Gross, D. (2012). “Mac vs. PC gap is the narrowest since ’90s.” cnn.com. Visited on October 9, 2012: http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/05/tech/gaming-gadgets/mac-vs-pc-graph/index.html
This article focuses on the recent trend that the ratio of Windows-based computers sold to Apple’s Macintosh computers is tightening to a 20-1 ratio.
The article attributes this trend to the rise in use of portable computing and a perception that MacBook laptops are a superior product. Factoring in other portable devices from Apple such as iPods, iPads and iPhones decreases Microsoft’s sales advantage to a 2-to-1 ratio.
The article suggests that an integrated mobile device (laptop or hand held) that is perceived as a “better” product has led to the turnaround in sales for Apple in relation to Microsoft’s widows based PCs. When accounting for Apple’s smart phones and tablets the sales ratio tightens dramatically suggesting a post-PC era that will require product designers to think of new ways to take advantage of this portable computing trend. People spending more time on these non-PC devices threatens Microsoft’s Windows platform that has dominated the software industry for decades.
The sales trend in a post PC world where devices are with you at all times suggests that people will be interacting with these devices in new ways not yet fully understandable. The traditional PC model has existed for decades while the post PC trend with smart phones and tablets has only been around for a few years.
The article suggests that Apple’s integrated products helped the consumer to perceive them as “better” then the competition. Coupled with smaller form factors of portable devices, this has led to new ways of designing interfaces. Microsoft is on the verge of releasing a new windows operating system that will run on both PCs and portable devices to create a more integrated experience to compete with Apple’s.
Conceptual Design: The most important question, it seems to me, is why do people think Apple is better? Is it because Apple is much better at PR and marketing? Or there has truly been a change in the way we expect to experience computing? I believe it’s the latter. iPhone showed what’s possible. iPad pushed the conceptual boundaries of hand-held computing even more. Now when we talk about users, we have to think about expections: what do people think they should be able to do with the device?
My dad wants an iPad. I asked him why? Why does he “need it”? What would he do with it? He was vague, rather, he talked about putting his art portfolio on it and about using Google Maps. I did point out that Google maps don’t give directions in a car unless he has a service (which he is not willing to get). But this shows how the most lay person, when it comes to computers, is trying to merge his life-style with the mobile computing. This is big.
Interaction Design: How does the product do it? while we haven’t touched on attention controls yet, we did speak of working memory — a very limited resource! If we want people to use mobile devices, we are talking about carving out some space on their working memory “desk” for that activity at a time when they are usually pretty occupied with other cognitive activities. What support structures do we have to think about to help insure success with our products? How are people likely to fail?
Interface Design: What does the product looks and feels like? We know, and the article tells us, that people believe that Apple devices are better built. What creates this impression? What design attributes do people equate with as “desirable” and “good”?