To kick off this “Brands in my Life” series I’m starting with Apple. I figure it’s a good way to ease myself into this as Apple and I have a relatively well established relationship.
My background is full of computers and gadgets. While I was growing up we always had tons of techie detritus lying around the house from my dad who is a software engineer. We had the earliest version of modems, laser disks and 5 1/4 floppy disks galore. When the new Byte magazine arrived I would check to see if they had included the sample game disk. If time permitted we would sit down together and enter in the code listed at the back of the magazine on our Commodore 64 to see what kind of program it would make. In grade school I used Apple II computers and at home I went from the Commodore 64 to a 386 PC.
After grade school I never really touched an Apple product again until college. When I did try them out I didn’t like it. The interface was foreign and the only thing I used it for was checking my email. Based on the drafting software I was using for school Apples were out of the question. Apple as a brand meant, “incompatible”.
Once I graduated and found a full time job with a Landscape Architecture firm I had to get back into Apple products. There wasn’t any choice, the office was equipped only with Macs. This meant learning new software which was annoying, but over time Macs grew on me. I even bought an old blue and white G3 tower from the office.
Then the iPod launched. I resisted the first couple generations. Who needed to carry that much music around all time? By the time the 4th generation came around I had caught the, “I have to have one” sentiment. To Apple’s credit they created an interface in iTunes and Mac OS X that worked seamlessly with the iPod hardware. Sure by then you could use iPods with PCs, but Apple had got back their mojo so why bother.
Now as I sit here typing on my Macbook and checking my iPhone for missed calls some might call me a fanboy. Am I? I even made a lamp out of an old Mac Classic I found in the trash out of nostalgia.
But I am far from an Apple fanboy, I think. Their products interface together with a great deal of ease. Apple computers are typically void of any viruses and seem to be far more stable than Microsoft Windows.
I will be the first to admit that what seems to be Apple’s brand philosophy can be annoying. Recently Steve Ballmer made a comment about Apple’s $500 logo. If you look at the technology inside of Apple products he might be right. If you need more proof look at the gaming world. Macs are supported by very few game developers partially due to lower hardware specs and partially due to a smaller install base.
Another issue I have with Apple is their, “keep up with us or get out” cycle of product releases. Their product cycles occur over relatively short periods and the worst part is that old products become hard to service very quickly. I have come to terms with the fact that there will always be a sense of buyers remorse shortly after every purchase of an Apple product. Unless you are someone who reviews gadgets for a living or have money falling out of your pockets it is impossible to keep up with their constant iterations.
My final beef with Apple deals with the super tight control they keep over their products. I’m sure this has helped to keep their product’s quality high, but it is frustrating. iTunes is a case and point here. There are many Mp3 players in the world, but only one that will work with the iTunes store. I feel that this has held back the market growth of the company by trying to maintain a level of prestige.
In the end will my complaints keep me from buying Apple products? I doubt it. Apple seems to be changing some of its tight control by opening their App Store to third party developers. By freely giving out a Software Development Kit, SDK for the iPhone and iPod Touch Apple has created a booming new industry for developers and consumers. Now I can listen to NPR stations from around the country or fart sounds wherever I am. Thanks Apple.