The futility of challenging Apple perfection

I know, I should get over it, but it does annoy the way the Jobs faithful go on about everything being perfect in their world and Apple being able to do no wrong. Perhaps its age or maybe I have got some kind of genetic disorder that prevents me from ‘getting’ the whole Apple thing.

When I look at the Mac, all I see is a computer that uses exactly the same GUI paradigm as Windows PCs, just implemented a little differently, though not differently enough to pay a massive price premium for or to justify all of the hassle associated with switching and having to live with irritating compatibility issues. I then look at the iPhone and see a user interface design that has been deliberately dumbed-down and sacrifices efficiency for novice user simplicity, all powered by a handset with appalling battery life and inadequate external controls because the ‘slim and sleek’ look was prioritised above utility.

Now when I say these kinds of things, it is easy for me come across as ‘Apple bashing’, but in reality, my observations are simply made to challenge the notion that Apple is delivering stuff that is perfect and somehow more ‘special’ than other manufacturers, because it is not. Sure it has come up with some nice designs and implemented some original thinking in certain areas, but nowhere near as much as a player like IBM, for example, which has invested in and delivered serious innovation (as opposed to Apply style ‘nice touches’) for decades – there is no comparison here.

Where Apple is different is with respect to openness – or more accurately lack of it. The faithful point to tight integration between hardware, software and services as allowing Apple to optimise the user experience. Fair enough, and as massive BlackBerry fan myself, I am familiar with the advantages of an end-to-end proprietary solution. But such tight integration is a double-edged sword in that it can restrict choice and interoperability, which *should* be a major consideration for those considering Apple kit in a business context.

Anyway, fed up with feeling like the boy in the fairytale shouting “But the emperor’s wearing no clothes”, I snuck a cheeky little question about whether Apple or Microsoft can be considered more closed into one of our market tracker surveys to see what others thought. As it turns out, the majority of those who had an opinion identified Apple as the king of closed technology and the master of proprietary controlling behaviour. See here for some examples of what people came back with – lot’s of stuff Microsoft would get slated for big time if it tried to do the same things.

Meanwhile, at a personal level, having tried OS X for a couple of months, I thought it was alright, but my MacBook Pro now boots into Vista – not because I think it is better, but because it is simply more convenient and productive for the job I do. I wish I could say that my iPhone had been similarly repurposed, but it is pretty much just sitting there doing nothing at the moment. As a hard-core BlackBerry user, the iPhone looks like a clumsy prototype that is a total non-starter for my road-warrior type business requirements. I have even stopped using it for music as the user interface is nowhere near as quick and convenient as the navigation wheel on my iPod, which I have now gone back to.

But, having said all that, I have come to terms with the fact that I am not going to win these arguments. Apple somehow seems to have struck a chord with the masses and the elite, so I’ll just shut up from now on, accept my Apple blindness as personal affliction, and let them get on with it.

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