Tuesday, June 22, 2010


There exists a curious divide these days between information technology experts and everyday users of technology. For the IT expert, to love Apple products is to admit to a brutish stupidity. I mean really, everyone knows Apple lovers are just 'fanboys'. What do they know about technology anyway?

As it turns out, I am a fanboy myself. I am also a computer professional and have been for 15 years. Am I stupid? Am I brainwashed? How could a thinking man like me succumb to the mass hysteria that is Apple worship? The answer is: slowly, but methodically.

Flash back to 2001 and the release of the first iPod. Apple as a company wasn't faring so well. Their Macintosh computers were selling, but nothing like today. Along comes the iPod, which resurrected the company. Yes, portable music players by Creative Labs and others were gaining traction. But when Apple released the iPod and iTunes, it was the first unified approach to collecting and maintaining one's music collection on a computer. Granted, iTunes was only available for the Mac, so it meant the iPod enjoyed only niche status.

Then, in 2003, Apple released iTunes for the PC and the iPod took off. In a few years, it became the hottest music player on the market. Everyone had one or wanted one. I was sceptical at first, opting to go with a 10GB Archos player first, and then later a Creative Labs model. In 2004 I bought an iPod Mini and loved it - until it died completely on me a few months later. I didn't buy another iPod till a year later.

For years I bought iPods of various flavours, but I stuck with my Windows PCs. Why spend THAT much money on an overpriced toy computer? Over time I grew weary of the instability of my PCs. They would inexplicably crash or grind to a halt, even though I had ample memory and disk space. I kept them optimised and well organised - all for naught. A friend of mine and Apple aficionado insisted that he never suffered a single one of the problems PC users did: no crashes, no slowdowns, no fatal viruses. I was intrigued but still sceptical.

Then, I decided to visit an Apple Store and try a Mac out for myself. I still didn't buy one. For a year, I weighed the pros and cons of switching to a Mac. Would all my files be compatible? Would I still be able to share data with PCs? Would I be able to port all my iTunes content over without pulling my hair out?

In February of 2008 I took the plunge. I bought myself my first Mac. It was a MacBook Pro with 3 GB of memory and a 160 GB hard drive. It was sleek and beautiful and a powerhouse of a machine. Within a few days I'd transferred all my files easily and lost nothing. I could leave my Mac running for weeks and weeks without restarting it and without slowdowns. I had arrived as an Apple fan.

Today, I still own my original MacBook Pro, and I have since acquired another 15" MacBook Pro for work and two 13" MacBooks for my own personal use. I also got myself a Time Capsule that enables me to back up all my Macs wirelessly and effortlessly. I bought an Apple TV that I attached to my home theatre system. I own an iPhone that I love and was one of the first people in Australia to purchase an iPad, thanks to a business trip to California in April of 2010.

Now let's revisit the fanboy slur. If it is true that Apple lovers are just following a fad, then what does that make me? I spent years before buying an Apple product. I didn't buy a Mac until it became crystal clear to me that it was a superior machine worth every cent paid. What gives? In my view, it comes down to envy.

Now, no Apple detractor would admit to feelings of envy, but if you give it some thought, you have to wonder why these detractors so vociferously attack Apple fans. Who cares, right? One can still buy a PC with Windows or any other operating system. One can still buy portable music devices from Creative Labs and other vendors. Notice, however, that as Apple's prominence in the marketplace has increased, the attacks on the company have also increased - but not by Apple's customers.

Food for thought.

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