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Mac or PC? The battle continues

The battle between Microsoft and Apple over the minds — and wallets — of consumers has taken a rather interesting turn. In an attempt to counter the Apple commercials featuring a hapless Bill Gates look-a-like, Microsoft has launched a campaign featuring the “real” Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

In the campaigns, Microsoft is attempting to play up PCs’/Windows’ much larger market share, while Apple is putting forth the Mac as the choice of those looking for a “hip” machine.

Entertaining, perhaps, but both companies may be wasting their money. According to Stan Burton, consumers are interested in speed, capability, dependability and availability of support/service and cost. And when it comes to comparing the two companies, no one in Mississippi knows much more than Burton.

Fight for the workplace

Burton is president and CEO of Burton Computer Resources Inc., which has offices in Laurel and Hattiesburg. Burton Computers is the only business in Mississippi that is a certified reseller and service provider of Apple products and is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.

He said that Apple has a disadvantage when competing for businesses, but it is chipping away on that front.

“We find that, except in specific applications, business customers have little interest in trying to adopt Apple products. Apple makes very good products, but they maintain a closed system such that they control everything about the experience one has while using their products. You can only buy Apple computers from Apple — no ‘clones’ allowed. As a result of having a closed environment, no competition exists to provide pressure to lower prices on Apple products.

“The PC environment has been open from the start, allowing free competition for making the best product at the best price. Business loves competition, so many, many products, both hardware and software, were developed for the PC platform. The PC became the de-facto standard for use in the business world because of the open environment and availability of products and services to meet most every need.

“Apple continues to make in-roads into the business environment. As more students begin to use the Apple Mac, they will take that preference into the business world over time. Apple now is using the same CPU chip that PCs use, opening the door to running Windows and its multitude of business applications on a Mac. This move by Apple is the most significant step Apple has ever taken to make the Mac more business ready.”

No hard sell

Two areas where Apple continues to dominate are graphic arts and publishing, he said, and added that Mac’s image of being “hip” comes into play here.

Burton said he and his team spend very little time “selling” customers on Mac versus PC.

“We are seldom in the position of making a hard recommendation to customers regarding whether they should purchase a Mac or a PC,” he said. “Most consumers come in with a predisposition toward one or the other. Most business clients aren’t asking for a recommendation of Mac versus PC, as they are pretty much bound by the business environment they have in place. In a general sense, the less interconnection with other computers and communications environments, the easier it is to use a Mac in a business environment. However, Apple continues to whittle away at those complications, which will allow the young professionals entering the business world more leverage in getting Macs into the office.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com..

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