PC or Mac: metro businesses using both

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Published: November 22,1999

Even though it’s a hotly debated and controversial topic – which is better: a PC or a Mac? – many business owners in metro Jackson slyly confess they use both.

“If you bill on a PC, but do all the work on a Mac, you are not alone,” said Jimmie Hutto, media specialist for Southern Farm Bureau Insurance Company, who is proficient on both systems. “The reliability of the Mac is hard to beat. You can spend your time being creative rather than worrying about what would happen if the system crashed.”

Since it was introduced in 1984, Apple’s Macintosh computer has provided the most obvious alternative to the world of Wintel machines that run on Microsoft Windows and MS-DOS software.

Here’s the argument for Macs: they are easier to use, require less set-up time and have seamless and intuitive operating systems. Their makers could have coined the term “plug and play.” But a Mac generally costs more.

The debate for PCs goes like this: they’re everywhere. A multitude of PCs software programs are available.

With a huge market share, PCs are bound to be the better choice, right? Not necessarily. It simply makes business sense for software developers to write more – many more – programs for PCs.

Jim Temple, vice president of information technology for The Ramey Agency in Ridgeland, said the tools that are in place in a Macintosh combined with the Mac’s hardware architecture “works very, very well to reduce the number of potential driver and software problems.”

Because the Macintosh’s operating system and hardware are controlled by one company and is more tightly integrated, Macs work better in the advertising and graphic design industries.

“PCs have gained ground over the last few years, but results are still better with a Macintosh,” Temple said. “If you are an Intel provider, running on a Wintel platform, you’ve got a multitude of providers of hardware. The more variables you add to any mixture, the more opportunity for conflicts you have. I don’t see any falloff in the usage of Macintosh, especially with the new G-4s. The size of the Pentium chip in PCs is getting larger and larger. The Mac’s is about a fourth of that size but it is two and half times faster. That translates to better performance out of less silicon, advances in process that have helped spur speed to produce a continually faster chip.”

Who uses PCs? Number crunchers and the like, Temple said.

“For accounting purposes, when you’re crunching a lot of numbers, there are so many tools already developed for PCs,” he said. “I don’t know that you would ever see a large scale adoption of Macintosh in that type of environment.”

Linux may take a bigger piece of the server pie before Macintosh does, Temple said.

“Macintosh has a new operating system, a Unix-based OSX similar to Linux,” he said. “When that starts into mainstream production and usage, who knows what will happen next?”

The OSX server has already been shipping for several months. The OSX desktop operating-type system is scheduled for release next year, he said.

“Obviously, PCs have a much greater market penetration,” Temple said. “Many tools that have been in place for a long time are not available on a Macintosh. The companies that produce them don’t see the smaller market as a viable option for their development dollars so they continue with what they’re used to, and that’s fine.”

The Macintosh fluctuates between a 4% and 9% market share, he said.

“On the other hand, BMW has a 2% share of the automotive market and does quite well, so you can’t use market share alone as an option,” Temple said.

Ashley Mitias, general manager of PC Warehouse in Jackson, said PCs beat Macs in product availability and peripheral additions.

“With a much larger market for PC clones, you can buy outside the name brand for a reasonable price and do the tech work yourself on a cloned PC,” said Mitias. “You can do that on the Mac, but it’s more difficult with a smaller knowledge base. The support and the configurations of the PCs are more unlimited. The PC market seems to have more stable companies. We’ve actually moved architectural firms from the Mac to the PC in the last several months.”

After selling PCs all day long, what does Mitias have at home? “My husband is an architect and a Mac G-4 guru. Since I only need the computer for the Internet, we’ve compromised and own a Mac,” she said.

David Bunger of Jackson, an AVID video editor for WAPT-TV, has worked in video houses with PCs and Macs and “would take a Mac any time.”

The loyalty of Mac users is uncanny, said Hutto.

“There’s a certain camaraderie among people who use Macs that you don’t see with PC users,” he said. “Mac users have a unique loyalty to the computer and enjoy being around people that use Macs. Perhaps it’s because Mac people tend to share more information about programs than PC people. Maybe it’s that after you’ve been let down by a PC, you know it’s coming. There’s the PC credo: save early, save often. For that reason alone, they are more secure with a Mac.”

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Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com or mbj@msbusiness.com.

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