Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why I'm writing this on a Mac

I used to absolutely hate Macs. Back in elementary school and middle school they were the bane of my existence. This was right around the time of the emergence of the original iMac, the rounded, fruit-flavored blobs. I just hated to use them. I preferred Windows, because of its better (at least in my opinion) interface, the fact that it granted more control to the user, and also the fact that it's simply what I grew up using.
In high school I wasn't really exposed to Macs all that much. In junior and senior years a few friends had MacBooks, and they looked like they worked pretty well. The user interface was much better, given that now Apple had released OSX, and they were fast and reliable. I still used my trusty Dell, but I wasn't as die-hard anti-Mac as I once was, especially given that iPods are, well, awesome.

In freshman year of college I got a MacBook Pro to replace my dying Dell. It worked well, but around Christmas (I had gotten it in September) the keyboard and touchpad inexplicably stopped working. Luckily it was under warranty from my school, so I had them replace the keyboard and touchpad for free, but it was still annoying.
Even more annoying was when the exact same thing happened again near the end of the semester. They replaced the parts again. And then near the end of the summer. Again, replace the parts. Once more, during October, it broke. I took it in to get fixed. They replaced the keyboard and touchpad. Twenty-six hours later, it broke again. It wasn't a complete break this time, though, my dad did find one way to make it work: keep the body under about 40 degrees.
After just using it with externals for a few months, in January I got in touch with the folks at Apple in California and sent it off to them. They replaced the keyboard/touchpad, part of the case, and they fixed the logic board, and sent it back with an apology about all the breaks.

Thirteen days later, it broke again. I got in touch with them and sent it in again, this time for replacement.

Yesterday, in the mail I got the computer on which I'm writing this. I sent them a 160gb MacBook Pro from the fall of 2007, one of the older-generation models, running Tiger. They sent me back a 250 gb new-model MacBook Pro running Leopard.
This isn't my only experience with Apple's repair/replacement services, either. Last winter my 80gb 4-generation iPod died. I may have been treating it a bit roughly, but not much, and it was still within the one-year warranty. I took it to an Apple store. A service rep looked at it, held it up to his ear, heard the hard drive was off-balance, checked the serial number to make sure it was still under warranty, and handed me a new one identical to my old one, except it worked perfectly.

I've never had to deal with customer service or repairs at Dell, as I've been able to fix everything with that computer on my own, but I would be very surprised if it's as helpful as Apple. Apple is trying to gain ground in the computer market, and the way it's doing that is by having happy customers. If there's a problem with one of their products, they fix it. The next OS edition they're releasing isn't a new-improved GUI like Vista was. Snow Leopard will be identical, appearance-wise, to Leopard. All the improvements will be in the code itself, making it simply work better.
It's things like this that make Apple a company to rely on. My two current computers are this Mac and an Acer InspireOne running XP, due to the lack of a low-cost Mac netbook. The MacBook Air, while awesome, was just not made for a good market. Will people buy it? Yes. Are there some people for whom it's the best option? Probably. Would Apple have been better off making a portable computer that doesn't cost more than my car? In my mind, definitely. If Apple made a small (10" or so) netbook for under a grand, I would get one. Until then, though, Windows will survive.
(Note: I will, just because of my nature, probably always maintain a non-Mac computer. Right now, overall, I have one Mac and 3 Windows machines, but I'm working on switching the two older Windows boxes over to Linux.)

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