I wish I had a Mac
From CrunchGear, an article comparing Apple trackpads to PC trackpads and an article comparing smartphone touchscreens. While I’ve heard that the actual touchscreen tests were slightly flawed, I completely agree with the trackpad article. The Apple trackpads have been the largest that I’ve ever used and thus least aggravating. One thing I hate about it though is the lack of an actual button. Without the visual or tactile division that a physical button would provide, its hard to tell where is the place to depress in order to trigger a button press.
In any case, I think much of Apple’s success comes from their attention to detail in every aspect of the user experience. You can tell it in the little things like the magnetic charging cable and minor details they put into the iPhone OS. These kinds of things aren’t directly measurable on a spec sheet, but they do help Apple justify its high price for relatively weak hardware, and most importantly, these details generate repeat customers and converts for the Cult of Mac.
I’m not sure why PC manufacturers don’t have the same attention to detail as Apple. I suspect that PC manufacturers have a large number of products and a limited number of product designers with more stringent deadlines (Windows release dates or holiday shopping seasons). One commenter in the CrunchGear article brought up patents. Apple does patent a lot of stuff and some of the things I mentioned are probably covered, but it doesn’t excuse the complete lack of innovation from the PC manufacturers.
I think a large reason is that PC manufacturers come at it from a PC angle, that is comparing spec sheets. Most PC manufacturers (Dell, HP, IBM) entered the laptop market after designing desktops. Desktops are largely the same and consumers typically choose the peripheral they want to use to interact with the desktop, so consumers typically chose one desktop over another based on a spec sheet. For example, consumers loved to choose processors with the higher clock speed because it is admittedly a easy comparator, fueling the AMD-Intel gigahertz wars of the P4/Athlon era. So the OEMs apply this same thinking to laptops. They assume consumers will look at a spec sheet for laptops the same way they did so for desktops.
But that’s not entirely true. Mobile devices are integrated much more with our mobile lives, so we use them more. These little aggravations add up. We want the device to conform to us, not the other way around. I see it all too often. Smart people turn into absolute idiots when they get near a computer because they view it as a powerful tool that they are untrained in using, so they become fearful. Apple gives them a way out of that fear.