Why I Love Apple: For PC/Android People I Respect

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by Dark Goob, Jul 25, 2015.

  1. Dark Goob macrumors regular

    Dark Goob

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2007
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #1
    Many of my very intelligent colleagues are PC/Android people. I say "PC/Android" because these days it's all Android vs. iOS, all the time, in comment threads, blog posts, and media articles. Mac vs. PC just isn't "a thing" anymore, really. But that doesn't change the fact that many of my colleagues' relationship with technology dates back to when PC vs. Mac was a huge thing, and Mac-hating was rampant. Many people never drank the Mac Kool-Aid and have remained hardcore PC types. They just don't like Apple, and what it seems to stand for, from the outside: all style, no substance; high price, low performance; limited expansion options, less available software. As such, they tend to be Android people as well; they don't just avoid Mac, they avoid Apple itself, with an attitude reminiscent of how my Republican relatives avoid anything to do with liberalism, which they often seem to view as a sort of caricature, in which all the negative aspects are exaggerated and the positive aspects are downplayed or ignored.

    Over the years I've learned to respect the PC/Android product space. Many smart people work at Microsoft and Google. There is no shortage of talent behind Windows and Android, and there are many fantastic companies making awesome hardware who are not from 1 Infinite Loop. So here I want to write this post to explain the inner reasons why I love Apple to folks like those colleagues of mine, who I know are out there, maybe even here on the MacRumors forums, where I have often posted highly critical diatribes against various decisions of Apple's. In fact, it's because I feel a bit guilty about how negative I've been here, that I am posting this; I don't take back anything I've said, but I do want to make a positive post now.

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    The first thing that comes to mind about why I love Apple can be summed up in one word: graphics. I'm a very visual person, and Apple has often been first-to-market with new high-resolution graphics technologies, dating all the way back to the 1980s. I remember the very first time I saw PixelPaint Professional on a Macintosh II with a 13" Trinitron display running at 16.7 million colors in 1989. It seemed like science fiction come to life. I did not see a PC running at anywhere close to 72 DPI until sometime in the mid-90s. (Remember the Windows start-up screen ran at base-VGA 320x200x256, even on Windows 98!) My earliest memories of the Mac are messing around with MacPaint, a program whose interface is still aped by nearly every graphics program made since then. Then Apple was first-to-market with "Retina" resolution screens on phones, tablets, and AFAIK, laptops and desktops.

    Caveat:
    Now to be fair, when it comes to gaming graphics, Apple has never honestly tried to compete with the hardcore PC gaming world. They offer decent GPU options with Macs, but the underlying drivers and gaming performance have tended to be sub-par. With Metal coming to Mac, perhaps now they can compete better against DirectX, but the question is, how many developers will bother? I've just always accepted that if I wanted to run an app that uses the GPU, it will run much smoother under Bootcamp in Windows than in OS X. This does not apply to things like professional graphics applications in my experience, because Apple's drivers work just fine for that. Gaming is the one thing Macs are weak on.

    ---

    The second reason that I always loved Apple (it seems ironic to say this) expandability. Or, more generally, the upgradeability and longevity of their machines, along with ease of upgrades. You could upgrade the processor of a G3 to a G4; you could put a 68040 into a IIfx; heck you could drive six two megapixel monitors off of a IIfx, in 1989! When the Army designed film-less digital x-ray labs in 1989, the Mac IIfx was chosen because it was the only computer on the market that could handle all the extra hardware expansion boards needed for the task. I can swap out hard drives on my "cheese-grater" Mac Pro tower without a screwdriver. The CPU and RAM are on a separate board that can be removed and upgraded (although sadly Apple never officially sold the extra boards, you could get them if you look hard enough). I was able to put in a newer PC graphics card by EVGA, and it works fine (NVIDIA even provides automatic driver updates back to 10.8 or earlier, and a utility to let you switch between the NVIDIA driver and Apple's driver that's supplied with the OS; I think NVIDIA's is necessary for some CUDA-based GPU computation features, not sure?). The new Mac Pro with Thunderbolt is arguably one of the most expandable systems ever devised; MacWorld tested it with 42 different devices connected, including 36 hard drives for 100TB of storage, but my 2009 Mac Pro is still a beast and runs rock-solid (knock on wood!).

    Caveat:
    I do wish that Apple still made a modular, DIY Mac, something to fill the space the old IIci, Quadra 840AV, Power Mac 8600, etc. for those who need/want expandability, configurability, and capacity over portability, slimness, and all-in-one design. Some of us still want to use hard drives, optical drives, and PCI cards. Apple could easily make something like that and make a real push into the PC/gaming sphere, while simultaneously giving musicians, photographers, and videographers who can't afford and aren't well-served by something like the new Mac Pro. I do not understand why they don't provide a viable alternative to DIY PC hardware, which just is not of the hardware quality level that many of us would prefer to invest my money into (the ports are flimsy, resale value low, case walls thin, not designed by Ive & team, etc.). I understand that like any company, Apple picks its battles and chooses its niches, but I'd rather see it invade the gaming PC sector, than start making freaking cars. Just sayin'.

    Caveat 2:
    The issue with using non-officially-supported GPU cards in cheese-grater Mac Pros is that you do not get a proper boot-up screen, and can't change startup disks at boot. It's black until you hit the login screen. There's a guy in LA who will flash the BIOS of the card for you and send it back working like it should, for $75, but again, this is one of those things that PC people don't have to deal with, and would honestly laugh at. Also, Macs have no SLI (chaining graphics cards together for maximum performance), and Mac Pros lack any standard PCI slots that would let users take advantage of cheaply-available cards (say, if you wanted to put in an upgraded WIFI card, or a fax-modem (yes some companies still want to send and receive information by fax).

