PC vs. Mac – A Timeless Rivalry
The first personal computer using a mouse and a graphical user interface was the Apple Macintosh. Released to the market on January 24, 1984, Apple enjoyed a monopoly on the market until Microsoft entered the picture about one year later. The Apple Macintosh enjoyed respectable sales during the 1980s until market share shifted to Windows throughout the 1990s.
Almost everyone knows that Microsoft dominates the market for personal computers. The reason is that Microsoft sold its operating systems to numerous computer companies. This permitted wide distribution for its operating systems while Apple designed their operating system to fit uniquely in their own hardware.
Design is one of the major factors that separate PCs from Macs. CEO Steve Jobs emphasized the appearance of his products. Many say that he took this to the extreme, obsessing about the design and packaging of products beyond just Macs. Apple began its rise to fame when the company released the iMac in 1998. This proved to be a turning point for Apple as its popularity grew over time. Its sleek appearance and shine commanded respect in a technical age.
There is only one type of iMac. However, PCs come from a wide variety of manufacturers so there is more diversity in design within the PC world. If someone does not particularly care for Apple’s design, they can either buy a PC or settle for the single design that Apple offers.
One of the major elements that separates a Mac from a PC is price. While PCs that sell for under $1,000 are a dime a dozen, few Mac products exist with this price tag. This simply means that Macs command a price premium because they tend to sell higher-end computers with more expensive raw materials. What does this mean for the buyer? If the user simply wants to surf the internet and play solitaire, then it is difficult to justify the purchase of a Mac. However, if a consumer does photo-editing, edits movies, and runs a business online, then the purchase of a Mac is reasonable.
PCs range considerably in the technical specifications offered to consumers. Therefore, the specifications can be comparable or vastly different between PCs and Macs. In general, Macs outperform the average PC, justifying the high price tag. Generally, Macs boast faster processors but tend to lack in terms of memory, hard disk size, and the number of USB ports. One of the main technical differences between Macs and PCs is the type of ports offered. While Macs make use of a thunderbolt cable for video output and an Ethernet connection, PCs generally come stock with both a VGA or DVI port as well as an Ethernet port.
As I touched on earlier, there is more variety when venturing into the PC world. Some of the more prominent companies that manufacture PCs include Acer, Asus, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba. Within each brand is a large assortment of desktop and laptop models. Apple pales in comparison to PCs, offering a total of 18 different models. The more popular models include the iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and the MacBook Pro. While some may view this lack of variety as a weakness, Apple views it from a different lens. Instead, the company believes in a streamlined philosophy, placing emphasis on quality rather than quantity.
As expected, Apple is not as accessible for purchase as their widespread counterparts. While Apple products are sold primarily from Apple stores, PCs are available for purchase at virtually ever electronic store chain and large retailers. Apple has dipped its toes in fleeting agreements with these types of stores, but this trend never lasted. While Apple demands control of its manufacture and distribution, Microsoft employs a very different philosophy. The company itself does not produce any hardware. Instead, it licenses its operating system to the companies mentioned above who pair their hardware with Microsoft’s software to produce the final product.
The operating systems used by PCs and Macs are one of the most highly debated aspects of these two entities. Between 2007 and 2009, many critics unanimously declared that Mac’s OS X was far superior to Windows Vista that came on PCs. However, the implementation of later software including Windows 7 and Windows 8 fixed many of the bugs found in Vista. Consumers stated that Vista was sluggish, crashed quite frequently, and had too many pop-up dialogue boxes. After critics denounced Vista, Windows added more stability and functionality to its subsequent operating systems. However, Apple’s popularity spiked with its release of Boot Camp software in 2006. For the first time, consumers could enjoy the benefit of both a Mac operating system and Windows 7 on the computer simultaneously! Due to its growing popularity, other software that mimics Boot Camp has been released to the public, including Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion.
One of the primary reasons that Windows PCs have dominated the market share is the abundant amount of software written for its operating system. In addition to utilities and work-related software, PCs make for better gaming machines because there is a countless number of games available. However, Macs are limited in the number of games written for the Mac operating system. It is estimated that there are about 180 games available for Mac and over 1,300 for the PC.
It is no secret that PCs are a haven for viruses and malware. As I mentioned previously, Microsoft dominates the market share. Due to its popularity and widespread use, Windows is highly prone to attacks from other PCs. Therefore, the amount of PC repairs compared to Mac repairs is extremely high. This is not to say that Macs are invulnerable to threats. One of the more prominent threats present in the Apple world is Mac Protector, which is a Trojan designed to steal credit card information.
In general, customer satisfaction ratings are higher for Macs. Apple scores higher in categories such as reliability, service experience, and phone hold time. It is logical to assume that the reason for higher customer satisfaction is the way in which Apple provides service to its customers. While Windows customers are speaking to a service center representative overseas, Apple customers are talking face-to-face with technicians at the Genius Bar in their local Apple store. Another option is to bring your computer to your local computer store. There, you can experience the same personal touch that Apple offers to its customers. It is difficult to declare a victor in this match. If you desire quality, go for a Mac. If you tend to side more with quantity, then purchase a Windows PC. You can’t go wrong. So decide and be proud!