The lure of Apple's Macintosh

By Barbara Gengler

Apple has built all the essentials right into its Mac computer, making it both easy to use and powerful, whether you are managing music in iTunes or pictures in iPhoto.

The Mac is built on a solid UNIX foundation and the devices are planned from the start with security. For example, the Mac web browser, Safari, warns you each time you download an application and Apple regularly offers free security updates for the product.

The devices come equipped with essentials like wireless technology, automatic protection from PC viruses, and advanced Intel chips.

The Mac operating system, currently Mac OS X, is compatible in almost every environment, including Windows. It works with almost all digital camera, printers and other peripherals without downloading separate drivers.

The Mac operating system is well-known for its simplicity and reliability, compared to its Windows rivals. With a Mac, both the hardware and bundled software, including the operating system, are put together by Apple compared to buying a PC where you are purchasing hardware from one company and software from other companies.

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Some of the latest features in Mac OS X include Expose, which is now built-in to the Dock, and has a whole new look that lets you to determine all the files inside the folders in a stack.

Another feature is the Finder, which has been completely rewritten in Cocoa to take advantage of the technologies in Mac OS X, and which includes 64-bit support and customizable Spotlight search options. (Cocoa is Apple's name for the compilation of APIs, frameworks and runtimes that make up the development layer of Mac OS X).

What's more, every Mac comes with service and support, such as services like ProCare, which offers priority support at the Apple Retail Store. You can get customized one-to-one training on your Mac at the Apple Retail Store and Apple offers hundreds of tutorials on its website. You can also opt for the AppleCare Protection Plan for support and PC Magazine and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) rank the Mac Number One in customer satisfaction.

Validating momentum, in late January Apple posted better-than-forecast Mac sales, which climbed 33 percent from a year ago to 3.36 million units compared to analysts' average estimates of roughly 3 million.

Research firm IDC pointed out the Mac growth rate (33 percent) was twice the PC market's (17 percent) and Apple said "this was the company's best quarter ever and Apple set new records in Macs."

Mac desktops sales were up 70 percent year-over-year to 1.2 million while
Apple's stock has more than doubled over the past 12 months, hitting an all-time high of $215.59 on January 5, 2010.

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