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I recently felt the need to questions my motives and my thinking since I’ve lately had become very curmudgeonly towards Apple. I’ve always been a fan, make that fanboy. I love the beauty and seeming simplicity of Macs and OS X. I’ve been buying Macs for 25 years and am typing on a Macbook even now.

Photo credit to prettywar-stl via flickr

So, eh, what’s up doc?

I think the answer is that I’m either getting cheap or pragmatic in my later years. For every Mac in Apple’s catalog, I can buy just as powerful (or a great deal more so) PC for about 50%. Macs are beautiful and elegant and absolutely should win design awards, but when I’m trying to get the most for my limited bucks do I want art or functionality?

Once it made sense, Macs were so much easier to use and there was only a bit of a price premium. Then Microsoft really blew it by shipping Windows Vista before it really worked. It made older computers when upgraded with Vista into boat anchors.

Apple Mac mini
Image by kogakure via Flickr

The simple truth is now Vista works just fine and we’re talking about buying new computers, a basic PC today has a couple of gigs of memory, a couple hundred gigabyte disk drive, an optical drive which can write CDs and DVDS, is 64 bit (which really doesn’t mean a damn thing to most people) and probably has dual-core (which does). Computers like these are available at most outlets for around $400. A weakly configure Mac Mini costs $799.

Daniel Vast got it right in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece,

Like eating only locally grown food or majoring in gender studies at college, Macs have become luxuries that command a premium out of all proportion to their utility — unless their utility is simply to broadcast your own disposable income. For a long time the extra cost of a Mac wasn’t outlandish and seemed justified by its great design and ease of use.

Don’t get me wrong. Macs are great products and very cool and ultra-hip. The question I keep asking is it really that cool to spend money to be cool?

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