Dear Apple, Why I’m a Fanboy
To begin with, I’d like to make it clear that I am not the type of person who thinks that everything Apple does is perfect and my true, innate desire is that Steve Jobs was my real father. OS X and the iPhone are full of proprietary hooks where Apple tries to force you to use its iLife or .Mac solutions instead of allowing you to pick your own preferred software. For instance, the iPhone has a feature that allows you to wirelessly upload pictures to a photo gallery – but only if you have .Mac. It’d be swell if you could choose to upload to Flickr or a WordPress account.
But I must say, in a world so full of companies like Walmart, Verizon and McDonalds, clearly evil players in the global consumerism game, it’s a wonderful change of pace to have a company that feels like the good guy rather than just another conduit for taking my money. Surely, I don’t believe that Apple is out there to simply help me and doesn’t have its eyes set on profits. Of course they do. The difference is that Apple has a nearly unique vision, at least among the very large companies, where they can see into the future past next Tuesday, where they can appreciate what the consumer wants vs. what will make them the most cash right off the bat, and a flare for design that people require together with the functionality.
Cases in point, you require? Excellent, for my fingers are in the typing mode and my mind full of coffee and a well balanced breakfast.
As of June 28th, 2007, the best mobile phone you could get in the US couldn’t handle the Internet. Sure, a few could show you text and one or two could show you scrunched up images, but none were even near to what I was see when I start up FireFox. The United States of America and the mobile providers within gave their phones away for free, and you got every penny you paid for. Sure, back in those days it didn’t matter if you dropped your phone or used it to start a fire in a pinch, you could just get another one. In reality, basic mobile phones couldn’t even do what landlines could (think caller ID and voicemail, both done better or cheaper on landlines than your average cell). And sure, while cell phones in Japan may have been doing people’s dishes and making regular trips to Mars since the early 17th century, the rest of the world – Europe included – wasn’t much better off. Certainly some phones in Europe a few years ago were better than even what’s available today, but only marginally and certainly not in the way that the iPhone has changed the game. And how, exactly, did Apple change the game? By having the foresight to see a changing mindset in the good people of the world, one where they were tired of carrying two or three devices to do specific tasks. They forced their hand by saying to providers, “Look, we can make a great product, either you carry it or someone else will.” From what I can see, only the iPhone’s visual voicemail feature would have really required a major upgrade to how a network worked. So if AT&T wouldn’t have agreed to allowing Apple to design, manufacture and market the machine, they could have done it on there own and made it available to anyone – perhaps even starting their own little wireless company like Virgin Mobile or Amp’d. In five or ten years, when the market is full of great phones that look good and do amazing things, it will be because Apple pioneered the idea, just as they pioneered (read: invented) the PC, a point that everyone, regardless of operating system, should remember.
The Customer is Often Right
One of the best things about my Mac is that I can edit home movies. Oh, and I can record myself playing guitar and singing, out of tune or otherwise. Oh yeah, then I can put those movies I made onto DVDs and edit the menus. Ooh, and I can edit my pictures, changing the hues, levels and even (gasp!) the almighty holy grail of photo editing: eliminate red eye! I can even build a real live website.
And I don’t even need $2500 worth of Adobe software.
Try and do those same things on Windows. Go ahead, I seriously dare you. I’ve been trying to for years, actually. Of course, you can’t edit video, create DVDs or color correct photos with Windows. You can build a website with Notepad, but when I say “you”, of course I’m not actually referring to “you”, but to one or two guys sitting in there mom’s basement with Mountain Dew dripping down through their beards. But boot up Sound Recorder, press record and strum into the microphone you had to purchase separately from your PC, repeat the process several times for each track you want, and then do it all again while playing the original files and hoping that your computer can “mix” them and you’re like the Golden Girls. (ie, Sure, you’re Golden, but you’re not exactly “Girls” now are you?)
Now I’m not trying to sound too “Mac Guy” here, but this biting sarcasm and droning wit has a point. What can you do with Windows, right out of the box, other than get on the Internet? Do you use your PC for anything other than getting on the Internet? Email, of course, counts. I know, many of you also play games on it or do your taxes, which is all good and well, but these things can’t be done with Windows alone, they require extra software. But with a Mac, if your internet connection is down you can still do everything listed above.
Of course, I have to admit that many an hour of my youthful indiscretions were exhausted in Microsoft Paint. 🙂
Form vs. Function
Macs are too expensive, PCs have more software, my grandma deserved to die. If you wouldn’t say all three of those, you shouldn’t say even one. Why? Because your grandmother deserved better than that, my friend. She didn’t watch her husband go off to war and save Europe from being over run with racial hatred and good beer just so that you could mock her in her eternal sleep, now did she? And likewise, you shouldn’t perpetuate myths, as she’s always said.
