Earlier on the in the week I was posed a question on Facebook. Paraphrased “why are you an Apple fan?” He then went on to state how Apple products are so far behind the competition that surely I can’t be a real tech fan. Instead of being offended, I decided to take stock and think back over the past few years to identify exactly why I became an Apple fan. To the point, now, where I would never use anything else for my day-to-day needs.
1. iPod Classic
My very first Apple product was an iPod Classic. At the time Cupertino’s success in the portable media market was rocketing out of control, to the point where you couldn’t turn a corner without seeing those iconic white earbuds. Admittedly, I got caught in to the trend, and instead of tucking the white cable inside my clothing, I wore it proudly on the outside, as if to say “hey, I have an iPod too!” Sad, but, I was young – so you’re going to have to cut me some slack on that one.
The most amazing thing for me was that I was carrying around an 80GB hard drive in my pocket. That amount of storage is unreal, and even with all the digital content I’ve downloaded since, I still can’t fill the thing up. The experience of seamless integration with iTunes was my first, and immediately I knew how it should be. Prior to the iPod, moving tracks to my MP3 playing phone was a drag and drop situation, and Album Art was an extra trek across the web that I wasn’t prepared to take on.
I carried that iPod everywhere. I loved it, and still use it now in the car on long drives. But, since it was my only Apple hardware, I’d not yet tasted the full ecosystem experience. It was only going to get better from here.
2. 13.3″ MacBook
I’d just left my job at T-mobile UK, and I was going to university to study media. They used Macs almost exclusively (or so I was lead to believe). Since I wanted to use my time outside of college to write and record songs, edit photographs etc, I was informed by many that Mac was the easiest, and best way to do it.
I purchased the high-end white MacBook about 3-4 weeks before the Aluminum unibody design was launched. Far from being disappointed, I was delighted that I’d managed to get such a good deal. Normally well over £1000 mark, I got it for little under £900, and it was top spec. I spent about a week being frustrated at the change of OS. I’d used Windows my entire life. After an initial breaking in period, I realized how great it was to have fewer steps to achieve almost any task.
Spotlight was the killer for me, and is probably my most used feature on OS X. Can’t do math in my head? Easy, CMD+Space Bar, type in the sum and the answer shows up. If I can’t remember where I placed a file, Spotlight makes it ridiculously easy to find it again. Apple’s online tutorials helped me get used to it. The biggest thing for me was being away from the hideously inefficient Windows Vista. I love Mac, and if – for whatever reason – I’d be forced never to use it again, I’d choose Linux, not Windows. If I can help it, I’ll never use Microsoft’s OS again. Ever.
3. iPhone 3G/3GS
Before I got my first iPhone, I was rocking – and completely in love with – a T-mobile G1. Yep, that’s right. I loved Android. The iPhone was exclusive to O2 UK at the time, and I was a T-mobile employee and got half price line rental. Towards the end of my first year on my degree, I became more curious about iPhone. What was it that made it so great? I’d never even held one before. So, a friend of mine who happened to have a spare lent me his. He had the beta version of iOS 3 running.
Like with the Mac, I was confused to begin with. Perhaps – like in the Windows/Mac situation – I was looking for those extra menus, and little hidden places that you needed to access to get things done. But, once I saw how easily it hooked up with my existing hardware ecosystem, and how simple it was to do everything on it, I was won over. I’d had his phone about 2 weeks when the 3GS was launched. I went in on opening day, and purchased one. My white iPhone 3GS is my favorite ever phone, and one that I kept for an entire 12 months without changing.
Now I had iPod, iPhone and MacBook, I was well and truly caught up in the Apple experience and was approaching the point of no return.
Apple’s expensive cloud service was the one product that really got me hooked. Once I had an @me.com account, I was never going to be able to switch to another platform. And, I didn’t want to. A year or so later, it switched to iCloud, and the rest is history. I now had everything I needed, all being seamlessly provided by a family of intertwined Apple products. I loved that all my contacts were synced, all the time, as were my emails and calendar events.
