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Article: Are Mac Users Too Smug?

by on June 28, 2006

Sometimes while hanging around various places around town or browsing forums, I’ll hear the platform wars rage on. We have a lot of Mac-using college students here, as ‘Books are required for education majors and recommended for certain others. Whenever any clueless person inquires about what to get, we still have those who feel like Dell must be defended to the very end and that “all Mac users care about is pretty hardware and paying more”. Is there any truth to this?

You’ve probably already answered this as “no”, since you are at this site. Apple’s prices are the lowest they’ve been in years, and despite Macs costing more than some PCs, you do get more—both in hardware and software—than a comparable Windows-based PC.

On top of that, with the current generation of Intel-based Macs, you get a “backup” Windows PC for games, some web development, and any other specialized applications that don’t have OS X counterparts.

“Well, if I can run Windows on it, why not just get a Dell?”

This was the question I was befuddled with. The best analogy I could come up with was a hybrid car—Mac OS X is like the electric motor, as it does most of the day-to-day stuff, and Windows is like the gasoline engine, as it helps makes the experience complete. Okay, bad example, but you’d rather have a hybrid than just a gas or just an electric car, right? Fortunately for me, he understood my slightly flawed logic.

“So, I can use the Mac side of it for homework, web browsing, email, video editing, photos, and music and use the Windows side for games and keep it off the Internet so I don’t get any viruses?”

Bingo. However, getting back to my increasingly awful analogy, I was reminded of a South Park episode entitled “Smug Alert”. I think too many people are perceiving using a Mac as being elitist and that your computing experience, maybe even your life, is better than someone using a generic PC.

This won’t sell computers. The iPod has already had labels of “status symbol”, “fad”, and “pop-culture icon” thrown on it. While that translates well into dollars and cents for Apple, it also hurts, as some people won’t be buying iPods on principle.

I’m not going to get into security practices (or lack thereof) for most Mac users, since the system seems to still be working fine—pay attention to questionable emails, don’t download apps that you never heard of, etc., etc. What I’m worried about is that too many people will take this prec-conceived notion of smugness, mixed with Apple’s latest ads (which are a bit smug, but entertaining) and Apple might end up with an entire smug cloud floating over sales figures.

When people ask me what kind of computer to get my answer is something along the lines of “whatever works best for your needs”, but has become more Mac-slanted now that one dual-booting computer can serve many purposes.

Besides, it’s just a machine…

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