Many people think that PCs have more software, to which I reply this: Paris Hilton has more sunglasses than you, but would you rather have all of Paris’ fuzzy, pink, 10 foot wide glasses or the one pair you own which does the job perfectly well and doesn’t make you look like you’re completely clueless? If your the latter then you’ll be pleased to know that I have yet to come across a situation where I couldn’t do with my Mac what I needed to, and I’m a Web designer and self-proclaimed power user who requires all sorts of programs. Need Adobe CS3? Legally it was available the minute the PC version was, and there was a cracked version out a good 30 days before Windows hackers came out with their own keygen. Like to play the Sims? It’s available for Mac, along with a whole host of other games. Want to run Windows? You can do that on a Mac, too.
Of course, Macs are too expensive though. Just like a pack of Camels is too expensive – you can buy a pack of Highways for $1.49, and you’ll know it too as you suck down that sweet, beautiful tobacco that was swept up off the floor and rolled in an old newspaper. Macs are not more expensive than comparable PCs. And by “comparable”, I mean one that comes with all of the features: built in webcam, a track pad that actually works (does that even exist?), not to mention the obvious differences to anyone who can see both machines on a daily basis. Take my MacBook for example, vs. the HP laptop running XP that I had just prior to getting the Mac.
- I can open my MacBook and in fewer than 5 seconds it’s up and running again (though it does take another 5 – 10 seconds for the WiFi to kick in, I’ll admit). When the PC goes to sleep or is opened it plays the Windows “sound”, the screen flickers a few times, and 20 or 30 seconds later it’s up and running.
- I can take my MacBook to the coffee shop with nothing but my MacBook. Plus, you’ll need a mouse and a dongle if the mouse is wireless. And if you want a microphone or webcam, you’ll need to bring those as well. Even if the battery life was equivalent, which it isn’t, you’re carrying half again the gear. Not to mention that the PC is twice as thick as the MacBook. (Sidenote, my wife’s current and last PC also require a large cooling fan to accompany it, since they’re either too powerful for their cases or maybe the fans are just showing their support for the Writer’s Strike.)
- Booting up, from the time I press the power button to the time the system is up and running (ie, not still opening background programs), my Mac takes about 35 seconds. That’s opening Google Notifier, Quicksilver and an iTunes helper in the Menu Bar (somewhat equivalent to the Task Bar in the bottom right hand corner of Windows.) The PC takes a full minute easily, and that’s with nothing but Gmail Notifier running.
I could go on but for some reason, these obvious improvements seem to fall on deaf ears. Perhaps many Windows users feel like Mac users are looking down on them or feel superior to them in some way. I know that personally, I only sing the praises of my Mac in the hopes that the people I’m speaking to might be willing to listen as I truly think that it’s a better experience. I mean, if I found a bar better than the ones my friends usually hang out at, I’d tell them too. I want everyone to hang out at the best bar, so that we can all have the best time possible.
And the point of this article was not to pit Microsoft vs. Apple, even if it was, perhaps, to pit Apple vs. other big business in general. Put it this way: when Apple reduced the price of the iPhone by $200 a month after I bought mine, they gave me $100 back. They didn’t have to do this, I didn’t feel cheated because I paid X amount of dollars for something and it was later priced at X-200. I was willing to pay $600 for the thing and so I did, no one tricked me into it, and since when is lowering the price of a product a bad thing? When’s the last time McDonald’s refunded you 50 cents after they lowered the price of a cheeseburger from $1.99 to $.99? When’s the last time Verizon refunded you anything?
But why all the proprietary-ishness?
It’s not an excuse, per se, but I will say this: Apple’s computers are based largely around the hardware/software model where they make it all and therefore can control how well it all works together. In many other aspects of life this is seen as perfectly acceptable: no one gets upset that the guys who write newspapers also run the printing presses the papers are printed on, or get fired up when you go to a restaurant and the only choice of silverware is that supplied by the restaurant itself. I can fully understand that the Microsoft / PC maker approach allows much cheaper PCs to be produced and so more people can afford to have a computer. But this leads to one of my primary points: many PC makers are just looking to make the quickest buck, get a product out the door so that they can start raking in the cash for it. It doesn’t mean that they’re of equal quality. Go to a fine steakhouse and munch into their sirloin, then get a TV dinner called “Finest Sirloin.” Notice any difference?
Of course, if you’ve been eating that TV dinner every night for the past 20 years, it can be easy to forget the difference between it and the real thing.
Up Next: RescueTime