In last week’s Geek Love column (An Elegant Device Offers Reprieve from Our Paper-Happy Culture) I cracked a funny about the semiotic qualities of the Mac and PC platforms, as represented by the two models of Fujitsu’s excellent ScanSnap desktop scanner.
The idea that PCs are “black” and Macs are “white” is a well-established concept based on the industry’s most popular models of each platform’s hardware. But is the division that simple?
Pretty much every PC maker works almost exclusively in black. This is particularly true of Dell, a company that even offers black printers. Apple, of course, offers the iconic white iBooks and iMacs. Whether these tonal qualities have anything to do with the constant references to Microsoft’s status as the “Empire” is pure conjecture (and don’t even consider Bill Gates as Steve Jobs’ father).
What I find interesting, however, is the premium value that users of each platform place on the colour of the others’ hardware. Mac users, for example, have demonstrated themselves to be more than willing to cough up extra cash just to get a black iBook. And the white case of Toshiba’s elegant new Vista Tablet PC, the Portégé R400, demands a premium price tag, despite its being arguably underpowered.
Is this colour-envy? Or are we witnessing a breakdown in the natural order of computer hardware? And what’s next? The Mac OS on a PC computer?
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.