Reality Check: A Mac is a PC
We live in a world where marketing is reality. All you have to do is look at the world of politics to see that. Perception is reality. Apple is the king of perception marketing in the tech industry. The “Mac versus PC” commercials have successfully put forth the idea that a Mac is different than a PC.
It isn’t and it is about time we get this right. No, I will not be creating a “MacMech” as many times as people shoot the idea to me.
The biggest misconception here, perpetuated by Apple’s brilliant marketing, is that a Windows-powered computer is a PC while a computer running OS X is somehow different. It is a MAC! It isn’t the same as that boring little Windows PC. But, the perception is dead wrong.
Just the other day, a site linked to PCMech saying “it is not a Mac site”. I have had people ask me if I’m going to create a “MacMech”. And, this morning, I also read a piece by the editor-in-chief of PC Magazine entitled “Macs are PCs, Dammit"!”. Apparently, people have been getting on PC Magazine, too, because that word “PC” in the title must mean they talk all about Windows computers, right? Well, I sympathize with Lance Ulanoff. PCMech also has the word “PC” in the title. In fact, this site used to be called “PC Mechanic” and there is little doubt that, yes, this site discusses Windows quite a bit.
Let’s remember, however, that “PC” means “personal computer”. Since when did the word “PC” mean a computer running Windows? Is a computer running Linux not a PC either? Or are we supposed to think that Windows and Linux powered machines are PC’s while a system running OS X stands apart as a different beast?
The evolution of this concept isn’t hard to see. The first PC was the IBM PC and it ran MS-DOS, a text-based operating system. MS-DOS was considered the de-facto standard at the time, just like Windows is today. Apple, in 1984, released the Macintosh. They gave it a different name so as to differentiate it from the text-based IBM compatibles. The Apple was the first computer to use a mouse and a graphical interface, and Apple clearly wanted to differentiate and make that fact clear. But, even then, the Mac was a box with an integrated display, keyboard, CPU, hard drive – everything the IBM PCs had. The word “Macintosh” was simply a marketing term. The only thing unique about it was the mouse, but the IBM compatibles had that before too long, too.
Today, it is the same. The Mac is no different than the PC except for operating system. They all use essentially the same hardware, and that is even more clear now that Apple is using Intel processors. Both are computers. The only different is the operating system.
The Apple commercials are brilliant. They clearly make the PC seem radically different than the Mac. But, introducing reality to it would make the commercial suck. What if the Mac guy said “I’m also a PC.”. He’d be correct, but it would obviously suck as a commercial. Or what if the PC guy says “Hi, I’m a Windows”. Yeah – lame.
Every move by Apple is designed to foster the image of the Macintosh as the gift from the heavens. They position it differently. They price it higher. You have to go to certain stores to get the thing. You can’t build one, really. So, every little thing that they do is designed to do one thing: create an image of the Mac as an exclusive, premium machine. You’re cool if you own one, dammit.
But, alas, it is marketing. Pure and simple.
Don’t get me wrong: The Mac is a fantastic product. OS X is a superb operating system and the Mac Pro (which I use daily) is a solid machine. My Macbook Pro, too, is an awesome laptop. But, on both, I happen to also run Windows. Does that make them PCs and not Macs anymore?
A computer is a computer. They all are, essentially, dumb boxes with circuits that sit there and blindly execute every instruction passed to the processor. That’s all it does.