Is the Apple Mac a Con-Job?

Let me be straight about this: I think Apple products are overpriced and over-hyped, but that’s just my opinion.  After all, nearly everyone I know has a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air or some other MacTastic MacRipoff.

Lately, Apple have decided to thumb their noses at their customers by coming up with an utterly obnoxious design concept: everything must be done in their factory at great expense.  Unlike a PC laptop, or an old Mac, you can’t add RAM because what you get is already soldered onto the motherboard.  If you happen to crack the screen (it happens!), you can’t send away for a replacement and fit it yourself.  Instead you must get a whole new lid fitted, where?  That’s right — in the Apple workshop.  You can’t even buy a new battery when the old one wears out.  Instead, you have to send the entire computer where?  Don’t even bother guessing.

For the privilege of all this, you pay about twice as much as you would for an equivalent PC.

Now, the question is this.  Do you get components of twice the quality?  I don’t think so.  A motherboard is a motherboard.  A hard drive is a hard drive.   RAM is RAM.  Since the move from Motorola to Intel, the Apple runs on exactly the same processor as any other PC, so what exactly do you get for your money?  What you get is the Apple operating system which I’m willing to admit is a lot slicker than windows and always has been, but is it worth doubling the price of your new machine?

macbook pro

A friend of mine had to buy a new Macbook Pro recently because his old one gave up.  Who knew an Apple could break down just like any mortal computer?  He paid something like €1200 for his new machine which had, working from memory, 4GB of RAM, a 2.5 GHz processor, 500 Mb hard drive and a 15″ screen.  For an exorbitant €80 more he could have 8Gb RAM instead.  Meanwhile, last month, I bought a higher-spec 17″ PC laptop for a little over half the price.

But the Apple OS, you say.  Will nobody think of the operating system that makes a Mac so special?  Well, if I wanted to, I could install the Apple operating system on my new laptop.  I think I might have to dedicate 4Gb of RAM to running it, but guess what?  I can add another 8Gb of RAM to my machine at a very small cost, so it’s no big deal.  It’s called a Hackintosh.

And suddenly, here I am with my non-Apple Hac, running the Apple interface but why would I want to do that?  Why would I need the Apple look when that’s not what I do with my time?  I’m interested in the programs it can run, not how it calls them up.  My less-costly machine runs Photoshop just like a Mac does.  It runs Premier Pro just like a Mac.  It runs Dreamweaver just like a Mac.  It has a better processor, more memory and when I want to upgrade it or fix it, I don’t have to send it to the factory for ruinously-expensive alterations because I can do all that stuff  myself on the kitchen table.

Don’t get me wrong now.  I’m a sucker for slick marketing just like the next guy, as my drawer-full of extinct iPods will tell you.   They were sleek, they were white, they were sexy and they were designed to scratch the second you looked at them.  Six months later, they were designed to die.

That’s what I dislike so much about Apple: the whole planned-obsolescence thing, the idea that they know what’s best for the customer and you will line up like an obedient little consumer.  Do not ask hard questions.  Do not poke that beehive or question the Emperor’s clothes.

All the Mac users I know are happy to tell me how much better their toy is, but none of them seem to have tried a PC to find out if it’s true.

There’s a tendency in people to defend unwise purchases.  I’ve done it myself and I’ll probably do it again, but I wonder how much of that is going on with the loyal Apple fan-base.  If they admitted that there was a cheaper, better alternative all along, would it make people feel a little foolish at having been conned so easily?

Maybe I’m wrong about this.  No doubt somebody will be on straight away to tell me just how wrong I am.

22 replies on “Is the Apple Mac a Con-Job?”

You’re not wrong. It’s kind of a subjective area – well not really, but someone will tell you that it is and they’re probably right. Well not really. If you’re recording music, I agree that an Apple is superior for this. I really haven’t a clue why but people I trust have told me this and I believe them as they’re my only frame of reference. Of course, I record music through a pc and, other than my limited and clumsy mixing skills combined with a complete refusal to learn the process and the cheap gear I use, it is quite good. Apple used to go along the lines of their inability to catch a virus but Microsoft Security Essentials is free and it gets rid of most of them. So, in my opinion, for the most part, you’re right.


