As I was watching the whole Microsoft vs Apple thing go down over the past couple of days, I could not help but to notice something wrong with both sides. Here we have Microsoft claiming Apple has an Apple Tax. Fair enough, I agree they overprice just about everything (with the sole exception being the iPods and iPod Touch). Apple then makes a counter-claim that while Microsoft PCs are cheaper, the costs of the extra software (although with a free alternative, the costs are lower), the support, and new hardware all adds up to mean more cost and hassle than owning a Mac.
That’s where I begin to see the problem. Both companies are right, in a sense. Microsoft prices their software really, really high. Apple’s computers are priced really, really high. Microsoft wants to protect their budget, and Apple is too pompous to admit their computers are overpriced. Imagine the user bases that could be tapped if only software prices were lowered, and Apple lowered the cost of their PCs!
That will not happen of course. Both companies are interested in sqeezing out as much cash as possible from customers. They create lock-in schemes, proprietary codecs, and other detrimental moves that end up hurting consumers. They quickly forget the fact that we are in tough economic times. They forget the unemployment rate is at its highest points in years. With both companies’ heads in the clouds, what option could be more in touch with customers? Which one could actually help consumers and not lock them into pricey hardware or software?
Honestly, there’s not much more that needs to be said. To be more general, certain distributions of Linux and open source software could end these silly games played by Microsoft and Apple — but what would that take?
That will be the subject of Part II to this post.