptops at this link.


I will stand by the comparison in my blog.

I am obviously a lot better at getting a good deal on a laptop than you are.

I do have a post done around the Holidays when I compared an iMac to the closest Dell that I could find.

There was very little difference as long as you stayed away from the i5 and i7 processors. Based on that research my daughter bought an iMac.

Apple makes very good products, but it you think their laptops are priced competitively, you need a course in math.

It is well known within Apple, that there are Apple customers who will pay anything for the latest Mac. Perhaps Steve would be dumb for not taking advantage of them.

However at one time Apple did try to be price competitive and treat its customers fairly. I was there, and I know.

The HP i7 laptop with Windows 7 is one of the most reliable machines I have ever used. It has yet to hang up. It is also very fast, and a pleasure to use.

Would I have paid an extra $300 for a Mac laptop with similar specs? Yes, I would have paid that without any hesitation.

Would I pay more than double what I paid, in a word, no.

The reason Apple has no competition in the eyes of its customers is that most Apple customers could care less what they are paying. They will not settle for anything but a Mac.

You get a whole better view of the pricing landscape if you use a variety of products. I have Macs, Dells, HPs, and use Mac operating systems along with three versions of Windows, and Ubuntu Linux.


It is wrong to say that Apple ignores customers, yet it is true that more than other companies Apple tries to lead them on to new things.

The overall theme you present is a tough one. On the one hand Apple makes great products. Keynote, Pages, Final Cut and others are great. Yet, it is true that we are subject to Apple's corporate decisions. This is true for any large company that controls many products. Any individual product can disappear overnight.

But why did it take Apple to make something like Keynote? I'd be happy to work with a small company who's only produce was Keynote, or iWork. Is iWork sold at a loss? Does it take that many engineers to produce and maintain it?

James Katt

The Mac has a long way to go. Steve jobs said he isn't ignoring it, unlike wan some negative nannies are saying. The Mac still make huge amounts of money for Apple. It is also the hub of the digital lifestyle. The iPad, most assuredly, is not the hub. It is a peripheral. Thus, every iPad sold is a potential Mac sale as well. They go hand in hand. This is what every negative nanny misses.

Tonio Loewald

@James Katt: what you're missing is that the iPad isn't the ultimate iPhone OS platform device. There's no reason why next year's MacBook Pro can't have a touchscreen, boot into iPhone OS, and run Mac OS X apps under OS X "Classic".

When the Mac came out you needed a Lisa to write software for it. I'm sure some folks thought that the Lisa's future was thus guaranteed.


Readers might find this article interesting:



Alright, let's see if we can argue this a different way. I still believe the Mac to be a better value overall, and spec wise while the machine you bought is relatively close there are still some important differences. Those differences are hard to put a value on.

First off, I went to HP's store and tried to configure a machine exactly like the model you bought. For starters, I can't get a screen that is the same resolution as the Macbook Pro, nor can I get a higher resolution one.

Second, the Macbook Pro is 1 pound lighter and over half an inch thinner. There is no way to put a value on this, but weight matters. How much is up to each individual's preferences. But it is a big difference. Plus we have the machined aluminum case, while the HP is plastic. Again, may not matter to you but it sure does to me and plenty of other people.

Processor wise Apple chose to go with a 32nm i7, rather than the quad-core 45nm chip. Performance wise this makes sense, as they will perform about the same for the vast majority of tasks. But the 32nm chip is more energy efficient, giving the Macbook Pro 7-8 hours of battery (Anandtech's tests got 7.5 hours consistently with web surfing and normal office tasks). I would like to hear how the battery life is on your HP. Honestly. No snark, I'm genuinely curious.

Finally, here's why the Macbook Pro is not as expensive as you might think. Let's say I buy one tomorrow. Use it regularly for 2 years. How much do you think I will sell it for after that as a used machine? I will venture a guess and say $1000. Let's say after finding a deal (like you did at Staples) I get the machine for just over $2000. So now I take the $1000 I just made selling my old Macbook Pro, and buy a brand new one for $2000 again. Total cost? $1000. I get to stay up to date with the latest, best laptop using an operating system I prefer. And I can turn it into a Windows 7 machine too! And Linux. That kind of flexibility has it's advantages.

So your comparison isn't fair. You choose to ignore a whole host of issues that clearly matter to a large portion of Apple's user base, otherwise they would not be making these machines the way they do.