Whilst I agree with you insofar as Macs do seem to cost more (sometimes a lot more), when you go into it, and try to spec up a Laptop (for example) from another premium supplier (Dell, HP etc) then you’ll quickly find that “like for like” in both specs and size/weight the competitors quickly add up too from the base price….

e.g. take this dell – – XPS laptop – bigger and heavier than a Macbook air, coming in at a resonably similar price with the same spec – there’s not a lot to it….

Sure, PC World and Curry’s carry laptops from €350 – €400 – but on a like for like basis, a direct comparison (not just speed and spec, but size, weight, screen resolution, backlite keyboard, multitouch trackpad, connectivity etc) the disparity isn’t all that great….

Then throw in the OS, the built in App (iLife etc) and you can understand why they still command the price…..

It’s basically the same as with different car brands, any many other artefacts that humans trade and use. It’s fashion as well. Not all aspects can be measured in nanoseconds and CPU cycles, it’s also about evaluating the subjective experience when using an artefact. Therefore, there are PC people, Linux people and Mac people and a few others.
IMHO, as long as the individual is happy with his or her choice and the feckin machine does it’s job well, then it’s ok. As I have been around the planet with portable computers a good few times, I’m so far happier with the “survival” of my Macs than PCs. And the good news is, you can put Linux on any one of them, any day, for free. (This is being typed on a brand new Macbook with OSX that I’m vary happy with :-)

I use an imac at work, it is excellent and boots up in 20 seconds. (I timed it one day) Apart from that, and I use photoshop a good bit, it is no different. Apart from looking great if you are trying to impress the latest young one through your front door if you are a 19 year old graphics student.

Have to say I disagree on a couple of things here.

First of al let me just say that because something has the same spec does not mean it has the same performance. And I’m not just talking about functionality. Let’s say you have two machines that both have the exact same harddrive, same ram and same cpu. However one manufacturer could secure their hardrive to the machine in a completely different fashion. When harddrives are working hard they spin which vibrates the chassis, produce heat and kicks in the fan if it is not positioned well. Poorly made machines create a lot of noise, making them very difficult to work on professionally. Macs are not one of these. It’s also one of the reasons musicians/producers love recording music on them. I am a professional software developer and musician so I know how important these qualities are. (i have also built PCs so am well aware of the mistakes)

Secondly, most people don’t care about specs. They are consumers as you say but that is not a fulltime vocation. Many Apple fans are professionals in their own fields and when it comes to tech they just couldn’t be bothered learning. They want something that looks good and does what they want it to do. There are some great looking /functional PC’s but historically that hasn’t always been the case. Apple took the fear and ugliness out of consumer home computers and that is why they have been so successful and built such a reputation. This leads me on to system upgrades. I have upgraded every Windows/Linux/Mac machine I have ever owned. There is no difference in price or ease of install. As for soldering components to the board of newer imacs? Most non tech heads don’t care and professionals like myself generally have pro machines which are built entirely with expandability in mind.

As a fairly recent convert to Apple, of about 3 years, I also still run PC’s, and I have had other phones to compare and the Apple stuff is better, it works and works well.

After resisting them for about 20 years, I think I might have been wrong.

I used to be a little bit technical and take PC’s apart, I find less need to with apple products, and kind of like that someone else does it properly.

I do take your point about the price, but what price can you put on speed and reliability.? I have never felt the need, so far, to throw an Apple product out of a second floor window.

I feel that those can afford Apple/OS go for it. PCs running Windows are for the unwashed. Linux/UNIX people know what they want to do and how to do it.

You can get a cracked version of the Mac OS and it will run perfect on a pc. Most people I know that own a mac use it for music and nothing else but only because they can’t figure out how to use a linux distro like Ubuntu. The minute they realise you can get the same programs for music production for free and have access to a massive open source universe the arsehole will fall out of Apple.

I began using Macs in 1988, sold and supported them for years and ended up running Apple’s sales operation in Ireland before they moved everything on-line. So then I went back and did computers in College and used PC’s exclusively. Currently I work part-time in a PC office while working from home on my Mac. In all of that, I have no doubt that the Mac platform is vastly superior in every way. It is intuitive, reliable, elegant and fast (measured in time spent completing your work).

But some years ago, I did a road show with a Mac and PC projected onto two screens. To audiences of thirty at a time all around the Country, I showed both machines performing the same tasks using common programs from both platforms. These demonstrations were a real eye-opener for many people but in the end, it came down to “what you are used to”.

