Using an old PC is sad, says Apple exec

Technically Incorrect: There was one memorable joke from the Apple event told by the company's Phil Schiller. But was it a joke? And if so, was it funny?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Apple March 21 2016 Event: Phil Schiller introduces iPad Pro 9.7

"Take out a loan to buy these, you sad PC users."

Scott Stein

Mac users used to look down on PC users.

Surely you remember Apple's Mac vs PC ads that made PC users look like whirling twerps who were the Mr. (Has) Beans of technology.

Has the denigration ceased?

Not if you managed to listen to the whole of Monday's Apple event. For there was Apple veteran Phil Schiller trying to insert some witty breeze into his presentation of the new, truncated iPad Pro.

Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing mused that most of the people who use the iPad Pro come from Windows PCs. After all, the iPad Pro is so pleasingly, well, different for them.

Then Schiller offered: "Windows PCs were originally conceived of before there was an Internet, before there was social media, before there was app stores, and this is an amazing statistic: There are over 600 million PCs in use today that are over five years old."

This, you might imagine, is a glorious marketing opportunity for Apple.

Instead, Schiller said of the PC-ridden 600 million: "This is really sad. It really is."

He clearly feels their pain -- the laughter in his audience attested to that -- but let's examine the roots of Schiller's sadness.

Apple's products have always been more expensive. Not everyone can afford them. Not everyone can afford to switch to the latest gadget once a year, as they're encouraged to do by Apple and others.

In 2006, the average age of a personal computer was 4.5 years. This steadily rose to 5.8 years by 2010. It dipped back down to 5 years in 2012. In 2015, it went back up to 5.6 years.

In some parts of the world, however, PCs (have to) last even longer. In Latin America, for example, the average age of a personal computer in 2015 was 9.8 years. In Eastern Europe, it was 7.5 years.

When you consider these numbers, Schiller's comment begins to look less like a Mac vs PC joke and more of a sad, elitist poke.

For some people, a $149 Chromebook is all they can afford. The iPad Pro starts at $599. And then there's the pencil and keyboard as extras. And a MacBook? Have you got $1,299?

The occasionally guilt-ridden mantra of many on high these days concerns the need to fight against inequality.

It's clearly been exacerbated as those at the top have made disproportionately more money -- and presumably bought a lot of fine rose-gold gadgets with some of it.

It's odd then for Schiller to chuckle at those who are, as Mitt Romney might put it, in the 47 percent.

Not everyone holds on to older gadgets for economic reasons. Some might do it to help the environment. And some, perish the concept, might feel the old box works just fine for them.

But would Cupertino's new spaceship sink if Apple introduced a starter Mac for, say, $300?

No. But its profits might.

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