Apple: the reality behind the hype

Those who read my last blog post may have picked up on my less than sunny attitude to Apple and their plethora of over-priced and over-hyped products. I thought I would prove to any doubters that my my confidence that “ for every product they have there is a cheaper better alternative on the market” is based on hard fact. So here it is, a short list which I seriously hope anyone who is thinking about investing money in something like this has a read of.

IPhone 4 – Price: £510 (16GB)
Google Nexus S – Price: £429 (16GB)

What makes it better?

Bigger screen, lighter, MUCH better battery life both talk time and standby and a digital compass. It also has a great new feature called NFC or Near Field Communication which has applications such as contactless credit card payments, wireless ticketing and basic sharing abilities. Finally it’s the latest Android 2.3 which comes with the plethora of apps you’d expect in Android marketplace. Still, Apple do offer free engraving for when you ever need a reminder of how much money you spent on it.

IPad – Price: £612 (32GB)
Notion ink ADAM – Price: £439 (8GB plus 32GB SD card, 40 GB in total)

What makes it better?

PixelQi screen which switches between regular LCD and eInk for easy reading without eye strain or glare, an decent battery, faster processor, rotating autofocus camera, Near Field Communications like the Nexus S, and a hugely improved speaker. Lastly, it wins hands down in the name game. Really Mr. Jobs, what were you thinking?

Now, if you thought those products were overpriced, take a look at their computers. The amount of people I saw who came back to University with MacBook’s in their arms made me almost break down and cry. I’ll be the first to say they look pretty and do increase your street cred by at least a few hundred thou’ but that is literally the only thing they have going for them, and I am more than prepared to take to task anyone who thinks otherwise.

MacBook – Price: £867 (the CHEAPEST model)
Dell – Price: £489 (Dell isn’t even good value, I am just using it as an example)

What makes it better?

Almost £400 difference, I shouldn’t need to say anymore. The Dell absolutely rinses the obsolete Core 2 Duo Mac with its new generation i5, it has a whole 1GB extra of RAM bigger hard drive, higher resolution and even comparable battery life. And, for all those budding MI6 agents out there, the Dell comes with a free integrated fingerprint reader. Eat that.

Apple wired mouse – Price: £40

I’m not even going to compare that to anything.

Apple is strange, really strange. I see their products as the perfect embodiment of consumerism and advertising. They essentially sell inferior products at a greater price because of their image, because we as consumers equivocate image with quality, and that really isn’t the case. Just think about their image for a moment. Everything they make is clean, shiny and in most cases white. Take a look at their adverts, maybe pop into their store or go on their website and you begin to see a pattern of complete consistency emerging. I suppose it’s a lesson, and a good one at that, on how to advertise. The quick witted of you will probably be saying by now well, “Why do people buy branded clothing, or eat branded food, why don’t we just all don Primark jumpers and mash Tesco value peanut butter into our face?” Well, it’s a weak response. If you think about it it’s literally impossible for clothing or food to be analogous to high end technology goods.

I really don’t just have a grudge against Apple. They have been selling overpriced goods to a consumer base which is unfortunately ignorant of what they are buying. This is of course not through any fault of their own; the information simply isn’t readily available. I really hope anyone who is thinking of buying any of their products has a good hard look at the available alternatives before submitting and being bent over a table by Apple.

Oh and that really is it, I’m going to end the apple bashing right there.

31 comments

  1. 9 Feb ’11 at 8:16 pm

    literally noone cares

    haha neek

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  2. 9 Feb ’11 at 8:16 pm

    Jonathan Frost

    Hurrah for common sense… still I’ve pointed this out to people over and over again- it makes no difference.

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  3. Every bone in my body is telling me to not post this to avoid the Mac/PC flamewar that’s probably going to ensue.

    But hey, I’m going to leave one comment. It’s only my opinion.

    http://mullr.net/blog/pi2

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  4. 9 Feb ’11 at 9:23 pm

    Champagne Conservative

    A V8 engine’s not quite so attractive when it’s shoehorned into a Ford Anglia.

