January 11, 2006

Mass hypnosis

Ah... Mac World.  And I don't mean the conference, I mean "Mac World".  You know, this weird parallel universe where all those who have fallen prey to the Steve Jobs Cult dwell and sneer at the rest of the population with a look of utter pity in their eyes.  I'm sure you know a few of these people if you're a developer or you work at a software company.  Maybe you're even one of them.

It never misses:  whenever an Apple conference approaches, the tech world gets all abuzz and Macboys can barely avoid exploding on the spot in a thousand tiny droplets in anticipation of whatever Steve will throw in their direction as long as it's introduced as "One More Thing".

Witness my good buddy Michael, someone who would certainly not be described as irrational, and much less exuberant, by his peers.  Michael decided to sign a check for $3,200 payable to Steve just to pre-order a MacBook.  I bet that thousands of people are doing the very same thing as I write these words, so Michael is hardly alone.  But that doesn't make this behavior any more explainable.

What I find really ironic is that after Jobs spent so much time explaining that the Power PC was a speed demon and hearing tireless Mac users claim that their machine was "plenty fast enough", these new announcements allow the Mac community to breathe a common sigh of relief and finally say "okay, okay, we admit it.  Our PowerPC's are impossibly slow, we've been lying all along, but it's all going to change now!  So please stop disrupting our fantasy with your facts".

Don't get me wrong:  I can understand being excited about a product that will bring new features or radical innovations, but paying forward $3,200 just to get a faster machine?  And of all companies, to *Apple*, which has a long track record of:

  • Exaggerating and omitting some vital facts in their announcements (any word on the battery life of these new Core Duo-based beasts?).
     
  • Making a terrible job at provisioning their stock supply (any bet on the percentage of orders that will actually be delivered in February?).

Maybe it's just me, but with the power of the Internet at my fingers almost twenty-four hours a day, I find it absolutely impossible (and unforgivable) to make the slightest purchase before doing a quick research and seeing what other people think of the product I'm about to buy. 

What makes things worse with the MacBook is that we're talking about a completely new product that is guaranteed to have flaws in its initial versions.  Yes, yes, I know, Steve says it runs flawlessly, but just stop staring at the pendulum he is swinging in front of your eyes for a second and trust me on this one (and stop drooling too):  You're better off waiting.  A couple of weeks will do.

You've been stuck with a machine slow as molasses for almost two decades, surely you can hold off for a bit, can't you?

So, dear reader, what's your excuse for preordering one of these chimerae?

Update:  Erik pointed me to this piece which seems to indicate that indeed, the benchmarks used by Apple to compare Duo Core processors to PowerPC ones are flawed.  A technique not unlike the one they used a few years ago to prove the opposite, though, so you can't accuse them of being inconsistent in their misinformation.

 

Posted by cedric at January 11, 2006 12:48 PM
Comments

I highly doubt Michael and all the other followers/customers need a faster machine. Having endured the slow crawler known as PowerBook for years, they certainly could take it even longer. I suspect the MacBook orders will pour in because of the prime innovation of having a magnetically attached power cord. No more trippin for Michael!
And as it is patent pending: verboten for PC boys :-(

Posted by: lhe at January 11, 2006 01:03 PM

Ahh, but by the same token, why not pre-order? Shipping will take some time...but if you wait then the line will only be longer when you place your order. And it's almost certain that reviewers and connected folk will get their new MacBooks before you do....and if the reviews are bad or issues crop up, well there's still time to cancel that pre-order.

-t

Posted by: Tim Fennell at January 11, 2006 01:05 PM

My 1.33 GHz PowerBook is so slow, I quite using it a couple of months ago. I've been able to get away with it b/c my last project provided a (PC) laptop for me. That project has now ended and I can't stand to work on my PowerBook, so I stay home and work on my kick-ass Windows box. I need a faster machine so I can ride my bike to work and rationalize being in the office again. How's that for an excuse?! ;-)

Why don't I just buy a Windows/Linux-based laptop? I already have machines with those OS's and they bore me...

Posted by: Matt Raible at January 11, 2006 01:10 PM


Well, this is the best laptop in the world ! If this is not a reason to buy it I don't know what would qualify.

Posted by: Ken at January 11, 2006 01:18 PM

quoting myself:

isn't it ironic to pre-order a computer, which only lets you run the same applications everyone else has been running for a year (i.e. Google Earth) ?


Posted by: jm at January 11, 2006 01:19 PM

Hey Cedric,
AnandTech did a pretty comprehensive review of the Yonah chipset recently, comparing performance and battery life to the older Dothan (Pentium M) chipset - battery life was just marginally better for the Yonah based system.

See pages 10-14 at http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=2663 , interesting reading...

Forking out $2500+ for rev 1 of a product seems a bit risky to me though, waiting for the next revision might be good advice for the "Mac World"...

Posted by: aehso at January 11, 2006 02:11 PM

The reason to pre-order is simply that it is a MAC!

