Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bought a Mac - Wore Black

To commemorate the purchase of my first Mac, I wore all black today. Our home PC died either via fried motherboard or for some other reason, so I thought there's no better time than now to try out a Mac. Since I didn't want to spend a whole lot, I bought the Mac Mini. My initial experience has been... very cool.

Apple has really thought through the whole experience from the retail outlet to install and setup.

At the store, friendly and knowledgeable people guide you to understanding the product to making the whole purchase easy. They carry little handhelds that allow you to do it on the spot. They answered all my questions about the differences between the Mac and Windows world. While it may cost a little more to run Windows apps, it seemed worth the try. Having the store for what is a missionary sale is genius. Remember the failure of the Gateway store. The Apple store integrates with the brand experience and just makes you feel comfortable. You know you can ask questions or even attend one of their free sessions - very clever.

After getting them to put in some more memory, I bought a wireless keyboard and mouse. The concept of going completely wireless was very cool, so what the hell, I went for it. It was very clever product design to bake Bluetooth and WiFi into the system.

The install process was ridiculously easy. Connect power and the monitor and turn it on. I had to fill in some forms for registration but the system found the mouse, keyboard and home wireless network. There was really nothing much to do.

Now I did encounter one problem. For some reason my password was not in the system correctly (hard to screw up a password verification). So it required a tech support call. This was also very easy and handled very well by a knowledgeable tech support person from the US. I don't ever remember Microsoft or Dell being so easy to work with. The fix was relatively easy and I was off and running.

Even the box is cool. The packaging is well done - minimalist, yet classy. It's just like the iPod, you can see the refinement at every step. The system itself looks nice. It's amazing how much functionality is in what is essentially a large paperweight. No big system with loud fans and heat blowing out. Just a little box that is simple, cool and attractive to look at. There a slot for a DVD and that's it.

Very quickly we were off and running. I couldn't help but be impressed by the interface, speed and easy to use functionality. Figuring out the Safari browser was easy as was many of the preinstalled apps. For some reason, browsing seems faster on Safari than on Firefox on my Dell laptop. The little remote control on the Mac mini was also cool. I love how the thing goes to sleep to save power and then easily wakes up at the click of a button or move of the mouse. My laptop is a pain by comparison.

For some reason, the viewing experience is cleaner and inviting. It's hard to explain because the functions are different. It's something I wrote about in the Blackberry article. There's a higher sense of refinement in the product in the way windows open and close, how the Dashboard appears, or in changing preferences. The fonts are cleaner and dash is very clever in presentation. In the Windows world, it is cryptic and a bit scary because you could actually do something to mess things up. In the Mac world, it seems so easy and painless.

The true proof in the pudding will be if all the apps run without reboot and the system functions flawlessly. Everything I've heard is encouraging thus far. Instead of MS Office, I'm actually going to try the Apple apps.

So far this is fun. As a marketer, I love the integrated brand experience at every touchpoint. It is so clean, refined and tasteful. They make spending money easy. Maybe the Microsoft universe has something to worry about. Maybe the days of getting away with poor quality and unreliability are numbers. Imagine not having apps that crash daily or force you into doing wasteful things like archiving because of design flaws. This is more than 20 years after the first PC.

If I can get reliability and great functionality with having an issue with apps maybe we'll move the whole company over.

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