Well, I wasn't in a pleasant state of mind when I posted my quasi-flame earlier so I was a little harsh, but as possibly hypoocratical as I am sometimes I will stand by my observations.
As this kind of human behavior facinates me, I will post some of my other observations.
1) No matter how much AOL screws their customers over, no matter how much they over charge for their services, no matter how much evidence is out there in the public domain and word-of-mouth that it is a horrible service provider; people still sign up everyday and stick with it for no logical reason other than: "Dude, its AOL." I've pointed out to many a client for tech support of the damage the program does to the Window's Registry, and other facets of the program border or are outright spyware and/or malware. But people still stick with it and more join everyday. Side note: my neighbor pays $35 for a dialup AOL account, I pay $45 (total incl. tax) for a Comcast Broadband connection. So are these people blind or just plain stupid?
2) Apple, the most fanatical organization of illogical boobs on the face of the Earth short of religious fanatics (MADD, The Christian Colalition, Southern Baptists, Islamic Extremists, etc). Let's take a look at a recent episode of illogical marketing. In January, Apple was planning on releasing the Ipod Mini. Amid hints of a reasonably priced MP3 player in the range of $150 or so, Mr. Jobs stifles all hope by releasing the Ipod Mini at $269. Umm, wait, but the regular Ipod is only $299 so for only $40 more I get about 4x the space (4gb mini vs 15gb ipod regular). Does this make sense to anyone? Huh, wtf? How about the policy of something called price-points. This causes Apple to release products at enormously inflated prices to discourage people from buying them. Their refusal to allow 3rd party components which means that when something breaks, you send to whole computer back to Apple to be fixed. Ok, I'll concede this one, for notebooks you have to do this anyways. Oh, and don't you dare point out that they paid mucha money for a product that doesn't do half the things a PC can do better (oops did I say that aloud?). Networking, ok AppleTalk is ok for small ones, but god forbid should it let you integrate it into large one. It doesn't like playing well with other computers, it has poor security (oh sorry, wait Windows has holes too, but that's what firewalls and virus scanners are for not to mention running Unix servers instead of Windows 2kX). Another one is tech support, of course their tech support is better than everyone elses, they don't have to provide support...for the entire world. I still remember when the College of Charleston had to buy IMacs for the computer labs because the Adminstrators demanded equality for the school network users (as if not having them would be form of discrimination or something). So, instead of using the money used by the iMacs to get top of the line PCs and simplifying the network administration and design, the school paid for 40 iMacs and about 100 or so PCs from Dell. The iMacs costed more, didn't integrate into the network, wouldn't file share across the network requiring their own server and wouldn't run any of the school's required programs for the classes. To top it off, an aquaintence of mine sold his notebook, his car, and several other items to buy a 17" G5 Apple notebook. His reasoning: I don't game anymore, it plays music, and looks really cool. Talking to him, other Mac users, and the Sales lady on the Apple ordering line all have the following 3 things they like about the Mac: It never crashes, the tech support is great, and ease of use. Unless of course the software on the computer crashes and won't let you turn off the machine, you happen to be calling after 6pm on a business day and get tech support in Australia, Ireland, or the Philipines, and you happen to be PC user trying to learn a new operating system and the structure of the OS and the commands make no logical sense or placement. The end result, almost nobody used the iMacs at CofC except to browse the Internet and use MS Word on the Mac when the PC's were full during finals.
3) Alienware: most touted features are as follows:
User Upgradable Graphics Card
Their tech support is NOT substandard, but nor is it perfect. In fact it is as good as everyone else's, no better or worse. Except you pay a premium for it (no asian or philopino for you on the other line)... But guess what, if something is broken, then you end up sending it in just like everyone unless you own a Dell and a service technician comes to your door instead.
Yay! User upgradable graphics is great, now Alienware users aren't stuck with the crappy Nvidia 5600 GO card anymore, now they can spend money to upgrade to the same card that is in my machine right now. Isn't it great? Remeber Craig, just because a lot of non-gamers bought the 8790 thinking that it was some sort of miracle machine are now spending about $600 or so to upgrade the screen. Almost the reverse situation for Alienware, where a lot of gamers bought the machine and realized that the video card sucked and then had spend money to upgrade to one that didn't. See the difference here is that for a gamer, my WXGA screen is great. The video card is just powerful enough to drive the latest games at a great frame rate at native resolution (but I'm not so sure about driving games at the WSXGA native resolution though) and as a result, I don't have to upgrade anything. Where-as the Alienware people had to buy the new card just to keep the machine in top playable condition. Ok, so we had (not true anymore as ATI card now standard) a massive "mandatory" upgrade back in March just to keep up with the competition.
Pretty casing. Oh, boy! I'm excited now. Just try and be taken seriously in a business meeting with a loud, obnoxious slime green color (by the way, I like that color, but very unprofessional looking) notebook. It'd be like showing up at a customer tech demo in a hawiian tee-shirt, shorts, black socks and sandals.
High Performance: no more than any other machine similarly speced from any other major company based on the Pentium 4C chipsets (2.8ghz and higher at 800mhz fsb).
So you are getting the same product, the same tech support and pretty colors for more money. Reminds me of my favorite line from Armagedon
"Russian technology, American technology...all made in Taiwan."
Actually to create a similar anacedot in a non-tech reference, Women's Clothing. As summer job between semesters, I work at Casual Corner, a high end women's clothing store. The women who shop their are either rich or those women who spend beyond their means for a brand name label. As a stock boy in the back handling the merchandise, I note the prices and so on. I've been noticing a trend lately that everything under a certain threshold is way over price. $20 for a single disposable pair of hose, $50 tee-shirts, $80 Mac Jerseys(?) think smooth fabric shirts (polyester blend fabric), and such just seem like a waste. I've seen similar products in Walmart and even Dillards for about 1/2 the cost. The big difference the tag. It says "Casual Corner" on it. That's it, nothing more. Now higher end in the business suits where the prices start at $100, then the pricing becomes competative with other major labels. $200 for a well made suit, heck yeah! I have to spend upwards of $400 for a men's suit (and of course you can't have just one pair of pants and shirt, no you have to have at least two).
Now before someone gets on my case about other comparisons don't work, well duh, not all comparisons work. Let's take tools. As a mechanic I am quite willing to pay a premium for Snap-On brand high torque tools versus the much cheaper Sears Craftsman. Craftsman is great, for the house. But when I'm torquing down a 500 ft/lb per sq. inch or higher nut, I don't want the tool shattering on me an causuing grevious bodily harm (Snap-On tools are less prone to shatter than Craftman).