May 25, 2009, 6:07 PM — One of the things about living inside the Apple cult, as the title of this blog would have it, is that I'm sometimes surprised about how others perceive the company. The common slams on Apple tend to be that it's all style and no substance, overpriced hardware, dumbed down, etc. These kind of assumptions are all the more puzzling coming from the tech press, who are theoretically supposed to know better. And a good window into their assumptions is to see what products they gauge to be Apple's rivals.
Take, for instance, a new set of computers released today from Lenovo. There's an ultra-thin notebook, a more standard-issue laptop, and an all-in-one machine. They are, I'm sure, all very nice computers that will do nicely for someone who likes Windows. They're reasonably priced, and they even look nice.
And that last factor, of course, means that Lenovo is targeting Apple! Never mind the fact that two of the products have absolutely no parallel in the Apple lineup: the ultra-thin laptop has half the processor speed at half the price as the MacBook Air, and the all-in-one uses an Intel Atom processor that makes it significantly less powerful than Apple's lowest-end stuff. But all that is necessary to become Apple's arch-rival is to make computers that aren't boring grey-beige boxes: says that Lenovo "looks to have its sights sets on the kind of customer who really wants Apple gear, but maybe isn't willing to completely abandon the traditional PC universe to get it," and that the new models are "clearly intended to tell consumers they can get Apple style without Apple prices."
If you want to buy a cheaper computer than what Apple makes, then more power to you. And if you want that computer to look nice, well, there's no crime in that. But can we please have competition between computer models be determined by specs, rather than looks?