VidBITS: Why Do We Still Support Apple?
As Valentine’s Day approached last week, our thoughts turned to thoughts of love. Have you ever ended up in a love-hate relationship? Or rather, “I love what you’ve done for me over the years, but a lot what you’re doing now irritates the stuffing out of me”? That’s how many of us feel about Apple these days, because, let’s face it, we have a long history of using, supporting, and evangelizing Apple products, from early Macs to the latest iPads. But despite the way Apple’s marketing always talks directly to us, it’s pretty clear that Apple doesn’t really care what any given customer thinks.
In this week’s staff roundtable we discuss just why it is that Apple engendered such loyalty back in the day, and why that support continues despite Apple — and the entire technology industry — changing in fundamental ways. The two key insights:
- Apple’s ascendance is a bit like having your political party win in a landslide election. You’ve always supported and evangelized them because you like what they stand for, and after they win, you’re ecstatic for a while. But then you realize that in large part, it will be politics as usual, and all those changes you hoped for when your party wasn’t in power still aren’t going to happen. Despite your disappointment, you can’t go back on your voting recommendations to family and friends, because that would be admitting you were wrong all along, and, more practically, it’s still better than the alternative.
- One of Kurt Vonnegut’s most enduring concepts is that of the “granfalloon,” which he defines as “a proud and meaningless association of human beings.” Whether or not there’s any actual meaning in the association of those who identify as Apple aficionados, we humans do have a drive to belong. In Apple’s early days, that drive was bolstered by a desire to find others who were in the minority of being Mac users; nowadays, the drive to belong is probably driven more by wanting to be part of the winning team.
Anyway, I don’t think anything was decided in our discussion (or even if there was anything that could have been decided), but if you’ve been pondering your own association with the ecosystem that has grown up around Apple, watch or listen to the roundtable and perhaps it will help you solidify your thoughts.
I support Apple because:
- The only other real act is Windows. Apple is having trouble figuring out its future since Steve Jobs died. But Microsoft appears even more lost.
- Apple still retains a tight control over it's whole hardware and software system. Microsoft doesn't. I hope Apple remains a closed system.
- When I have trouble, I can call Apple support and for a modest fee and some patience on my part, I can get some useful support.
- My system choices are constrained. For me that is good because there are many members of the Apple "granfalloon" who I know and can help me make good choices within the Apple system.
- Technology is changing so rapidly that another organization might field a product that becomes a better fit to my needs. If that happens, then I'll switch. But I am conservative and not likely to be a first adopter.
I found the discussion very enjoyable and interesting to listen to.
1. When Apple was beleaguered Windows was still too painful (for me) to use and Linux wasn't at all pleasant. So I stayed with Apple. [Note that I started with Apple stuff in October 1977.]
Windows remained too painful (for me) to use through the Windows 9X days, and beyond those days up to Windows XP Service Pack 2 (when Microsoft got serious about security--not perfect but serious about it). (Windows XP marked the move of the "NT" ("new technology") underpinnings of Windows into the consumer (and much of the business) space, but XP inherited the prior lack of security concern.
Should Apple stumble again, I would be gone (I'm already using Windows Phone (Lumia 900) with my iPhone 4 serving as an iPod mostly playing podcasts while I'm driving.
For that matter, had it not been clear that something significantly different from and better than System 7 and below, OS 8, and OS 9, I would have been gone despite my then-dislike for Windows.
2. It's too early to say things like the state of IOS 6 shows that Tim Cook isn't the right leader. The basic decisions that led to IOS 6 and to the Maps in IOS 6, and the IOS-ification of Max OS X were all set in motion while Mr Jobs was still actively involved. And, Tim Cook did react properly, I think, to the state of IOS 6 when released—Scott Forstall is gone (he probably needed handholding from Mr Jobs).
3. It will be hard for me to move exclusively to Windows should the need arise, as my day job involved "driving" a fleet of Linux machines, and Terminal is way better for doing that than the tools I've found for the job in either Windows or Linux. But I could well become a mostly Windows person—unlike most of the pundits I really like Windows 8, and use a Linux machine to do the day job.
The company I work for (part time now) is mostly Macintosh on the desktop and Unix then Linux on the back end and has been from its beginning.
4. I am not as upset with Apple as Adam and much of the TidBITS staff are, but I didn't have a nice smooth workflow killed by a seemingly gratuitous change in Pages. But I'm certainly not pleased with Apple.
This was an interesting conversation and it is in my opinion at the right time. I also wonder what is going on with apple. Every half year new version of products coming out without really essential new benefits like little bit larger etc. leaving you breathless. You feel angry and guilty because you just bought the previous version and don't want to spend such amount of money in the next version. Why are these rushes without real innovations and sometimes decreasing quality.
I am long time with apple/jobs from a Apple II clone through Newton, Nextstep, OX 10.4 until Lion today in a mac hostile world although I had to use Windows all along my work time. I am certainly sort of gadget nerd but most things I always appreciated where the design (in which TV-spot have you ever seen a PC?), innovation, quality, the intuitive use but being able to go to advanced details if you want; even if I have to pay a surcharge.
Steve Jobs crossed the boarder with his continuous innovations (sometimes failures), he had a life long motto, there is not the PC-computer industry, the computer became an integral part of our life.
An innovator is not an inventor - the innovator puts existing things together and satisfiers the expected and unexpected needs of his users, and this is mainly the end consumer!
But competitors already recognized that. I am wishing a a new innovation jesus for apple and that they will use wisely the time they are ahead to their competitors, no need to rush but innovate.
Everybody knows what can happen within 5-10 years. Can you still imagine how life was without mobile phones? How happy/angry you were to transfer some small files via with a 9600 baud modem?
Somebody in the call mentioned apple/Steve tried unthinkable things, he created new markets, took risks beyond a quarterly thinking, the hardware and software are just means to an end. Where is the innovator, who can ensure that apple is not becoming just another (expensive) common platform.
My reasons for sticking with Apple are simple. I dabble with Microsoft products, Android, Linux (have an MSI Wind sitting here next to me, currently booting into the latest Ubuntu, but with Windows, OSX and Mandriva Linux installed). The truth is, the more I play with the other products, and try to use them, the more convinced I am that Apple products, and the software written to run on those are still for me. I love tinkering with things, but when I need to actually get work done, I always, but always come back to my Apple products. The tradeoffs I have to make to use them (lack of multitasking on my iPhone for instance) do not compare to the massive tradeoffs, compromises, frustrations and outright lack of capability I have to deal with using any other platform. So, for me, Apple it is. No fanboi-ing here though. :-)
That's nicely said! Something that didn't get said, perhaps, is that there's a difference between loving the hardware that Apple produces, and being happy about everything the company does.