Do you agree, in relation to iMac the Death Of The Specs

Discussion in 'iMac' started by NextGenApple, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. NextGenApple macrumors regular

    Oct 10, 2011
    I find this article interesting and it's so true, I see so many people saying they are waiting for a product due to so and so reason, this article had me thinking, i'm buying anything i want when i want (if a new model is release in a few days then i would wait, NOT WEEKS OR MONTHS THOUGH)

    I think the people always quoting specs for a reason to wait should read this

    The Death Of The Spec

    Earlier today, my colleague Matt Burns wrote a post noting that most tablet makers may be largely failing because they’ve sold their soul to Android and are now just in the middle of a spec war, which no one can win. I’m gonna go one step further in that line of thinking: the spec is dead.

    There have been a few key stories from the past couple of weeks that highlight this new reality. Barnes & Noble unveiled the new Nook Tablet. Consumer Reports looked at the iPhone 4S. And the first reviews came in about the Kindle Fire.

    On paper, the Nook Tablet is the Android-based reading tablet to buy. It has twice the RAM of the Kindle Fire, twice the built-in storage space, a better battery, and it’s lighter to boot. Yes, it’s $50 more expensive, but come on, the RAM difference alone is worth well more than that. Clearly, this is the better value for your money.

    And yet, the Nook Tablet will not outsell the Kindle Fire. That’s the thing: “on paper” doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that the Kindle Fire comes with Amazon’s content ecosystem attached to it. Perhaps more importantly, it will be peddled like no other on the all-important homepage. The specs are secondary in this race at best. The reality is that they will be an afterthought. Or again, the Nook would win.

    Next up, Consumer Reports’ take on the iPhone 4S. Hey, this time, they actually like it! And thank god, because as everyone saw the last time around, their damning report really hurt iPhone 4 sales — to the tune of all-time record sales of the device, leading Apple to their most profitable year ever.

    More on that in a second. First, it’s important to note that while Consumer Reports liked the device, they didn’t like it as much as a few other Android devices. Why? Specs. Marco Arment ripped this apart last week already, but the thing reads like a bad joke. For example, they love the LG Thrill’s ability to capture stills and videos in 3D. This is one step short of knocking the iPhone 4S because it doesn’t have frickin’ laser beams mounted on the top of the device.

    And such comparisons show just how clueless Consumer Reports has become. Last year, they milked “Antennagate” for the pageviews, not realizing that it could actually undermine their own credibility if the device still sold well. “Sold well” ended up being a major understatement. So in effect, they themselves highlighted that no one cares about Consumer Reports anymore. And why not? Because they Consumer Reports largely cares about specs. And consumers do not anymore.

    The NPD Group just released their latest numbers. The number one selling smartphone last quarter was the iPhone 4. The over-a-year-old phone which Consumer Reports refused to endorse over a year ago, remember. Meanwhile, the number two phone for the quarter? The two-year-old iPhone 3GS. Does anyone really think that the LG Thrill is going to outsell the iPhone 4S this quarter? What about the Motorola Droid Bionic? Maybe the Samsung Galaxy S II?

    Consumer Reports now matters just as much as specs do. Which is to say, not at all.

    Finally, we have the Kindle Fire. This is likely to be the final nail in the coffin for the spec. By pretty much all accounts, this is a cheaply-built device. Spec-wise, it’s pretty ho-hum. But it’s a cheaply-built device that comes at a cheap price. That matters more — especially when paired with, as I previously mentioned.

    The Kindle Fire outselling the Nook Tablet, even though the latter wins the spec argument, will be one thing. But if sales compete with the gold standard of tablets, the iPad, that will really be something. So far, no other tablet device has come close to remotely competing with the iPad. The Kindle Fire should. They’re clearly different devices — the iPad is a much larger form factor and a price that is more than double the Kindle Fire — but I have no doubt that for many people, the Kindle Fire will be a good enough tablet that they’ll at least wait on an iPad 3 (or iPad 2 HD, or whatever it will be called).