And as a sidenote, to make your machine a fairer comparison, you'd have to add Windows 7 Professional and an iLife counterpart at least, bringing your total to somewhere north of $1400 on HP's website (when I do comparisons I go by the manufacturer's price, not a sale or deal on one while ignoring deals for the other). Oh, and it's probably wise to run some virus extortion, I mean protection, for $50 a year, so add that too.

Here is what I will concede: If weight doesn't matter, if battery life is irrelevant, if design and build quality is not important (fit and finish, not just reliability), if resale value is not important (I doubt you'll get much for that HP in 2 years), if green production isn't important, if customer service is not a factor (Apple consistently rates well above every pc manufacturer), if the Apple stores with their classes and Genius bar are not important, then maybe a cheap Windows laptop is for you. To ignore all these things when comparing the experiences just doesn't work.

Apple is a premium brand. That is their function. If you want to run a cheap laptop and drive a cheap car and eat at McDonald's and laugh at all the people spending money on what they consider better and premium experiences that is your right to do so. But I will argue with you all day that you are wrong (and then I'll go enjoy a nice steak).


Well I-man, just the fact that it took 661 words to argue your case shows how infected you are with the Apple bug. There is no doubt that Apple is a premium brand. That means you pay a premium price and Apple gets a premium margin for the same or similar parts that are in my HP.

Trust me Apple is laughing all the way to the bank on this one.

I sell real estate on the NC coast so I very familiar with the concept of value. You can build two houses out of the same materials and depending on where they are located, they can be worth very different amounts.

That concept of value doesn't work well with portable laptops unless you're talking the prestige of carrying an Apple compared to a HP.

Let me correct a couple of things. First Microsoft has a new free security suite which works very well and removes the need to subscribe to something like Norton.

Picasa, which is free, serves me quite well as a photo management tool. I might burn one or two DVDs a year which I do on a desktop Mac because I happen to like a large screen. So the rest of the iLife suite is worth zero to me.

As to Apple Stores with a Genius, that's a laugh. The closest Apple Store is three hours from me which by the way means the closest Apple repair is there instead of three miles from my house.

I use my machines a lot longer than two years. My Dell desktop that I bought in 2004 is now a Linux box. My MacBook will be four years old this summer. My Dell laptop from 2004 is being used by my son-in-law. My dual G5 desktop will turn six years old this December.

As to battery life, I cannot tell you, but I also could not tell you on any of the many Mac laptops that I have carried over the years because mostly they stay plugged in an outlet.

As to weight that's not worth a lot to most laptop users who carry them from their car to their desks. Even when I traveled to Cupertino once a month, most of the weight in my briefcase came not from the laptop but all the other junk I carried.

As to reliability, I have an Aluminum Powerbook which only lasted 18 months before the ribbon cable died. It made more sense to buy a new MacBook than have it repaired because Apple will no longer sell ribbon cables to resellers.

Of course my wife still has her 12" G4 laptop, and it is still running as long as it is plugged in an outlet.

I drive an Acura MDX. This is my second one because cars are expensive, and these seem to last a very long time and have great resale value. The technology doesn't change as much.

The fact is that any laptop after two years is a two year old laptop which has limited value because the technology has changed and laptops eventually break. If you pay $1200 every two years, and if you started at $2200, your cost over four years will be $3,400 divided by 4 or $850 per year.

If I pay $800 every two years, and if I started at $800 dollars, my cost over four years is $1,600 or $400 per year.

If you want to preach that Apple's new laptops are great values, be my guest but for most people they are a luxury item with style, fit, and finish that have little to do with accomplishing the tasks they ask their laptops to do. They are neat products but that doesn't get my writing done any faster.

I cannot tell that there is any difference in my writing whether it is done on a Mac or my Windows laptop.

The fact is that the new 15" MacBook Pro with an i-7 processor is so expensive that I could buy my HP laptop and a $999 MacBook and still have $300 in my pocket. You probably wouldn't like that since the MacBook is also a "plastic" product.

By the way, my wife and I had filet mignon last night for dinner. I figure the steaks cost us about $5.50 each. We had purchased a whole beef tenderloin the last time the kids were home.

Now you might argue that I would have gotten a better value by going to Outback which I also like. Someone would have waited on me and cleaned up the dishes.