    Apple sell, above all else, a coherent user experience- one that feels leaps and bounds less of a hack job than its competitors. Android still feels significantly less pleasant to use than iOS, and even Windows 7 still suffers from its ghastly pedigree.

    Specs aren’t everything. Hell- they’re not even *approaching* everything.

    Shocking though it might sound, people tend to buy goods for the use they can get out of them. Nobody gives a caterwauling toss about their telephone’s CPU Clock Speed, so long as the Application Library is extensive, the interface is genre-defining, and the experience is pleasant.

    If I was *that* desperate for raw power, I’d shoehorn a Core i7 system into a cardboard box and graft an HD screen to one side. I expect I shall be the envy of the world walking down the street with my mean machine slung around my neck.

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  5. 9 Feb ’11 at 9:35 pm

    Voice of Authority

    What a shockingly awful article. Is this really the journalistic standard we have come to expect from Nouse? Piss-poor, ill-informed, biased ranting.

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  6. @Champagne Conservative

    Yeah i see what your saying there, people do love the experience with apple. And yeah, you’re right specs aren’t everything, experience is also important. But you want things to work, and work fast.
    I think weatehr you prefer windows or ios is up to you really, i personally prefer windows.

    And i think your wrong that people dont care about the clock speed of their phone. Sure they dont care what the number is, but people will moan if their phone doesnt do something fast enough, or slows down when they’re browsing the web. Apple know this, thats why the introduced the iphone 3gs which did so well.

    And you can talk about experience all you want, but the grim reality is that for almost £400 less you get a faster and, in my opinion better, machine

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  7. @voice of authority

    ill take all of those comments big dog, but certainly not ill informed. i’d be more than happy for you to show me any of the ‘ill informed’ parts.

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  8. This is a very bias article.

    “The Dell absolutely rinses the obsolete Core 2 Duo Mac with its new generation i5”
    – the i5 is better than C2D but not by a huge amount. If anything it offers the same processing power with less power consumption, it’s hardly a quantum-computer-on-chip.

    You also need to take into account how much faster MacOSX is than Windows on the same hardware specification. You honestly don’t think that apple could sell a slower and inferior product and become bigger than microsoft?

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/05/26/us-apple-stock-idUSTRE64P5PE20100526

    I’m not saying the MacBook Pro is ‘better’ than other laptops, but it’s certainly competitive in terms of everyday performance.

    “They have been selling overpriced goods to a consumer base which is unfortunately ignorant of what they are buying.”
    – I’m a 3rd year CompSci student and you’d be surprised at the amount of people I’ve seen in the labs with Apple products, especially MacBook Pros. I don’t think you can call people studying MEng degrees in Software Engineering ignorant in their specialised field.

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  9. @Oliver

    “the i5 is better than C2D but not by a huge amount. If anything it offers the same processing power with less power consumption, it’s hardly a quantum-computer-on-chip.”

    Not true

    C2 duos was ony of my favourite chips, such a good price and such good value. but the I5 is genuinely alot better. And its not that great power efficieny, sure against the i7’s but its not much better than Q9s series

    Take at this little side by side comparison i spotted from CES last year

    http://www.9to5mac.com/12764/Core-i5-and-Core-Duo-compared-by-Intel-at-CES

    And a benchmark test (Missing 3dmark i know, but i dont think its avaliable for mac, maybe it is , not sure)

    http://www.reynoldsftw.com/2010/04/macbook-pro-15-core-i5-vs-core-2-duo/

    And i really dont think the OS it is that much faster ( just as an exmaple ill use boot speed) –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK98RwVXGck

    Over a long period windows does slowdown in, i will give you that, but just make sure you keep the registry clean and defrag frequently

    Just because people are engineering students doesnt mean they can’t be influenced by advertising. either way its not my point. if i had a million pounds i might consider buying a mac. As it is, that scenario will never occur. Im trying to show alternative and most importantly CHEAPER products. Im sick of people going, oh what laptop do you want? a Mac. its not even a question anymore, just an automated answer.

