For quite a while (heck, pretty much forever), the knock on Apple (s aapl) has been that it’s overpriced, that the same thing can be had for much less elsewhere.
A much more recent complaint is that somehow Apple never gets any critical reviews, it’s all just shoddy reporting. A couple of big hitters on the other side have jumped on this latest argument. I’ll leave it for others to attack the attackers, so to speak, but I believe it gives the topic more credibility than it deserves, and leads down a path that neither side can possibly “win” anyway.
What’s especially funny is that the day after Paul Thurrot’s screed he published a two-part review of Microsoft’s Windows Live Essentials proclaiming it to be “awesome” and “excellent.” These are just the mail, chat, etc. apps recently unbundled from Windows. I’ve been running them for a few months now. They’re OK, but there’s nothing particularly special here. If they’re “awesome,” then their Mac equivalents must be super duper, fantastic, magical, and other-worldly. It’s funny how Paul railed against “bad reporting” and a company having “too many friends in the media,” yet then provided examples of both in a review that gave four stars to what’s essentially the old Outlook Express app with a facelift and botox. Bad reporting, indeed.
Concern About Being Labeled a “Fanboi”?
Getting back to the whole “fanboi” thing, one of the more recent Apple hardware introductions is their LED 24″ monitor. While I’ve seen great reviews of it, they’re frequently tempered with an almost apologetic tone, as if the author is sorry he’s not slamming Apple for an overpriced fashion accessory.
I swear, every time I read an article that begins something like “I’m not an Apple fanboi, but…” I want to puke. What’s with the disclaimer? What are you afraid of? Being branded? Paul Thurrott writing bad things about you? Dan Lyons yelling at you? Please. Do you like the product or not? For Pete’s sake show some backbone and stop whimpering already.
It seems to me such disclaimers try to fend off the “fanboi” label, or to appear as not lacking objectivity (some articles nit-picking Apple masquerade as “proof” of the latter). As if simply by praising an Apple product you must be in the RDF, worship Steve Jobs, be incapable of critical thought, etc. You know, the kind of name-calling we thought we’d left behind on the third-grade playground.
The truth is, if you like an Apple product or service or, heaven forbid, buy one, Apple-bashers will label you a “fanboi” regardless of your protestations to the contrary. It’s what they do. Trying to be pro-active about it won’t help; I think it just makes the writer sound wishy-washy.
Apple quality and value are not that hard to find for those who look. Whether they matter to you is another thing altogether. Different people want different things. But to state that, say, Dell (s dell), is making the exact same thing at half the price is laughable.
For example, some claim a Dell monitor’s 8ms response time makes it better than Apple’s monitor at 14ms. The problem with such a simplistic comparison is that manufacturers typically don’t even specify the standard they used to derive the spec, and where they do it’s usually the “easier” grey-to-grey measurement. Comparison of response times are generally meaningless, and there’s more to a monitor than a single number anyway.
Apple’s 24″ LED Display
What matters, obviously, is the product itself. Apple’s 24″ LED is getting glowing (heh, pun intended) reviews. If you haven’t compared such screens side by side, have you been in an electronics store and had the chance to look at LCD TVs? Ever wonder why two screens of the same size and “specs” can look so different? It’s the total package, it’s engineering, it’s sweating the details. Apple does this. You do not have to appreciate it. You don’t even have to be willing to pay for it. But you’ll forgive me if I’m unmoved by the name-calling. You have your criteria, and I have mine.
Apple’s monitor also includes:
- Single-cable for a dock-like connection to the unibody Macs
- Speakers and “subwoofer”
- Microphone and web cam
- USB ports
- It’s LED, with the attendant advantages of “instant on” and energy savings
And there’s also Apple’s great customer support, and support system of the Apple Stores, to consider. The total experience of all this is quite compelling.
Another example of Apple’s differing approach to quality is to consider the recent move by many manufacturers to the 16:9 screen ratio (cheaper due to being used in TVs) that further reduces the already too-small vertical size of a screen. Dell and others are bringing many of these to market, but I was happy to see that with the new MacBook, MacBook Pro, and LED display Apple resisted that temptation, staying with the 16:10 ratio. Yes, it means Dell is introducing still cheaper monitors, but they display less for the same screen size.
It would be wrong to see this article as a slam on Dell or others. I’m not saying Dell’s hardware is crap. By most accounts they’ve made hardware representing decent value for years. I couldn’t care less if anyone who is primarily price-sensitive went that route. After all, price is a very valid criterion.
However, unlike what the Apple-bashers seems to think, this is not all or nothing. There’s no reason to believe that in order to praise Apple’s value proposition I must denigrate the other guy’s. That’s the whole point. I’m saying there is value (frequently a lot of it) in Apple’s offerings. The idea that those who go that route are just “rich,” or in the RDF, or “fanbois,” or “smug,” or not technical enough to know better, and on and on, is pure BS.
Sticks and stones, people. Sticks and stones. I’m well-versed in both sides and have no turf to defend. Buzz off. I’ll make no apology for what I like or the criteria I use.