By Guest Blogger N.C.E
Working in the technology industry, I’ve always been a watcher of tech trends, especially those related to personal computing and consumer electronics. One of the biggest questions that has baffled me is the success of Apple to market most of their products at significant price premiums. As a techie (I consider this term a compliment), I’ve wondered whether it was purely due to their marketing finesse that has contributed to the ‘premiumness’ of the brand, or was there other explanation from technical point-of-view?
Some time back, I have considered purchasing a Mac Mini as a foray into the world of Mac OS. But after some consideration, I find it hard to even convince myself to go ahead because it violates my personal quest for maximizing bang-for-the-buck. It’s hardly a crusade of any kind, but rather the basic tenet of getting the most value out of every purchase. And for this consideration alone, it certainly doesn’t make sense to pay more than double what the hardware actually cost.
As a case in point, consider the spec sheets for these two identically-priced systems: Apple Mac Mini and HP Pavilion (Figure 1). Both systems pack an Intel Core i5 processor, but the Pavilion’s one is 71% faster than the Mac Mini according to CPU Mark benchmark chart (Figure 2). In addition, the Pavilion has twice the storage space in terms of hard disk, while also having a DVD burner and a discrete graphics card. So it’s clear that from hardware point of view, the Mac Mini is priced at a significant premium.
Some might argue that the operating system itself is worth the extra bucks. Admittedly, the MS Windows OS is fraught with viruses and malwares of all sorts, frequent crashes, security loopholes that hackers could exploit and the list goes on. Therefore, Mac OS, owing to its UNIX lineage, proves to be a good alternative for its superiority in these aspects. However, a little known fact is that one can actually get a stable and secure OS for free, if he or she is willing to make the switch to Linux OS, which belongs to the same UNIX family.
Or perhaps the visually stunning interface is the reason Mac OS was able to captivate its users? But then again, if one so desires, the customizability of Linux OS enables one to skin and configure an Ubuntu Linux into something that very closely resembles the MacOS interface (http://www.noobslab.com/2013/05/mac-os-x-theme-for-ubuntu-1304-raring.html or google for ‘Macbuntu’). Besides, I have found the KDE Plasma Desktop interface of Kubuntu Linux to be equally stunning, if not more. It has now become my primary choice of OS.
From whichever way I look at it, there isn’t much that I couldn’t do with a generic PC installed with Linux OS compared to a Mac. The former costs only a fraction of the price for the same computing power.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Apple’s products have actually achieved some kind of cult status. Clever marketing is certainly one of the significant factors for this success, if not the most important one. It’s not unusual to see people brandishing their new iGadgets on social networks. Something which happened at noticeably lower occurrence for those who chose the alternative brands.
Could this be a clue that we may find the answers from social identity theory instead of analyzing their product design? Perhaps their supporters are clamouring for the perception of belonging to an exclusive social group? One which embraces the ‘cool’ factor? Is Apple’s success more of a social engineering effort, akin to what DeBeers has done with diamonds (more on this in the next post) rather than product engineering?
Any Apple loyalists out there who could enlighten yours truly behind your unwavering support for their products?