The same meal at Outback would have cost us over sixty dollars, but I think we got the better meal at home. Being a former cattleman, I am pretty good at grilling steaks.

We also got to eat them on our deck and enjoy the view of the Roanoke Valley.


So you might say that getting my i7 laptop for a great price is a little like eating those filet mignons while enjoying that view.

You're looking for a difference between the Mac and HP. You're going to have a hard time finding one that means anything to most people

One last point, I am not sure it is fair to knock HP for the fact that their resellers offer great deals. If you want to buy at MSRP and ignore deals, be my guest, but it is an expensive way to live. Did you pay sticker price on your last car? Street prices make more sense as a comparison, but of course Apple's suggested retail price is pretty well their street price. That isn't the case with the rest of the laptops in the world.

So that's my 960+ words on the subject.


There is one last advantage on my HP. I can say that HP at least doesn't go after comics. I think Apple has lost its sense of reality when they go after someone like Ellen DeGeneres.



Interesting view point, but I disagree with you on an HP vs. Apple. I'm of the opinion that you get what you pay for, and I've not seen a single Wintel machine in the stores worth the price paid for it. Laptops are meant to move around, and the build quality apparent in the stores of PC laptops is very cheap. Thin plastics, cheapest components they can find, heat pouring out the sides and displays that are barely adequate. Laptops need to be rugged and durable, and I couldn't drop $800 on a PC laptop at all, and then I'd be thinking how do I get OSx installed on it, because if the machine was $100 I still wouldn't use it. I'm stuck with XP at work, but I'd never subject myself to that torture on my own time - being paid to use crap is hard enough, but never for free!


Oops, sorry, should have added at the end there that I enjoyed the article and will keep checking back on your future blogs. Thanks.


Well XP is a totally different kettle of fish than Windows 7. I continue to be impressed with Windows 7. I have been using it on two machines since February, and there has been not a single crash or hang. In I would have to rate it as more reliable than OS X at this point, but I am using a number of versions of OS X on older hardware so that might not be fair.

As to the quality of Windows systems, I have been carrying both since 2004. The number of new laptops bought since then would be one Dell, three HPs, and two Macs.

It is a very small sample, but none of the Windows boxes have had a hardware problem. One is still running XP, another Vista, and two are running Windows 7. Of the two Macs, my Aluminum PowerBook G4 is out of commission, with a broken ribbon cable and one bad memory slot. My MacBook had to be sent back to the factory because it would not charge the battery and the case was discoloring. The MacBook continues to function fine and is coming up on its fourth birthday.

Windows 7 is a very usable operating system. The HP hardware that I have had is very reliable, and I have seen no evidence of it falling apart before my Macs. In my case it has been the opposite problem, Macs having problems.

Someone from Apple was telling me today that the latest explanation for the price differential is that they don't get the same volume break as HP or Dell. So how do you fix that problem, sell at a lower price so you can sell more, but that is not going to happen at Apple.

I would put my wife's 14" HP i-5 system against the quality of any Apple laptop. In speed there would be no contest. We had a visitor recently, he used my wife's HP while at our home. He liked it so much he went out and bought one. He also used my MacBook. He chose the HP.


Why, simple, price and my recommendation as the HP being the best buy for his money.


and by the way, so what if apple goes after ellen? that is the company! we're not comparing companies here, we're comparing COMPUTERS! that was a stupid move on apple's part, but how does it make a pc better than a mac?


