I turned on my first Apple computer in 1986. It took me ten minutes to figure out how to turn it off, and since then I’ve been hooked. I spent long hours in my dad’s print shop playing on every new Mac we’d get (Mac Plus, Mac SE, Mac II, Mac TV, to name a few). My familiarity in screwing with system settings got me a Teacher’s Assistantship in junior high and high school.
Thanks to my interest in journalism and newspaper page design, I was never exposed to a Windows computer. There was never a PC in our home, and the very first computer I purchased in college was a Grape, slot-loading iMac. After that came the first white iBook at WSU, where I was the first person in my major to take a laptop to class, and have upgraded to various Powerbooks and now MacBook Pros throughout the years.
My first job in Arizona was at the Biltmore Apple Store, a position I secured by telling the previous story and
threatening promising to hang out in the store until they hired me. Nearly every significant job or person I’ve met has extended from working there, and leaving was hard, but after iTunes for Windows and the switch to Intel processors, Apple became too concerned with sales and less concerned with service for me to enjoy the hours I spent teaching people there.
My appreciation extended to the iPod and iPhone, as I’ve owned every model except the U2 iPod, the new Classic iPod and the iPhone 3G, and I consider the iPhone 4 an integral part of my business.
I’m also a MobileMe subscriber and have been since iTools came out in 2001. In short, I’m a passionate Apple consumer and a fanboy, always able to accept the limitations that come with the products and/or finding a better/different way to do what I need to get done.
But in the past few months, something has felt…off. Maybe it started with the 3G and Apple’s almost insistence that everyone in the world own one, or possibly my trip to Cupertino that left me underwhelmed at the sparse offerings from a company store that I considered Mecca. Sure, my expectations may have been off and my passion may have blinded my common sense, but I felt a connection to the beautiful, functional products that have enabled me to become a better writer, connect with more people and be more productive than I ever thought possible. It was magic.
That magic is gone now. There is no more real cult of Mac lovers. Owning any Apple product used to be a badge of honor and an inclusion into a group of people that were willing to pay a little extra for what we considered an exceptional experience. The long-time Apple fans never hated PCs, they just preferred their Macs. There was no stupid war, or some dumb back and forth as to whose was better. Mac simply had a better user experience, Windows was more compatible.
It’s over. Apple used to release products when they wanted to. They didn’t upgrade their models every single year, nor did they bother with keeping to regular update schedules. As infuriating as it was, THEIR PRODUCTS AND SOFTWARE worked. But no more. In Apple’s rush to become more profitable, they have started to ignore their best and most loyal customers. The Mac line, which hasn’t always earned them the highest profit but is absolutely the backbone of everything they do, is being ignored. Their consumer products are being rushed out. Their CEO looks like a walking corpse. They’re blatantly lying to the public.
You used to think different, Apple. You used to be the rebels. You used to stand for greatness. You used to stand for creativity. You used to be a symbol for the creative class.
You are not, as a whole, any different than Google, Microsoft or any other product that people use on a daily basis.
You could have been more. You sold out. You’re special no longer.
One irrational, supportive and disappointed fan.
(After hearing Jobs’ press conference, where he compared the iPhone 4 to other phones that had similar problems and then offered free bumpers, I’m even more disheartened. Apple, it was good to know you when. We’ll always have the iMac.)