Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life
Why I Haven’t Switched to Mac OS X
Apple, Microsoft, and numerous other Macintosh software vendors fail to understand the main reasons why the majority of Macintosh users (including people like me who normally leap at new operating systems) have not transitioned to OS X. It is certainly not because of mediocre marketing. The media has been saturated with OS X-related advertisements, forums, articles, and discussions for three years. Here’s my take on this issue:
Apple saw OS X as a way to sell more computers. Apple has little interest in getting existing Macintosh users to buy OS X. Why do I make this claim? First, at $129, OS X is expensive to Macintosh owners who are used to getting the OS at no extra charge when they buy their Macintosh computers.
Second, during the development of OS X, Apple decided to omit support for older Macintosh computers (essentially, any Macintosh that did not contain built-in USB ports). There are at least 20 million users with Macintosh computers that cannot run OS X, even if their Macs have been upgraded with G3 or G4 processors, lots of RAM, USB/FireWire PCI cards, etc. The only way those users can switch to OS X is to buy a new Macintosh. That is what Apple wants, since the profit margin on a new computer is higher than on OS X alone.
Steve Jobs announced that the useful and free iTools service will disappear on September 30. Taking its place will be the new, improved “.Mac” service. Users will pay $99 per year for .Mac, which has some features (such as Backup) that only will work with OS X. In my opinion, this tactic will backfire against Apple. OS 9 users will not buy new Macintosh computers just to get OS X and the full features of the overpriced .Mac service. Instead, we will become angry about losing iTools and will find other vendors to replace iTools’ services.
Software vendors such as Microsoft, Adobe, Deneba, etc. saw OS X as a way to make lots of money. They ported existing versions of applications to OS X, and then expected users to pay very high “upgrade” fees. Microsoft charges $199 to upgrade from Office 2001 to Office X, even though there were almost no feature improvements. Deneba did the same thing with Canvas 8. Adobe did the same most of its Macintosh applications.
Some hardware vendors behaved similarly. Many printers and scanners that work well under OS 9 have no OS X drivers. But, new devices from the same vendors have fully OS X-compatible drivers. There is no reason those drivers could not support older devices. Of course, those hardware vendors want users to buy new devices, not download new free drivers.
I did a rough calculation of how much it would cost me to switch one of my G3 Macintosh computers to OS X. I would need to spend over $1000 to upgrade my major applications to OS X versions. I would have to spend another $200-500 to replace applications and utilities that have no OS X version. My scanner with automated document feeder and my ink jet printer have no OS X drivers and would be unusable (unless I restart under OS 9). Replacing those devices would cost approximately $600. Thus, to gain the slight advantages conferred by OS X, I would have to spend $1800-2300. I also would need to invest substantial time to master OS X.
My situation is not unique. If Apple lowered the cost of OS X and supported older G3-based Macintosh computers, switching to OS X would be more attractive. If vendors lowered their charges for 9 to X upgrades, then the costs of switching would be substantially less. Microsoft should stop complaining about poor OS X sales and slash the upgrade prices for its OS X-compatible applications. (Microsoft should also incorporate a decent, cross-platform database application in the professional version of Office, because the lack of such a database hinders Office sales in the corporate environment.)
I would switch to OS X if the cost of doing so was more reasonable. Instead, I will do what millions of other Macintosh owners are doing: stick with OS 9 and my current hardware until they become unusable. I’ll probably end up with a new Macintosh computer and OS 12 sometime around 2006.
Also in This Series
- About My Particular Macintoshes · May 2012
- From the Darkest Hour · May 2012
- Shrinking Into an Expanding World · May 2012
- Growing Up With Apple · May 2012
- Recollections of ATPM by the Plucky Comic Relief · May 2012
- Making the Leap · March 2012
- Digital > Analog > Digital · February 2012
- An Achievable Dream · February 2012
- Smart Move? · February 2012
- Complete Archive