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In case you missed it, Apple recently held a product event in which the company unveiled a new 4-inch iPhone SE and a 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
During the event’s keynote speech, the firm’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing – Phil Schiller – stoked the ongoing Microsoft vs. Apple competition by claiming that a majority of new iPad Pro users were coming from Windows, before sensationally stating it was “sad” that 600 million Windows PCs were more than five years old.
Needless to say, Schiller was lambasted on social media.
Apple’s Phil Schiller ‘600 million Windows PCs that haven’t been upgraded in the past five years is really sad’ is elitist ignorant speak
— Brian Burgess (@mysticgeek) March 22, 2016
Like 600 million PC users, Phil Schiller should really look up ‘UPGRADABLE’ in the dictionary.
— Andrew Nicholson (@OlHungers) March 22, 2016
If Phil Schiller from Apple thinks that 600 million people that use 5 yo PC’s is “sad” then why don’t you bother to make your Mac’s cheaper
— Chris (@ChrisThurgood77) March 21, 2016
Schiller was badly mistaken – 600 million old PCs isn’t “sad”, it’s both a Microsoft triumph and an unfortunate reflection of Apple’s company policies.
Clearly, insulting 600 million potential customers isn’t the most sensible marketing plan in the world – especially when many of those people are already hugely skeptical of Apple’s annual-releases-with-minimal-improvements product strategy.
Schiller claimed “These [Windows users] could really benefit from an iPad Pro. When they see the features, performance, and capabilities… many of them will find it is their ultimate PC replacement.”
Except, it’s not. iPads are a terrible PC replacement for one huge reason – upgrades.
Macs already get a lot of negative press for their lack of upgradability; if you want to improve anything beyond the drive and the RAM, you’ll need to shell out more than $2,500 USD for a Mac Pro.
iPads (and tablets in general) are even worse. They are virtually un-upgradable; how well will your new $600 USD iPad Pro stack up against the competition in five years’ time? The answer: badly.
At the other end of the scale, Windows PCs are renowned for being almost entirely upgradable – especially desktops. The original price is irrelevant; you can add new hardware to any machine you please.
Did it not enter Schiller’s mind that the costs of buying new devices are prohibitive? Not many people are lucky enough to be able to spend $600 on a new iPad, $1,000 on a new Mac, or even $200 for a low-end Windows netbook or a Chromebook. Lots of users are thankful for having access to a computer at all.
Secondly, a lot of these PCs presumably reside in offices. The hardware costs of upgrading several hundred employees’ machines are huge – especially when you add on the IT labor cost, the lost productivity costs, and the inevitable deluge of new software and apps that would be required.
Schiller inadvertently highlighted something wonderful about Microsoft machines; they are built to last from both a hardware and software perspective.
Apple might argue that Windows machines slow to a crawl after a few years due to all their bloatware, but it’s not a problem that Macs are immune from either. Whichever operating system you use, disciplined maintenance and management will keep it running smoothly for a long time.
In the worst case, both operating systems can be revitalized by a clean install, a process that is simple to complete on Windows and OS X.
The bottom line is that if properly cared for, a mid-range PC bought today will still be more than adequate for most users in five years from now. That’s not sad, that’s a credit to Microsoft.
Why are there 600 million Windows PCs that are more than five years old and not 600 million Macs that are more than five years old?
Mainly because the Windows operating system (in all its forms) has hugely outsold Apple’s OS X since the 1980s.
In Statista’s graphic below, you can see how comprehensive this domination has been.
In the most recent figures available (from December 2015), Windows controlled 84.65 percent of the market. OS X controlled a mere 9.84 percent. What did Schiller expect, therefore? Once again, it’s largely a triumph for Microsoft.
Highlighting these figures is not meant to be an attack on Apple; they have never been aiming for mass-market penetration, instead preferring to dominate the luxury end of the spectrum. That’s a perfectly reasonable strategy that has mostly worked well for them.
However, they clearly want some of Microsoft’s legacy business – why else would Schiller specifically pitch the iPad Pro to Windows users?
5. Refurbished Macs
As touched on earlier, Macs are expensive. An iMac will set you back at least $1,099 USD, while their cheapest laptop (the 11-inch 128GB MacBook Air) is $899 USD on the official store.
No wonder, therefore, that refurbished Macs do a roaring trade. The demand for refurbished Macs is so high that they enjoy their own dedicated section on the Apple website.
They are normally considerably cheaper than their brand-new counterparts, but by definition, they are also considerably older.
In fact, at the time of writing, there were two 2012 edition MacBooks for sale on the store’s front page. In 15 months, they will celebrate their fifth birthday. The logic follows that lots of people who bought refurbished MacBooks at some point in the past are now using machines that are more than five years old.
What is “sad”, Mr. Schiller, is that your company insists on charging such an exorbitant amount for new computers that lots of people simply cannot afford them, and are instead forced to dip into the second-hand market. What’s even worse, is that by calling Microsoft owners with old PCs sad, you’ve by extension called people with old Macs (that you sold to them) sad as well.
What Was Schiller Thinking?
We’ve given you five very clear reasons why Phil Schiller was crazy to criticize old Windows PCs. It makes Apple users look spoilt, makes Apple the company look elitist, and puts off anyone who was considering making the switch.
Enough about what we think though, what do you think?
Was Schiller out of his mind or was his quote justified? Do you have an old PC? What haven’t you upgraded? Perhaps you have an old Mac – if so, how did you interpret his comments?
You can let us know your thoughts, feedback, and opinions in the comments box below.