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Is your Mac Jealous?

There are six or seven computers in our house. Two of them (a Dell desktop for serious work and a lightweight Sharp laptop for traveling) are mine. The rest - all of them Macs -- belongs to my husband. I'd long wondered why he hangs on to the computers that no longer work properly - until I read about "the jealous Mac" phenomenon in the February 14 issue of Aera magazine.

According to author Akiko Nakatsugawa, Apple Computer's Tokyo office hears from lots of customers who insist their old computer acts up when they buy (or just think about buying) a new machine. The computers get jealous, like when a two-year-old throws a tantrum when his mom brings a new baby sister home. The Mac owners don't mind it, though. An Apple flack tells Aera: "They don't complain. They sound happy that they are so intimate with their Macs..."

This was my A ha! moment. Mac users are intimate with their computers! A reluctant Windows user (by choice of my employers, not mine), I had no idea. Our Dells, HPs, Toshibas or even Sonys are all too generic and faceless to be friends with. We buy a new computer when the old one no longer delivers. And as soon as all the data are transferred to the new Dell, the old one can go. No tears. No emotional good-byes.

Clearly, it's a different story for Mac fans, who have trouble parting with their machines. Aera reports that Macs don't get cheap fast in the used market because they resist recycling their old computers. This explains why there are four or five Macs in our house. Mac fans always buy Macs, while we Windows users buy a Dell because it's cheap this week, or a Sharp because it's small enough to fit in a bag. Besides, every time Steve Jobs comes up with his latest toy, they can never resist it, no matter whether they need it.

But wait. Isn't it a bit suspect? When they start salivating over a new Power Mac, their current machine, which had been perfectly fine until yesterday, mysteriously begins freezing every five minutes. Or so they claim. Maybe the Mac jealousy is an excuse for Mac owners to justify another purchase. They really, really like shopping. Last summer when my husband called from Bangkok, where his one-year-old i-Book had been stolen from his hotel room, I detected a little excitement in his voice. "You can buy a new computer," I said. "I guess I have to," is what he said, a little too brightly for some one who had been robbed.

I wonder if the Mac jealousy phenomenon is a Japan-only thing. A Google search in English didn't net me anything. My Mac addict husband, who's American, just rolled his eyes when I asked if he's heard about it. But after a pause, he started to say: "Actually, now that you mention it...." From the expression on his face, I could tell he was recalling past incidents of his Macs giving him a hard time. Now he knows: they were jealous. He looked very happy. endit
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