Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Grow up, guys

It's an iPhone - get over it
As long as Apple Computer has existed it has roused strong emotions. It has been a marmite company. You love it or you hate it. We shouldn't feel too sorry for Apple. They started it. Once they had the Mac, they undertook aggressive comparative marketing, putting the savvy, smart Mac against the creaking, boring PC. And they had a point. But back then I wouldn't have touched a Mac with a bargepole. They wouldn't work with anyone else's network, they had poor file interchangeability and they were closed systems that you couldn't add hardware to, nor could you do much with the software.

So it's not surprising that back then there were strong pro and anti feelings. But I think it's time we got over it. Macs are good computers - so are PCs. Android phones are excellent - iPhones are brilliant. As yet the iPad is the only decent tablet, but it won't be for long.

It really quite saddens me when I see the silly, unthinking, knee-jerk reactions from the pro- and anti- camps springing to life. When a while ago I contemplated switching my desktop to Mac, I got plenty of emails and messages from Mac lovers telling me that it would transform my life. It really wouldn't. As it happens I decided it would transform my bank balance too much, and didn't go ahead, but the emotion in their response was worrying.

Similarly, a friend recently announced on Facebook that he'd got an Android mobile phone that was much cheaper than an iPhone. He immediately got a string of really quite nasty comments from his anti-iPhone friends. Comments included:
  • Nice phone - and Samsung are miles better than an Apple! - Well, I've compared them and no, they're not.
  • iPhones, smart phones for the dumb - That's a really reasoned argument. Not at all ad hominem.
  • With Android you can set it up exactly how you want, with iPhones you can set them up exactly how apple allow you to. - I'll come back to this.
  • You resisted being assimilated then ! - Oh, please.
  I thought that penultimate one was interesting. It was certainly always the argument against Macs that swayed it for me when I was at BA. But in a phone it misses the point. Leaving aside that there's plenty you can do to change the setup of an iPhone, I don't want to have 'set it up exactly how I want', I want to be able to take it and use it. Someone else accused the iPhone as being style over substance - but concentrating on how you can set it up, as opposed to how good it is at its job, is exactly style over substance. The fact is the iPhone does the job brilliantly without having to faff about making it work.

But for that matter, in my experience, good Android phones work well too. (The difference with Android is that you get crap phones and great phones, so you have to avoid some.) Which brings me back to my original point. Lose the tribalism, guys. Apple make great, stylish products. If you want one, that's excellent. There are also great and more affordable PCs and Android phones. If you want one, that's excellent. Arguing you shouldn't buy an Apple product is like arguing we should all drive Fords and Vauxhalls. Arguing you should only buy Apple is like insisting everyone should go for Jaguars and Range Rovers. Remind me, what's all the fuss about?

3 comments:

  1. As the poster of the throwaway comment on Facebook, I find this quite an interesting post. For a long while, I'd been a semi-refusenik on mobiles as all I wanted was just that, a simple phone. However, mobile internet is now very useable when out & about, so I wanted to dip a toe into smartphone waters. A cheap Android phone and a PAYG package is a good way to do this. If I then decide to go for a better/different phone, then I've lost little as my initial investment is cheap. I've long been a believer in buying slightly behind the technology curve as there are some tremendous bargains to be had that way. My Samsung phone is now a quarter of it's initial retail price.

    Also, I'm a motorcyclist, so there's a chance my phone might get dropped, get wet or accidentally damaged in some other way. Something cheap & easily replaceable fits the bill.

    Iphones and Ipads are lovely, I might even get one or the other, or even both. I think Apple have hit the spot with them and now very close to delivering their 1990's Knowledge Navigator concept. Remember that video Brian?

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  2. Not really relevant to this post but have a look at "How the US lost out on iPhone work" in the New York Times.I'd just finished reading it before Brian's post.

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  3. Thanks, Mark - I wasn't knocking your choice, just some of the responses you got. I do indeed remember Knowledge Navigator - see this post to watch (a rather cruddy) copy of the video.

    The NYT piece is interesting too. It's here.

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