Mac Attack: Alternatives to Apples products and services
For those Mac addicts who wouldn’t be caught dead using anything other than the precious fruit of Steve Jobs’ life work, Scene & Heard offers some alternatives to Apple products and services that may cause you to rethink your favorite brand.
While the iPhone may have been the dominant smartphone in years past, stiff competition from Google’s Android platform is beginning to push Apple’s popular cell phone aside. A new study from Internet marketing research company comScore shows that Apple’s mobile operating system iOS is securely in the No. 3 spot, nearly eight percent behind the No. 1 Android among U.S. mobile phone users.
More people are using Android for good reason. Google’s mobile operating system allows for much more user customization than iOS, which offers a simple, yet highly static user interface. And while Apple’s App Store currently boasts more mobile apps than the Android Market, most industry analysts predict that the Android Market will surpass Apple in the apps category as well in the next few months.
Devices such as Sprint’s HTC EVO Shift 4G, AT&T’s Motorola Atrix 4G, T-Mobile’s Samsung Galaxy S 4G and Verizon’s Droid X offer powerful hardware backed by the speed and customization of the Android operating system.
Apple has consistently marketed itself as the “hipper” alternative to any personal computers featuring Microsoft’s popular Windows operating system. But despite some marked differences in the area of computer security, Apple- and Windows-based machines are strikingly similar, except in the area of price.
Take the CNET.com Editor’s Choice Toshiba Portege R835-P56X, which features the new Intel Core i5 processor, 4 gigabytes of memory and 640 gigabytes of hard drive space. Apple’s lowest MacBook Pro model features the same processor, the same memory capacity and the same size display. The only difference is that the MacBook Pro is more than a pound heavier, has less battery life and half the hard drive space of the Toshiba, all at a $300 higher retail price.
Digital Media Players
Apple’s iPod was the first and in many ways is still the best option for a fully-functional mobile media player. But for non-Apple aficionados who want an alternative to the more basic iPod models, Microsoft’s Zune HD offers versatility in a sleek package. With simple subscription music integration and features not found on the iPod, such as a built-in HD Radio tuner, the Zune HD is a popular choice among Microsoft users.
Digital Media Stores
While Apple’s iTunes Store has become the most popular music vendor in the U.S., there are better alternatives to the market leader. Amazon MP3, web retail giant Amazon.com‘s online music store, became the first MP3 store to sell music without digital rights management (DRM), or restrictions on the number of devices on which you can put the music you download. While iTunes has since responded with its iTunes Plus service, Apple’s service consistently remains much more expensive than Amazon’s. For instance, the non-DRM protected version of Lady Gaga’s new song “Judas” is available on iTunes Plus for $1.29, but is only 99 cents on Amazon MP3. Every month, Amazon MP3 offers a new list of 100 albums for only $5 each.
And while Apple makes it nearly impossible for users who download music on iTunes to transfer it to anything other than the popular iPod, Amazon MP3’s more open model ensures that the music can be easily transferred to any device, regardless of brand.
Despite heavy competition from major tech companies across the world, Apple’s iPad still remains the best option for consumers looking for an impressive tablet PC. The new iPad 2 features a 9.7 inch LED-backlit display that offers a crisp and colorful viewing experience for any of the nearly 84,000 iPad apps. The new model also features, for the first time, both rear and front-facing cameras for making FaceTime video calls, taking high quality photos or recording HD video.
In the coming months and years, Apple’s competitors will begin to offer more formidable alternatives, but the current options are still not up to par. The Android-based Motorola Xoom offers the stiffest competition to Apple’s crown jewel, with impressive hardware and Google’s trademark customization options. But a high price and heavier size ultimately keep the Xoom one step behind the iPad.