    People keep saying bias, but come on, im going against the tide here. It is my opinion, but i think i’ve fairly evaluated the products

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  10. “You honestly don’t think that apple could sell a slower and inferior product and become bigger than microsoft?”

    I dont know, they seem to be pretty good at it.

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  11. “http://www.9to5mac.com/12764/Core-i5-and-Core-Duo-compared-by-Intel-at-CES” – Those are desktop i5 processors, quad core, not ones that are used in MacBook pros. There is a big difference you know?

    “And i really dont think the OS it is that much faster ( just as an exmaple ill use boot speed)”

    You’re actually going to compare a system that was never designed to run OSX and is undoubtably not using a vallina kernel to compare boot speeds? I could easily video a MacBook pro booting MacOSX and then booting into Windows 7 to show that MacOSX boots faster on a particular machine.

    Any first year computer scientist knows the advantages and speed boost you get from using a unix based operating system over Windows NT. It doesn’t make MacOSX better than windows, but it’s how mac performance can be comparable to windows while running on slower/older hardware. Ask any person who runs linux.

    “Just because people are engineering students doesnt mean they can’t be influenced by advertising. either way its not my point. if i had a million pounds i might consider buying a mac. As it is, that scenario will never occur. Im trying to show alternative and most importantly CHEAPER products. Im sick of people going, oh what laptop do you want? a Mac. its not even a question anymore, just an automated answer.”

    And with that I can see you are very unbalanced with your argument. This isn’t journalism, it’s a rant against apple.

    Go do a computer science degree and then a masters then you might be more informed to make a tech blog. Hell, I’m preparing for my final year project and I’m not as passionate as you when it comes to smearing a company because of the idiots who surf on the MacBook airs while drinking in starbucks. Just chill dude. :)

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  12. @Oliver

    “You’re actually going to compare a system that was never designed to run OSX and is undoubtably not using a vallina kernel to compare boot speeds? I could easily video a MacBook pro booting MacOSX and then booting into Windows 7 to show that MacOSX boots faster on a particular machine. ”

    After looking for a while on youtube, i literally can find so many videos and comparisons people have done which show windows is faster and show Mac (on the few that weren’t macs were hackintoshs so were using vanilla kernel) is faster. so i suppose its fairly useless arguing about it.

    Yeah i use ubuntu for my laptop at the moment and have toyed with GNOME before precisely for that reason, that they can operate on rubbish hardware.

    And i really don’t think i need to do a computer science degree to write a blog for a student newspaper. just because i don’t do a degree in it, doesnt mean i dont know anything about it.

    And yeah you say chill out. i probably need to. but i think even you’ll sya these products are overpriced and underpowered, no?

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  13. Every time I read something like this I go to the store and try one of those Wintel computers, shudder, and return to my Mac OS with a sigh of relief. I say this even though, since Apple’s manufacturing moved to China, quality control has gone to total shit… it’s still a better product. Ignorance is about the last thing that drives Mac loyalty. I haven’t had a crash or a freeze since the 20th Century.

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  14. 15 Feb ’11 at 12:41 pm

    Jamie Garside

    I’m just going to go out there and say that half of your comparisons are completely unfair.

    The iPhone 4 is more expensive than most phones, but most of that is down to the screen. That thing has 4x the pixel density compared to almost any other phone out there, and that alone would make up the £80 price difference. If we instead drop down to the level of the 3GS, the pricing is around the same (although I’ll accept the 3GS has half the onboard memory). The Nexus S is also completely missing a graphics chip, which is one of the iPhone’s redeeming features (download the Epic Citadel app…full parallax mapping on a phone is pretty impressive).

    Now for the ADAM. From your posts, I assume you’re looking forward to it. Firstly, SD cards can’t be counted as onboard storage on the premise they’re slow as hell, so the nearest comparison is the 16GB iPad+3G, which is £541. The interesting thing here is that Motorola have just brought out a similar tablet for $1100, which makes me wonder where they’re cutting the corners. Some initial teardowns have also cited poor build quality (even some have the antenna wires hand-soldered!).

