Should I drink the Apple Kool-Aid?

Summary:There's something to be said for letting Apple dictate your computing needs. But is it worth selling your soul to do it?

Should I just give in, stop railing against Apple and buy into the reality distortion field? Should I turn a blind eye to the corporate bullying and the vitriol from fans that despise anything not-Apple?

It feels like I've been tilting at this particular windmill for over a decade. There's the continual comparisons of Apple vs. Microsoft. Of course, Microsoft doesn't actually manufacture its own computers like IBM did back in the day, and even then IBM licensed MS-DOS from Microsoft to be used in their personal computers.

I happen to like Apple products. A lot. I love my MacBook Air 11, I think the iPod is an excellent MP3 player. The iPhone changed the way we think about smartphones; before it came along, the Handspring/Palm Treo was the definitive smartphone design for half a decade.

A lot of people don't make the distinction on my opinions. They think that because I have regular tirades against Apple, I hate everything Apple makes as well. If that were the case, my primary computer would not be an Apple. Sure, there's some Apple products I don't like. I can't stand iTunes, I feel that Quicktime was an unnecessary reinvention of the wheel, and their Bonjour network protocol is an abomination.

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On the other hand, I can say the same about products from every software publisher and hardware manufacturer. Microsoft's operating system and apps are full of bloated code and unnecessary features that most people don't use. Many PC manufacturers have terrible quality and/or poor customer service and support. Much of the open source options tend to be of questionable quality and unappealing design.

These are my opinions, folks. Don't start frothing yet.

Right now, at this point in time, Apple is the big bully. A decade ago I was saying the same things about Microsoft. And a decade before that, I was saying them about IBM.

I don't need to link to all of the recent articles about how Apple is suing pretty much every manufacturer of devices that run Google's Android operating system. The most successful of these companies, Samsung, is taking the brunt of the majority of the lawsuits.

I think that this is because Samsung is Apple's closest competitor for smartphones and tablets. I find it very strange that they would sue the company that manufactures critical components for Apple's devices. And then turn around and order displays for the iPad2 from Samsung. Samsung's making money, but how much will they lose if Apple wins in court?

Apple went from being an innovative, agile underdog of a company to being the the most highly valued company in the world. It seems to me that with this success they aren't just defending their patents, they are deliberately trying to stifle competition. A company that wanted to properly compete would not try to kill another company's product; they would sue for patent licensing fees if they couldn't come to an amicable agreement without resorting to legal action.

The constant barrage of hawkish legal assaults from Apple, many of them concerning questionable patents that might not even be viable due to an overworked and inept US Patent Trade Office, starts to take a toll on my patience and stress level. Since my profession requires me to keep on top of technical news, I read about these things every day.

There are plenty of people who think Apple can do no wrong, and will fight tooth and nail to defend Apple's actions in spite of logic and evidence. That's their prerogative. I don't have to agree with them. There are folks of similar ilk that are fans of Microsoft, and Android, and Linux distributions.

Sometimes I just want to take the blue pill and let Apple just tell me what I should think. Then I could just write articles about Apple's awesomeness all day long, listening to my iPod while talking to people on my iPhone, doing my daily tasks on OSX on my MacBook and watching videos on my iPad. I would happily buy the new version of every device every year, emptying my wallet at the altar of Apple.

It would be so much easier to just let Apple make my technical decisions for me, rather than researching, tweaking, hacking, rooting, jailbreaking, and configuring my devices and computers. If I gave in, I wouldn't have to be confused by a myriad of choices, many of which can end up having software or hardware conflicts, are potentially unreliable, and may be difficult to use.

Many people will not be able to detect the sarcasm in what I just said. However, I'm only being half sarcastic. There's a part of me that wishes things were a lot easier in the computing world. I am a sysadmin by trade, and quite often it's been my task to make things easier for end users.

Getting there, however, usually takes a lot of work on the part of someone like me. So when I look at the usability of technology, I look at it from the standpoint of both an end user and a sysadmin: What will be easiest to use, and what will require me to do the least amount of work to make it functional and useful to others?

So while part of me would like to just let go and let Apple tell me what to think, another part of me realizes that in doing so I give up free will. I give up choice. I give in to a company that has grown so far away from its roots that it no longer has anything to do with the company that was founded in a garage in Cupertino over 30 years ago.

In spite of the extra effort and work, in spite of the barrage of hostility from people that are incapable of letting other people think for themselves, I will continue to do what I want to do, not what someone else tells me I should do. Especially not a company that tries to force me to do what they want me to do by suing every one of their competitors out of business.

And with that, I leave you with this image of an ad placed in the Wall Street Journal in 1981, on the day that IBM announced the IBM PC:

Think Different, indeed.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, CXO, Hardware, Smartphones

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