hey ocracokewaves, you forget that you macbook is 4 years old. if you are trying to have a fair comparison then why not try to compare equal machines? new HP? do you have a new macbook to compare it to? no. you also fail to point out many other advantages of windows systems other than your personal experience, which in some cases is relevant, but many times it has no correlation to why another person would buy or own a pc. you had a bad powerbook ribbon cable? that's just 1 experience! i've owned 8 macs, many being old, used, ready to break down, but i have never had a single problem with any of them, while it seems every time i attempt to use a windows computer, it crashes or there is a conflict. i've owned 1 windows computer and i will never own 1 again. the fact that it just felt like it was gonna fall apart, it had about 2 hours of battery life maximum, the screen was dull compared to other macs from the same era, the keyboard felt cheap and the keys always fell off, and the thing crashed after i had it for only 4 months. (and yes, i did use anti-virus software). you say that your book wont get done any faster, and you may be right, but i would honestly pay a few hundred more for the guarantee that everything just works. call us mac users stupid, but sometimes the fact is not that we are not "smart enough" to manage a pc, or anything like that, it is simply that we dont feel like it, and there IS a product that enables us to not have to worry about managing it. there is a pc enthusiast at my school that wont get off the fact you can get a pc cheaper, and claims that all pc crashes are the result of "dumbasses" not knowing how to maintain their rig. the thing is, anyone i've met would like a computer, and thinks that they are great, but is detracte from them because it is overwhelming to them, or they dont like the interface. it took me years to amass the information i know now about computers, and you cant just automatically expect people to know all that automatically! there is no manual to tell them how and when to defrag, there is no manual about how viruses work and how to protect yourself from them! (i could list much more.) and of course the guy bought he HP, you even said that you reccommended it, and the fact he knows nothing about computers completely nullifies your argument. this was not a guy that went out and did the numbers and checked deeper into things like customer satisfaction, and features, he was just a guy that got told by another guy that the brand new HP is superior to the 4 year old macbook. and yes, windows 7 is completely different from XP, but as a wise man once said: "Its still windows."


Well Rudy, I like Ellen, and if Apple makes her life any more miserable I would like reconsider my support of Apple products.

The only way we change companies' bad behavior is to withhold our dollars.

As to comparing my i-7 laptop to a four year old MacBook, unfortunately I only get to compare what I can afford to buy.

I offered to review i-7 machines from Apple when they first introduced them in the iMac. Apple ignored my offer.

In case you haven't figured it out, Apple only sends out product for review to people who will not utter a single negative vibe about the product. I am sure there is nothing wrong with i-7 MacBooks except the price. They are great, but expensive products. I would love one if someone gave me one or if I won the lottery.

You might want to have a look at the latest Consumer Reports on laptops. Apple did not do as well as in previous years in the value category. Part of the reason is that Windows 7 has closed the gap and Apple has raised prices when others have lowered them.

In case you have not noticed, a very similar product to my almost four years old MacBook is still on the Apple price list and would still be the closest product in price to the i-7 laptop that I bought from HP.

By the way, Windows 7 might be Windows, but it is a dam good product no matter what. I have been running it on two machines since February and it has yet to hang or crash on either machine.

I cannot say that about OS X. By the way I have bought far more Macs than you, and more importantly I have been involved in far more Mac service issues when I was at Apple. Your experience is that of a consumer.

I am glad you love your Macs, and that you have taken the time to read my blog, but the fact remains that Windows 7 on my HP i-7 is still a great deal on some very powerful hardware which also has turned out to be reliable.

Brian M

The HP is "spec" comparable, but not part compatible. There is a big difference in any construction between using similar parts, and using the exact same parts.
The HP is no doubt a reliable system especially with Windows 7, but it uses an older video chip, an older processor, lesser battery, lower screen resolution, all of these things do affect the price.
(In Canada, most of the MacBooks dropped in price, except the base 15" which went up $50, but gained the more advanced video chip, so things looked quite different up here)
Windows 7 is the least annoying windows I've used yet. Still not going to give up Mac OS X for my personal use, maybe in another few versions Microsoft might have it close.


I hate to say it, but you sound a lot like a politician trying to defend a really stupid bill.

Everything you say might be right, but even it is, the difference in price should be minimal.

My HP has an i-7 processor, it cannot be very old, they just started shipping them in January, and I bought one in February.

The difference between one i-7 processor and another i-7 is nowhere near the difference between an i-7 and a Core Two Duo processor.

The same logic holds on the video chip. It might be slightly different, but it is not the same as using on board video.

I might give you $200, maybe $300 at the outside for your differences, but I am not going to pay an additional $1300 to $1400 for the differences you listed when my notebook is in the $800-$900 range.

In essence I was ready to pay $1,300 for a Mac with an i5 or better processor with a smaller screen but I would not pay that much for a system with an old processor no matter what the screen size.

At least you agree Windows 7 is an improvement. Most Mac people have not looked at it enough to know.


I was hoping this would remain an intelligent conversation, but since I have been "infected...by the Apple bug" (so you are calling me a fanboy, nice) I can see that that isn't going to continue.

