So, I'm trying to figure out what makes my insides churn when I hear people talk about Apple and it's products. You know Apple, the company that makes the products starting with "i"… iPod, iPhone, iPad, and the rumored iRock.
Let me start by saying that I admire Apple and what they've achieved. I am grateful to Apple for the ground they forged that lead to the current class of smart phones. They do amazing work, make amazing products, and set an incredible bar for "well designed", regardless of the category.
So what's the problem? Amazing company… great products… why do I feel such angst over this matter?
I think I have some ideas…
Let's talk cars for a minute. Everyone knows that a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz is an amazing car. Even their entry level models inspire awe for the average person. And, if in conversation, someone suggests that their new BMW is amazing, I am inclined to empathize with their excitement.
Me… I drive an old beater. It's a 94 Chrysler Lebaron. It gets me around and does so very economically.
Now, when I hear my friend talk about their nice car, praise the company for craftsmanship, and tout it's features… I don't feel judged or insulted for what I drive. We both know that there are many cars on the market. They made their choice, and I made mine. We have different priorities. (I love competition in the marketplace and choices for consumers!!!). They chose to spend loads on car. I chose to spend it elsewhere.
So, back to Apple and it's class of products (phones, computers, etc).
At some point, conversations about the iWhatever get around to comparing Apple's products to the other options on the market. And when it does, I hope you're wearing your thick skin.
There's an implication that everything else is crap. And why would you want to use crap product, when the iWhatever can do this, that, and thus. Oh yeah, and that competitor's product… it's interesting, but it'll never be a real success. Apple is too far ahead.
When was the last time you had a conversation with your friend and they told you that your car was crap? When did they say that the company that made it wouldn't succeed? That it was doomed to be a failure?
And what is the definition of success anyway? If I compare a burger from Hyde Park grill ($$$) to a burger from McDonalds ($), can you define which one is successful? I mean, I know that we'd all like to sink our teeth into the one from Hyde Park (except you vegetarians out there), but does that mean it's a more successful burger? McDonalds burgers are lower quality, but the company has a very different goal for the product. And personally, sometimes the McDonalds burger fits my needs much better than the Hyde Park option.
I recently overheard a conversation while waiting for my son at Gymnastics. Two ladies were talking about their e-readers. One had a Kindle, and the other had a Nook. I was amused at the time, because it was to ladies comparing tech gadgets. Comments ping-ponged back and forth like "oh, wow, yours can do that. That's really cool. Mine can't do that, but it can do this." "Wow, that's cool. Mine does that a little differently. I like it, but yours sounds neat." Very cordial and respectful.
Let's be rational…
If I choose a 94 Chrysler Lebaron, or a McDonalds burger, I realize that I'm choosing less than "the best." But none of us uses the absolute highest quality option for all areas of our life. We optimize for quality in the areas that matter to us. The rest of the time, we just get something that's good-enough.
If I buy something other than an iPhone, iPad, or iWhatever, I may be doing that intentionally, and for one of a myriad of reasons. And while the choice might mean that I'm not experiencing the Utopia that is Apple, my choice might be meeting my needs just fine. In fact, it might be meeting my overall goals much better than "Upgrading to Apple."
I don't know if Android, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry, or the Palm Pre will overtake Apple's stranglehold on the phone market any time soon. And honestly, I DON'T CARE! What I like is options. I like that there is innovation in the marketplace. I like that really smart people at amazing companies (plural) are putting great stuff out there. I think it's a slap in the face for any of us to pre-maturely say that any of these options are failures from the outset. That's the kind of poisonous attitude that kills great products.
If you like you're iWhatever, then great! I'm glad you like it. I know it's a great product. Me, I'll make my own choices. I recently helped my wife make the jump to a smart phone. Being on Verizon, iPhone's aren't an option yet. So we got an android based phone. Do you know which one? No? that's because there are many options available. And we picked the one that had the right price, form factor, features, and color. Is it the "best" phone on the market? No, but it strikes the "best" balance for my wife. And that I like!
So, I hereby plead with the Cult of Apple to return to a cordial conversation. I love to talk tech and compare features. It's exciting to talk about new products and models. But let's leave the ivory tower judgmentalism out of it.