Why Apple isn’t cool for engineers? Or you are here to work…

Apple isn’t cool.. Got your attention? Okay… Today is two years, since I switched my everyday life to MacBook. It is enough time to make some conclusion. I was almost ready to write my next blog post as some kind of "My last two years with MacBook Pro", but I stumbled on the following article – Keep it in your pants – Pet Peeve#1 in CAD Insider, written by Roopinder Tara. Spend few minutes to read that blog. The following passage is my lovely one:

I don’t have any Apple computers. Nor am I yearning for one. My daughter is. She is way cooler than me. But when I look around, I don’t see any engineer using them. Not for production work. Just writing this will ensure that I will be pelted by Mac enthusiasts, but like mysterious forces others insist upon, I still deny their existence without visual proof.

So, despite the fact I can be classified as "a blogger going on rants", I decided to put few stories related to what, in my view, is going around PC/Windows, Apple and engineers working in manufacturing companies.

You are here to work, not to play.

Does anybody remember this phrase? Actually, I do… very well. It was a very common answer on the complains about software that (to say politely) "less usable" than expected. Business software was built for business and not for a game. So, everybody supposed to RTFM and work with the software purchased by a company. I think it was very acceptable 10 years ago. However, voices of people that started to ask about usable software becomes more and more louder. Companies like SolidWorks proved that user experience does matter. Finally, I can see more and more engineers looking how to use cool software.

This is such a useless device…

This statement belongs to the engineering manager of one of the very respectful manufacturing company in US. And the device is "iPad 1". The conversation actually happened a year ago, and it was about few months after iPad was released to the market. When we are still waiting for evidence of a massive migration of manufacturing companies to iPad, I think this event is not as far somebody can image. I found the following example interesting (even if it comes from non-manufacturing domain). The article from NYT says the story about the legal firm migrating a few hundreds attorneys to iPad.

This week, Proskauer Rose, one of the nation’s largest law firms, began making iPad 2s available to all its lawyers. So far, 500 of the firm’s 700 lawyers have requested an iPad and a desktop computer over a laptop.

Btw, Few weeks ago, I got an email from the same engineering manager saying – "I’m starting to believe that you may be on to something with iPads…". Since the last time, we talked the same manufacturing company he is working for, switched completely from Blackberries to iPhones.

Visual Proof

Now let me talk about "visual proof". When I switched my life to MacBook pro, two years ago, very few of my closest friends and colleagues were running on Apple. However, going back in 2007 and 2008, I noticed a growing number of Apple computers around me on conferences and in public places. Back that time, my corporate laptop was IBM/Thinkpad. Two years later, I can see many people around me switched their lives to Apple computers. Enterprises and manufacturing companies are moving much slower, but it is just a matter of time.

What is my conclusion? Let me think about a computer as a device with its own lifecycle. It was a time computer was big, bulky and took a whole room in your company. These big computers proved their existence by solving particular unsolved problems. Microsoft made computers smaller and affordable. Thinking about post-PC era, I can see people considering computers a device that helps them to get an everyday job done. And it should take fewer hassle, problems, calling specialists or IT. So, criteria changes and it will definitely change the landscape of computer devices we are using. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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5 Responses to Why Apple isn’t cool for engineers? Or you are here to work…

  1. [Disclaimer: I use both PC and Mac]

    One of the biggest reasons why Apple isn’t cool for engineers is that developer fee you have to pay them to even develop. It’s a very tight ecosystem…which is great for the everyday user, not so much anyone else.

    The trade off is you pay them more money to not worry about anything technical and easy dumbed down interfaces. A good example is all this recent jazz about the new Final Cut X. used to be an industry standard for film producers, but Apple went too far in dumbing it down.

  2. Hi Oleg,

    Interesting post! I can definitely relate to this one – I have been consulting for the last several years for some of the marquee companies in the world. I have seen the quite revolution of large desktops being phased out by more powerful laptops but have hardly seen a Mac been used anywhere in the corporate world – And I am not talking of just engineering departments. And what powerful have laptops become today! I own a Dell M6500 with 16 GB RAM and 8 cores – powerful enough to run two virtual machines. As Mark has pointed out above that a closed ecosystem might be the reason – But I think the mentality of getting the work done (at a lower TCO) versus usability is much more prevalent.

    Best,
    Jyotirmoy

  3. Hi Oleg,
    But for Siemens there was a reason to support their software (mainly NX) on a apple machine.

    As an engineer I haven’t seen a designer running NX on the mac, but people would love to run it at home, so designing things at home and be able to say “I run NX on a Mac ;-)

  4. Maarten, Thanks for your comments! I can see that. Today people less and less differentiate between work and home environment. Best, Oleg

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