I am an Apple Fanboy and you should be too
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I spend far more time using tablets, netbooks, laptops and mobile devices than the average person. After years of being a PC user, I have become an unapologetic Apple Fanboy. Below is an overview of why this is the case.
A few things you should keep in mind while reading this:
- I own Apple (AAPL) stock and plan to hold it
- As part of my job I oversee multiple online properties – I spend a lot of time thinking about User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI). My work tends to focus on websites, but the same good principles apply to consumer electronics as well
- In a previous job, I worked on several promotions that heavily involved one of Apple’s divisions
- My wife and are a DINC couple (Dual Income, No Children). Meaning that I can afford the “Apple Tax” (more on what that is below)
Why are Apple Products Better?
Apple wins because it just works (I’ve talked about this before here
). We live in a world that gets more wired, with more gadgets every single day. Some people (folks like me) revel in that. For most though, it can be overwhelming. Many people (take my parents for example) have to learn how to use a computer at work and a computer at home (that probably has a different email interface and a different Internet browser). They also have to learn how to use their DVD player, cable/satellite box and cellphone. The last three items being the worst of all because the UI and UX change each time they get a new model, which might be every two years for a lot of people.
It is all about the User Interface and User Experience
Apple helps with this in two ways. First (and perhaps most importantly), the UI and UX are amazing. You can hand an Apple product (iPads are my favourite example) to toddler and they will figure out how to watch videos on it in just a few minutes (if you don’t believe me – try it). How you interact with iOS devices (iPhones, iPads and AppleTV’s) is incredibly intuitive. Want to flip pages in a photo album – you swipe your fingers like turning a page. Want to make something bigger – you expand your fingers. Smaller – pinch them closed instead. Even Apple’s headphones have an intuitive interface. With one button you can choose to: play, stop, skip or fast forward a song, answer a call, ignore a call and even put a call on hold – WITH ONE BUTTON.
Apple’s computers aren’t quite as intuitive; in fact if you are a Windows user, they are a little frustrating for the first week or two. I experienced this myself a few months ago and several of my co-workers are going through the same thing now. If you are a recent convert, make the transition easier. Go into System preferences and under Trackpad, Enable Tap to Click, Dragging and Secondary Click (Bottom Right Hand Corner). Make sure all the options are checked (except perhaps for Drag Lock). Now watch the little video tutorial for each of the Trackpad motions. If you are an iPhone or iPad user, you’ll get these right away. Essentially though, what you’ve just done is allow for right clicking via a single tap in the bottom right hand corner of your track pad or via a two finger tap. This is probably the thing that Windows Users struggle with most when they switch over. More-over, you also have a lot of the iOS gestures available to you (pinch to zoom, rotate, scroll) as well as some new ones, the four finger switch between applications is my favourite. Again, watch the video tutorials (each is only about 2 or 3 seconds long). That is a bit off topic, but the very fact that Apple included these videos demonstrates a dedication to getting their customers to understand how their products work.
The Benefits of the Apple Ecosystem
As mentioned above, Apple is incorporating their best features from some platforms (iOS) to other devices (MacBook Trackpads). This is part of an overall bigger picture and that picture is a unified multi-platform experience. Apple’s products work together the way that you wish everything would. If you bring a new Apple product home (something that happens at my house several times a year), it will be up, running and talking to all your other Apple devices in just a few minutes. Even upgrading is easy; I just upgraded MacBooks at work. You can transfer all your settings, applications and files via FireWire, network cable or Wifi in just a few button clicks. More than that though, since the interface is carried over across devices, it is easy to pick up and learn them if you already own one Apple product. This advantage isn’t seen elsewhere because different manufacturers make different devices. If you have an AppleTV, MacBook, iPad and iPhone – there was a team of people making sure they worked well together and that how you use them (shortcuts, gestures, menu items) is a standardized experience. This is the benefit of the Apple Ecosystem and it doesn’t happen when you have a Motorola DVR, a Samsung laptop and a BlackBerry for a mobile device.
The Apple Tax
All this has a price. That price is often referred to as the “Apple Tax” (a bit more about that here
). Apple’s products are higher-end goods. You are paying extra for a superior experience, superior service (the Apple Genius bar is beyond reproach), fewer risks (since Apple isn’t as popular as Windows and more of a closed system, viruses are rarer), superior components and even superior aesthetics. For the most part, Apple’s products work better, look better and last longer. So how much is the Apple Tax? In the short-term, for the desktops, laptops and iPhone, it’s probably about a 30% mark up over what a similar non-Apple device would cost. On the other hand, the AppleTV and iPad are actually cheaper or on par with competing technologies (so consider those to be a good investment). In the long-term, I’d argue that the superior quality of the goods will actually outweigh the up-front cost, but it really depends how much money you have to spend.
If you are reading this post, you probably use a computer for hours everyday at work, then another computer when you get home, plus the time you spend on your mobile device. If you assumed that added up 50 hours a week (for me, much more), that is 2,600 hours per year. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to spend the extra money for something that you use far more than your car, your television or your kitchen appliances?
In case you are wondering (i.e. do I actually know what I am talking about), I’ve included a list of Apple products I use daily below. Also keep in mind that I have spent years using BlackBerry’s, Windows computers and a variety of other manufacturer’s devices (Motorola, Samsung etc).
- Airport Express – great ability to stream iTunes to your stereo, easy to configure
- Airport Extreme – very stable, you can network a hard drive (this actually is a pain and one of the few piss offs I’ve ever had with an Apple product), easy to configure and wirelessly “daisy chain” with an Express
- iPad 2 – amazing device, but unless you are a power user or using FaceTime, save yourself some dough and consider buying a used Gen 1 iPad (especially if you can get one that still has Apple Care)
- iPhone 4 – love, love, love
- AppleTV – I wrote a previous post on this. Check it out here
- MacBook Pro – initially a struggle if you are a Windows Power user (i.e. have loads of shortcuts memorized), but in the long-term its worth it
There are a lot of Apple lovers and haters out there, so leave your comments below.