Thursday, November 13, 2008
Posted by Lita Kaufman in "Apple Talk" @ 12:00 PM
When Windows users tell me that they are looking at buying a new computer, I invariably ask them if they've considered buying a Macintosh. Sometimes I get a verbal punch in the face (which happens less and less these days), sometimes I am asked why I would want to spend three times as much for a computer that can do only half as much as a Windows PC, and sometimes I am asked what makes a Mac so much better than a Windows PC.
The verbal punch in the face usually consists of a bunch of words that aren't fit for a family publication and a number of aspersions on my intelligence and parental lineage. I tend to ignore these and change the conversation. The second type of response has been covered by so many different people, from Walt Mossberg to David Pogue to PC Magazine, that it's really not worth discussing here and now. But the third situation usually means that the person I've asked has considered purchasing a Macintosh, but is not quite sure that it's the right thing for them or their family, and they are interested in hearing my answer.
I could talk to them about OS X, but verbally quantifying the differences between Windows and OS X is like trying to explain the differences between a Ford and a BMW, and if your listener is more interested in buying on price than feature, that's going to be a tough sell. The iLife package is a sweetener, as is the ability to run Windows as well as OS X - these are good features, but they won't close the deal with the average user (although if you can get your shopper to an Apple Store and have them test out GarageBand, you might find yourself with a Switcher without going any further). For me, the biggest selling point for buying a Macintosh (or any Apple product, for that matter), is Apple's stellar customer service.
Most Windows PC owners buy on price, and when the machine doesn't work, life can spiral into an unending cycle of calls to help desks in foreign lands where you are put on hold for hours on end, only to talk with badly trained Customer Service Reps (CSRs) tell you that the only way to fix the problem is to wipe the hard drive and reinstall Windows (even if the problem has nothing to do with the OS). They don't realize until it's too late, when they buy that $800 computer that their customer service options are extremely limited, since the manufacturer isn't going to provide locally based, highly trained (read, expensive) technicians to support the hundreds of thousands of computers sold on a 5% (or less) margin. Some manufactures, such as Dell, do provide customer support packages for their commercial grade (more expensive) machines, but the pricing for enhanced, US-based customer support adds several hundred dollars to the price.
So, when I find myself in a position to convince a Windows PC owner to switch to a Macintosh, I ask them about their latest customer service experience. I usually get some hellish variation on the situation I described above, then I like to tell them about how a refurbished 2.3 Ghz MacBook Pro I purchased in June, 2008 turned into a factory-new 2.5 Ghz MBP (with more RAM and a bigger hard drive) in August, 2008, without costing me an extra penny.
Lita is a New York based attorney and a proud Mac user for over 23 years, which means she fits into the cliché of an Apple product owner all too easily. The first Mac she owned was the iconic 512ke, her dearest companion through law school. It was eventually replaced by a Mac SE in 1989. Her fascination with both Macs and storage is still a running joke among my friends and colleagues. She has the firm belief that an unmounted hard drive is a crime against nature.