CNET News.com readers almost blew out my inbox Tuesday morning.
I had a pretty good idea it was going to happen, after posting a request in this space from Mac readers for comment on the story I posted today, "Why do Apple customers care so much?" At one point, I received about 50 e-mails in 50 minutes before I had to ask people to stop.
I asked readers to consider a simple question: Why are Mac users so passionate about Apple? And why is that hardcore, unyielding group of Apple users unable to accept any criticism of the company or its products?
I received a variety of responses, mostly from those who told their personal story of converting to the Mac and their desire to let everyone they knew in on their experience. Some were of the typical fawning "Mac rocks! Windows sucks!" variety, but most were well-written and thoughtful responses that considered the history of the Mac vs. PC wars as well as the present.
Thank you to everyone who participated, and I'm sorry I couldn't personally answer everyone's notes. I've taken a few excerpts from some of the e-mails I received and posted them below. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.
Much like racism divides America when one group is perceived to be different than the majority, Apple's products were different enough (remember "Think Different"?) to be shunned by the Windows majority. And just like racism, the arguments are often based on ignorance, misunderstandings, and a lack of respect for different cultures.
It's hard to put my own feelings into words on this, but that's just it: I have feelings for my Apple computer. Not in the creepy obsessive way or anything, but I genuinely love my iBook.
I will be honest, there was a time that I was a militant Mac user, compelled to point out the lemming-like behavior of my PC brethren even though their platform was inferior to that which I chose to use. As you stated, this was in the mid- to late '90s, when more and more consumers were gaining access to machines in their homes for the first time, and schools (my particular purview) were just beginning to consider abandoning Apple for cheaper (initially, at least) Windows-based PCs.
However, it was not long before I realized that technology, in whatever form, platform, software, hardware, what-have-you, is JUST A TOOL.
It's almost like a religious experience in that you feel like you have to tell everyone you know in an effort to "save them."
It's crazy, and I never understood those people, but now I am one.
--Doug Otto, vice president of systems engineering for Govstar and a Sacramento, Calif., resident
The Mac is anti-mediocrity. Anti-plain. Anti-cookie cutter. The Mac represents a certain standard of excellence that most PC makers seem to forgo and Microsoft has never practiced. Your average PC is a thoughtless box put together with all the personality and soul of a machine that makes nails. Your average Mac is designed, and thought out, and planned. These are machines with personality, verve, life.
That is such a rare quality to find from an American corporation nowadays. True excellence and appreciation for design and artistry in a product. That is what makes Apple a notch better than most corporations in my book and why I find myself so passionately attached to the Mac cause.
--Larry Madill, a freelance writer from Hollywood, Calif.
In the end, it is what you grow up with. No one wants to change their comfortable environment, which is what technology ironically does all the time. People are changing and people are avoiding change, see the problem?
--Philippe Chaunu, a student at Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y.
While these OS wars or chip wars have always existed, the Internet gives your average person a voice to be heard by many. With blogs and forums, anyone can offer up a point of view to be read by thousands. Combine all of the above points with a person's desire to be "right" about everything, and the Internet becomes the perfect battlefield. As we learned with e-mail (and now the Web), technology enables people to aggressively push their own opinions in ways that they would not during face to face conversation.
My take on the passion that the Mac users exhibit comes from one thing. No one likes to be wrong.
For my way of thinking, these platforms are tools and people should use the tools they feel comfortable with and to hell with what anyone else thinks. Now, more than at any other time in Macintosh history, these anti-Mac and anti-PC attitudes are changing. These days, even many hard-core PC users are gaining a new attitude toward the Macintosh, and the Mac zealots seem to be softening. At least in the forums and circles I run in.
I see the Macintosh finally earning the respect it never had from the PC crowd. It all really seemed to change dramatically when Apple chose Intel chips. Now we all can own a single box that can run Mac OS X, UNIX, and Windows.
--Jim Felbab, a retired engineer from Mukwonago, Wisc.
Apple reaches out to its users. Take a look at the Apple stores, I live in Sacramento. Our store at Arden Fair Mall was getting so overrun by people asking questions and wanting tech support, they actually took the check stands out and converted them to additional tech support stations. If you want to buy something, the floor staff carries electronic registers on their belt now. It may not be a perfect solution, but it sure shows a lot more interest in the customer than you get from Best Buy or Wal-Mart. You make a customer believe you're working for him, the customer will stand up for your products. Apple is building brand loyalty, a concept lost in American business over the last 30 years.
--Curt, a graphic designer and Sacramento resident
I am a 16-year-old and I always get friends saying "So, what is so special about this Mac computer then?" And I end up spending about 20 minutes talking about the basics like it's faster, doesn't crash, no viruses, etc. Even at school, I use my Mac to make presentations and such, and when I show them to my class everyone goes "WOW", how'd you do that? And again, I end up talking about how Mac and Windows are different. I am just closing in on being a Mac user for one year and I have already 'converted' people from Windows to Mac - and feel happy about this.