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For a long time now, I've been explaining why the world would have been better off if Apple's computers had come to dominate homes and businesses. I've focused on the virtues of Apple's software almost exclusively, even though Apple has for most of existence been primarily a hardware company, like Dell or Hewlett Packard. Why? Because it's clear to all us Martians that what makes or breaks a computing experience is the software. To paraphrase one of your ex-Presidents, "It's the Software, stupid!"
I've also come to believe that humans are genetically predisposed to self-deception, allowing them to talk themselves into whatever point of view is most convenient, or is perceived as being in their best self-interest. Thus, argument over the relative worth of one technology or another is pointless, because no carefully researched and supported set of facts will ever be enough to persuade someone with the opposite view. Indeed, the truth of this axiom is encapsulated in the common human phrase of folk wisdom,
"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
I've noted that when someone conjures this phrase to explain a colleague or acquaintance's intransigence about something, those listening will nod to each other knowingly and somewhat sadly aver, "So true."
And yet, how many humans really think they're as "stupid" as horses?
I recently read another positive article about Apple in Computerworld, this one covering Apple's 5 Biggest Moments in 2008. Unlike some other Apple coverage in Computerworld, this one was largely a yawn, but don't you know that most of the comments (as usual) were from Windows partisans who were simply angry that Apple was given any positive coverage at all!
Recently, that seems to be the standard for virtually any online article that has something nice to say about Apple. Rather than commenting on the substance of the article, some anti-Apple type will immediately start dissing the company in a totally ignorant and offensive manner. Sometimes, such drivel will be met with commenters defending Apple, but quite often it merely attracts other Apple hecklers.
The Computerworld article cited above was no different, but there was one comment from a guy who, though claiming to have some positive feelings about Apple, levels a charge that comes straight from the Microsoft propaganda machine. This propaganda only started a few years ago, when Apple began to have success with non-computer products like iTunes, the iPod, and now the iPhone. Microsoft loved to spread the word that Apple's products were all "closed," while Microsoft's were "open," and many listeners, without actually thinking about this illogical line of thinking, bought the propaganda and are now spreading it themselves.
I just couldn't let this challenge go unanswered, so I didn't. The following is what I published in response on Computerworld. In a nutshell, it explains why this guy's line of reasoning is bunk, and why, no matter how much Microsoft would like folks to think so, Apple is absolutely not a monopolist in any sense of the term.
It’s a common myth in the Windows world that Mac users have to make do with only one software title for every 10 that run on Windows. The myth arises from the teeny-tiny or nonexistent retail space afforded to Mac software in the computer stores where Windows users shop. However, the reality is far from that perception. Prior to the emergence of Mac OS X, Mac users did commonly face slim pickings in many software categories, but times have changed dramatically, and nowadays many software categories present so many choices for Mac users that the situation is downright uncomfortable. I certainly feel that way at times!
One of these days, I’m going to do a study of the comparative availability of software titles between Mac OS X and Windows, and my going-in assumption will be that users have an equivalent or greater degree of choice on the Mac platform today in categories such as
- personal information management
- personal organizers
- graphic design tools
- 3D design and animation tools
- image management tools
- project management
- word processing tools
- programmers text editors
- Music mixing and editing tools
- News aggregators (RSS/podcast readers), and
- many others.
Notice that not all of the categories I’m listing are in the realm of creative arts.
However, one category that’s still under-served, in my view, is the original killer app, the good-old spreadsheet. I haven’t researched the Windows market for spreadsheet software, so perhaps the same dilemma affects those guys, too. Undoubtedly, the underwhelming selection of spreadsheets for Mac OS X results directly from the influence of Microsoft Office, and what is probably its best component, Microsoft Excel.
In this article, I’ll review all of the applications that provide spreadsheet-type functionality for Mac OS X, and as you’ll see, not many will come through with flying colors.