Saturday, 28 December 2013


There was a time that the technology mattered when you bought a new PC. The out of town pc superstore or the town centre electronics store were basically crowded warehouses of products that you just bought. Mostly you didn't ask an assistant for help because they were only bothered to earn a commission and, for any IT Pro, they didn't know a lot about the product.

The stores are still there but these days IT Pros buy from the Internet and the stores are looking a little tired and old fashioned.

This is not true of the Apple Store. The Apple Store is a new kind of technology shop. It is spacious and consciously a retail experience. There is little box shifting and the service desk looks like part of the experience. The control of what is in the store, how it looks and the simplicity of design is all part of the Apple brand.

If you are buying an Apple Mac then the choice is fairly simple. Clear names and brand identification. The prices are expensive but the brand, like most fashion stores, is expensive.

In fact if you just want to try the products they sit there openly on desks waiting to be tried. There are chairs so you can sit and use the products. There is in-store training so you understand how to use the hardware and software. The act of selling is also smooth. The till is actually a handheld scanner, credit card machine and device to send your receipt by email.

On the other hand the PC buying experience is a confusing mess of processor names, model numbers, features and the buyer can easily drift towards cheaper discounted models that don't really meet their needs.  The stores are crowded with items. Each pc has hardly enough space to move or try.

If consumers are buying technology based on the retail experience then Apple is doing very well and the rest need to step up and understand how consumers are changing.



Thursday, 5 December 2013


Sometimes you listen to something and it's both so wrong and so right. There is always the argument from Mac Users and, to a lesser extent, Linux users that Windows is rubbish.

It has to be said that a MacBook or Mac Pro will start at £700+ and move upwards. The average price that consumers want to pay for a PC is probably £300 - less than half the cost. it is no wonder that the marketing of Windows is a whole different game from the world of Apple. In the world of Apple you have a £500 (cheap) iPhone, a £500 tablet and a £900 laptop. People pay this price because they believe, with some justification, they are getting a quality product.

The Windows world has traditionally been a 'value market' for consumers. Whether it is the £150 netbook pc with a tiny keyboard or a £300 laptop. Should you really be surprise that the touchpad isn't as good as a MacBook Pro or that the build quality is not as good as a MacBook Air.

To keep prices down the Dell, HP and Lenovo's have wafer thin profit margins on their PCs. With sales reducing they are even losing volume sales. All these manufacturers rely on advertising to bulk up profit. So when you buy a pc you get evaluation anti-virus products, some games, you probably find the browsers are hijacked with terrible additional toolbars etc etc. Basically a whole bunch of pre-installed products that you wouldn't really want on your PC if you had a choice. Some of the stuff you think is free but 30 days later it starts nagging you to buy a pro version of the application you didn't want in the first place.

Even if you don't use this stuff it probably starts automatically when the PC boots and over time updates and slows down your PC. Then you meet people who just blame Windows for being slow. The reputation of Windows and the Windows PC has been blown out of the water by the installation of 'crapware' on the PC. It's not really software because software should enable you, it should be useful, it should be what you want. Since the pre-installed software is largely useless and destroys the experience of using a PC it is rightly called 'crapware'.

Nothing would improve the image of Windows more than if  Microsoft's hardware partners just banned crapware and gave people a really positive experience of Windows.

Crapware is why IT Pros spend their first hour of a new PC experience removing all the so-called 'free software' you get on a PC. Alternatively IT Pros just install a vanilla copy of Windows.

The Apple fans are right in one sense. Windows is bad - but only because people expect to buy cheap PCs full of software they don't need or want that destroys the experience,