Where did your Windows PC maker skimp on your machine to make a buck?

“As design innovations go, MagSafe isn’t a big deal. It replaces the standard power cord socket on Apple Computer’s new MacBook Pro laptop. With the old design, you’d send the computer flying if you tripped over the cord. MagSafe is a nifty magnetic connector that simply breaks away. History books won’t celebrate this invention, but it’s an example of the smart touches that distinguish Apple in an industry where design is all about slicing a buck off of the bill of materials,” Stephen H. Wildstrom writes for BusinessWeek.

“There are good reasons competitors such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard have a tough time keeping up with Apple. One is Apple’s rejection of rock-bottom pricing. Desire for big orders from low-end retailers such as Wal-Mart has pushed HP and other PC makers to adopt the cheapest hardware platform, leading to $300 desktops and $700 laptops. There’s no way to hit that price point and match Apple on design. What’s more, PC makers sell to corporations, which insist on the ability to replace components easily. Apple’s beautiful design doesn’t allow that, and home users don’t care,” Wildstrom writes. “Apple has thus turned its lack of access to corporate markets into a virtue. It can focus its energies on what appeals to consumers, especially ease of use and products that please the heart and the eye as well as the brain and the budget. The new mini and the MacBook are just the latest happy examples.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s beautiful design actually does allow users to replace components easily, but the Apple Macs that are designed to be user upgradeable not the Mac minis and MacBook Pro models that Wildstrom covers in his article. Apple’s MacBook Pro is as upgradeable as any portable computer maker’s offering (that ExpressCard/34 slot is going to be come more and more useful, BTW). Other than that quibble, Wildstrom’s right: Apple pays attention to detail in design in both hardware and software in order to benefit the users of the technology, not solely the company. Apple doesn’t compete in the race to the bottom of the barrel by producing what is basically junk as do the commodity, consumer-grade Windows box assemblers of the world. Apple Macs work better, have a much longer useful life, and are simply the best choice for the vast majority of personal computer users. Macintosh. You get what you pay for.

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  1. The take’s use of “consumer-grade” was right. MDN was just referring to the box assemblers’ target market. They do put in somewhat higher quality parts in their “business-grade” lines (e.g., Dell’s Latitude and Inspiron lines).

  2. I was able to swap a hard drive out of a Dell lappy with the ease of adding RAM to an Apple ‘book. It is more difficult to replace components in a Mac. Consumers generally don’t care as they know Macs last longer.

    My mega-enterprise generally only adds memory to computers. We don’t change any components unless there’s a failure, then time is of the essense. Apple’s migration tool makes upgrading so incredibly easy it cancels the extra cost in time of swapping individual hardware components.

    I’m not going to pretend Apple’s components have a better failure rate, the difference is minimal, we all use the same disk drives and they are what fail most often.

  3. I’m not sure why this article is worth parroting. Apple makes computers for different target markets than the PC manufacturers.

    If you want an Apple-quality PC laptop (the main comparison in the article) you can buy one.

    MDN is confusing easy component swapping with user upgradability. Two very different things (I would think working news station which required easy sparing for cameras would show that). BTW, has anyone ever tried getting business-class repair on a PowerBook?… There is no such thing.

  4. Because Apple has ignored the needs of corporations; open architechture, lower priced volume units; they will be forever delegated to be a minority platform maker.

    Doesn’t mean they won’t do ok, just that the majority manufactors, developers, Microsoft etc., will control their destony.

    Apple always has to make workarounds to comply with the rest of the computing world. In some cases, they can’t do anything and we have to go without.

    The personal computing market is nowhere as large as the corporation market, in fact it’s dying.

    People are finding out that internet access at work is “good enough” for their needs. They are buying the cheaper and easier to use X-Boxes and Playstations for their kids and some even buy some buisness type software for them.

    So we can see a slide going on here, it has a lot to do with the bad taste in peoples mouths using Windows at home, when there is a IT tech at work that will solve their Windows problems. But now Mac OS X and Apple has had some serious problems and that will affect future sales.

    Mac’s were touted as better, but in actuality they are just a little bit less complicated than Windows PC’s.

    The personal computing market is not doing so well over all

  5. Actually,my Windoze PC isn’t terribly cheap, at all. It’s about at the fit & finish level of the beige G3 towers.

    I built it myself with the best PC components going: Lian Li aluminum case, Asus motherboard, AMD 64 CPU, Ultra XConnect PSU, etc.

    After supporting commodity PCs since the 386/sx-20, I can distinguich between quality and crap.

    My 1986 MacPlus: still running
    1988 SE/30: still running
    1989 NeXT Cube: still running
    1992 Mac IIci: still running (somewhere, as a Quadra 800)
    1995 Sun SPARC20: still running
    2002 TiBook 550: still running

    How many PC users can claim machines running 18 years after manufacture on the OEM power supply and motherboard?

    Quality costs. A well-built PC can be just as good as a (new school, IDE) Mac. But, it requires paying for the best components, and assembly and maintenance by a skilled technician. Plus, any Microsoft OS is never going to be up to the requirements of robustness, so that’s a weakness right there.

    My homebuilt PCs with Fedora Core 4 and SUSE 10 are pretty darn nice. Not the engineering quality of the G5 tower, mind. But, at least they aren’t as heinous as consumer grade Dell, Gateway, eMachines, etc.

  6. Thing 1: Apple’s case design USED to allow for easy switching. Friggin’ G4 Towers were a stroke of GENIUS. The G5 is a mondo pain in the buttocks by comparison. BOO APPLE. And BOO MDN for not calling them on it.

    Thing 2: If there are 3 major computer sellers (besides Apple) including ExpressCard in their portables by 2008, I’ll eat my hat.

    Thing 3: Apple’s portables are *NOT* as upgradeable as most PC portables. I’ve personally dealt with IBM an DELL and they’ve got simple hard-drive, RAM, modem, and display switchout procedures. Apple lets you do the RAM. That’s all. Anything else requires a fantastic voyage and a non-standard screwdriver.

  7. A local store had the following sign posted above the counter:

    “If you want the finest quality oats you must expect to pay a fair price. But if you are satifised with oats after they been through the horse, you can pay less.”

  8. go back to sleep Paul.

    To everyone else…

    don’t you find it just laugh out loud funny that people offer completely unsubstantiated opinions on boards like this? I’ve been a computer professional probably longer than Paul has been alive. Where he gets the idea that the personal computer market is dying is a mystery. Someone better tell all the executives making personal computers to hang it up right now.
    oh…Paul..I see you’ve awoken from your nap..

    Read this

    and don’t come back until you can offer an opinion that’s worth something.

    MDN word “farm” as in where Paul needs to go.

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