Posted by: Karl Kuhn at January 11, 2006 02:15 PM

This doesn't have much to do with the speed of the PowerPC vs the speed of Intel. For your money, you are still better off buying a Quad-G5 than an Intel machine. Its all about missing the PowerBook G5 that everyone expected to be able to upgrade to about a year ago. Developers especially have been waiting for this release for quite a long time because of that missing product.

Posted by: Sam Pullara at January 11, 2006 02:18 PM

The killer feature of this new MacBook is of course being able to dual-boot into Windows so that if you're forced to work on Windows for this or the other reason you will at least look cool while you're doing it.

This isn't officially "supported" by Apple of course, but I'm hoping there'll be HOWTOs in February when Mactel makes it to the masses.

Posted by: Jon Tirsen at January 11, 2006 02:20 PM

And with this announcement I'm pretty sure pre-orders will go up several-fold, at least in the geek community:
http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.aspx?fn=wow-mac-tech-support&t=14711&p=1&tmp=1#post14711

;-)

Posted by: Jon Tirsen at January 11, 2006 04:11 PM

Yeah you are sensible, not a fanboy. Fair enough.

But I am excited over some quality hardware that I can use for windows apps (possibly) as well.

Here it will sell for a similar price to my current aweful dell, which had a broken keyboard within 5 hours of use, and is generally shabby.

I can get quite excited over hardware, its not just cause its a faster mac.

Posted by: Michael at January 11, 2006 04:54 PM

Personally, I had to trade in my PB last year so because the project I'm working required some Windows only software; and while I appreciated the speed bump with the Wintel machine, I can't wait to get back to a real operating system. One I don't have to reboot twice a day. And while I'm excited about the new MacBookPro or whatever, I'll wait for the reports to file in on the new ones; the Apple forums are a great place to see what the problems are with the hardware because people there bitch about every single hardware problem, big and small.

Color me a pragmatic fan boy. They'll get my money, eventually ...

Posted by: pmuellr at January 11, 2006 05:13 PM

"I find it absolutely impossible (and unforgivable) to make the slightest purchase before doing a quick research and seeing what other people think of the product I'm about to buy."

Are you not actually relying on people doing the absolutely impossible (and unforgivable) for you to see what they think of the product they have bought?

Posted by: Arne at January 11, 2006 07:05 PM

Well it's nothing more than the fan syndrome you talked about back in December. Or perhaps is it some kind of religious fanatism starring Steve Jobs?

Nothing really new anyway: people who love their Mac for any (good or bad) reason will buy a MacBook; people who loved their Amiga would not have switched to an ST.

What I find pretty amusing now is that Intel is not very happy about Apple's ads...

Posted by: Laurent at January 12, 2006 06:01 AM

I completly agree with you Cedric.
There are no rationale reasons to blindly preorder or buy any box with eletronic inside.
The story repeat itself but humans never remember.

PS: this popup windows does not work propertly with my firefox 1.5 / winXP!

Posted by: gnik at January 12, 2006 06:58 AM

Steve reminds me of televangelists, except he doesn't confess anything publicly about bj scandals :-)

I have an iMac G5 that's less than 2-month old. I got it as part of the first shipment batch that was delivered to my reseller for the very latest model. The message I am hearing from Steve now is: "What, you bought that old PowerPC crap ? Bwahaha, the Intel-based model is now 2-3 times faster, loser!". Fortunately, I'm not taking that too seriously and, hell, my 2.1 GHz G5 still seems plenty fast and it's an amazing machine for software development.

Main lesson (actually a reminder): do not develop any emotional bond with Apple, or for that matter with any large corporation destined solely to make its stockholders rich. Do not have any "faith" in Apple - you would always get betrayed in the end. Buy a Mac if OS X suits you but forget about the "manage your digital life" crap - stick to your analog life and don't assign too much emotional value to inanimate objects.

PS: Does Steve have a "control room" where he monitors all of us through our iSight camera ?

Posted by: Alain Rogister at January 12, 2006 10:45 AM

Steve reminds me of televangelists, except he doesn't confess anything publicly about bj scandals :-)

I have an iMac G5 that's less than 2-month old. I got it as part of the first shipment batch that was delivered to my reseller for the very latest model. The message I am hearing from Steve now is: "What, you bought that old PowerPC crap ? Bwahaha, the Intel-based model is now 2-3 times faster, loser!". Fortunately, I'm not taking that too seriously and, hell, my 2.1 GHz G5 still seems plenty fast and it's an amazing machine for software development.

Main lesson (actually a reminder): do not develop any emotional bond with Apple, or for that matter with any large corporation destined solely to make its stockholders rich. Do not have any "faith" in Apple - you would always get betrayed in the end. Buy a Mac if OS X suits you but forget about the "manage your digital life" crap - stick to your analog life and don't assign too much emotional value to inanimate objects.

PS: Does Steve have a "control room" where he monitors all of us through our iSight camera ?

Posted by: Alain Rogister at January 12, 2006 10:45 AM

Sorry about the double post, I got an "Internal server error" on the first attempt.

