That new “I’m a PC” ad really hit a nerve

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

That’s the sound of me laughing at Apple fanboys spluttering and fuming over Microsoft’s new “I’m a PC” ad, in which “Lauren” says she can’t afford a Mac and buys an HP notebook instead.

MacDailyNews calls it “a $699 piece o’ crap” and approvingly quotes Seth Weintraub, who writes the Apple Ink blog at Computerworld:

The hardware in question is the $699 at Best Buy HP – Pavilion Laptop with AMD Turion™ X2 RM-72 Dual-Core Mobile Processor… It is the epitome of what people dislike about PCs… It runs Vista Home on a slow AMD mobile processor. It has DDR2 RAM which is what $300 Netbooks run.


Oh, really?

The cheapest Mac notebook you can buy (the one “Lauren” rejected) is the $999 white model, which is based on a three-year-old design with a more modern CPU and graphics chip. What kind of RAM do you think it uses? Please, look to the right, where I have helpfully highlighted the specs as captured from Apple’s website a few minutes ago.

So, to sum up. Apple’s $999 computer uses the same crappy DDR2 RAM as the HP. You know, the junk that, according to Weintraub, should only be put in $300 netbooks. The same junk that was in any MacBook or MacBook Pro sold before January 2009.

Yes, that’s right. Using Weintraub’s impeccable analysis, if you paid $2800 for a MacBook Pro last December, you are a complete loser and you should probably remove those inferior DDR2 memory chips it came with, hone them to a sharp edge, and slash your wrists with them. Or donate that useless four-month-old piece of crap to charity or sell it on eBay and replace it with a new MacBook Pro with DDR3 RAM for (cough) another $2800.

benchmark results for Intel P7350And how about the Intel P7350 CPU in that $999 MacBook? Personally, I think it’s fast enough for most mainstream uses, but benchmarking pros would probably call it “a slow Intel mobile processor.” Check out where its performance falls relative to other Intel and AMD CPUs in the PassMark Software benchmarks. (Hint: You’ll need to scroll way down to the bottom. I’ve pasted a thumbnail of the chart on the left, with the P7350 circled in red.)

Of course, Lauren could have gone looking for a 15-inch screen, in which case she would have been able to go to and spend $950 on the HP Pavilion dv5-1010us ($999 list, with $50 discounts typical). It uses the exact same P7350 Intel processor as the bottom-of-the-line $999 white MacBook that Apple offers today but also includes 4GB of RAM (Apple charges $100 for the 4GB upgrade), a 320GB hard drive (Apple will hit you for $175 to upgrade from the ridiculously small 120GB drive in its $999 model), a 15.4” screen (34% more screen area than the 13.3” MacBook screen), a wireless remote ($19 extra from Apple), draft-N wireless networking, a webcam, HDMI and FireWire outputs, built-in Bluetooth, and a 64-bit operating system (Vista Home Premium).

More memory, bigger screen, bigger hard disk, a 64-bit OS, costs a lot less. A similarly configured MacBook (but still with that 13.3” screen) costs $1293, which is a $300+ premium over the HP notebook. And the good folks at Retrevo, who make their living at this stuff, analyzed 33 user reviews for the dv5-1010us and found that 93% were positive.

Of course, if Lauren had asked me I probably would have suggested she visit Dell’s website and look at the Studio 15 notebook, which is available with nearly identical specs to the HP model above but can be upgraded to an Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 CPU that will run rings around the P7350. When I configured that model at Dell’s website a few minutes ago, it cost a mere $874.

Why do Apple fanboys have such a hard time acknowledging that Apple hardware really does cost more than similarly configured PC alternatives?

38 thoughts on “That new “I’m a PC” ad really hit a nerve

  1. I know three people who have recently bought 17-inch HP laptops for under $800 direct from HP. These are not slow computers with obsolete hardware – they’re all Core 2 Duos with 3 or 4 GB of RAM, video cards, and Vista Home Premium. These are definitely not PCs where the users are going to regret buying low-end hardware – they all have decent specs that will serve them well for the typical lifetime of a laptop.

