“Justin” caught our earlier thread on Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows and Apple and PC OEMs (the companies who make PCs for people). I won’t share his specific identity unless permitted, but he has given me pause with this particular message:
I’m watching your recent clip on Mac vs PC, and you state we need to view Apple as a PC OEM, because whatever they are doing right, it can’t just be the operating system. Well, I’ve got to disagree. I’m OEM free, built my machine from the ground up. I have forever been a PC/Windows user until OS X went Intel. If you google my name, you’ll see I’m commonly credited with being the first to get OS X running native on standard PC hardware. At the time it was just a novelty. Fast forward 2.5 years and a lot has changed. OS X is now rock solid on off the shelf PC hardware (given you’ve done the homework on what’s compatible). About a year ago I started toying around with OS X again, dual booting into XP. Now for the last 6 months, OS X is the ONLY operating system on my PC.
Certain OEMs are getting it right in some respects, as evidenced by an open call from last week which will be posted here soon (in which the caller was drooling over an HP Blackbird largely because of the engineering that went on inside the case). That’s great to hear, but every single product that trickles out the door should sport an equally awesome structure – and if it isn’t up to scratch, then the community should say so.
Apple won’t hand OS X over to just any OEM (if it ever does) – but OEMs who care most about their brand and community may stand a better chance for the offer (should it ever happen). Until then, OEMs are sitting underneath Windows – and so are workaday users. There’s so much a PC OEM could do to connect, enthrall, and extend the community beyond computer hobbyists.
The reason I initially started messing around with OS X again was simply for Final Cut Pro. I actually believe Final Cut will play a big role for Apple in the coming years. Mark my words that within 10 years (probably 5), FCP will completely replace Avid in the professional video/film world. Apple has been REALLY on the ball with Final Cut, while Avid has been slipping. But I digress. Final Cut brought me to OS X, and everything else got me to stay. I think it all comes down to the same argument you have for the iPhone vs Windows Mobile — it’s all about implementation. You were playing devils advocate with Kat, pointing out many of the things she liked right off the bat are available in Windows as add-ons or plugins. It’s not about the feature, it’s about the implementation. It’s like comparing Shadow Copy on Vista to Time Machine. Sure, they do the same thing. But my grandmother could use Time Machine. And she can’t even use a word processor.
I play devil’s advocate because I’m right – Windows, at its core, has similar features to OS X. For the most part, average users just need to access email, the Web, and a few multimedia apps. And that’s why Windows works well, and that’s why OEMs have to try even harder to do something with their community in general.
I’d go as far as to say that the first OEM which “insources” a good chunk of their own support and documentation to vetted community members will gain wide support. That’s a PC OEM I could totally back. If Microsoft did more with their community, and gave it products that were truly worth evangelizing, it would naturally happen.
People want to paint me as someone who has completely abandoned all hope for Microsoft, Windows, PC OEMs, etc. – but that’s simply not true (and my continuous advice and support only underscores my as-much-as-possible balanced approach to this industry). I have more advice and help to offer them than I do any other company out there.
Not one OEM has come to me and asked me what they could do better – not one. And if they did, that’s exactly what I’d tell ’em: IT’S NOT THE FEATURE, IT’S THE IMPLEMENTATION.
Don’t get me wrong, Apple is also a great OEM (all though I would argue an over-priced one). I would buy a Mac Pro in a heart beat if I could afford one (although my machine is comparable, and a fraction of the price–pretty much all the parts are from various SlickDeals). But like the Windows Mobile argument, a device can only be as good as it’s operating system. What makes a mac a mac isn’t the Apple logo, it’s the operating system.
The Mac is more than a logo, too – far more. A device is the hardware, the software, and the community. That last part is typically what gets left off – and Apple doesn’t have to foster community because the community follows it. You might state that so does the world of PC, but that’s so incredibly fragmented (and, quite honestly, filled with people who are FEATURE and not IMPLEMENTATION). I got raked across the coals by the very people I was trying to help back when Jim was taking feedback on Vista – some of them ate me alive because I bothered to question Redmond.
Don’t tell me about a product you made – tell me about a product you want to build, and the entire community will tell you what to do and what NOT to do with it. Don’t give us wacky slogans that make absolutely no sense – just give us an experience we’re genuinely excited to share with everybody around us.
Both Microsoft and PC OEMs would be a bit better off if they took the time to listen – truly listen – to their community. We’re out here trying to help. Evangelists aren’t hired, they’re just… there.