Don't buy a Mac because you think it has great hardware. If that is your reason for buying a Mac, go buy a PC and turn it into a Hackintosh, it's much cheaper.
I bought a Macbook Air because I liked the hardware. The OS was secondary. By now I've gotten used to OSX, it does the job. I'm not sure it makes me more efficient or anything. As a software person, I do find the unix base quite useful.
With the Air and now this new Macbook Pro, Apple is hitting target markets that no one else has. My requirements were simple:
- Must be extremely light (~2lbs or 1kg).
- Must be thin enough (for me that is less than 1")
- Must be powerful enough (i3 or i5 minimum, Intel Atom does not cut it)
- Must be capable of SSD storage
- Must be 11" screen size, no bigger, no smaller.
- Must have a method of port expansion (usb2 hubs are not good enough).
Given that, I did not buy the first or second iteration of Macbook Airs. I waited until last year's iteration which came with Thunderbolt and i5 CPUs. Prior to that, I can tried a few different PC alternatives. The first 10" Asus netbook, and later Acer 11" notebook with a slightly faster AMD processor. They were both extremely lacking though they were close in the form-factor department. The first computer to pretty much meet my requirements was the Macbook Air 11" with Thunderbolt.
My use case is fairly simple. I needed a computer that is portable yet powerful enough to take with me. This makes it possible for me to bring my work with me and rid myself of all the extra computers that are totally unnecessary in my opinion. I shouldn't need a powerful desktop just to do software development. I don't play games anymore so I don't care about graphical performance. I do care about video acceleration so many netbooks fell flat in this area. The SSD is necessary for fast application startup and file access. You simply do not go back after using an SSD. Finally the 11" screen is both the minimum and maximum size I'm willing to deal with when traveling. It is both small enough to fit in a small backpack yet large enough to do work.
The only things I desire for my Air right now are:
- HiDPI screen
- Thunderbolt dock
If they could also manage to make the charger a little thinner, that would be a bonus.
Other than that, when it comes to PCs there's always something amiss. Either they fumble with the key layout, the trackpad sucks in some way, or they have some kind of build-quality defect. My Air wasn't exactly perfect, but it did manage to get the key points correct. The keyboard is actually spot on (although OSX key bindings take some learning) and the trackpad is good. One thing that does suck about Macs is there's a limited selection of input devices or you need third party software to make it work right. My logitech G5 mouse is evidence of this where I had to use usb overdrive to make it work better.
But it wasn't until Apple made the Airs until everyone else started to copy. I don't care about copies, I do care that other PC manufacturers couldn't figure this out fast enough. When netbooks came out they were happy to just keep making more colors and shinier netbooks. They never thought to put a serious effort into making something thin yet sturdy. They didn't bother to make the hardware fast enough. Most of them pretty much just competed on price. Now Apple's proven people wanted something like the Air, and only now will the other manufacturers follow. That's ridiculous.
The Macbook Air is actually my second Mac. The first was the first generation of Intel Mac Minis. It was a good computer but I didn't see much of the point. It was still a time when things were underpowered and having a small desktop computer didn't have much general purpose. Your comment probably would have been applicable then. But these days the portability requirements are taking over. People are moving back to the city, they're on the go, they want a computer that can match that lifestyle. For that the Air is perfect.