    That’s a key thought: “good enough”. None of the initial reviews say that the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad — because it isn’t. It can’t match Apple’s product in either specs or polish. But it is $199 versus $499. That matters far more than any spec. You’re paying for something that’s perhaps half as good as the iPad, but it’s less than half of the cost. There’s at least perceived value there.

    And “good enough” also speaks to where we’re at in the broader computing world. I used to get excited for Sunday inserts in the local paper so I could see what new machines were available at Best Buy, Circuit City, or CompUSA. The only thing I cared about were the specs. Which Intel chip did it have? What was the clock speed? How much RAM? How big was the hard drive? How fast was the CD burner? How much cache? Those things mattered.

    Then three things happened. First, computers kept going more mainstream — the above listed specs look like gibberish to most people. Second, the web took over and most computers quickly became more than fast enough for the majority of users. Specs became a thing that PC gamers cared about. This contributed to the rebirth of the Mac, because it was never much of a gaming machine throughout the years — especially in the PowerPC years when it was getting smoked by Intel chips (which Apple, of course, eventually adopted). And third, buoyed by the first two things, new platforms arose.

    During the PC years, specs also mattered because there was one common dominant force in computing: Microsoft. Because Windows was everywhere, you could fairly reliably gauge the performance of one machine against another. But with the rise of the Mac and more importantly, smartphones and tablets, you can’t as easily stack machines up against one another performance-wise.

    My MacBook Air doesn’t have the specs of a brand new HP PC laptop — but it still feels faster. Maybe it’s OS X, or maybe it’s the solid state drive. Point is, consumers don’t and shouldn’t care. They care about which machine will boot faster and which will be easier to navigate. Time to web matters.

    And now connected ecosystems matter more than specs. This again helps Apple and Amazon. Does the machine seamlessly integrate with the iTunes ecosystem? Does it have access to the App Store? Can it access the Kindle Bookstore or Amazon’s streaming video service?

    We’re starting to see backlash against reviews of products that just do spec-by-spec rundown. Because really, who cares how the device sounds on paper? It’s how it feels that matters. Is the Kindle Fire smooth? Is the Nook Tablet fast? Is the iPad a joy to use? Drew Breunig spoke to these things last week in a post entitled “Device Specs have Become Meaningless“. Dustin Curtis put this more succinctly in two tweets last night:

    I agree. Why base reviews around specs when specs don’t matter?

    You could certainly argue that Apple is the company which has ushered in this post-spec era. They’ve flourished in recent years despite (and maybe because of) being cagey with most spec information on their newer devices. Does the iPhone 4S have 512 MB or RAM or 1 GB? Apple refuses to say. But who cares? It’s the fastest iPhone yet. (It’s 512 MB, for the record.)

    Apple is more traditional with the Mac when it comes to specs (undoubtedly due to legacy), but they still mostly bury that information. Whereas PC sites often trumpet the processor and other specs on the main landing page for their products (HP laptops, for example), Apple instead focuses on natural language descriptions: “The new, faster Macbook Air”.

    But the post-spec era works both ways. If the iPad specs don’t matter when going up against the Motorola Xoom, they also don’t matter when going up against the Kindle Fire. What matters is how the device performs, the ecosystem, and the price. In other words, the way you compete in computing now is to do so by focusing on things that human beings understand. On things that matter.
  2. B.A.T macrumors 6502a

    Oct 16, 2009
    Very well said. I had a guy at AT&T bragging about the specs of a Windows phone a few weeks ago and now we learn that that phone isn't capable of upgrading to Windows 8 when it comes out. I pity the people who took his advice and bought the phone based on his "expert advice" which was all about the specs.
  3. Razorhog macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2006
    While I don't totally agree, there is some truth in this. Apple's ecosystem of outstanding OSs, customer service, logistics, esthetics, and content delivery set them apart. It's certainly not all about specs anymore.
  4. OLDCODGER macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2011
    Lucky Country

    Build quality.

    OS + Apps.

    NO ecosystem.

