The Truth About Apple and Steve Jobs


Should I buy an iPhone?

This is the question on my mind.

I went past the Apple & ATT stores in downtown SF (very close to my apartment) on Friday night and Saturday. Apple had a line so long I couldn’t see the end of it (outside the store), and ATT sold out phones early.

While the lines outside the store suck, it’s really fun to walk past them and be overheard saying, “I can’t believe they ran out of phones again!”.

Is this a truly great phone, or it just another fashion statement? Why so much buzz?

With Apple, the answer is probably again both.

I think the lines are a combination of true enthusiasts (developers who are writing applications for the iPhone store, and power users) and people overrun with loopy excitement for a product for which they would be hard-pressed to name 7 unique features.

So what is my attraction?

I’ve asked myself this question and really drilled myself. The phone is expensive (via monthly charges), and most of my “required” features (Exchange sync, web, GPS, etc.) are available on other phones (surprisingly, the Samsung Instinct doesn’t sync with Exchange’s calendar – information I got from a Sprint salesman and found many user reviews online claiming the same).

What it comes down to for me has a lot to do with the iPhone App Store. The “open market” nature of the store (developers get 70% of the revenue from sales of their applications), the quality of the SDK (developers, like the ones at Pandora, report that iPhone’s SDK is just superb), that the value of the experience of the phone will grow over time as the community of developers embraces it.

Apple Enthusiasts & Your Mama Jokes

I have been on a MacBook Pro since December. I am still waiting for my moment of epiphany when I really perceive Mac as being superior to Windows.

To be fair, most of the problems that I have on my Mac are related to Windows software and networking. I primarily wanted a Mac for music and film editing. But if you are working in a Windows Office / Exchange environment, you’re going to encounter more issues than a PC user.

But not all of the issues on my Mac are Windows related. I see both computers as having their own set of problems. I find usability incredibly inconsistent on Macs. Macs feel like they are designed for a child: with cute icons that are often not labeled and a user-friendly Finder that compromises speed for usability. Usability Steve Krug, in his book, “Don’t Make Me Think”, even cites a few major Apple usability problems to demonstrate how prevalent usability issues are.

When I mention my issues to Mac enthusiasts, they often react as if I made a “your mama is so fat” joke. For these fans, there is no middle ground. Think of it this way: the brand reputations couldn’t be more different. Microsoft represents “the dark side” (commonly used among Mac fans), and Apple is the hip, smart, young guy we see in the PC Guy commercials. The brand messaging does a lot to make Apple users dig their heels in the ground. I see Mac enthusiasts as a population largely comprised of people who derive much of their identity externally – often by way of the brands with which they associate themselves. These fans see the urban chic iPod videos and see themselves.

An article in Salon (Why Apple Fans Hate Tech Reporters) states:

But for people who feel strongly about an issue — for Apple fanatics, for abortion partisans, for folks who think they know the truth about global warming or what’s going on in the Middle East — personal views feel distinct and luminous. Journalistic “objectivity” inevitably produces a muddier picture.

The article adds:

But many fans of Apple often seem to want more. They care little for honest opinion. They want to pick up the paper and see in it a reflection of their own nearly religious zeal for the thing they love. They don’t want a review. They want a hagiography.