Has Apple really killed the PC?

Saturday, August 20th, 2011 at 9:39 am

Brent Rose at Gizmodo wrote a brilliant piece on HP’s withdrawl from the PC market yesterday entitled Hey PC Makers: Don’t Quit, Fight!. (The sub headline is even better: GROW A PAIR).

Hamsters are directly responsible for the demise of PCs
Perhaps hamsters are directly responsible for the demise of PCs?

To me, there’s one simple and incredibly obvious reason Apple is indeed killing the PC market. It’s a combination of simplicity and clear product definition. Everyone knows the iPhone, the iPad and hell even the MacBook Pro. And iMac. You want a phone? That’s the iPhone. A tablet computer? iPad. A laptop? Yep, MacBook Pro.

Now let’s look at HP.

Want a HP laptop? Searching for ‘HP laptop’ on PC World brings up 17 results. There’s a bit of unintentional irony on the search page as well: ‘Now choose the right one’. Yes, sift through these 17 laptops and choose the right one. To be fair, searching for ‘Mac laptop’ gives you 12 results. But of those twelve results, there are essentially only two products: MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

So, if you’re buying an Apple laptop, you have two choices: MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. Easy.

Back to HP. Sure, they have the Pavilion. But that’s not a product, it’s a product line. How to choose between the Pavilion G6-1180SA or the HP Pavilion g6-1131sa? Or maybe the HP Pavilion dv7-6154ea?

This is why Apple is kicking the ass of PCs. Stupidly complicated product lines that are simply baffling. Make a single Pavilion, a Pavilion Pro and a Pavilion Light. Don’t make twenty or thirty slight variations of the same product. PC manufacturers (not just HP) have been doing this for years.

This is a long term loyalty issue as well: I had a Compaq laptop years ago that I really liked. It eventually needed replacing, so I thought I’d see what the latest incarnation of that laptop was. It no longer existed. Again I was faced with seemingly thousands of slightly different permutations of the same laptop. I couldn’t be bothered working out the minor differences and opted for a Dell, where at least I had the ability to customise my laptop.

And now I’ve brought up Dell, let’s consider another reason Apple is doing well: yes they’re more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Most PC products feel like disposable plastic kits that break with the slightest nudge. Any most are. But Apple products feel real; they’re solid and you can have faith in their physical build.

In my mind there’s one hope for the PC market: it’s Asus and the Eee PC. It’s a simple product, a simple name. You walk into a shop and say you want an Eee PC and there’s no confusion there. Asus seem to have it right.

Make simple products, not product lines. Because no one cares about your product line except your board of directors. The people out there just want a product.

2 Responses to “Has Apple really killed the PC?”

  1. wil says:

    Hi, I recently stumbled across your blog and thought this post was spot-on. This line in particular made me laugh because it’s so true:

    How to choose between the Pavilion G6-1180SA or the HP Pavilion g6-1131sa? Or maybe the HP Pavilion dv7-6154ea?

    I’m a PC guy, but I do sometimes envy the elegant simplicity of the Mac line-up.

    I like that PCs are a more-or-less a set of swappable parts, upgradable and open to tinkering, but it does make it kind of hard to market one combination of swappable parts over a different combination of swappable parts.


    - Wil

  2. James says:

    You’re definitely right about PCs and swappable parts/tinkerability.

    But I think that’s getting more and more a niche hobby. Times when you’d upgrade your hard drive or graphics card seem a long time gone (for me anyway). I play most my games on my PS3 these days and with the increase of cloud computing hard drive space for music and movies etc. seems far less an issue these days.

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