Posted by: Alain Rogister at January 12, 2006 10:47 AM

It's all very pretty, though..... somehow, like white and all that.....

Posted by: George Petrov at January 12, 2006 01:27 PM

Nice post Cedric Monsieur. Have you worked on winxp lately? I have been using it on my office desktop for last couple of years. And I do not have to reboot it twice a day. I reboot it may be once in two months. Sure, some apps crash sometimes but in a graceful way with a hope that someone in microsoft is looking at the error. (Riiiight! Whatever.) Plus, I like all the freeware I get. :) Hardware is certainly a concern for me so a machine from Dell and peripherals from different vendors has always worked without a hitch for me giving me the best value for money.

For firefox fans, try opera 8.51. Yes, this window opens just fine.

Posted by: Gaurav Chawla at January 12, 2006 03:21 PM

There are so many different things in your
rant that it's not easy to see what you're
criticizing.

Is it really only about people paying a
high-price for a top of the end machine
or is it about Mac users in general (which
it really looks like).

> where all those who have fallen prey to
> the Steve Jobs Cult dwell and sneer at
> the rest of the population with a look
> of utter pity in their eyes.

I don't use OS X. But I certainly don't
feel like you regarding Mac users. Why
is that?

I'm mainly a Unix user (non-OS X) and
I still do have a G3 running MacOS 9.
However, after years of seeing utter pity
in the eyes of my family and friends who
had trouble with their Windows based PCs
I made some of them switch to OS X.

How many of those switchers called me for
support? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

How many keep calling me when a 0-day
Microsoft "I-open-a-picture-and-get
-rooted" exploit installs adware, spyware
and bring their machines to a crawl? A lot.
And I tell them: "since X, Y and Z switched
they're not calling me anymore, think about
it before buying your next computer". And
they do. And some are switching.

So, maybe, just maybe, that those users
have realized that there's a difference
between quality and mediocrity.

Honestly: take two non-computer savvy
random joes, one buys a $3,200 Mac, the
other buys a $800 PC with "Windows Vista
2006 home entertainment limited Turbo Edition".

Assume those two computers run at the same
speed. The Mac buyer got pretty screwed
right? Then 15 days later, which machine
is still running at the same speed, free of
viruses and other malwares? (remember, we're
talking about average users, who simply want
to be able to use a computer without becoming
"Microsoft Certified").

Honestly... Who made a bargain?

Moreover, to me, OS X is more productive
and intuitive than Windows for the average
computer user.


> You've been stuck with a machine slow
> as molasses for almost two decades,
> surely you can hold off for a bit, can't
> you?

Woaw, how's that for a troll line... So I'll
troll a little bit too: maybe their raw CPU
speed wasn't that great, but once you take
into account the fact that it doesn't have
to run adware, spyware, viruses, anti-adware,
anti-spyware, anti-viruses, suddenly that
machine starts to look better no?

How many people do still have a PC from 1999
running Windows 98 in an acceptable way? (last
time I checked critical updates were not
available for this version).

My G3 (MacOS 9) from 1999 is still running
fine: I use it everytime I need QuarkXPress
to do some Desktop Publishing (it's not that
often, but still...). And it is connecting
to the Internet just fine.


> So, dear reader, what's your excuse for
> preordering one of these chimerae?

What are people's excuses for buying a brand
new BMW that will then loose 30% of its value
upon driving the first 100 meters away from
the dealer?

It sure makes more sense to buy a 3 or 4 years
old german car, then use it for 3 to 4 years
and sell it than to buy a brand new one. Yet
obviously some people are buying brand new
ones. Wanna start a rant about "la societe
de consommation"?.

Maybe people buying those high-priced Macs
think they're buying quality and security.
I don't know if they are right, but I know
that the average joe buying an el-chea-po
PC with Windows preloaded is not buying
neither quality nor security.

[dumb weblog consider the word -c-h-e-a-p-
to be questionnable content so comment could
not be submitted]

Now I know that various people will have various
reasons for shelling $3,200, and as you ask
"what's your excuse for preordering one of
these", I'll answer for a friend I "converted".

The guy spend $6,000 on a dual G5 + a monster
screen two years ago or so.

Why?

He wanted quality and... he's rich.

Did that made a dent in his budget? No.

Did it bring him the quality I promised him?

Apparently so... He liked it and then decided
to buy a PowerBook for his travelling needs.

Now his PowerBook is indeed hardly a speed
daemon but it simply works.

Will the guy preorder one of these new systems?
Maybe. Will he go back to Windows/Microsoft
land? Never.

Everybody's not in that position, but you
asked a question and I answered it.


Posted by: a b ca at January 15, 2006 02:19 AM

Approximately half of the laptops at any Seattle JUG meeting in the last year or so have been Powerbooks (and the occasional iBook). Obviously Apple must be doing -something- right.

Personally, I use one because I like the Unix CLI (and hate Windows). The 12" PB is much faster than the ultralight notebook it replaces, and only slightly heavier (esp once equivalent battery life has been achieved).

Posted by: Jason Marshall at January 16, 2006 10:42 AM
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