Most people might take me for an Apple cult member. Fair enough: pretty much everything I own with a CPU on the inside has a fruity logo on the outside. But let me propose an alternate theory. Rather than using Apple products because they were born in Cupertino, I use them because they are the best.
They’re not “best for graphics”, or “best for apps”, or even “best for being cool”.
They’re just the best.
I’ve been using technology for something like 25 years. I’ve used pretty much everything. From a Vic 20, to my first computer (the TRS-80), to the Amiga, the Apple ][, the first DOS-based computers, the Mac, every Windows flavour that came down the pipe, uncountable numbers of Linux and UNIX distributions, pocket calculators, game consoles, electronic typewriters, VCRs, answering machines, microwave ovens, car stereos, set-top boxes, mobile phones from the Blackberry, Hiptop, and Nokia on up to Android, Windows Phone and iPhone.
If the thing had a goddamn CPU in it, I played with it. I sized it up. I judged the hell out of it.
When I was younger, I took my joy in the playing. I’d build my own PCs and install multiple partitions on the hard drive, running Windows and Linux. I built a “media centre” PC to plug into my TV and stream video. I broke stuff down, scavenged parts, built new things with them, like high-price Lego. My basement office was crammed full of spare parts.
The point is, I’ve tried all of the things.
Now I’m old. I have a child to look after, and serious work to do. So I can make serious money and pay for serious things, like my wife’s mammoth book collection and clothes (and clothes. And clothes!).
I don’t have time to deal with that crap anymore. Because that’s what all that stuff was: crap. Time spent wrangling with drivers, making a hard drive fit a chassis, finagling with ill-conceived software: there’s not time for that anymore; I have things to do.
This realization has been my life practice for a few years now. If you look around my office today, you’ll find that I have just one laptop. All the PC spare parts have been sold off or sent for recycling. All the network gear has been taken away too: there’s an Apple Airport Extreme base station, humming away reliably now for about three years.
So when I say I choose Apple, it’s not out of blind loyalty. It’s a conscious process that resulted from using all the other stuff. I know Windows inside and out — I’m in charge of tech support for a circle of family and friends. I know Android very well; there’s a Nexus One phone in a drawer over there, on top of the Blackberry. The Windows Phone and HP TouchPad were only temporary residents, but not before I gave them solid shakedowns.
The result of my time with these other devices is always the same these days: nice try, but not good enough. It always comes down to the quality of the experience. Did the creators of this thing really give a shit, or were they trying to get something on the market to make a buck?
If it doesn’t have an Apple logo on it, it’s the latter.
When I go out in the world, and see people thumbing away with their Blackberrys, or navigating with a stylus over their ginormous Android phone screens, or unlimbering their soul-less, corporate-issue Dell laptops, I shake my head. Yes, because I’m a snob.
But also because I know that there’s so little difference in cost between getting the right thing — yes, the thing with the Apple logo on it — and getting stuck with the wrong thing. And the price of having the wrong tech can be so very high: in time wasted, and perhaps most importantly, in not taking sufficient advantage of the technology.
I don’t know a damn thing about cars. So I read the reviews and listen to people I trust. Likewise, I don’t know about music, so I find someone who has similar taste to me and see what else they listen to. But in technology, ignorant people feel comfortable making their own choices. That’s a damn shame.
To those people, let’s make it really simple: buy the Apple thing.
Photo by Alexandre Gelebart/REA/Redux, published on Bloomberg.com.