Mac vs. PC, the editorial smackdown

by Paul Jay, CBC News Online

It doesn't take much to fuel the Mac versus PC debate among computer users. But just in case the inclusion of Intel chips in Macs has softened the rivalry, Charlie Brooker at the Guardian has thrown an oil tanker into the fire with a column entitled ever-so-subtly, I Hate Macs. Says Brooker:

I have always hated Macs. I hate people who use Macs. I even hate people who don't use Macs but sometimes wish they did. Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults; computers for scaredy cats too nervous to learn how proper computers work; computers for people who earnestly believe in feng shui.

It's a hilarious column, even if you totally disagree - and I imagine many will. Naturally, the Guardian's website was inundated with letters praising or vilifying Brooker. The paper soon followed it up with a response column by Tim Dowling entitled Why PCs are un-PC, which trashed the alternative more than it came to Apple's defence.

The newspaper's back-and-forth begs a question about brand loyalty: Namely, why do computer users identify so strongly with one platform over another? It has to be more than marketing at work, otherwise Pepsi pushers would be spamming Coca-Cola message boards and editorialists in Canada would be weighing in on the Mr. Submarine versus Subway battle. Perhaps because of the level of interaction with the product, computer users feel an extra connection. In that sense, Dowling is in the minority.

As he says: " I am a PC owner, not a PC lover, much in the way that I am a dog-owner rather than a dog-lover - happy to complain, not quite willing to admit my mistake."