Network: One bite of the Apple and they're hooked

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The Independent Culture
OF ALL computer users, those with Macs are probably the most loyal. This is despite years of neglect by Apple, high prices and uncertainty over what disaster may happen next. Indeed, it was only this year that Apple was knocked off the top of one US consumer loyalty survey by Gateway (and a couple of others). Now that Apple has begun to turn itself around and repay some of that loyalty, perhaps it will regain its position next year.

The return of Steve Jobs, an interesting, creative character (however hard it may be to work for him), reflects the way Apple users see themselves better than the grey suits who ran the company (almost into the ground) over the last decade. The buzz around the new iMac and the power of the G3 Macs, as well as Apple's return to profitability, is making Mac owners, like myself, even happier with their choice.

Unless you are a computer- games fan, there is little the Mac cannot do that a Windows PC can (and most of that can be run under Virtual PC or SoftWindows on the Mac). The Mac's ease of use may be legendary, but at least it's not a myth (unlike Windows, when something goes wrong).

Of course, the oft-embattled Mac user has to stick with Apple for his next computer because about the only other choice now left is to switch operating systems. But, even if Apple seems to have been determined, until recently, to shrug off the affection most of its customers feel for it, any complaints I may have about it are countered by the fact that the Mac so rarely stops me doing my job and is (relatively) easy to correct when it does. Besides, Apple did at least know about the next century, so even my other, 11-year-old Mac won't stop working in the year 2000.

Of course, the Mac versus PC debate is not really comparing like for like. The kind of people who use Macs do so either because they don't so much want a computer as to do something with one, or are just into elegant technology regardless of cost. PC-buyers are usually more concerned with price (even if lots of independent studies show that Macs cost less to maintain and upgrade once you've bought them). For what most people want to do - word processing, the occasional spreadsheet, database use and accessing the Internet - software is not really an issue.

The attitude of the die-hard Mac user is best revealed by the almost daily EvangeList e-mail newsletter, which demonstrates not only a great community spirit, but also the determination that being such a "small" (60-million-user) minority brings to maintaining its identity. In the same way that small men can be touchy about their height, so Mac owners can be defensive about their choice of computer. Buying a computer may be a commercial decision; buying a Mac is an emotional choice. At least now it no longer looks as if it will end in tears.

The EvangeList: http://www. evangelist.macaddict.com/ (which also tells you "Why Macs are better" and has many "Windows Daymares" to chortle over). To subscribe, you can also go to http://www. lists.apple.com/evangelist.html

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