Last weekend I had a debate with my brother-in-law about Apple vs. Microsoft and Mac vs. PCs. It’s an old debate, as many of you well know, and he brought up the point that nearly everyone seems to jump to: price.
It’s no secret that if you’re going to purchase a Mac Book Pro, it’ll generally cost you more than the Windows laptop sitting right next to it. The reason for this is simple: PC makers go to extraordinary lengths to make their computers cheaper, which includes cheapening the materials that the PC is made of in order to lower the cost to the consumer. It’s what gave way to the mega-popular netbook market a couple years back, and is what continues to be a standardizing argument for today’s geeks.
That old adage “you get what you pay for” is very much in effect here. Studies have shown that if you line up the Mac Book Pro next to a Windows Laptop with the same hardware and parts, you’ll find very little difference in price. So why is it that with so many options out there – many of them cheaper by far – the iPhone still holds 20% of the smart phone market, and Apple laptops continue to be the number one seller for college students?
Easy. It’s about the experience.
Apple’s Operating System provides a very user-friendly experience. The computer itself provides a great experience from almost opening the box – none that of that “crapware” that comes pre-installed on so many PCs. And when I did need to install a copy of Windows XP on the Mac in order to use a Windows-Only program, I swear that it was easier than anything I ever installed Windows on back in my days as an IT Tech.
The key to fixing a lot of problems in today’s world – from business to technology to legislature – is not to throw more money or people at the problem. It is to take another look at the features or the experience that the product or service or bill in question provides and make it better. Make it the best.
I’m a big fan of the Posterous blogging platform (www.posterous.com). It’s what I use to run my own blog and it’s key strength is that it capitalizes on an already well-known form of communication: email. They are not the first blogging platform ever and they certainly don’t have the resources or funding that some of the others do. In fact, they don’t have a lot of the features that some of it’s competitors do, either. But they are rising steadily and becoming more and more popular because they focus on what they do have and make it the best. Adding a post to my blog (including the aritcle you’re reading now) is as easy as sending an email.
When the netbook market began to boom about two years ago, people kept asking “When is Apple going to make a netbook?” Steve Jobs was abundantly clear: they weren’t. “We can’t make a $300 computer that’s not a piece of junk,” he said. To really drive the point home, they even took their 13” Mac Book off the market to ensure that people didn’t try to throw it out there as an “overpriced netbook”. Instead, they got busy with what they already did well (which was multi-touch technology) and created the iPad.
By focusing on the experience and providing the best possible use of what features you do have, you can take your company or your team to the top of the line, setting the standard for your own competitors to follow.