What all of this comes down to is that for your personal situation, the HP works fine. No one would dispute that. But when you extrapolate your position to that of most consumers is where you go wrong.

You are an experienced computer user. You live 3 hours from an Apple store. You seem to care most about initial value over long term experience, and things that are important to many people (i.e. Fit and finish, battery life, weight, screen resolution and pixel density, etc.) are not important to you. You have a right to all those opinions and the decisions you make based on them.

But when you argue that no one else cares about those things you are ignoring the bigger picture. Clearly, the Apple stores DO matter. Over 85% of the US is within 15 miles of an Apple Store with a Genius bar. Obviously lots of customers care about support and a local place to go for help. It is hard to put a price on something like that, just like the other factors I mentioned.

Intangibles matter. In fact I would argue at this point in the computer industry, intangibles matter more than processor speed or any other spec. The iPad is a perfect example of this. The specs are irrelevant. What matters is how it feels when you hold it, how you interact with it, the joy of using it.

I'll bet the vast majority of computer buyers out there have no idea what the difference is between an i5, i7 or Core 2 Duo processor. That is as it should be. How many people buy cars based on the engine inside?

Consumers have moved on. What matters now is the package. Is it light, does it feel right, is it fast and easy to use. This is the natural progression of the computer market. Just like most people don't care to understand the inner workings of their car, so most shouldn't have to care about their computer either.

I'm glad Apple is trying to push us forward with new paradigms like the iPhone and the iPad. The computer market is dead. How much profit does HP make on that laptop you bought? They are the market leader, yet make almost nothing in comparison to Apple. As a shareholder it seems to me that Apple knows where computing is going. Maybe HP is seeing it now they have just bought Palm. It's gonna make for an interesting future.

I am pretty damn frugal, my friends would even say miserly, but sometimes experiences are worth their price. Comparing Outback to a home cooked steak? Ha, sure, my home grilled steaks are better too. But does that mean I wouldn't go to a top steak house and pay close to $50 for a steak I can't even begin to replicate at home? Or any other dish from a great chef for that matter? Even if I were rich I wouldn't seek out these experiences all the time. I choose them when I think there is more value in the experience than in saving the money.

Right now Apple is one of those experiences for me. Doesn't have to be for you, or a lot of other people. As long as they continue to drive sales to people like me (a normal, critical-thinking human being, not a fanboy) Apple will be fine.

Oh, and seriously, Ellen? What do I care if some lawyer called her from Apple. I'm sure if you bothered looking you could find plenty of more serious things HP have done that might make you think twice about buying from them. Hell, you can do it for any company. The only way to avoid it is to not buy anything at all.


Well I-man, you are far too intelligent to be a real fanboy. However, we fundamentally disagree on a number of items, and you have had a few cups of the Apple koolaide.

First I am not denying that there is a segment of the market that loves the products that Apple is delivering. They want the fit, finish, and image that an Apple product brings to an owner.

However, there are a lot more people that do not care about what Apple brings to the computer world. Last I checked Apple's share was still under 10%.

Also there is another point that you have missed. Apple used to bring that same fit and finish to the market at a much more competitive price point. Part of the genius of Apple was delivering a stunning product at only a slight price premium. We rarely had to argue prices when we sold Apple laptops because the technology in the laptop justified the price.

Now we are looking at solid blocks of Aluminum with essentially the same technology as we find in the Windows world.

I believe that Apple has given up trying to deliver that wonderful product at an affordable price point. They are milking the Mac market. That's fine if you are trying to make the highest margin possible on each unit, but it limits the exposure of your product, and perhaps the long term success of your company if your iPhone or iPad businesses do not have long legs.

To you, using your laptop is an experience. To me, using my laptop is getting my work done. I use Macs and Windows boxes without a thought to which platform that I am using. Only a couple of applications will drive me to one platform or the other.

There is just not enough difference in anything, perceived experience or fit and finish that makes using my laptops something more than using my laptops.

Now Vista was an experience that I never want to have again, but Windows 7 has given me an exceptional experience that lets me get my work done quickly and without interruption very similar to MacOS X.

I really do not care how much HP makes on their laptops. What I care is that they work well, and I do not have to spend more than necessary of my hard earned money on a tool that I require to get my job done.

In the end, my laptops, both the HP and the Apple are just that, tools to get a job done. I do not get up in the morning yearning to use a laptop. I get up wanting the information that I like to see in the morning delivered to me. Both my MacBook and HP laptop work well in that respect.

