I must admit I'm not a big Apple fan. Not the city they named twice but the rival to Microsoft. For a long time Apple has been perceived and marketed to be the hip alternative to Microsoft, Steve Job's Rebel Alliance to Bill Gate's Evil Empire (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYecfV3ubP8).
Apple's marketing infers that they are for the free thinkers whilst the PC is for the corporate automatons (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KNrxwl59I0). The apple is seen as the workhorse of choice for Creative-types. Indeed take a stroll down Hoxton and in
any creative/new media office you are likely to find a scruffy creative type with a scruffy dog and an Apple Mac. A company I once worked for bought out a creative/new media company replete with Apple Macs and scruffy dog. The Mac users we integrated (resistance
was futile), my suggestion as to how to dispose of the scruffy dog was not even considered by the board. I digress.
Okay, so sitting on the edge of your desk the PC is not as stylish or as elegant as a Mac, but for a start it's cheaper. If something breaks or you need to upgrade hardware then you can fix it yourself. You can tinker with the internals of a PC. 10 years ago
I acquired a tired old 486 from a tired old workplace. I wanted to play Quake and surf the net and I knew that in it would take some tinkering to accomplish that. It was a pet project. Firstly, I took the cover off it and upgraded the RAM. Next I replaced
the floppy drive with a CD ROM, then came an internal modem. After which, I bought an overdrive for the CPU and then I bought some new peripherals (monitor, keyboard & mouse). Finally, was the upgrade from Windows 3.x to Windows 95.At the end of the day I'd
upgraded my PC and learned a lot more about the internal workings of the machine. I had a sense of accomplishment - if there was something about the machine I didn't like - I was free to alter it.
Conversely, my friends who owned Apple Macs could not take the cover off to look inside because a) they needed to buy special tools, & b) it would void the warranty. So Apple is *ahem* for the free thinkers (but only they conform to Apple's preferred way of
working). So much for the 1984 Superbowl ad!
Speaking of conformity, anyone who is a regular public transport user will have noticed the high occurrence of white ear-bud headphones on other commuters signifying that the commuter is in possession of an iPod. To para-phrase Monty Python, “They’re all individuals”.
There was a lot of slick advertising and I must admit was tempted by the styling of the tiny iPod Shuffle. The trouble for me was that yet again the Shuffle was expensive - £52 at a time when other MP3 players could be bought for £20. But to be fair, you did
get those nice white headphones so everyone on the tube would know you were a hip, free thinker....like all the others.
I use iTunes at home as it's easier to view my mp3 collection than using Media Player. The default setting for iTunes is to convert files to the AAC standard but not all mp3 players/other audio interfaces support AAC. It has been argued that AAC is better quality
than MP3 but not being a professional muso and playing music thru' my mobile phone and laptop, I cannot tell the difference. The option in iTunes to change from AAC to MP3 is hidden is a submenu. It always takes me 5 minutes to find it. It’s like Apple has
decided how I should listen to music, as opposed to giving me a choice, and because IMHO AAC is not as popular as MP3 (certainly on the devices I tend to use) Apple are ensuring a future consumer base for their slightly overpriced products.
The iPhone is the most recent Apple addition. Reviewers everywhere were ecstatic. It was stylish, had loads of useful apps (GPS, music, camera) and there was a huge advertising campaign. It was also expensive (at least when I was looking to buy) and it came
bundled to 02. It was a case of Apple bringing out another product and telling you how to use it. When I buy a phone I not only want a stylish phone with many useful apps (GPS, music, camera) but I also want to dictate which mobile provider I sign up to.
Last year I wanted to use my phone in 14-ish different countries - there is no way I could have done that cheaply with a domestic UK mobile provider, instead I opted to go with a cheap Estonian number. I wanted that flexibility. The much touted features of
the iPhone - I found I had similar if not better features (especially the camera) with the Nokia N82 - my only gripe is the GPS nearly got me shot due to a big mix up at Serbia (it was supposed to be taking me to Romania...another blog perhaps).
Why would you specifically go out and buy a product which is likely to be more expensive than similar products on the market and less amenable to adaptation? It has to be of the marketing. Which doesn’t really strike me as free-thinking.
Far from being the Rebellion out to save us all, could it be that Apple actually is the Evil Empire and Bill Gates et al with their, “this is our product use it as you will” philosophy, are actually promoting freedom and individuality?
Stay tuned for my next blog that will probably prove why Vista is better than Redhat, wine is better than beer and Quincy is better than Columbo...or not.