Apple Down for the Count? Hardly!

Regarding "Apple's Soft Spots Mean Consumers Need to Look Before Leaping," (July 21): People have been pealing the death-knell of Apple since 1980, and guess what? Apple is still alive and kicking, and people who use Macintosh computers make more in wages and profits than Wintel people (Source: GISTICS at www.mediauteur.com).

Macs make $14,488 more in profit per machine per year than the Wintel [Windows operating system and Intel CPU] machine and bring in $26,441 more in revenue. Macs pay for themselves in four months; Wintels take more than three times longer to recoup the investment. Feature for feature, Macs are less expensive. You don't have to be a system administrator to install hardware or software. And if something does crash your Mac, all you have to do is restart.

The real reason computer departments want to get rid of Macs is because Macs don't need a whole department to keep them running. How many different Microsoft operating systems are there? Do you know it requires a separate group of people to administer each one?

I guess most Americans are at the point where if we are told something often enough, we come to believe it. Well, I make my living from my Macintosh, and I like doing a good job and still having time for my family. Count me as a "bleeding six-colors" Apple user. Show me something better and I'll use it.

John Glasscock

Bloomington, Ind.

In "Apple's Decline Isn't So Surprising After All" (July 17), the use of analogies confuses the issues. The technical differences between Macintosh computers and Wintel ones are differences of processors and control software (operating systems). But there is no more reason to assume processor and operating systems will be uniform than there is to assume only one brand of automobile will ultimately survive.

Concerning your example of how the best technology may not survive in the marketplace: The Sony Beta system is the choice for professional video tape use; it is just not the system of choice for home use. This might serve as an object lesson for Apple Computer.

While some Apple technologies proved to be essential for the success of the competition - e.g., desktop look and feel - many technologies are too sophisticated for the mass market. But they are appreciated by market segments like education, science and technology, desktop publishing, and Internet content providers. Apple needs to focus on these specialized market segments.

Richard L. Peskin

Londonderry, Vt.

Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University

President-elect, Macintosh Scientific and Technical Users Group

Paperless bill-paying too risky

As the sometime victim, sometime beneficiary of bank errors totaling approximately $10,000 over the past 15 years, I remain extremely skeptical of the so-called convenience of electronic billing and checking, as described in "The 'Check's in the Mail': A Costly Way to Pay Your Bills" (July 11).

Despite repeated efforts, some errors have never been resolved. I have been given a full package of senior-citizen banking benefits at the age of 32, Social Security numbers have been transposed, and, incredibly, one institution refused to change my name on my account when I married, while another insists on changing it without my consent.

Banking errors are not generally made by computers but by notoriously underpaid personnel. My experience with utility companies has proved similarly frustrating. No amount of improvement in the computer systems could convince me to surrender any control of my bank account to utility companies. If payment has already been received (taken electronically) by the offending company, disputes are difficult to resolve, particularly without a paper trail.

It seems to me that the cost involved in the "old" system of using paper checks and the US Postal Service is worth every cent.

Joanna G. Butler

Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

* Your letters are welcome. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com.

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