The more I think about it, I’m convinced that the guys in Cupertino are able to provide a rock solid mainstream operating system in Snow Leopard, fantastic developer APIs, and programs with useful, integrative feature sets. At the same time, it’s interesting to compare the rate of hardware advancement vs. software advancement in the general computing world. Apple makes great software, but since they release/update products in extended intervals, their hardware specs just can’t keep up.
The fanboys/fangirls out there who are willing to drop any amount of money on a product as long as it’s nice, shiny, and made by Apple should understand what their money could really be buying. Take the soon-to-be released iPad, for example. I can understand the virtual keyboard… the 3G… the processor… the great touch screen… etc. I also love the base price. But the lack of a camera?! After every single major Apple product (heck, even iPods) now have them! Coupled with a rendition of the iPhone OS (with a browser which still doesn’t support Flash), and you’ve got a product which resembles a big iPhone more than a middle ground between mobile device and notebook. You can get a netbook (yes, with multi-tasking, a camera, and Flash) to run the full Snow Leopard OS for hundreds of dollars less. And it’s portable enough to take anywhere.
Apple’s desktops are grossly overpriced as well. With the OSx86 community over at InsanelyMac, it’s now possible to construct a workstation which is just as powerful as iMac/Mac Pro for a fraction of the cost. With a moderate understanding of how to modify .kext files, compatibility issues are a thing of the past in the “Hackintosh” community.
Apple has made some tremendous advances in touchscreen/multitouch gestures, LCD displays, and battery technology. Heck, the iPod (a piece of hardware) redefined the entire music industry. Even with this in mind, I still think Apple’s real strength is in OS X.