    Finally, the Macbooks. You might aswell also apply the student discount, which brings the basic model down to £736 (they were also giving away a free iPod over summer, so you could sell that on and get another £100 or so off if you wanted). Despite a slightly slower CPU (which is only there because it’s not possible to fit an i5 and a discrete GPU in the 13″ model), the battery life will dominate nearly every other laptop out there. The Dell will also be using Intel’s integrated graphics, which is frankly terrible compared to the 320M.

    Now, a fairer comparison would be of a machine in the class of a HP Envy or a high range Lenovo, which also retail around the £750-£800 mark.

    On top of all of this, Apple’s main selling point for me is the build quality. In recent years, Dell has been pretty poor in this respect (the acid test is to pick up the laptop from both sides and try and flex it). This is even evident in the iPad and iPhone (a quick Google finds many complaints about the build quality of the Nexus S). Finally, Apple’s warranty is very good from what I hear and has good turnaround times, which is quite important if your laptop is your primary machine.

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  15. I’m not sure what this article has been posted for – apart from anything, non of this is “hard fact” – your choice of any particular product is subjective, and you choose those bits that you prioritise for what you want to do. All you’re doing here is trying to kick a giant – if you’re so sure of Apple’s inferiority, why talk about it? Money and market share will tell.

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  16. @ Jamie Garside

    “The iPhone 4 is more expensive than most phones, but most of that is down to the screen. That thing has 4x the pixel density compared to almost any other phone out there, and that alone would make up the £80 price difference.”

    I’ll give you that, and i have made it clear before that the iphone4 screen is actually amazing, as is the touch functions on the ipod touch and previous iphones. But no, comparing it to the 3gs is NOT a fair comparison. almost every other area its not comparable aside from the afforementioned screen. Processing wise, true, it does not have a dedicated graphcis chip, but ive used it and it pushes it through its A8 instead, which isnt really a massive problem.

    “Now for the ADAM. From your posts, I assume you’re looking forward to it. Firstly, SD cards can’t be counted as onboard storage on the premise they’re slow as hell, so the nearest comparison is the 16GB iPad+3G, which is £541. The interesting thing here is that Motorola have just brought out a similar tablet for $1100, which makes me wonder where they’re cutting the corners. Some initial teardowns have also cited poor build quality (even some have the antenna wires hand-soldered!).”

    I am so looking forward to it you wouldnt believe. I have managed to get on the next preorder and it should be here on the 25th. ill probably do a video review and we’ll see whats really up. I suppose SD can’t but they arent slow as hell. I would still ratehr save over £150 and still have the pixel Qi screen and all the other advantages it has which i wont repeat here. And i can see you’ve just googled notion ink and those FCC breakdowns have popped up. If you look a little furthur you will see the CEO of notion ink posted a reply here – if you’re interested: http://notionink.wordpress.com/page/2/

    “Finally, the Macbooks. You might aswell also apply the student discount, which brings the basic model down to £736 (they were also giving away a free iPod over summer, so you could sell that on and get another £100 or so off if you wanted). Despite a slightly slower CPU (which is only there because it’s not possible to fit an i5 and a discrete GPU in the 13″ model), the battery life will dominate nearly every other laptop out there. The Dell will also be using Intel’s integrated graphics, which is frankly terrible compared to the 320M.”

    That does sound like a decent offer actually – free ipod anyway. BUT You can pop an ATI 5xxx for not that much more, which IS good – same gen as the 320m. and no, stop this, the i5 is not slightly faster it is seriously faster.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-core-i5,2410-12.html. – just a few benchmarks – cits beats the Q9xx on most things so why would it challenge a C2D
    If mac don’t want to change their form factor then thats fine. Have you ever heard anyone say – “arrggh, my laptop is too bloody big”

    “On top of all of this, Apple’s main selling point for me is the build quality. In recent years, Dell has been pretty poor in this respect (the acid test is to pick up the laptop from both sides and try and flex it). This is even evident in the iPad and iPhone (a quick Google finds many complaints about the build quality of the Nexus S). Finally, Apple’s warranty is very good from what I hear and has good turnaround times, which is quite important if your laptop is your primary machine.”