    I support mostly Dells and have little experience with HP laptops, but these are all machines that would be perfectly suited to anyone with the normal uses of web browsing, running Office apps, watching a DVD, editing and organizing photos, etc.

    I wonder if Apple regrets switching to hardware that can be so easily compared to that running Windows.

  2. Why do Apple fanboys have such a hard time acknowledging that Apple hardware really does cost more than similarly configured PC alternatives?


  3. In all fairness to the apple fan boys if you get a Windows laptop with high end “Mac Like” specs, a really thin design, and a really strong enclosure you’ll probably pay close to the same amount as you would for a comparable Mac. However who has the money to buy a $2000 PC no matter what the operating system is.

    Why not go for value (cost and quality) and buy something under $1000 like what you guys are talking about. The thing is going to be obsolete in 2 years whether it’s $1000 or $2000 anyway.

  4. “Why do Apple fanboys have such a hard time acknowledging that Apple hardware really does cost more than similarly configured PC alternatives?”

    It’s called the iLobotomy. I personally think its tied into their self worth. Your average iBoi tends to accessorize their lives with Apple products and buy into the schtick of being unique and special.

    That’s why they go batisht crazy when anyone points to something that might detract from this Corporation or any of its high margin consumer products. Some take it further and deify Steve Jobs and rabidly defend the overglorified salesman.

  5. That is a nice model from Dell. And then we have Netbooks with Windows starting at $399.

    I guess Lauren could have bought a netbook for herself and a friend – and she stilll would have money left over in that scenario.

    Wait, perhaps that’s coming in the next Microsoft ad…. 🙂

  6. This ad doesn’t even mention Windows, or Vista… it just says that there are much cheaper machines than Macs out there… Who didn’t know that? Raise your hands 🙂

  7. I’m a mac user and I don’t get it either. Yes, macs are more expensive for equivalent hardware. I think they’re worth it, Lauren and others might disagree and that’s fine.

    I think, as Scott Baker said, macs are more competitive at the high end, but I don’t know anyone who would argue that the $999 macbooks are the best deal in town. Heck, some $500 netbooks approach the same specs.

    It’s really an Apples-and-oranges issue – Apple isn’t in the budget computer business at all, and never claimed to be – so I don’t know why some mac fans can’t deal with it.

  8. Everyone missed the entire point of this Ad. Perhaps the highest end Mac laptop has better specs than this, but the whole point of the ad is stated at the very end. It’s where she says “I’m a PC and I got just what I wanted”.

    End of discussion, no more debate. She got what she wanted… no, she got “just” what she wanted, that was the point.

  9. I like the “I’m a PC” ads, because I think they’re a very effective approach to attracting and/or retaining consumers.

    I also like them because I think they keep the various fanboys — Apple or MS — in a tizzy. And who doesn’t enjoy a good pissing match…

    (BTW: that’s a lot of money for 13″ of old ‘cool.’)

  10. I am a Mac user, though I also have an HP Vista laptop at home that I don’t lug around. Simply put: Mac’s are terrible value. Mac fan’s are utterly hilarious.

    The operating system is good, the hardware is well built, but the value is terrible. Why can’t they accept this? I love my Mac, don’t get me wrong, but Apple is no messiah. There are lots of things they do wrong design wise, and the whole Mac Fanboy ‘one true way’ bullshit gets annoying fast, especially when people insult you on Apple forums when you are hacking your UI around. I have honestly been told stuff that isn’t possible within the OSX gui is ‘stupid’ to want to do, because its not already there, on multiple occasions. Really kids? Maybe I really want sloppy focus…

    Honestly. How pathetic are the mac hordes, that they feel the need to preach and belittle everyone else? I guess people have this ingrained need to belong to something. Be it Mac fandom, Sony fandom, Xbox fandom, Honda Civic with big spoiler and coffee can muffler fandom, etc.

    More power to you for this article. It’s the truth. The Mac has its place. Its not everywhere.

  11. I have always thought of Apple as primarily a design and marketing company. They take products other companies have invented and then develop outstanding interfaces and product design. Then they market the hell out of the product. That is their true strength. The brand has cachet and real value and that is why they can charge the prices they do.

