With the passing away of Steve Jobs, a lot of people are asking questions; one, will Apple survive, and two, what is Steve Jobs’ legacy, considering Apple’s domination of the technology markets.
My interest in IT started just as the 386 was launched – when 10 Mhz made a difference, and co-processors/FPUs were an optional extra. Usability was a dirty word; the more graphical things were, the less technical it was and therefore wouldn’t be flexible/configurable. Up until a few years back, most Linux distributions were built around this very mantra. I think Apple has changed that. Sure, Windows is the most recognisable and acceptable GUI, but Apple has made the most usable GUI. Apple has allowed people who were afraid of computers to do things only the very technical were able to do – and not always as successful as the Apple method, I might add.
Although I have an iPad and an iPhone, I am not an Apple fan-boy. I recognise the limitations of iOS and also its strengths. It is “quick information” technology, easy and low maintenance. However, it doesn’t allow for long periods of work or complex operations. Personally, I use iWhatevers to make quick notes on the move, then do the long haulage work on my PC. Equally, MacBooks are great for the media-demanding person; PCs are for the heavier business-orientated/networked user. Interestingly, Linux is beginning to sit between the two now, but I digress.
Undoubtedly, the raw energy, focus, and drive of Steve Jobs rewrote IT for the consumer market. People are actually using IT to improve themselves, rather than viewing it from afar with suspicion and confusion. However. This empowerment of consumers has brought about a type of person I like to call the AppleMan. I have met 4 die-hard Apple fans that are convinced that Apple products are far superior than anything else ever. I’ll relay some instances to you.
One individual was asking me why our company doesn’t use Apple Macs because “Apple are obviously the best and never run slow.” Now this is a very clever tactic by Apple. OSX is sold on hardware that is near-optimal for the OS. Sure, you can buy OSX and load it onto an IBM-compat (wow – when was the last time you heard that phrase?), but the lay consumer won’t be buying a non-Apple machine running OSX straight off-the-shelf. My reply was “Sure, MAcs are fast, but you’re comparing it to the myriad of entry-level PCs running Windows 7 that many people buy from PC World. Buy a £1,000 desktop PC running Windows 7, and you’ll see OSX start to look average.” There are loads of other arguments I could have rolled out – usability, flexibility, networking, security, longevity, consumer choice… the list is long and, frankly, boring. Anyway, it’s interesting how this method works – sell high-grade machines so the OS runs well, but the reason it runs well is because it is on high-grade machines. The same can be said for iOS vs Android and Windows Phone. Ever seen a non-Apple handset running iOS (I’ve seen a 3GS running Android though)? Apple make Apple run on Apple. Google and Microsoft make their OS’ run on any-grade equipment.
Another individual was trying to justify his choice of Apple over Microsoft by proving his technical knowledge of Windows as well as OSX & iOS. That was until I opened up AD Users and Computers on my machine; he looked at it and said “what’s that?”. Again, I’m not saying that any camp is the best – Linux, Windows, or OSX do similar things equally differently, but when the Apple fans start trying to belittle the more “traditional” technologies, and then display no knowledge of the competition, it’s hard to bite the tongue.
However, that’s the measure of Apple’s penetration into the mainstream public. In 2001, virtually no-one was checking their emails from a PDA – but the technology existed if you wanted to do just that. Now, people are expecting emails on their handsets as standard. People that have never switched on a PC are checking the news online from an Apple handset. And the fact that people are so confident with this technology that they are professing to be “IT geniuses” makes me believe that the world is now truly switched on. Steve Jobs helped that happen.