Mac as a Metaphor

I am a PC man, long since disabused of any preference for Apple computers. My brother had an Apple IIe in the 80s, and I worked on it.  I worked on spreadsheets on a MacIntosh in 1990, and loved Apple computers at the time. I fancied they were superior. No longer.

During the past 20 years, programs that were once the singular arena of Apple superiority have given way to Windows based software.  Even video rendering, and graphics -- once a stronghold of Apple -- are now equitably accomplished on Windows. And anybody who has run the freeware Photoshop clone GIMP on Linux will be amazed how fast it starts up. Apple has lost its edge.

So the recent arrival of the new MacBook 12" model piqued my curiosity. The was much to commend it -- an innovative keyboard and touchpad, with a new USB-C port, Retina Screen, incredibly thin, and lightweight -- but what struck many reviewers was how woefully underpowered the CPU chip and computer was.

I am writing this article on a reliable but weak 4-year-old PC desktop, fired by an AMD chip, with an embarrassing Nova Bench score of 664.  Yet, the Intel Core-M CPU, which has threading, on the MacBook 12 underperforms even my 4-year-old desktop.  What possessed Apple to release this laptop that is halfway back to being a tablet?

More importantly, what possesses so many Apple fanboys (and girls) to buy them?

I do not own a smartphone, but my high-powered sister -- who owns an iPhone and whose daughter has an Android -- has informed me that Androids are better. Since I have used Linux, I am not surprised.  Okay, people may fancy an iPhone, but what I notice is a slavish devotion to the Apple brand.

I do own an iPad, and find it useful; but I find Apple's closed ecosystem of Apple approved software quite annoying. Ecosystem? I consider it a black hole. Once into it, you can't escape.

Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? -- Microsoft's Steve Ballmer

Apple excels only at the high-end level, and then only if one purchases the upscale options. Its 27" iMac is a stunner, but only if one upgrades the RAM, and the CPU to a quad core i7.  Likewise, I will concede that its MacBook Pro laptop is probably the best in its class; but again one should opt for the upscale options, which are very expensive.  Quite often, one can get an otherwise comparable PC model for hundreds less, if willing to compromise on one item, such as settling for a non-Retina screen.

Even avoiding build quality and OS differences by looking only at Apple products, a Mac's price tag is justified in some configurations while in others, it's downright punitive.  -- Gizmodo

And boy do those options cost! With many Apple products -- such as the MacBook Air -- extra RAM memory cannot be installed later on. It is soldered in, so the options have to be purchased up front -- and Apple charges heavily for RAM upgrades. Such expense is called the Apple Tax.
Used to be that one could install extra RAM yourself, sourced from much cheaper suppliers. Apple has removed that option from the customer, who has to be protected from making mistakes.

The New MacBook Pro: Unfixable, Unhackable, Untenable -- WIRED

Apple controls the customer's options from beginning to end, in an almost paternalistic fashion.  Still, the fanboys (and girls) will line up wrapping their lines around the block to buy the new Apple gizmo. They fancy that they are making a cultural statement to break free from the tyranny of Windows, but in reality, Bill Gates was never as dictatorial with his product as Jobs was with Apple.  Windows was only concerned with the software. Your computer options were up to you.

So, now we have the beautiful new Apple MacBook 12".  Innovative keyboard, innovative touchpad, with a Retina Screen -- except that the CPU (the core of the computer) is anemic.  Apple decided for the customer that only 8 GB RAM would be available -- on a Retina Screen!  Apple knows what’s best for the customer.

Ah! But it comes in three stunning colors: Gold, silver, and space gray. 

Who cares? 

The CPU is a disaster. This is the computer equivalent of the Karmann Ghia. Volkswagen's attempt to put out a sports car. The Karmann Ghia looked great, was a piece of art, but under the hood, it was still a Volkswagen, with 36 horsepower that could barely reach 80 mph, and was no match for a beat up Rambler. Yet, people bought them.  They were sexy.

So, now the technical media is falling over themselves to declare how wonderful this new Apple product is.  It will be a trail blazer. So thin. So gorgeous. Future laptops will look like the new MacBook. Lots of bells and whistles. Apple has done it again. But in the end, it has a CPU less powerful than some older MacBook Airs upgraded to 8GB RAM, and the MacBook 12" is more expensive. They should call it the ObamaBook.  The Audacity of Hope.

Of course, we are told that as Intel comes out with better low-wattage chips, the new MacBook will improve. Well ... yeah!  Whenever you are down and out, the only way is up.

I know the old line. Apple has fewer viruses. Unstated is that their market share is less attractive for hackers to write viruses for Mac; but yes, they do get viruses.

However, as Apple Macintosh computers gain market share ... virus infections are becoming more common than they used to be. -- Computer Hope

Apple is not a bad product; it just does not meet its own hype. PCs offers comparable, and sometimes superior options, for much less. You can even build your own PC.  Apple does not even allow the purchaser of its operating system to install it on PCs -- a totalitarian closed system. Windows was never that nutty.

Why is it that there is a self-styled bunch of elitists who fall for this Apple hype, and fancy themselves better for doing so?  It may explain our voting patterns.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who is not Jewish, Latin, nor Arab. He runs a website,, where he discusses the subculture of Arabs in Latin America. He wishes his Spanish were better.