5. iPhone 4
The iPhone 4 was released after I’d started working on this site. I purchased it because of the impressive Retina display, and got it in black (not by choice, blame Apple’s delays for that one). However much I loved the sharp screen quality, I hated the phone. Having used the curved 3GS that felt so good in hand for a year, switching to a square handset with sharp corners meant that I wasn’t enjoying the experience as much. I sold it after 4-5 months.
Apple’s tablet didn’t make an appearance in my home until about 8 months after it was launched. Once I started playing games and using apps on the 9.7″ display, I never wanted to use my iPhone. (That’s when I sold it.) I purchased a G2, got on with it for a few weeks, then got rid of it and opted for a BlackBerry Pearl instead. That didn’t last long either.
The iPad further cemented the reasons for me to be in Apple’s system. Everything I had worked together flawlessly. Nothing seemed to go wrong. My MacBook rarely crashed, and my iPod was still going strong. The iPad was proving to be a real hit with my kids, thanks to some impressive educational and entertaining apps in the App Store.
7. White iPhone 4
Despite hating the black one, I got the white iPhone on launch to cover it for the site (again). Except, this time, I really enjoyed it. It still had the irritating flat back and sharp corners. But, going away from iOS on a handset and being on Android and Blackberry for a few months had made me appreciate the elegance and simplicity in iOS. I couldn’t care less if there was a super-specced Android handset with giant displays powered by Kryptonite. I know that after a few weeks with it, I’d want to go back to the iPhone.
Towards the end of my degree, it became clear that my permanent job would be running TiP. Since I was going to be working from home, I decided to invest in a desktop. iMac was the only choice. Throwing in any other company’s computer would throw my digital life all over the place. It was a powerful machine, and is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. But, it only took about 11 months to become a hinderance rather than a help. My MacBook was getting old, and the iPad isn’t yet at the stage where I can use it instead of a laptop for work. That meant replacing it with something portable and powerful. Especially since taking trips to cover gadget launches are becoming a bigger possibility.
9. The new iPad
Wow! Is all I can say. Right now, it’s my favorite iDevice. I’m rarely not using it for something, even if it’s just Spotify. Retina on a display that size? Insanely good, and further ensures that Apple will remain the king of the tablet market for a long time. Sure, the design is unchanged from the iPad 2, but, it didn’t need changing. To me, it’s the closest thing to perfect that you can get today. It’s modern, it’s fast, it’s beautiful and perfectly links in to my iCloud-based ecosystem.
10. MacBook Air
The newest addition. Once I knew I’d be getting more mobile with my work, I needed a quick, light and great looking laptop. The top end Air fit the bill, and got me thinking creatively about how I stored my content. With the iMac, everything I had was on its hard drive. Having only 256GB on the Air meant I’d have to keep everything either in the cloud, or on an external drive. I really enjoyed the process, and I’ve never enjoyed using a computer this much.
So why Apple?
It’s simple. Bar the design of the iPhone 4, nothing that I’ve purchased from Apple has ever let me down. Not one device. My 4 year old MacBook is still working fine, running an older OS. My iPod Classic is just as it ever was. The only time I experienced any major issues were when OS X Lion was new to the market, and Safari kept crashing every time I got to a site with video. That was soon fixed.
I’ve never used a brand and had the same experience. With Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, HTC, I’m never quite sure what I’m going to get, in terms of performance and reliability. One device differs so much from one to the next. I know with Apple that I’m going to enjoy the product, and I know it will last me a long time. They’re always at the forefront of design. Just look at the ultrabook market that’s now booming, and becoming filled with MacBook Air clones running other operating systems.
Apple innovates too. They re-imagined the smartphone and have consistently improved it every year since 2007. They set the standard for small and light notebooks with the Air, and they brought the iPad, which has been poorly copied ever since. Sure, there are tablets, phones, and computers out there with better spec sheets that are more powerful. But, for me, none of them offer the same integrated experience as I get with Apple.
The biggest deal is the App Store. It’s the one thing that makes having an iPad or an iPhone so good. The apps are first class, and thanks to minimal fragmentation, they generally come to iOS first – and mostly ad-free. Whenever I step outside the circle, and try an Android phone or any other platform, iTunes and App Store are the two things I miss the most. I don’t mind saying this: they are still the best mediums through which to purchase digital content. Period.