I resisted, I did. Stridently, energetically, loudly…probably knowing in my deep subconscious that once I succumbed I’d be an addict that can’t, like Alice, stop falling down the rabbit hole. Even now I couldn’t name this article after the source of the problem, the biblical fruit of temptation disguising themselves as a silicon valley staple.
For a long time they have built high functioning software and hardware. This has never been questioned or argued. The issue for me has been, and still is, that the kit is coupled very tightly with proprietary elements: file types (MP3); stores (iTunes); corporations (AT&T); etc. This has always been the stumbling block for me as I love open source and the freedom to mix and match at will getting the best of everything and upgrading at will. This you do not get with Apple (yes, there, I said it). But this last 12 months I have felt more and more that perhaps I was missing out on the Apple experience, that creative collective they have become that works, as Steve Jobs says, at the ‘intersection of technology and liberal arts’.
Do I have a need to be on the inside, on the edge, have the best, see the other side, not be left behind? Yes, possibly a little of all of those things plus, no doubt, other thoughts that have not struck me yet. I look at Apple now and wonder if they have changed the game so much so that, even with my head in the sand, I can not ignore the need to look and see. (I am not sure how you look and see with your head in the sand but you get the gist.)
Before I admit anything I need to add that the other stumbling block for me was always price which has usually been far above that of more standard equipment that will do much the same job. Apple has always tended to be more media friendly, arguably more intuitive and high performing but the margins of benefit to cost did not always merit the switch. This too can now be questioned as the Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch and now the iPad each host capabilities that used to be spread across disparate devices. So there is an obvious cost benefit of buying one device that serves a lot of purposes and does them all well. However, it must be noted that this is also a risk too, if the device goes wrong you obviously lose access to all functions as it is fixed/replaced. This such a skin deep exploration of todays investment return though. As the greatest benefit is perhaps the aspect of having one device that works the same way to do everything whilst also being so portable and tactile is possibly the greatest leap forward. It enables what used to be awkward activities (downloading, formatting, playing music/movies, configuring software, etc) to be simplified so as a novice you don’t have to spend a lot of time learning what to do.
You can purchase a device that meets most needs with more coming. An object that will let you play music or movies, read books, surf the net, do your email, navigate via GPS plus other, yet to be explored, functions. This whilst also being an astonishingly striking piece of hardware. What’s not to like and that’s the problem…to continue to resist seems to be doing so for the sake of stubbornness. So I should be open minded at the very least.
And now for my admission (part 1), the change in my mindset was at least partly prompted by my wife. Six or eight months ago she wanted a laptop and decided to get a Macbook. She loves it and I mean loves it. She has her trials with it and as a woman who has worked a PC for years and has run training courses her statement that it is not as intuitive as you’d be led to believe is worth a listening to. BUT, that is a very minor qualm in what has otherwise been a huge love affair with a piece of tech hardware. And for my wife to love a piece of hardware like she does is a revelation.
I experienced this transformation second hand having watched and then occasionally experienced by loading a piece of software, music, picture or video. I found it to be a lovely blend of form and function with the most striking feature being the instant-on experience. For whatever karmic reason, I had an Apple placed in my life to challenge my mindset.
And no doubt about it, I was smitten but I had no need, finance or justification to move to Apple plus I still had my conscience to wrangle with.
But….having a Macbook in the house made me want to some Apple pie for myself and so to admission part 2: I bought an iPod touch. A refurbished version as I wanted to get a little more for my money and test build quality. If the experiment turned south then no big loss. The other side of the scale, I get a device that I can play music/movies (plane bliss), be an e-reader (books in my pocket), games (Do I really have time to waste! No, but have I always managed to waste time…do I need to answer that question.) and much more.
I think you can see where this is going, after taking a little effort to get iTunes up and running, updating the iPod software, figuring out synching, transforming all my music to MP3, exploring the app store I was up and running. The Touch is amazing for what it is. Six years or so ago my MP3 player had a 64k card in it and had an inch square black and white screen. Today I have a 16GB equivalent with a colour screen that plays TV and movies if I wish. It’s a surreal leap in technology. The really interesting thing to me is that it’s some of the less obvious aspects that make the most impact: the instant-on (obviously), the one button to rule them all, the finger swipe, the auto-rotation, the wireless net capability and – being a book lover – the e-reader functionality. You can always have a book, or several, in your pocket.
The experiment goes on but I can’t really see how I can stem the tide, even if the tide is now made of snApple.
Apple has changed, and is likely to continue to change and challenge, the market and its norms. If I step over the Apple threshold I am hoping it also helps me turn my own personal world into a newer brighter place too. I just have to see if I can control the pace at which I slide down the rabbit hole.
I’m TIOT and I’m a PC with Apple tendencies.