O/SX now on the Mac is UNIX based with a slick front-end. For some, turning off the Mac kernel and working in Berkley UNIX is an attractive option. One friend of mine has Windows and LINUX running on his Mac. My son is putting himself through College as a composer/DJ on an iMac, while my daughter uses (and hates) a Sony VAIO in engineering.

But, I take your point about Apple’s high-handedness in some areas. Steve Jobs was paranoid about being ripped off but his motto was to make “insanely great products” and he has set the standard doing that. That is not to say though that in ten or fifteen years time another bloke won’t come along and improve on that or innovate something entirely different or better. For now though, the Mac is the best PC you can buy and I have a simple reason for saying so. The true comparison is not the buying price but the value-for-money equation.

I have been using computers since I was a kid. I’ve used Macs on and off, nothing serious. Early this year I got a Macbook from work. Decided to give them a proper go and see what the fuss is about. I particularly wanted to use iMovie to try and edit some family movies together. I had previously used Sony Vegas and the Nero DVD suite. Didn’t see the fuss in iMovie.

OSX annoyed me. I couldn’t get use to it and finding things and functionality was a pain. By no means as simple and as intuitive as I was led to believe. I did like the scroll\touchpad. And that it wakes very quickly from sleep. Otherwise I did not see why I should pay almost twice as much for the hardware.

My place was robbed over Easter and my two laptops and a tablet were taken. I was more annoyed about my windows laptop being taken than the Macbook.


I wouldn’t argue about OS X, but the operating system isn’t the computer. Any OS can be installed on any computer.

My point is that the physical hardware isn’t worth twice the price of an equivalent PC.

I’m about as long using Macs as I had been in using PCs.
I went to Mac because after the fifth PC succumbed to that virus shite, I had to try Macintosh’s claims for myself.
Initially the Macbook impressed; it still does.
I have however found that when either the software or the hardware packs it in; and both have done with me, then Apple will gain as to have to do without is not an option. (I had to replace a battery once)
My reasons for staying with Mac are twofold – less expensive in the long term and seems more reliable generally as long as the back-ups are made from time to time.
I have lost just one Macbook in the period of time that lost me five PCs and in all cases due solely to software problems.
Macs generally don’t get viruses; at least not like Windows can, but they will get what they call a ‘kernel panic’, which amounts to same thing – more or less.
The hardware development will eventually force the hand of many. Just like Instagram change has I suppose.

The hardware equivalent being worth twice the price? No Bock definitely not. We have a lot of Macbooks in work. Our Windows PCs are Lenovo laptops, desktops and some Dell desktops and just recently HP. Shock horror Mac hardware fails too. Admittedly not as often as the others but they do fail. Our clients are horrified to learn that it can take 1-2 weeks for the Macbook to comeback repaired. We have next business day on site support for Lenovo. If you ring them early enough in the morning they are usually there that afternoon. Apple do not offer that. Best you can do is go to an Apple store and hope the genius bar can help you out. SOL if you dont live near an Apple store.
Providing the hard drive isn’t poked we just swap out the windows HDs to the same make\model machine and rename it as appropriate.

@journeymans If the hardware was more reliable then why do you need backups? Dont ALL computers regardless of OS require backups as good practice?

I am the “techie guy” for a lot of friends and family members laptops. Far and away the best advice for avoiding malware and how I set up their computers is two have a separate admin account and have their main account be a guest account. Most malware requires admin privileges to install in the first place. To avoid the nuisance of swapping to the admin account when, say, you want to install something you can set the security policy on guest accounts to just prompt for the admin credentials when you try to install sw instead:
Admin Tools \ Local Security Policy \ Security Settings \ Local Policies \ Security Options ans set the “UAC Behaviour of the elevation prompt for standard users” to Prompt for Credentials on the secure desktop.
I read somewhere that 80% of all malware requires admin privileges. Since I started this practice a few years ago I haven’t gotten one virus related help request.


Backups Brian I don’t do as often as I should but that’s just laziness. What I found once though when Apple techies were simply to check a problem I was having, they managed to lose all my stuff. A lot of photos went west. I had not backed up prior to having the checkup. It was on my first Mac and the beginning of the kernel panic saga that eventually necessitated the purchase of a new Macbook.
Good advice that on setting up a separate admin account. Copy & paste done on that for future reference.

FWIW, you can buy and replace / upgrade the battery, power cable, HD and RAM on a macbook / macbook pro, all from the comfort of your own home.

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