My cell contract is expiring in a couple of months, and I’ve started to look at what my next smartphone will be. As a diehard Apple loyalist for the past 15 years, you’d expect it to be an iPhone – well, iPhone 5 to be exact. The beauty of the iPhone would be its immediate fit with my multiple AppleTVs, MacBook Pros, MacBook Air, iPads and Airport Extremes. One might say that a trip to the Apple Store is lost on me, as there are very few products I do not own. I say this not as a means of boasting, but to put into context my extreme loyalty to the brand. I loved Apple before most people knew who they were; when Steve Jobs worked there the first time, and when you could only buy a Mac from about three stores in the city. I lived through the Mac clones, the launch of OSX, and the switch from PowerPC to Intel processors. I experienced the innovation, the introduction of WiFi and Bluetooth, and I was the first of my friends to have an iPod (thanks again, Crichton.) So why is it that I have little interest in the iPhone 5? How does a diehard Apple junkie turn their back on an Apple product? I have thought long and hard about my decision, and am ready to explain, starting from the beginning:
Microsoft dominated the computing industry for the majority of the eighties and nineties. As explained by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Success, Bill Gates had more access to computer servers than anyone else. He was able to become a master programmer while other students struggled for an hour of access. His advantage, and lack of competition, lead to the creation of MS-DOS and Microsoft Office, and naturally became a staple with businesses across the nation (while still too expensive for home usage.) When computer prices eventually began to drop and the product became attainable for personal use, people bought what they were familiar with. The user experience remained very technical and business focused, and I always thought it felt like you needed to be an expert to safely operate the system.
Apple, on the other hand, was founded on a completely different approach. They wanted to make the process simple and easy. They were the first to introduce a computer with Graphic User Interface (GUI) that used a mouse to move the cursor on screen (a technology Steve Jobs stole from his early days at Xerox), and have been innovative yet simplistic for the length of the company’s history. The iMac was the first to catch the mainstream wave, demonstrating the ease of connecting to the Internet by simply plugging in. Then, the iPod changed the music and personal electronic market forever, followed by the iPhone, which redefined the practicality and modern day necessity of the smartphone. Apple was the creator of cool, well-designed, groundbreaking products. To maintain this newfound stature, Apple needed to control the software with a closed development system to ensure little competition.
Microsoft and Apple competed almost exclusively until recently.
There is now an influx of competition with a population that understands the art of programming. We are now in a world where 20 year olds have never known a day without the Internet, and programming has become a language accessible to those with a wireless connection, initiative and the luxury of time. We are seeing a group of ‘kids’ able to create smart, inventive technology. They do not look to large tech companies to increase distribution, and are the reason Apple is losing the control. Apple is now venturing in unfamiliar territory where tech companies, startups and independent programmers are everywhere, releasing cool, well-designed, groundbreaking products.
Apple is no longer the best smartphone option. And with the release of apps designed to control my Apple family from an Android device, there is no reason for me to purchase an iPhone 5. I’m leaning towards the HTC One with its sleek aluminum case, full HD screen and front mounted speakers – all missing from the iPhone 5. Maybe I’m not such a diehard Apple fan after all, but rather, a junkie of well-designed technology.