    Whenever Apple strays from this strength, such as by trying to develop “value” products, they fall flat.

    What is happening with the Microsoft “I’m a PC” ads is that a company that has traditionally been as awful at marketing as Apple excels at it, has finally hit on something clever and witty and is running it often enough to really build recognition. I admire good ad campaigns and Microsoft finally has one. In the tech world only Apple and occasionally HP (and maybe the Dell dude) have ever had this success before. Apple fanboys can ignore HP and Dell but can’t ignore the hated Microsoft. So they push back with attacks about consumers, the actors in the ads, ad hominem insults, and so on. Their world has been shaken.

    If Microsoft does what it should and sustains and continues to evolve the campagin, fanboys will become increasingly agitated in the coming months, Their only hope is that Microsoft will do what is all too common in its past marketing efforts- pull the plug early or otherwise screw it up.

  12. I’m happy to see Microsoft being forced to compete on “value”, which in its world sums up to “um, we’re cheaper than those other guys”.

    My only issue with Microsoft’s latest ad is that it’s misleading and insults the viewer’s intelligence. If you don’t think it’s underhanded for Microsoft to hire a Hollywood actress for a national TV ad and try to pass her off as a low-budget shopper, then happy Windows fandom to you. If a Hollywood actress isn’t cool enough for a Mac, then who is? If “I’m a PC” seems clever and witty to you, then you’re getting just what you signed up for.

    Hate is too strong a word for Microsoft. If Apple is primarily a design and marketing company, then Microsoft is primarily a… marketing company.

    Mac fanboys may be pathetic. There’s a bone for you. But Windows fanboys? How pathetic is it to froth at the mouth while defending the default? If you read what Microsoft executives have to say about you in internal memos, you’d be shocked to discover how you’ve been used and taken advantage of.

    1. Uh, Ben, she’s a “Hollywood actress”? Did you read her resume? Seriously? Her credits consist of dinner theaters in suburbs of Sacramento and some roles in films that appear to be low-budget film school projects. By that standard, every waiter and waitress and bike messenger in LA is a “Hollywood actor/actress.” But hey, if it helps you feel better, more power to you.

  13. Ed,

    She may not be a “Hollywood actress,” but she is an actress. There are plenty of real world people who aren’t listed as actors that Microsoft could have chosen in order to gain more credibility.

    They could have easily taken a page from Apple’s playbook. When Apple ran their “Switchers” campaign they took real people and filmed them. These people then became members of the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG) after the fact.

    Plenty of ordinary people would have jumped at the chance.

  14. Ed,

    Great post. I saw the commercial the other day from a news site and (specs aside) it was a good jab in Apple’s ribs.

    We own both Macs and PCs in our home; my wife likes Mac, and I’m not really ‘loyal’ to either platform. Truth be told, I think Apple makes excellent software, but I have mixed feelings about the quality of their notebooks.

    I’m not knocking Apple or Windows, but I really haven’t been very impressed w/ Apple’s notebook line. Last year, I bought a 13″ Macbook which I had to return b/c the display died all of a sudden (2 weeks after I bought it). I returned it and went back to using my trusy old HP w/ Windows XP.

    Last week, I returned a new 15″ Macbook Pro that I purchased b/c the display kept flickering. I gave up and brought it back to the Apple Store; they offered an exchange, but I asked for a refund instead. I gotta give the guy credit–he kept tryingn to explain the ‘benefits’ of Mac over Windows…why it’s a great system…etc. The comedy was when he was telling me all of this while the computer was sitting on their Genius bar flickering/sputtering. The guy was great…. I left and a few days later, I bought a nice 14″ HP from Best Buy. So far, no issues and it’s fast. I like that it came w/ a weight-saver that replaces the DVD drive.

    Needless to say, no more Mac portables for me. I guess if anyone ever tries to tell me how reliable Mac notebooks are, I’ve got the refund receipts to show ’em the two I brought back.

  15. HP Pavllion, Vista64, 4Gig Ram, 250gb, ati hd 3200, turion x2 2.1Ghz, eSATA, HDMI, IR Remote, Card Reader, Wireless a/b/g/n

    Cost? $550 new. It surely does what I want it to, and if I need to do anything powerful (and so far I haven’t), I always have my desktop.

