When I described the problems I've had with Apple's notebooks thus far, a few commenters asked me why I stick with Apple at all. "Have you considered a different brand of computer? A Dell or something?" one asked. Another said, "I find it strange that your answer is to buy another product from the company that is causing you so much pain. Your interim solution is to rely on the phone and tablet from same said company. There are other computers out there." A third commenter reiterated that point: "Hasn't it occurred to you after this time, or to any of the people commenting on this post, to move away from Apple altogether?"
Though I've got a house full of Apple gear and make money writing for TUAW, my brand loyalty to Apple has nothing to do with the company itself. The truth is, I've only got two reasons for sticking with Apple, no matter how much its practices or products make me want to tear out my hair sometimes.
Reason one: I hate Windows. I'm not being hyperbolic with that statement either; I literally feel nothing but loathing when I have to sit down in front of a PC running Windows and try to shoehorn my brain and work habits into the unbearable kludge of Microsoft's OS. I used Windows exclusively for almost ten years, but trying to use it now feels like trying to perform a self-administered root canal. That's not to say that Mac OS X is my favorite OS of all time -- Snow Leopard in particular has had me wanting to dropkick my MacBook Pro across the room on more than one occasion. For me, the chief difference between Windows and Mac OS X is how often I feel the impulse to perform acts of violence against any computer running the OS. With Mac OS X, it's a couple times a month. With Windows, it's more like a couple times an hour.
Sure, I could buy a computer from another company and Hackintosh it to run OS X, but I'd rather not deal with that hot mess. I've already had experience running an unsupported OS on my gear -- on my first Mac, as a matter of fact. The used 1998 PowerBook I bought for a couple hundred bucks in 2004 was supposed to top out at Mac OS X Jaguar, but through various hardware and software hacks I was able to get the thing (barely) running Mac OS X Tiger. I thought it was the slickest thing ever, running new software on a computer that old. Then I started using hardware that was actually designed for the software, and I realized that, in reality, I'd been spending more time trying to get my computer to work than actually getting any work done on it. No thanks. (As an interesting aside, the processor in the iPad 2 is more than twice as powerful as the 500 MHz G4 processor upgrade I crammed into that PowerBook.)
That's the first reason; using another company's products means using another OS, and there's just no way I'm going to do that. But the second reason is even more important than the first: Apple actually takes care of its customers. Not just the bare minimum, required-by-law level of care either; cheesy as it sounds, the company really does go the extra mile, at least in my case. All the issues I've had with my wife's MacBook and my MacBook Pro have been resolved at no monetary cost to either of us. Once my wife had enough problems with her original 2007 MacBook, they gave her a brand-new replacement 2010 model only a couple months before the AppleCare on her first one was about to expire.
As for my MacBook Pro? Ten days after my AppleCare expired, I started having random shutdowns that probably indicated a failing logic board. I called Apple and asked if they could work something out with me since my warranty had just expired. Apple granted me a one-time warranty exception and said it would cover any repair costs this one last time. I dropped my MacBook Pro off at the local repair depot, but none of their hardware tests could find anything wrong with it even after several days of testing. Last Friday, I got a call from the depot; even though my logic board wasn't showing any signs of failure in the tests, Apple authorized a replacement anyway. New logic board, new fans and a working MacBook Pro that's currently syncing to my iPad 2 for the first time as I write this. Total cost of this repair, which was done out-of-warranty? Nothing. Zero dollars.
Would Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, HP or any of Apple's other competitors bend its rules that far for one of its customers? Not only authorizing a no-cost, out-of-warranty repair, but replacing the computer's most expensive internal component solely on the customer's word? Maybe, but I seriously doubt it.
The "it just works" slogan for Apple's products hasn't always been applicable for me, but when it doesn't "just work," Apple has always been there to sweep up the pieces and make it work. More than anything else, that's why I stay with Apple. Sure, there's obvious design craftsmanship in its hardware, and its software mostly seems like it's designed by engineers who ask themselves the question, "Would I actually want to use this?" Certainly, Apple's ecosystem between Macs and iDevices means there's an app or a device for just about anything I need or even want to do. But laying all that aside, it's Apple's commitment to keeping its customers satisfied that brings me back to its products, warts and all, every time.