Gaze Thee Upon The Power That Titanium Has On The Infidel
February 12th, 2001

Folks, we may be on the verge of another revolution, or at least a minor riot. The PowerBook G4 may do more to convert PC users to the Mac Way than the iMac and Mac OS X combined.

I say this despite being in the middle of watching a close PChead friend of mine convert his new girlfriend from the Mac to the PC. Talk about frustrating! She's a graphic artist too. It's nothing short of infuriating. She'll do it too because she's about four full rotations into head-over-heels love and my friend can do no wrong in her eyes. Better yet, I am powerless to intervene for what hopefully should be obvious reasons (hint: it's my friend's new girlfriend, and it would be a useless effort on my part).

What started me off on this epiphany (of sorts) was some of the most glowing comments I have ever, ever, ever read on an Apple product by PC-centric authors in a PC-centric publication. At the recently Jesse Berst-less AnchorDesk (See ya, Jesse! We shan't miss you that much), two self proclaimed Wintel using journalists named John Morris & Josh Taylor reviewed the Titanium PowerBook G4 in an article titled "Drool-worthy: Why you, too, could love the PowerBook G4 Titanium." A great title, but check out this quote:

The Titanium's sleek, silvery case is less than an inch thick, and is significantly shallower than most other notebooks on the market, which should make it easier for road warriors to fit it onto an airplane tray table. And its 15.2 wide-screen display is hands-down the nicest screen we've ever seen on a portable, and perfect for firing up a DVD on those cross-country flights.

So why is it that Mac people are talking about the G4 Titanium like it's the second coming? Well, the thing is that when we started this column, we were all ready to do one of those 'Mac geeks are smug bastards who are blinded by cool design and their lust for Steve Jobs' pieces. But the problem is, we've come to realize that maybe we're actually a bit jealous.

If you gave us a brand-new Pentium 3 notebook that was less than an inch thick, rated for five hours of battery life, had a screen bigger than John's television set, and was better looking than any other notebook on the market, we would be screaming from our rooftops. So as much as we would like to, we just can't bring ourselves to dismiss the Titanium. But don't expect us to join Barry on his next pilgrimage to MACWORLD Expo, because the fact is, we're still a bit frightened by the Cult o' Steve.

OK, we'll accept the swipe at Mac users for the sake of argument, because the truth is that many of us do behave in ways that are normally only acceptable inside a cult's headquarters. Looking at what Messrs. Morris and Taylor are saying, though they are normally much more comfortable dismissing or criticizing Apple hardware, the power, elegance, and features of the PowerBook just won't let them. If these two guys are saying that, how many other Windows loving/Mac hating Joes are saying or thinking the same thing? Judging from the comments on the AnchorDesk piece, quite a few.

M. Watson from Dallas: I am a PC-Guy and I honestly have started thinking about gettin' an Apple... this new laptop just sweetens the pot...tell me if the windows emulation software slows this thing down much...still need a few windows only apps... love the idea of 5 hours battery life.

Dr. Netter F Freedom III (a name we suspect is a pseudonym for those keeping score at home): This may be the first Mac I'll ever own. Since I never plan on upgrading a notebook, the usual anti-Mac rules don't apply (except for application starvation). I love the DVD-Rom, size/weight, and feel it might be worth learning the Mac operating system.

Mark Brady: I am very much a long time PC user. After seeing the G4Ti, I am going to convert. It should be here later this month. I use Citrix MetaFrame everywhere I travel (home and office), so I can get to Windows applications anytime I need to - even from a Macintosh. I will get the best of both worlds - excellent personal computing with style and server-based Windows computing for corporate work.

And this one's my favorite (this one kills me every time I read it):

Sam Preston, a student in Florida: I'm always the first one to tease Mac-users about their dumb little one-buttoned mice and jellybean-colored products, but I'd sell one of my kidneys for anything that looks this cool with a 15" monitor.

Those are some strong words, and they aren't from low end consumers. The low end consumer was the most likely type to switch to the iMac from the PC. Some 13% of people who bought iMacs were Wintel converts according to Apple (at least during the first year). These were often people who had used cheap Windows machines and were attracted to the simplicity the iMac represented.

No, the PCheads talking about buying the PowerBook G4 are strongly Wintel oriented folks that are nerdy enough to hang out at an online news outlet and leave their comments on the Talk Back forum. To make this even more convincing, these are the kinds of comments likely to draw the fire of the more stalwart PC acolytes out there. Indeed, read through more of the comments posted at the AnchorDesk piece and you will detect some acid already dripping from the tongues of the ever-ready-to-bash-Apple faction.

All this fervor because of a new laptop that borrows heavily from the Sony VAIO stylings. Yet, there are some in the Mac community, such as my friend David Schultz at Applelust, who say the PowerBook G4 is not all it could be because it lacks curves. I am greatly simplifying his arguments, but Mr. Schultz is not alone either. Other Mac sites have carried editorials from people who miss the sexiness of the Pismo line of PowerBooks. Even I have criticized the TiBook for offering such a low resolution on that beautiful 15.2" screen (it really should offer 1400 x 960 or at least 1400 x 1024 options).

Here we have the Wintel crowd singing its praises though. Perhaps this lends credence to the idea that Apple wasn't specifically targeting the Mac faithful. Instead, maybe Apple was targeting the much larger crowds of PC users who have hailed the VAIO as the best looking laptop on the planet (until now) despite the sexy curves of the Pismo. If so, I can't say that it was a bad move. In fact, I will resoundingly proclaim that it was a brilliant move. If Apple can attract high-end PC users to the Mac platform by offering the coolest, flattest, thinnest, and widest notebook on the market then kudos for them! Expanding the platform is one of the most important things Apple has to accomplish. We will have to wait for some official numbers to be issued by Apple, PC Data, or DataQuest to be sure, but it looks like they have hit a home run in this department.