Why I run an Apple-free household but am still cool

Apple’s theatricals this week haven’t convinced me to buy an iPhone 6 – which, as Ron Amadeo pointed out, has the same screen size and features as a 2012 Nexus 4. George Takei got it right when he tweeted that he couldn’t remember the last time so many got so excited about 4.7 inches.

Not that this an admission of being un-cool, though it might seem so to the phanbois. Earlier this week I commented on some guy’s blog that I’m Apple-free. Other products do all I want at less cost and I’m not interested in the Apple cool factor. Another commenter wondered whether I still watched black and white TV.  Absolutely. I watch shows about sarcastic assholes.

Get real folks. Apple isn’t a religion. They make consumer products. For profit.

OK, so I'm a geek. Today anyway. From the left: laptop, i7 4771 desktop, i7 860 desktop.
My Apple-free desk. From the left: ASUS laptop, i7 4771 Windows desktop (yes, the same CPU Apple use in their iMacs), i7 860 Windows desktop.

When I look at the venom displayed on some of the forums and blogs, against Apple-critics, I suppose I got off lightly. But as I say, commenting that I don’t buy Apple isn’t license for the fans to make personal attacks of any sort. Apple are a consumer product company. Competitive. But failing to buy it doesn’t, by definition, make you a luddite.

I suppose it’s not surprising, really. Apple’s schtik – originated by their late CEO, Steve Jobs – was an appeal to cool, to the social status that, we are conditioned to think, comes with this consumer product or that one. That approach underlies most big brands, of course – and it certainly worked for Apple. Hugely. In the late 1990s Apple was a dwindling computer company that had failed to compete with Microsoft. Jobs came back on board and reinvented it as a lifestyle choice – a company whose products bypassed the reason circuits and drove straight to the appeal of emotion.

It worked a treat. People didn’t buy Apple because they could get a sharply better phone, or sharply better computer. Apple’s gear was always well engineered, well designed and reliable. But so was the gear sold by other major manufacturers. Most of it was also just as easy to use. That wasn’t why people bought Apple. They bought Apple because it was a statement about themselves. They get drawn into it – I mean, I heard that some guy in Australia microchipped his own hand, on the off-chance that some rumoured feature might be built into the iPhone 6.

It was, by any measure, a brilliant recovery. Genius. But when I look at the sarcasm, the personalised anger with which some respond when anybody questions Apple products – when I suggest that, maybe, other products are as good – I have to wonder. Do people validate their own self-worth by ownership of an Apple product? Is that why they get so angry, sarcastic and abusive? So personal?

Is this where Jobs wanted his customers to go when he reinvented Apple?

For myself, I don’t feel the need to define or validate myself with any consumer product. It’s just stuff, and these days it’s increasingly short-life stuff. For me, phones, tablets and computers are things you buy for a purpose. Not to make you better than somebody else. Products. For me that’s the arbiter. Will it do the job I need it for – properly, and without compromise? And at what cost – up-front and lifetime? How reliable is it? Will the maker support it for that lifetime – and a little way beyond – at reasonable cost? If I drop a phone, what will it cost me to replace it?

All these reasons keep intruding whenever I look for any new consumer product. The fact that this path has produced a wholly Apple-free household, I think, speaks for itself.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014


11 thoughts on “Why I run an Apple-free household but am still cool

  1. I do not have an iPhone either. My nokia is as much as I need. I don’t want the internet on my phone.. although I could have it. I use my computer where I can see things, and have lots of windows open in different browsers when I am working. 🙂 Enjoyed the post 🙂

    1. Thank you! I use my 3G data for quick update info via the web – weather etc – but not surfing. I don’t have the main social media apps on my (Android) phone, either. I do run a WordPress app, but that’s so I can publish on my blog in timely fashion – it’s too limiting to do anything else.

  2. Absolutely, Matthew, and not just because I have never owned anything Apple, at least as far I know. Of course, the larger issue is being defined by products or by anything other than who you are. That does set my teeth on edge but I’ll grind my teeth. Personal attacks are beyond the pale, as your post so clearly reminds us. Personally, I think it’s cool you like geology and even wrote a soon to be available book on coal. You have other cool qualities but those are the two that are “trending” with me now.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it’ll be interesting to see where ‘Coal’ goes. I am giving a public lecture on it in November, a week or so after release, which I gather will be recorded and posted on the web by the organisers. All of it written on my Windows computers (I used all of my current stable, at one stage or another in the process)…which do the exact job I want.

  3. I’m thoroughly enjoying all the Apple Watch memes and parodies that are doing the rounds. That thing simply does not make any practical sense (a watch you’ll need to recharge every day?), not to mention it costs more than my wife’s brand new laptop, which can do so much more.

    Cool is all well and good, but as you say, in the end cost and functionality should be the deciding factors. If that leads you to Apple, great. If not, also great.

  4. Transitive property of equality:
    Apple is cool
    Mac is Apple
    Mac uses the same cpu as is in your computer
    You own your computer
    There fore… You are cool!
    Sorry, Had to lay that one one you. 🙂

  5. We’re an Apple computer family–2 desktops and one laptop. Oh, 1 Kindle, but no cell phones or other gadgets. 4.7 inches would not excite me either, except it would fit better in my hand making it easier to handle. I like a little heft with mine, just so you know you’re holding something.
    My Kindle is awkward to hold and it’s roughly 5×7. I thought the black border was a safe zone, but often a mere gentle press in the effort to hold onto it will send it into a tizzy–changing pages, highlighting whatever it wants, or giving me the page that asks what I want to do.

    1. I have to admit that the Apple Airbook met the spec I needed to replace my ageing Vista laptop with something lighter and more powerful. But eventually so did the Microsoft Surface… Apart from anything else, I didn’t want to have to keep too many operating systems in play.

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