    That's my ideal.
  5. d0nK macrumors 6502

    Nov 4, 2011
    So, essentially you're saying that if all you do is surf the web, write emails and use iTunes then you don't need to know about specs.

    Well derrr.

    Those of us that render 3D and/or video, create music and generally use our computers for a lot of multitasking will look at specs and will certainly think it's a joke that a company tries to sell year old hardware at today's prices.

    Pointless article IMO.
  6. Nandifix macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2012
    Software has to be optimised for the hardware. iOS devices are always best at this.
  7. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    I won't go so far as to claim that specs don't matter, but agree that you cannot and should not base your buying decision solely on paper specifications. It seems like common sense, but it was a lesson that took me 20 years to learn. :)

    Not the way I would phrase it. Rather, because all PCs then ran windows, the only way one manufacturer could differentiate himself from the competition was via specs and pricing, which led to a spec race of sorts. This computer ships with 8mb of ram, I one-up him by including 16gb of ram in mine, and another company proceeds to double that (I remember how 15 years ago, my PC was obsolete the week I bought it. Learnt never to trust Acer ever again). :rolleyes:

    But the story is different for Apple. Being the only company that can (legally) distribute the OSX platform, they can adopt a "take it or leave it" attitude and safely sit out this PC arms race.

    The second reason is that specs are meaningless if we don't know what they are capable of achieving. Yes, even a moron can tell you that 8gb ram is likely better than 4gb, but in what way? What exactly does 8gb of ram let me do that 4gb of ram can't? Or if both let me run some program, does it really matter that I have less ram?

    Most people aren't tech-savvy enough to research this out, and likely won't care anyways. They just want to know "Can this device do what I want well enough?" and Apple is astute enough to market along those lines. They have questions, and these tech reviews aren't giving them the straight answers they seek, which is why they read like a pile of gibberish.

    It's like "Who cares that this television uses fewer screws than that set? I only care if it lets me watch my favourite shows."
  8. Fifteen20s macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2012
    Software has to be optimised for the hardware.

    This is why I bought my iMac.

    10 Years ago I was a big spec guy, built my PC’s and due to the games I played at least felt I noticed a difference which justified my upgrades.

    Fast forward to now and Im almost 40 and don't play games any more. What’s important to me now is interconnectivity among all my devices and my programs running smooth. This is where Apple seems to shine.

    Specs are still important but hardware has become so advanced that the majority of users will get no benefit from the latest and greatest, there likely not pushing their old PC’s yet. People will however appreciate smoother running programs which give the appearance of a faster PC, however this is software improvement not hardware.
  9. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I agree that specs matter less than the overall package, but don't forget that the 'overall package' is also part of specs. For a tablet, availability of software and better OS are much more important than a fast CPU, and even then, a slower CPU may be a better option (battery life etc.) if it does not impair user experience. But for many of us, hardware specs do matter. For my PhD, I do lots of statistical simulations, and having a fast CPU saves my time. Also, I enjoy playing games, and thus I would like to have a fast GPU.

    However, the point I clearly disagree with is that Apple limits the specs of the iMac. The last iMac (2011) offered latest and greatest hardware, up to the point that no PC manufacturer is able offer a similar package at a competing price point. The are plenty of all-in-ones out there, but they all have weak CPU/GPU/display and none of them is any cheaper.
  10. AcesHigh87 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 11, 2009
    New Brunswick, Canada
    This is basically the exact argument for mac that I’ve been making against my PC loving friend for years. He has constantly claimed he can build a better PC for cheaper than I pay for a mac (We tested it BTW, he can’t) while I claim that it’s irrelevant because it will still run windows.

    Specs still matter, I disagree with the article on that point, but not as much as they used to. My iMac may have a mobile GPU in it but it can still out-perform my friend’s PC, why? Because it runs OS X which simply runs better. Can my 4.5 year old macbook do that? No because specs do matter some but not as much as tech sites and PC fanboys would want people to believe. This is true for average users and power users.

