Ok, buy a Mac (but be careful)

The reaction to my post titled "Don't buy a Mac" was even more intense than I expected. Although the traffic from the post didn't approach the Dell vs. MacBook Pro Price Deathmatch, I actually got more email as a result of Don't buy a Mac than any post I've ever done. Of course, 60% of that email consisted of people telling me I was on Microsoft's payroll, an idiot, or some combination of the two.

Ah, overzealous Mac users. They make the rest of us (Mac users) look bad, but that's a post for another day.

I thought it would only be fair to post a follow up to the Don't buy a Mac post once the situation changed, and thankfully it has. I'd like to detail the process of how Apple is stopping the MacBook fiasco, and what's still wrong with being an Apple corporate customer.

Since my last post on the subject, Apple made the following moves to correct the chronic issues affecting our MacBooks:

  1. All orders for Logic Boards were changed to heatsinks, which shipped promptly. This allowed our local AASP to turn around repairs in their normal 24 hours instead of the weeks it was taking to get Logic Boards. The heatsinks were also actually stopped the issue, unlike Logic Boards which seemed temporary at best.
  2. Mac OS X 10.4.8 corrected the black screen on boot issue.
  3. Apple released a firmware update specifically to deal with shutdown issue.
  4. availability on new MacBooks has improved dramatically. New units are also completely unaffected by either issue.
So, disaster averted right? Not so fast. I believe Apple this issue shook the confidence of a very important group of Apple customers. I've spoken to several other administrators of very large Mac installations and/or Mac only companies and even though they have some confidence in the MacBook now, they're very wary of Apple. We're all asking ourselves "Can we really rely on Apple to provide hardware that we can run our business on?" This is the same group who was already a bit gun shy due to chronic stability and performance issues with AFP services in 10.4 server. We control the purchasing for hundreds or even thousands of Macs. We love Macs and we rely on the for our livelihood.

Now we're seeing for the first time the real dangers of a platform controlled by one vendor. Summed up, when the poo hits the fan you've got no where to go.

After my last post, a lot of people emailed me to tell me I was "a fool" for purchasing "Rev A" product. When you only purchase Macs, and you are a business there is often no other choice. Can anyone tell me what I could have bought other than a MacBook for new employees when I had a per-machine budget of $1,200 and portability was required? I had no choice whatsoever. It was buy a MacBook or let new hires sit at a desk with no computer. That's no solution at all.

I can totally see this is less an issue for consumers or small businesses. You can defer a purchase a long time, knowing your current machine is adequate for your needs. I respect that. That's not an option in a large business when new positions are created. We can't wait to hire until Apple's product roadmap is favorable. We hire when we need to.

There's a lot of rumble out there about Apple's tightly controlled information process. I'm really not smart enough to comment on the issue. I can say though, that as a large Apple customer the silence on the MacBook issue drove us closer to embracing the Windows world than we've ever been before.

In closing, I retract it. Now that the Intel machines are solid there has never been a better time to buy a Mac.

But be careful folks. In this world where Apple outsources engineering and manufacturing to other companies you never know what you could end up with.