Mac Musings

Macs: Practical and Pretty

Daniel Knight - 2002.04.10 -

Do you ever get the feeling that some people just don't get it? I had that feeling this morning while reading Impersonal PCs by Charlotte Bauer.

Bauer starts by mentioning Apple as the exception to computers that come in "the bone-bleached greys of elderly underwear." Then she mentions blueberry, tangerine, strawberry, and grape iMacs.

Remember those - introduced in 1999 and replaced with more natural shades (indigo, ruby, and sage) in mid-2000. Today's iMacs come in indigo, snow, and graphite. No fruity flavors. No Dalmatian spots or flowers. Just your choice of blue, white, or gray.

Ms. Bauer should know this. After all, Macs are available in South Africa these days. Sorry, the "juicy fruitgum iMacs" are history.

But then she goes on to write:

But in an IBM-compatible world, getting around using an iMac is like trying to climb Everest in Manolo Blahnik stilettos - glorious, but impractical.

Every Mac user reading this who manages to get along just fine without Virtual PC, a DOS card, or a Windows computer, raise your hand. Yes, using a Mac is glorious, but it's also eminently practical.

Bear in mind that haughty Mac users will tell you they're as compatible with the rest of us as they ever want to be.

Flame bait. Heavens, woman, Microsoft makes Office - you know, Word and Excel and PowerPoint - for both the classic Mac OS and the newer OS X. These are file compatible with the Windows version. How much more compatible do you need to be than being able to run genuine Microsoftware?

She then discusses Apple's injunction against Daewoo (among others) for creating iMac look alikes that infringed on the iMac's unique "trade dress" - although Bauer seems to see it as nothing more than a case of color.

Still, it can't be all Apple's fault that computer looks seem to be taking a long time to catch up to their sophisticated capabilities.

One school of thought might caution against judging a Notebook by its cover. What sort of buckle-brain cares what their computer looks like when what it does has revolutionised the way humans communicate with each other?

One school of thought might caution against judging a car by its appearance. What sort of buckle-brain cares what their basic transportation device looks like when it has revolutionized the way humans travel. Yes people do want just the right brand, body style, and color.

However, post-modern consumers insist on more than practical perfection. Mass design tastes run to animal print cellphone covers, jellylike watches and Hello Kitty handbags. Style is why people buy Mont Blanc pens, not two-buck Bics that work just as well.

Now we're getting somewhere. Although the fruity flavors and flowers are iMac history, style is as much a reason for buying a Mac as productivity. Sure, we work better on a Mac, but it certainly doesn't hurt that it also looks good.

Henry Ford's famous quip about how his 1926 Model T, the world's first mass-produced car, was "available in any colour so long as it's black" sounds quaint until you stare down the rows of dried porridge PCs that are our Model Ts.

Although Bauer doesn't want to admit it, Macs do what computers do - enable us to be more productive - and even share files with the Wintel masses. Too bad she won't consider a crisp white iBook, indigo iMac, titanium PowerBook, or silver-gray Power Mac instead of another "dried porridge" PC.

But that's her choice.

We may be at the primitive end of the information age but if I can buy a digital diary covered in purple fur and a dancing alarm clock, can anyone tell me why I can't have a pink computer?

Who says you can't? (And that link is real, unlike this one.)

Seriously, if someone wants a pink laptop, it's far more likely to come from Apple than H-Paq, Dell, or any of the other major Wintel vendors. Stilettos optional, but like Reese Whitherspoon in Legally Blonde, you'll still be able to get all your work done.