    In my experience Dell’s RTB warranties and next day out are actually surprisingly OKAY – i thought they would be dire. I dont chuck my laptop around, not may people do. BUT i know accidents happen – dells have had gyroscopes in them for some time now to preserve hdd’s etc. build quality seems to be something apple also butress their popularity on – seems odd they dont apply it to their USB cables, earphiones.

    Just for the record, im not a fan of laptops at all, desktops all the way.

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  17. @Edward Caine

    I’m not sure what this article has been posted for – apart from anything, non of this is “hard fact” – your choice of any particular product is subjective, and you choose those bits that you prioritise for what you want to do. All you’re doing here is trying to kick a giant – if you’re so sure of Apple’s inferiority, why talk about it? Money and market share will tell.

    I really dont know what your getting at here. I would more than welcome you to point out the incorrect hard facts though.

    Yeah it is hard fact. i’ve literally done side by side comparisons of them, then used various benchmarks to decide. my choice of products is literally me going right whats comparable and cheaper in price – it doent not matter which products i choose. i pick i phone 4 – immediately to mind is the NEXus S. I pad – notion ink ADAM.

    And money and market share do tell. Apple doesnt dominate the mp3 market it OWNS it. And they should. fantastic products. But in other things they certainly don’t. Even media whihc people don’t stop banging on about – pc’s have equally good software. The days of final cut pro being the best are over.

    And yes i will talk about it – this is a tech blog – if you didnt want to read opinions and analysis then i would steer clear of media entirely.

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  18. @ Jamie Garside

    If you were interested…

    Take a look at the Motorola Xoom and LG optimus if you were interested in them – they look really good and are seriously powerful. theres a video on youtube of the Xoom being shown off with honeycomb on it and the new google maps on. Out of my price range but looks nice enough. the xoom i hear has 4g on it as well – probably pushing the price up too. Optimus pad is looking nice too

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  19. 19 Feb ’11 at 1:20 pm

    Rumplestiltskin

    Edward Caine…
    he talks about it because you drones are not convinced of apple’s inferiority. he is sure of inferiority and speaks because there are those that are unsure of inferiority. idiot.

    and no, money and market share are not the signs of superiority, merely popularity. Popularity means quality – are u an idiot?

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  20. @ Oliver :

    Realised i quoted the wrong link for the processor comparison:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/mobile-core-i5-arrandale,2522-8.html

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  21. and furthur comparisons:

    They’re all M chips unless specified.

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Processors-Benchmarklist.2436.0.html

    Just on a side note, the top ranked i7 mobile is actually really impressive performance

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  22. 21 Feb ’11 at 12:17 am

    Jamie Garside

    Just for the record, there’s no comparing CPUs to GPUs. One is a serial ish processor (with floating point and SIMD sort of hacked on in the case of ARM CPUs), one is basically a dedicated vector processor.

    But yeah, my laptop is my secondary machine for dragging to campus, I use a desktop for my main machine. The Macbooks also have a gyro in though, you can hear the clunk as the HDD parks if you let it fall. The build of the Mac Pro (i.e. the desktop) is also amazing, even just for the case alone. Shame about the £2000 price tag.

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  23. Is your name actually Andrew Ryan? I assumed it was a Bioshock reference.

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  24. 21 Feb ’11 at 11:27 am

    Man of Knowledge

    Excellent work. At last someone who see’s through the facade.

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  25. 22 Feb ’11 at 3:28 pm

    Champagne Conservative

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVmmYMwFj1I

    That video.

    Everyone in this conversation.

