“Hello, I’m a Mac…but I’m also a PC.”
The use of the terms PC and Mac to differentiate computers that run the Microsoft Windows operating system between those that run Apple OS X is technically incorrect. A few years back, Mac was simply an abbreviation for Macintosh (the brand of computers made by Apple Inc.) and PC was an acronym for Personal Computer (those used in the home/office, etc.). Recently, however, these words have changed their connotations and this transformation hasn’t been accidental.
Before I speculate how or why, let’s cover some basics. Both and Microsoft and Apple Inc. are software/hardware companies:
Microsoft develops the popular operating system “Windows” but they don’t actually manufacture the computers that it runs on. They leave it up to other companies such as Lenovo, HP, Dell, Gateway and even Apple (after the transition from the PowerPC line of processors to the Intel chip) to make hardware that is compatible with their OS. Then these individual companies give their computers their own names (i.e. the HP Pavillion or the Gateway LT Series). So for example, as a consumer you can own a Dell Inspiron that runs Microsoft Windows (God forbid that actually be the case).
On the other hand, Apple develops the “X” operating system (OS X)* and manufactures the computers that run it. Furthermore (and unlike Microsoft) Apple doesn’t allow other companies to make computers that run their “ground-breaking” operating system — Apple handles it all. So as a consumer, you can’t for example, own an HP Pavillion that runs Apple OS X. If you want Apple’s OS you need to go get an Apple computer (which has a brand name of “Mac”).
In this regard, Apple is a monopoly; the control of their hardware and of the operating system that allows users to interact with it is very stringent. So in this case, there’s no need to identify both the kind of computer you have and which operating system it runs. The entire package is simply referred to as “a Mac.” This inseparable unification of hardware and software that Apple maintains is what I think has made a “Mac” represent much more than simply a brand name.
At the same time, Apple has made efforts to practically abandoned “PC” as a label for anything about them by inaccurately using the label “PC” as an umbrella phrase to encompass everything that is not a Mac (specifically referring to computers that run Windows).
I needed to find some product information while doing some comparative shopping at Best Buy this past weekend. I used one of the iMacs on display in their “Apple Shop” to browse the Internet…lord knows I wasn’t about to ask one of the “highly trained” employees they have on the floor. As I wrapped up my investigation I was met by a girl…no, she was definitely older than just a girl…a woman, early to mid-twenties with no valid excuse for being an idiot, who came up to the iMac next to me and started petting it.
“Mmmmm. I just love these things. Don’t you?” she asked.
“Yeah, they’re nice,” I responded casually.
“No, you don’t understand,” she continued “these things are amazing. You see, I believe that Apple is going to take over the world someday and I think people should start using their computers now to get used to them because that’s how it’s going to be in the future.”
How does one respond to an opening statement like that?
“It’s just a computer,” I said.
Let’s pause here for a moment. You see, my opinion on this subject has become very apathetic in the last few years. The truth is that Windows and Macs both perform equally well, both crash, both get viruses (yes, Mac users, they do) and both have a slew of things that should be fixed; it’s how you use it that matters. I guess it’s just the opposite of the “grass being greener”…it’s more like “my grass is greener because it is what I stand on everyday.” My point is, what ever you are used to is what is better for you. Ok, enough said. Let us return to the conversation:
“I’m just as fine with a Windows machine,” I added.
“Oh,” she expressed sympathetically. “Are you not creative?”
And that’s when I walked away. No goodbye. No polite smirk. Just a turn of my head and I was on my way, contemplating the irony of her logic: we should all conform by being “Mac users.” That way, we’ll be able to express ourselves creatively in our iLives.
People tend to get distracted by the marketing bullshit and actually believe that having a Mac instantly makes you a creative individual. Following this logic, not having a Mac means you’re not creative. How shallow.
That being said, I own a Mac and am very satisfied with it. But I happen to use more than iPhoto & Safari, bitches. I like Apple’s hardware and occasionally their software as well. I love the fact that I have access to a UNIX environment and can run all my C programs through the terminal pretty much out of the box. However, I recognize that Steve Jobs is in fact mortal and that his corporation has many similarities to Microsoft—a company people are so quick to criticize.
This post is for all you people who posses Apple stickers: don’t be so quick to assume that there is only one solution people should conform to. After all, that’s what the Nazis did.