Dear Dell, HP, and IBM: Be Afraid of Apple, Very Afraid


As Apple’s (AAPL) Q3 revealed, its resurgence is being driven not only by iPods and iPhones, but by those “commodity” products known as desktops and laptops.  Suddenly, a few short years after being left for dead, Apple is about to blast past feckless Gateway to become the US’s third-largest PC maker (by unit volume).  If Dell, HP (HPQ),and Lenovo aren’t scared yet, they should be.

So, Michael (Dell) and Mark (Hurd), you need to understand something and understand it fast: Why computer users love Apple and, at best, like Dell and HP.  In short?  Product Design.

In our household, we have two flavours of laptop: Apple and IBM.  The Apple is new, and we’d never have bought it if it hadn’t been forced on us by the Apple fanatics at our global headquarters (Our head of IT has an Apple tattoo.  Do any of your customers have Dell and/or HP tattoos?).  The Powerbook looked a thousand times cooler than any PC we’d ever owned, of course, and that translucent LED logo was mesmerizing.  But, frankly, it was annoying to download all that special Mac software, and learning a new OS and keystrokes was a pain in the arse.  So, we would not have switched if we hadn’t had to.

But then we discovered the magic of that magnetically attached power cord…

How?  We got up from the couch, and–draped in squabbling children–felt that agonizing tug as we tripped over both power cords. 

What happened?  We recovered our balance.  The Apple cord detached from the Mac effortlessly, as it was designed to do–and then popped right back on.  The IBM cord detached from the IBM only after violently yanking the PC 90-degrees, cracking the plug socket, rendering the power connection only semi-operable (want power?  Jiggle and pray), and almost ripping the plug from the cord. 

Having had exactly the same thing happen with every non-Apple laptop we’ve ever owned, we had come to view it as a fatal but unavoidable flaw.  Until we got that Mac.  And then we felt that rush of euphoria, gratitude, and joy that heralded our membership into the global cult of Steve Jobs.

Think such details are irrelevant?  This is why you need to be scared.

Our suggestion: Instead of taking your home-cooked laptop home for the weekend, get one of your (un-tattooed) IT guys to soup up a Powerbook.  Go through the annoying hell of learning the new operating system and keystrokes, and force yourself to use the thing until you kick out the power cord.  Then, first thing Monday morning, start recruiting folks who can keep pace with Apple’s product design.