Jumping on Dvorak

Ah, it’s any Macfan’s joy…[John Dvorak](http://www.dvorak.org/blog/) goes off on Apple in [a column](http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1745930,00.asp) and the community springs into action. Sites like [MacDailyNews](http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/4588/) are quick to break the column down, line by line, anxious to show why the guy doesn’t have a clue.

Two years ago, that may have been me too. I’m not saying that I agree with Dvorak’s article. He comes on strong, too strong. He paints some absolutes that aren’t necessary. And I definitely disagree with him here:

>This is the dilemma Apple faces, and there is no way around it. The long-term consequences are obvious. Apple is the easy-to-use, less complex platform. Thus it should be cheaper, not more expensive. It’s that simple.

Put an Apple product (any Apple product) in one hand and a PC product in the other. You see the difference and you see why Apple products are more expensive. Apple’s products feel luxurious and solid. The interface is simple and less complex on first glance, but there is complexity in that design. If you are willing to immerse yourself in the world that Apple wants you to live, there is no reason to go anywhere else. PCs feel like toys in comparison, and kitchen-sink features do not automatically mean that something is more complex or worth more.

There’s a sweet spot where technology goes beyond the buttons. You can’t predict it. Something you see in the store and think, “I gotta have that” turns out to be so not worth it in the end. Like Dad coming home with a new fangled cooking gadget that had all these dials and features, and you sit around for 2 hours while he figures out how to use it. Meanwhile, you could have had dinner done in 15 minutes the “old fashioned” way. Technology is not always right, not always the way to go. But sometimes technology is so dead-on-balls-accurate, we can’t imagine doing it any other way. Nerds and techies are always looking for that magic alignment between ease of use, features, value, convenience. The microwave, the answering machine, VCR. Apple hit it with the iPod. The DVR. Personally, I found it with my PocketPC. To the point that yes, I’m making other decisions based around what will and will not work with my PDA. It’s that important to me. To a music lover, the iPod is that kind of device.

So Dvorak coming down on Apple for not being yet another PC manufacturer is incredibly short sighted. He doesn’t get it, he likely never will. Apple is rumored to be coming out with a headless iMac, but that doesn’t appear to be to compete with the Dell $499 PC. It appears (and should, IMO) be a way for the PC owner to get the benefits of a Mac for their digital hub without having to give up their investment in their current home PC setup. Maybe for the entry level “I just want to go online and write letters” crowd that doesn’t already have a PC that Apple has a chance of getting. It’s more competition to the Media Center PC than the standard sub $700 PC. But we’ll have to wait a few weeks to see where this goes.

Dvorak says:

>CEO Steve Jobs’ star persona makes the situation worse. His attention to the Apple flagship has been eroded by the success of Pixar, and more recently, by the iPod and iTunes initiatives. None of these has anything to do with the Macintosh. Keeping it on track is a full-time task—Jobs cannot be in the computer business, the movie business, and the music business and make them all successful. You see the results. Market share for the Mac is crap.

Nothing like looking at a company in early 2005 with 1995 eyes. I don’t think he’s entirely wrong, but he assumes that Apple *wants* to grow the Macintosh now with the same focus that it did 10 years ago. I don’t think that assumption can be made. Apple is a different company now, and it seems silly to act like Apple didn’t mean for that to happen. This was a calculated evolution.

>The company figures it has certain market niches locked down. This includes computer users in advertising agencies, news bureaus, and various professional organizations as well as creative artists and writers. I also count an odd, die-hard faction of true believers, but these people are inconsequential except in online forums, where they make a fuss whenever anyone discusses the Mac. They probably hurt the Mac community more than anyone by creating an unfair crackpot image that gets associated with the machine.

Nice generalization, but unfair. There are websites out there who organize these campaigns to attack journalists who dare to criticize Sir Steve. They are the ones that make a lot of noise, but are in fact are a minority of the user population. They don’t speak for all of us in the “niche market,” John. Most people that I talk to stick with Apple because the machines do what they need to do to get their jobs done. They’re too busy to make fusses in forums.

5 Comments

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  2. Randy says:

    “Put an Apple product (any Apple product) in one hand and a PC product in the other. You see the difference and you see why Apple products are more expensive. ”

    I have to disagree with that quote, in spite of agreeing with the rest of your post. My IBM ThinkPad (T41) was $200 less than the PowerBook 12″ (Al) – I picked it up last year – and I originally went with the PB because I wanted to give Apple a shot. Not only is the ThinkPad lighter but it also has a 14.1″ screen (larger) and is more powerful (comparitively)… it certainly definately does NOT heat up the top of my desk like the PB did (I almost burned my hand on the underside once).

    My experience with my iPods have been great – not so good with the computer side of Apple… I do think that if Apple wanted to step up and be a major player in the tech world they should give up their persuit of a hardware monopoly and port it over to Intel/AMD chips. And yes, monopoly is the proper term for it, given the OS-X EULA… getting OS-X available on non-Apple hardware would make Apple a software power house, but that’s just wishful thinking.

  3. Tom Morris says:

    Damn right, Randy. I long for the day when I can dual-boot OS X alongside Linux on the PC I bought as a disgruntled Mac user. Apple wanted to charge me over £500 (near enough to $1000) to fix a problem on my iBook, so I put a PC together for half the cost and am enjoying the fruits of that decision right now. Of course, not with Windows!

  4. Steve Holmlund says:

    I also think that as more of the documents that people use move to web-based servers, the desktop OS will become less important. If Apple could do something truly unique, say with an online app that lets you easily create word processing documents and spreadsheets (the Gmail equivalent of Office), or with a truly superior browser, then the Mac might have a chance to grow again.

  5. Jack Ritter says:

    JACK RITTER IS LOOKING FOR STEVE HOLMLUND:

    Hi, Steve.

    Are you the Steve Holmlund who worked with me
    for Brian Jones at Versatec, in the late 1980’s ?

    Jack Ritter
    jack@the-empty-set.com

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