    I think what the article is more pointing to is the average consumer. If so I agree with it. For example, last summer my parents bought a new computer (on my recommendation because theirs was ancient). They told me to pick one out for them and as long as it wasn’t a mac (they know me too well lol) they’d get it. To them (the average consumer) CPU clock speeds and RAM amounts and HDD space mean nothing. They just want a computer that works. Unfortunately that’s a PC but the point still stands. Most people don’t care about specs. They care about how much it costs and how well it will work for them.

    When I challenged my friend to build an equally spec PC for less that’s actually the benchmark I used, the 27” iMac except he could build his as a tower. It wound up being that even getting a monitor with the same resolution cost over $400 (We just “built” it in a newegg cart so we didn’t buy any of this) and the overall build price was about equal. The iMac was cheaper by $50 but only after buying Windows 7 to go on the PC. In any case, it’s certainly a falsity that apple charges insane prices for cheap stuff because, clearly, to build a PC at the exact same quality you will pay equal to or more than a mac and you’ll be stuck running inferior software and having to download a bunch of extra crap.
  11. CycloneX macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    Those of us who were around for the spec wars of the 90s -- Apple vs PC -- always understood Apple rarely beat the cheaper PC on specs. But, Apple had the OS with software and hardware integration (optimized) -- EASE OF USE -- design, quality, and since the 2000s, iTunes and all the other iStuff. But, some people do need to pay attention to specs -- designers, video pros, gamers, etc ... most don't. Most people want a product that looks good, is easy to use, does what it does well, etc ... nothing new there, so he could have wrote that article in 1986 and the response should still be "well, duh."
  12. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I can promise you that someone's lying. Either you or the AT&T salesman, but Windows Phone specs aren't anything to write home about. The Newest flagship device, the Lumia 900, has almost the same specs as a release device.

    Maybe what he meant to say, or what you thought you heard, was that it has the performance of a well-speced android device - which is largley true. My sister's Galaxy SII is about as buttery smooth as my Focus.

    However, going back to the original topic, there won't be a death of specs anytime soon, if only because we aren't at the point where specs don't matter. you can say all you want about how a Core i3 is more than fast enough for 99% of the population, but then there's battery life spec, and the weight spec. Who cares if my macbook air can load facebook as fast as last year's model. If I don't have enough space to store my iTunes collection on, then the SSD is too small, so specs do still matter. Especially in an Apple world where specs are non-upgradable.
  13. mapleleafer macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2009
    An earlier poster raised the key issue of use. Most computers are toys, so specs are only important for status in the playground. Few of us use our computers as tools. I do, but I only edit text for a living, so what do I need with a faster CPU or better graphics card? My keyboard skills are the limiting factor in what I do. I started out on a Commodore 64, and my needs (and keyboard skills) have progressed little since. So let's distinguish between needs and wants when asking questions about specs. If you have more money than brains or if Mom and Dad are footing the bill, then get the fastest, meanest, hippest computer available.
  14. Roller macrumors 68020

    Jun 25, 2003
    A hardware device's specs aren't unimportant, but overall user experience and value, which are harder to quantify, count more.

    I disagree that Consumer Reports is irrelevant. They do excellent reliability testing of many products, including cars and appliances, and they do a good job testing manufacturers' claims.
  15. Razorhog macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2006
    Sounds like you're a prime candidate for a cheap, low-end Windows box. Go save some money and leave those of us with more money than brains to by new Macs. :rolleyes:
  16. Ddyracer macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2009
    Well I guess this proves their biased. I don't enjoy reading their car mags [top pick etc} so much now.
  17. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chandler, Arizona
    Agreed entirely. It's not a question of whether the 2011 iMac is good enough; it obviously is good enough. It's the fact that it's a TERRIBLE deal right now economically. You are far overpaying for the value of what you're getting. The only reason I care about the 2012 refresh this much is because it will return value parity on price -- that is; the new 2012 iMac will be regular price, and the 2011 iMac will become less expensive via refurbs, used, reseller closeout, etc. At that point either one will suffice for my needs so I'll pick the deal that works the best on other factors. But it makes no economic sense, zero, to pay full ticket for a 14-month-old computer -- no matter whether it's good enough for your usage or not!
  18. TennisandMusic

    Aug 26, 2008
    Specs matter plenty. They only don't matter if you do nothing of value with your machine.

