I'm not sure it's an issue any longer, even amongst longtime Windows users like myself: the Mac OS is better than Windows.
Yet somehow, the vast majority of users are running Windows.
The situation is this: Windows isn't as good but it is more popular. Macs are better, but no one uses them.
When it comes to most everything else Apple sells, though, they are the Microsoft in the mix. The iPod isn't the best portable MP3 player on the market, but it is the most popular. I have a feeling the iPhone is going to be very popular, as well … whether or not it is actually better than, say, my Treo remains to be seen.
This bothers me because I object to what I think Apple stands for. I have no problem with Microsoft-bashing, so don't take my complaints as necessarily pro-Gates. But once upon a time, Apple made computers that were better both functionally and aesthetically. They got stomped in the marketplace, and the lesson they seem to have learned is that aesthetics is all.
So now, Apple sells aesthetics, and the cool factor that goes with those aesthetics.
The iPod is an adorable little item, and it does what it is supposed to do. There are better portable MP3 players out there, but they lack the iPod's aesthetic appeal (the Rio Karma was arguably the most ugly piece of technology I ever owned … it was far better than the iPod, and now the company that made them is out of business, because people didn't want an ugly but excellent player, they wanted a cute and reasonably good player).
Me, I'd like to know whether or not the iPhone will be the best phone, not whether or not it will be the coolest phone. My Treo is kinda ugly, to be honest, but when I was in Europe and I couldn't do all the useful Treo stuff, I missed it. A lot. Now I'm home, and I can access Wikipedia in a flash, check my email, get news updates, look at maps that tell me where the nearest tire repair shop is, and get dozens of text messages a day telling me how my fantasy baseball players are doing. I couldn't care less that the Treo isn't much to look at.
If Apple was selling excellence, I don't suppose I'd be writing this cranky post. Like I say, once upon a time, excellence was what Apple did best. Now? Hype is what Apple does best, hype and Cool.
Farhad Manjoo writes about the iPhone today on Salon, and you can practically see the cum stains on his keyboard:
"Apple says the iPhone will give us the Internet on the go -- and because Apple has a vaunted history of making good on big claims about consumer technology, it's wise to take it seriously." I already have the Internet on the go … guess the iPhone ain't such a groundbreaker in that regard after all.
"But that's only the brainy reason people like the iPhone. There's a more visceral appeal to the device, a sensation it triggers somewhere below the neckline … Steve Jobs … has been endeavoring all his life to create electronics that are transparent and visually stunning, things that part us from our money not for what they do -- or not mainly for what they do -- but for the surpassing style with which they do it." I couldn't have said it better myself, but as should be obvious by now, I don't have the slightest idea why I should give a shit whether or not my phone has style. Yes, I'm one of those old fashioned people who wants a phone that takes my money mainly because of what it does … just like I want an MP3 player that takes my money mainly because of what it does.
"Aesthetics are the essence of iPhone's buzz. The phone is, like all other Apple products, beautiful -- palm-size, just a couple of buttons and an all-glass face that, if it works as it should, will respond to the slightest touch. Only folks who haven't seen its interface wonder what's so great about the iPhone. It's just amazing. A two-finger pinch zooms in -- boom! -- and a pull zooms out, a flick of a digit slides through a list of song names or contacts, and when you flip the iPhone on its side, its picture also adjusts to the new orientation. As it is for every celebrity, our love for the iPhone is mainly about its face." Jesus fucking Christ, Farhad, get a fucking room!
Farhad asks from the perspective of a hypothetical consumer, "Are you saying the iPhone may not work as well as Apple says it will?" His reply? "The question is really unnecessary." For some people, apparently.
My son has a stake in all of this … he works for Sprint, and the iPhone is paired up with AT&T. So take this with a grain of salt, but one thing my son knows is cell phone technology. It's his job to know. And when I asked him how the iPhone would affect his business, he countered by noting that the AT&T network and iPhone technology won't allow for the kinds of speed Sprint users (and others, for all I know) enjoy right now. Yes, that's right, the iPhone won't do as good a job of giving us "Internet on the go" as does my Treo. But who cares … aesthetics is the essence, right? (It's not just my Sprint-working son talking about this … even Farhad notes "Will AT&T's network -- and the iPhone's support for only the slower EDGE rather than the faster 3G networking spec -- prove hardy enough to deliver a truly functional "mobile Internet"? These are questions for which we have no answers yet."
Farhad finally explains that the iPhone will impact our lives, even the lives of those of us who don't buy one, because once the iPhone is successful, other companies will be forced to emulate Apple, so the next phone you buy will have been influenced by the iPhone whatever brand it might be. He writes, "You may not buy an Apple, but it's possible your next cellphone will claim to be a fantastic 'Internet communicator' and will offer a great way to surf the Web. If that happens, thank Apple." Ya know, Farhad, I already have a cellphone that is a fantastic Internet communicator with a great way to surf the Web. I didn't have to wait for Apple to come along, either. But I'm sure the Jobs Fanboys will write the histories, and someday, everyone will think Steve Jobs invented this shit. Farhad has already drowned in his own ejaculate … as he explains, "Today everyone uses a Mac." Yep, he really says that. His argument is that all computers are based on the ideas Jobs offered the world back in 1984. Of course, Jobs wasn't first with those ideas, any more than he's first with the ideas now associated with the iPhone, but why let facts get in the way of aesthetics?