When I am done with breakfast and my information upload for the day, I want to be able to accomplish my writing or web tasks without any problems.

If it comes down to a choice of writing on the HP or the MacBook, I usually choose the HP because it has a 15 inch screen which works better with Typepad and my old eyes.

If I go to my office to write, I usually end up writing on a Mac desktop since I have large screens on those.

It really matters little which I use since Firefox is the tool on both of them.

I recently had a friend visit us at the coast. There were two laptops set up on our kitchen counter, my MacBook with a thirteen inch screen and my wife's 14" i5 HP laptop. My friend used both during his visit. Just as he was leaving he told me he wanted to buy a laptop. He said he really liked my wife's system and wondered how it compared in price and value to the MacBook.

All he wanted to do with his laptop was to browse the web and read his email.

He used to be a Mac user, but he had to give up Macs because he lives even farther out in the boondocks than I do. He has been using a Windows XP desktop for the last several years because he had nearby friends who would help him with technical problems.

So what would you have told him to buy?

The choices were the $999 MacBook with 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB DDR3 memory and 250GB hard drive which is very similar to my MacBook or the HP laptop like my wife's system with Windows 7 Intel® Core™ i5-430M processor (2.26GHz),4GB installed memory, and 320GB hard drive for $749.


I told him that for his needs the HP was a better value. He's a marathon runner. He could care less about an aluminum or plastic case on his laptop. Talking about his running shoes might evoke a debate, but laptops are just a tool to him as they are to most people.

I would be careful with the 85% figure on US population and Apple stores. I was at Apple when the company started using the figure. I think they pulled it out of the air.

In the end it does not matter. We have homes in Roanoke County, Va. and Carteret County, NC.

Roanoke has well over 250,000 living in the metro area. It is still a two hour drive to an Apple store. Fortunately in the last few years a small reseller has taken up the Apple flag. At least it is a place where you can get repairs done.

Our other home is in Carteret County, NC. Our total year round population is about 65,000. It swells to more than double that in the summer. As far as I can tell the nearest place to buy anything Apple is one of the Apple stores in Raleigh 2.5 hours away.

I have chosen to live in those spots because the experience that I get from living there is important to me. The fact that I don't have access to Mac stores means little to me and to the others living in those areas. We are in effect places that have dropped between the cracks in Apple's plans to take over the world.

As to Apple driving us to new products. They are driving you to new products. I am happy with my laptops, desktops, and smart phone. I do not need another cool product.

Now if Apple introduced a new product which was guaranteed to catch more large red drum than anything else on the market, I might get really excited.

Over the last year, a lot of people have asked for my help in deciding what computers to buy.

I advised my own daughter to buy an iMac at Christmas. I told my college friend, Sally, to switch from Windows XP to a Mac mini. Both of my college roommates were advised to buy iMacs. One was a XP user and the other had an aging ruby iMac. Another childhood friend was advised to buy a MacBook and give up his XP laptop.

Most people who have a Windows machine don't ask for my advice because they expect that the former Apple guy will automatically tell them to buy a Mac. I would love to tell everyone to buy Macs, but considering value, it is harder to do that in 2010 than it was in 2009.

Many people that I know in the real estate world would actually do better with a Mac if they would take the time to learn it, but they won't, and I don't have the time to handhold them.

As to spending money on steak experiences, I had plenty of those on Apple's nickle, and they are just not that important to me.

I would rather have some fresh caught fish right from Bogue Sound.

As for Ellen, I would agree that HP is not a candidate for being a saintly company, but I can say that I do not know anyone personally whom HP has gone after with lawyers.

I cannot say the same for Apple. In fact I know multiple people that have had calls from Apple's lawyers. I also cannot say that I know anyone who worked at Apple in sales for years and left with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Mostly they left with targets on their back. It is not a fun way to leave a place where you have worked very hard for years.

I hope you continue to enjoy your Mac, and perhaps when you are semi-retired as I am, my opinions might look a little more logical.

I do not want to begrudge you or anyone the love of a great product. I do want you to understand that it is possible for great products to very overpriced and not much of a value to most people.

And with that I would suggest we both read the latest issue of Consumer Reports and see if any Apple laptops got labeled as best value.

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