The downfall of my principals (aka, how I came to have an iPhone)
Let me tell you a little story about a man who has come to love his, dare I say “enemy”? No, that is way too harsh of a word and I don’t think it’s accurate. I guess it would be more pointed to say that I have come to love my enemy’s inspiration…but I’m still not a fan of my enemy. It’s kind of like communism. On paper it looks like a pretty good idea, it’s when you get all the cold greedy bastards involved that everything goes to hell.
This is a story that starts a few decades ago. I’m of a generation who grew up alongside the personal computer. We both went through a similar “coming of age”, along the same timeline. My first PC had no hard drive (dual floppies baby!). I was really excited when the Might and Magic video game was released because it actually had graphics so I could stop playing Legends of Kesmai…using your imagination just gets boring after a while (command line gaming FTW). I’ve screamed at a speaker phone because someone’s dial up lag was killing my Decent or Diablo session. To this day I’ve only purchased one computer for myself that I didn’t build with my own two hands…and that is the sweet little linux powered netbook that I’m typing on now. What I’m trying say is that while I’m very far from being a David Lightman (if you don’t have to google that reference, we should hang out), I’m no stranger to a keyboard and I’ve snapped in my fair share of memory modules.
As a home computer hobbyist, I’ve scoured computer shows and boneyards in the Silicon Valley, fulfilling the quest to build a bad ass budget box. Because of the desire to be elbows deep in the guts of my obsession, my nemesis has always been the fruity competition. You know the one I mean. The one that is touted by hipsters, artists and coffee house surfs as if it were the second coming of Jerry Garcia himself. I’m talking about Apple products.
I admit that I’ve used the term “Macintrash” on probably hundreds of occasions and I’ve even gone on long rambling rants about the guarded lock down of a Mac OS. The issue has always been that Mac is the antithesis of the home hobby computer guy. Apple has always sold you a box and what you buy is what you get. The ability to upgrade, customize, tweak and tinker has just never been in the Jobs/Wozniak lexicon. The really ironic part is that we are talking about a company which was started by a couple of stoners in a garage, who had a soldering iron and an idea. How could those two Tim Leary lackeys not want me to tweak my own toy? As someone who has always cut my path as a bit of a contrary, the idea of some turtle necked messiah telling me what I could and couldn’t get access to in with the box sitting under my desk always stuck in my craw.
Well, when the smart phone revolution hit, I hopped on the Blackberry band wagon and quickly saw where that was going to lead me. I’ve always been a bit more concerned with being able to access the latest Slayer album than I have been with say, reading the latest earnings report…Blackberry was OK while it lasted for me, but it wasn’t quite right and we never really clicked. Then along came Android. But wait, what about the Apple iPhone? If I wasn’t willing to let the evil Apple Empire into my home office, there was no way in hell I was going to let them into my pocket. The Android phone came to roost in my residence.
I carried around an Android phone for many months and felt fairly content…but then something happened, well a couple somethings actually. I became a victim of marketing, but in this case I don’t think it was a bad thing. I started reading about all the new Android phones. I swam through a sea of specs, numbers and capabilities. I compared this chip to that chip and this screen to that screen. I weighed the positives and the negative of every option, trying to arrive at a decision.
Then, I started reading about the iPhone. What became apparent to me is how brilliant the evil geniuses at Apple truly are. You see, Apple doesn’t market specs. They don’t talk about processors, clock speeds and resolutions. What they talk about is the experience. They sell you the wonder. That is when I had the epiphany. I don’t really care about specs anymore. I don’t care about clock speeds, resolutions and processor loads. I no longer dream of over clocking and brilliant cooling schemes. Think about it…do you care how many hotel rooms or restaurant seats they have at Disney World? Hell no, you just want to know if you are going to have fun!
That is when I did it. I pulled the trigger and have been carrying an iPhone 4s. And as much as it pains me to say it, I love my iPhone. I love the simplicity of it. I have no idea how fast the processor is or what the screen resolution is. I love that I don’t have to manage memory and apps. I love that everything “ just works”. Is it perfect, of course not, but it’s a lot closer than anything else I have carried.
Am I an Apple convert? No. Am I broadening my world a little? Yes. Is my wife carrying an iPad 2 which I may or may not have recently purchased for her? Possibly. Will I attempt to lay my hands on the iPad 3 in the near future? All signs point to maybe. Will I find some way to weasel my way into an iPhone 5 when it becomes available? There is a pretty good chance.
Now, I started by saying that I don’t love my enemy. I still hate you Apple fan boys. You know who you are. You’re the dirty little hipster who brags about your “cool retro” outfit you spent $7 on at Goodwill while you’ve got that $1500 Macbook tucked under your arm. You’re the one who talks about computers and resale value like those two things even belong in the same universe, much less the same sentence. You’re the same person who has a mysterious intolerance to gluten and tells me that red meat will kill me while you’re sucking down double shots of espresso. It’s you that I hate. I hate you with a burning passion because you look down your nose at the “system, when you’re just the same thing wrapped up in argyle, while you drive your Prius and listen to the latest Weezer album. I realized that it’s you who I hate, not Apple. It’s got to be some weird kind of rationalization you use now that you’re supporting the most valuable brand on the planet. It’s cool when you’re rooting for the underdog. It’s a little harder to be a benevolent hippy when you’re supporting the evil overlord, isn’t it?
Still, I feel like I have betrayed some part of my past. Like I’ve let my resolve slip and I’ve got a bad case of Stockholm syndrome. I start to question if I’ve made the right decision to head down this path. Screw it, I guess I’ll just pop in my ear buds and ask Siri to play me that new Slayer album.
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