    @ N.: You da man! LOL @ the honda losers!

  16. And Ed, OMG not only is Lauren a actress but don’t you know the 4 year old Asian girl was actually rehearsed on using Photo Gallery before the commercial was filmed! Can you believe it! Don’t you know that in the Mac-PC ads, both those guys are just real people who ad libed their way through all those spots!

  17. User “N” is so, so right.

    My wife and I are both Mac users but you’ll never hear either of us evangelizing about our iMac or her Macbook.

    Apple really is a religion to some….so if they’re going to drink the Kool Aid, why stop ’em? 😉

  18. I used to love Macs but they are so limited and there are a lot of gotcha’s you encounter when using and maintaining them that I switched back to PCs. PCs aren’t perfect but the amount of choices you have outweighs the negatives.

  19. I’m a Windows guy and love Windows 7, but I can also appreciate what Apple does. I’m a Mac Fan…not a fanatic and
    understand that some people my not have the same opinion that I do. Theres no doubt that you can get more choice in the Windows world and thats a good thing.

    In the end some people seem to lack conviction in their choices and feel a need to go on the defensive..regardless of what commercials Microsoft runs.. it really shouldn’t mater.

  20. What has been missed here is that Lauren had no idea she was making a commercial for PCs when she was doing this. This wasn’t scripted. It ws shot live and she wasn’t told what was really going on until it was all over. The same is true for a number of others who will show up in future commercials. So the whole “Hollywood actor” crap is just that, CRAP!

    Further, Microsoft had no direct control over this. They hired a third party to do it and they went out and recruited mostly recent college grads, none of whom knew they were shooting a commercial. They thought it was market research until it was all over.

  21. My comment is in regard to the “focus” of an ad that Apple uses that which Microsoft employs.

    Granted the Apple commercial with PC and Mac have received a lot of attention, the fact is these commercials provide little real information. Their focus is to make Apples look cool and PCs to look like corporate tools. Their iPhone commercials show so much more about what the device does than what any and all Mac commercial have ever done.

    Windows commercials have focused more on what the software is able to do. I like the new set of commercials because there is this notion that Macs are better at handling photos/videos/music better than Windows. These commercials SHOW Vista to be very capable at these tasks. Who cares if the person is an actor or has rehersed it?? IT’S A COMMERCIAL. The question should be, is it acturate. If this the measurement, Windows commercials are far more truthful and accurate than Mac commercials.

  22. Apple’s pricing policies have been, still are, and will continue to be rotten to the core!

  23. Somewhere up near the top someone said High end – the price differential was less. Not so!

    Our current advice to clients:

    Budget sub $1,000 – go to office superstore and get an HP – maxing processor, RAM and HD then screen size to suit your budget.

    Desktop $1,000-1,500 – Dell or HP maxing as per above. Apple premium at Jan 1 (last time we compared) was 40% more money for EXACLTY the same components.

    64 bit Graphic Workstation – money no object. Apple maxed out at $13,500. Same spec Dell maxed out at $6,800. But higher spec Dell was still possible with newer components. And for the 64 bit Photoshop and Lightroom software to graphic with – ahem – currently only available for the PC. Apple changed the rules on Adobe last year who had to start all over again and currently don’t have those products in 64 bit…..

    As we tell clients – There is NOTHING wrong with Apple compared to PC. Just understand you are paying a significant premium for the SAME components and some design. And in mainstream business – your line of business application is probably only available for the PC – though the back end can be running on anything from Apache, Solaris, Oracle, Windows, Apple, Unix, Linux…..

    Not there are some total cost of ownership and security issues that lessen the delta – but if you run with UAC on and realize that the richer PC software choices come with a price. Or you don’t explore the darker side and stick with your work software. The PC is a significantly better value proposition over the life of the machine.

    And MAC’s look cool – but is it worth paying the extra for?……

  24. I have to agree that Apple’s pricing is higher than counterpart PC’s. This is nothing new. It’s always been the case.

    I see these new “I’m a PC” ads are more about operating systems. Windows vs. Mac. When you look at it in that light I have to go with Mac’s OSX.