    And to all the people who say "software has to be tied in with hardware!"

    Windows performs better than OSX. Period. You guys have no idea what you're talking about when you talk about "software integration." Literally none. Can you please quantify this or talk about what exactly is integrated? I would bet money you can't. Do you really think software on the Windows side is not "written" to take advantage of specific hardware? What do you think a driver is? Do you honestly believe there is special programming in iPhoto to take advantage of a CPU or GPU in a way that Windows software cannot match, or that this special programming exists at all? The sheer amount of ignorance in relation to how a Mac vs. PC works is simply staggering. Apple has apparently done a brilliant job brainwashing their customer base. It's really kind of sad to see.
  19. mapleleafer macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2009
    I'm not. I provide services in three operating systems. My bottom-end iMac will keep me going for a long time to come. It meets my needs.
  20. FrankHahn macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2011
    1. Hardware specs still matter but they do not matter to ordinary users as much as they did before.

    For instance, I still feel a very noticeable difference between an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 4S with both of them running the same iOS when I use them interchangeably; however, an iPhone 4 is already a very good mobile phone.

    2. Software becomes more important to ordinary users because most hardware specs have reached a considerable high level to them.

    3. Good integration between hardware and software can make up the deficiency in the hardware and improve the overall user experience.

    4. Hardware specs are still crucially important to professionals such as those in the movie industry and in science and technology. No hardware specs are too high to those professionals. They have already been dreaming to be able to use quantum computers.

    In summary, hardware specs are still important but they are no longer the most important ones to ordinary users although they are still definitely important to professionals.
  21. oYx, Jun 23, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012

    oYx macrumors regular

    Sep 2, 2007
    I have one foot in each side of the camp.

    Specs are meaningless because it hardly says anything about the experience. Does a luxury living space mean anything if it's a prison?

    Most importantly, I need it to just work. As much as I am highly capable with tech, letting someone else figure out the engine and user space while I simply drive to where I need to be makes most sense to me — especially so when it is a smooth and comfortable ride. We all know which tech company is the least troublesome in that department.

    On the other hand, I need specs to tell me if it will do the work. Working in the film industry makes this necessary. So long as everything in a machine aligns beyond a certain level of performance and capability, I am happy to not have to put it together on my own. Time can always be better spent, particularly in relation to mind space. Whatever monetary savings to be had would come back around to take away from time and mind space.

    I do envy those who can get on with a MBA though. Nimble and simple is very desirable to me.
  22. oYx, Jun 23, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012

    oYx macrumors regular

    Sep 2, 2007
    Ostensibly, the big things are pretty equal on both platforms. When it comes to the small things, however, not quite so. Try planting a tiny pebble in a champion runner's shoe and watch the difference.

    Even my non-tech friends feel a difference when they use a Mac (and they find Windows cumbersome after that). And 'surprisingly', they wouldn't be able to tell you why, just as you have noted. Now that I am thinking about this, one of the many reasons could be as 'simple' as the readability of elements on a Mac. Jobs was generous to have revealed his brush with typography, but even so, I find myself having to adjust viewing distance for some things when dealing with Windows. Of course, why else would Apple always be banging on about their displays on all their devices?

    To be sure, I had fully used Windows for about 10 years for work and personal purposes.
  23. B.A.T macrumors 6502a

    Oct 16, 2009
    You weren't there so you can't promise anything. The sales douche bragged about the processor and the ram of the Lumina. Android wasn't even brought up in the discussion.
  24. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Well actually I can. Simply because any verizon, or at&t store isn't going to be selling android phones that are that low end, and they're not going to be selling iPhones that are a generation old. They don't decide what they sell, the carrier does, that's nationwide.

    So, if he was really saying what you alledged he was saying, than yes he was lying.
  25. washburn macrumors 6502

    Apr 8, 2010

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