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  26. 23 Feb ’11 at 12:49 am

    A non Computer Science Student

    Ok. Lets assess why it is that so many students these days shell out the money to buy a MacBook, and not a PC. Bottom line, is that most students neither understand, nor care about processor speed or GPUs. For most students, a computer is ideal if it can run a web-browser for Facebook and Microsoft Word for their essay. Preferably at the same time.
    Unless you’re a gamer, or someone who edits massive HD videos, pretty much any computer on the market, even netbooks, are powerful enough. Spending hundreds of pounds on a tricked-out laptop is pointless if the biggest workout it’ll ever have to do is play last night’s episode of Hollyoaks on 4od, while uploading some photos onto Facebook.

    The reason I, like so many other students, bought a Mac is because it just works. It’s slap-yourself-in-the-face simple to use, doesn’t keep coming up with notifications to update my anti-virus, and wakes from sleep in seconds, so you can quickly check what room your seminar was in when you’re 2 minutes late. Best of all, the trade in for the unnecessary power is the epic battery life; I have the latest 13″ Pro, and I bought it purely and simply for the 10 hour battery. And it will really do 10 hours, sometimes even more! Now I never have to worry about being unable to find a plug socket in the library, because there’s insufficient study space…

    Yes it might have been more expensive than your mate’s £300 Toshiba, but it’ll still be a decent laptop in 4 years time. When the Toshiba will have broken.

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  27. Yes my name is really andrew ryan . No I’m no relation. And yes I had it first :-)

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  28. @ Jamie Garside

    “Just for the record, there’s no comparing CPUs to GPUs. One is a serial ish processor (with floating point and SIMD sort of hacked on in the case of ARM CPUs), one is basically a dedicated vector processor.”

    I’m not so sure, maybe you can compare them , at least in phones i reckon. A couple of benchmarks (yes i love them. I know they’re not conclusive). You get a fast enough processor, you can push the graphics through it not badly.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4179/ti-omap4-and-lg-optimus-3d-tested (btw, that new lg phone looks sick)

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  29. “Yes it might have been more expensive than your mate’s £300 Toshiba, but it’ll still be a decent laptop in 4 years time. When the Toshiba will have broken.”

    Macbook Pro 13 price: 1000 pounds
    Standard Toshiba: 300 pounds
    Ben & Jerry’s ice cream: 5 pounds

    So, 1 Macbook = 3 toshibas + 20 Ben & Jerry’s ice creams

    Thus, unless 1 Macbook can outlast 3 Toshibas, it is not worth it in terms of price. The real reason everyone buys Macs is because of the company’s brilliant marketing and design. (Not even because of functionality, since if people only cared about having a computer that works and that does not ask for updates all the time, they’d use Linux. Not only you can download it for free, but now you can even buy machines with Linux pre-installed).

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  30. This is such a tired argument. People are prepared to pay more for Apple products for various reasons – some like OS X, some like the design, whatever. People have different preferences and it’s not really a worthwhile discussion.

    A more valid reason for disliking Apple would be their manufacturing practices. For example, the installation of suicide prevention netting at one of their factories.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/28/foxconn-plant-china-deaths-suicides

    Or the worker who committed suicide because he lost an iPhone prototype.
    http://www.cultofmac.com/chinese-worker-commits-suicide-after-losing-iphone-prototype/13354

    Not saying that other hardware manufacturers aren’t guilty of similar practices (Dell and Sony both work with Foxconn), but it’s a bit hypocritical given their focus on green technology and general corporate image.

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  31. 8 Apr ’11 at 10:43 am

    Good points, consumers should think for themselves!

    Good points IMHO.

    Appple is over priced and does rely on it’s consumers ignorance of technology, this is not my opinion but fact (*waits for the hating to start :P *) If you forget the software (which any real computer user doesn’t give a damn about as you can hop between windows, Linux, mac and all the less well known options pretty easily) then compare the hardware for the same price apple is just plain and simple inferior!

    Not to mention those horrific shiny screens that you can only view in the dark! Oh and the lack of a delete key, also… no hash key the list goes on.

    People need to learn about a product BEFORE they blindly hand over money because someone has told them that X is better than Y with no evidence other than it makes them feel part of a club :P

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