    Apple could easily address this Caveat, if it cared to. The fact that they don't is something that used to bother me a lot, but after numerous e-mails and begging on my part, and despite a few meager gestures towards gamers (like Steam finally coming to Mac), Apple's corporate culture has not changed at all regarding this. The only way I can reason it, is that it's a "pick your battles" type of thing, and Apple threw its lot elsewhere, a long time ago—perhaps as long ago as when the Apple II was positioning itself for the education market while the Atari and Amiga systems were aiming more strongly at home gamers. Steve Jobs left Atari behind, not just in his career, but philosophically as well.

    The problem is that nowadays, gaming is a major industry, and an art form. The technology behind gaming is also what's driving virtual and augmented reality efforts. Apple needs to really become a leader in this sphere, because they could sell a lot of machines to people creating this kind of software. How can they get with the picture? Bootcamp and Wine really aren't the answer, IMHO. Apple makes its money when you buy a new computer, not when you keep upgrading your old one with third-party stuff, then call them when it doesn't work right. Apple has always just wanted to sell you a hassle-free widget, not a set of Legos and Lincoln logs, and their highest profit has always come from products that don't require lots of monkeying around. It is what it is, but it wouldn't kill them to support the DIY Hackintosh crowd somehow, like with Mac motherboards that would fit standard case sizes, or Apple-made cases that could be used for PC hardware too. Sigh. (I was a Mac Clone owner in the late 90s, and was SO excited for the Common Hardware Reference Platform, which Jobs killed. I guess part of me has always wanted to see that come back.)

    ---

    The third thing I love about Apple is customer service. One time they replaced my 2007 MacBook Pro with a brand new 2010 MacBook Pro, with 1 month left on the extended warranty of the 2007 unit. They also gave me a free Airport Extreme for my troubles, earlier in the saga. (I'd had a lemon; defective NVIDA GPU; not even Apple's fault.) A buddy of mine who had a Dell laptop had similar problems around the same time, but could he get a replacement? Hell no.

    Caveat:
    Does every Apple customer get this same treatment? No, there are horror stories with any company. But while it's probably hit or miss to some degree, and no company is 100% perfect, there are many reasons Apple are rated tops in the industry. If you're persistent, firm, reasonable, and polite with Apple support, I'm confident any customer will get taken care of properly. Sometimes it takes a few tries though, but they are, after all, humans.

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    The fourth thing I love about Apple is vertical integration. This is finally something they're starting to tout in their latest iPhone ads: the fact that Apple makes the hardware and the software really matters. But these ads don't go far enough in explaining why it matters, in my opinion. They're limited to 30 seconds but they could still give SOME kind of a technical explanation that would appeal to the Android/PC types. We see it mentioned over and over in threads, how Android is running in a Java VM on top of Linux, and therefore despite hardware specs that look much beefier than what Apple uses, its performance is highly limited by how many layers there are between the software and the hardware. Google is working to address this, but it's not come far enough yet to make (for example) music instrument apps have zero latency like they do on iOS, and meanwhile Apple keeps tightening the integration of hardware and software (like with adding Metal to OS X 10.11 "El Capitan").

    Caveat:
    OS X has not benefitted from this vertical integration nearly as much as iOS has, but it's finally starting to. The original Mac systems were extremely vertically integrated, to the point that NuBus card drivers actually loaded directly from the card itself into the system, with no driver installation necessary (unless you wanted to add a Control Panel to adjust options). But with the switch to OS X, Apple brought in a highly evolved OS developed by a third party, and specifically designed to be somewhat hardware-independent (BSD unix is a micro-kernel, which is famously why Apple could laterally move to Intel processors, just like NextSTEP/OpenSTEP had done before). In a way, then, OS X performance has in some ways suffered against Windows due to the same factors that have limited Android performance versus iOS: too many layers of software means that the high-level stuff has less direct access to the hardware. This is why many types of apps, especially games, perform better on the same hardware in Windows vs. Mac, as I mentioned above. With El Capitan, and with some of its experience from iOS, as I also mentioned, Apple seems to be finally getting around to tightening up the hardware-software integration of the Mac—not exactly the iOS-ization of the Mac that many of us feared... actually, a great thing, potentially. Maybe. We'll see.

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    Final caveat:
    I don't work for Apple nor do I know anyone who does, nor have I ever been paid by Apple or even offered to be paid, outside of being a developer for iOS. I tried to be as factual as possible but please correct me if I'm wrong about anything here. Also, I'm sure I'm leaving something out. For example how much I love programming on Macs and how almost every professional software developer I know, uses Macs exclusively.
     
  2. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    #2
    I'm going to respond only mildly because I'm not really a PC/Android guy but I'd get thrown in with them as we pidgin hole.

    Mac's were wonderful until 2005 then not so much so I follow you on the first paragraph.

    Yes the external expandability of thunderbolt is fine and there is finally some stuff that supports it. It's not the road I want to go down though I like having my hard drives inside the machine and big important storage away from the machine while I can sort of do that on the MP it's not there a second HD slot would solve that dilemma mostly.

    Apples customer service is fine but I like Dell's and HP's better they both come to me not the reverse.

    I absolutely don't want any vertical integration in my device that includes SW -> HW or SW -> Ecosystem I want my HW absolutely agnostic I want to run what I want to run. On Android HW I can put any mobile OS on it except iOS which I really don't want. Agnostic HW means I keep my freedom and my ability to change, my phone is able to be a sort of mini-computer.
     

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