  25. I was watching a movie in a theater about a month ago and knew I recognized the bartender (a major part) but couldn’t place him.
    Looked him up at home and it was the original MAC guy from Mac vs PC. No, they are all actors.

  26. Agreed w/ Joe: I’m also a Mac “fan” but not a “fanatic”. I think that if it weren’t for Apple, Microsoft (and the rest of PC-dom) would not be so inclined to (gasp) innovate, or make better stuff.

    Whatever Apple is or isn’t, you can’t say that they don’t innovate or blaze new trails–they truly do lead the industry with new ideas, or perfecting others.

    As far as their hardware is concerned, I can’t complain too much–you do truly get what you pay for in my circumstances. I like our Macs, but I hate our local Apple Store’s repair counter, and do not go there anymore–their “geniuses” generally assume you’re either stupid, or full of %$^& when you have an issue.

    I do like that they offer tutoring and workshops–I wish other PC companies did this. The tutoring (called One to one) is $99/yr and you can go once a week and they will tutor you on whatever software you like. My wife and my father in law (new to computers) use this religiously, and really like the personal ‘touch’ it gives.

    I’ve never had an issue w/ Applecare, nor have I had any issues w/ HP customer service (despite the language barrier); HP’s call centers are overseas and Apple’s are in N. America (Canada and the US).

    In the end, I really wish people would end the “My [Mac/PC] is better than your [Mac/PC].” You can argue price, quality, etc., but in the end, it’s what YOU are happy with. I’m happy w/ Mac, but I’ve used Windows for so long (since 3.1) that I still ‘keep in touch’ w/ my Windows brethren (so to speak).

    Anyway, the ads are cute, and I think it’s good that Microsoft is going on the offensive, and it will make for good debate in the weeks to come.

  27. I bought the HP and now dual boot into Vista and Ubuntu 8.10
    The ubuntu screams (fast for all you dullards) Vista runs ok but it takes forever to finish the boot cycle.
    with that said who needs a mac,

    I’m booting Ubuntu on my AMD64 HP and running a virtual machine Vbox with Windows 7 beta running and the laptop still runs well, in unbuntuI have a virtual Win7 as one desktop and if i give the keyboard a ctrl+alt+ Rht arrow command, it flips to one of my four desktops.

    I laugh at thee!!!

  28. Admittedly, I’m not in that same market, but I just got a Studio 17 with the LED backlit 1920×1200 screen and it’s a joy. I loaded her up good with dual drives and BD-ROM with 4GB of RAM becasue I want her to last me a while. I have yet to find the time to set up W7 in Dual-boot only because I’ve been working long hours and haven’t had any real “play” time with her. Perhaps over Easter she’ll be a screaming seven…

    Did I consider a Macbook? Hell no – and I used to work for Apple…..

    Gotta admit though, if I could I’d install OSx on this thing too in triple-boot. When will Apple learn that they can earn a good living selling the OS? The hardware lock is what keeps their market share down – are they afraid of what will happen when users try and install a different vid-card on OSx? You’re damned right they are…..

    ’nuff said.

  29. Well, I’ve heard both sides of the debate and been on both sides. I’ve been a mac fanboy, windows user and a Linux zealot and guess what have I learned ? In both windows and linux’ cases, we’re talking about operating systems whereas when we talk of a Mac we talk of the whole system and that is what makes them command a premium.

    Apple products work fantastically well with other Apple products and people pay good money for that. And in that end, it all comes down to personal preferences. I’m on Linux right now and am using a Dell machine but I don’t think this is the best machine in the world. The OS may be very good but I had to work to make it 100% compatible with my machine. With OS X and a Mac, I don’t need to do that.

    Have you guys ever heard of Dell Fanboys ? HP Fanboys ? No, only the Mac platform has fanboys and there is a reason for it. And of course, only they have the money to spend on the platform 😉

  30. I think any Obama voter sitting there with Mac in hand ought to feel extreme guilt given the horrible state of our country (according to the president). These are “some of the worst economic times in American history” and these people go out in public and flaunt their excess!

    Me? I’m happy with my $450 Acer.

Comments are closed.