Why this "Mac guy" will dump Apple fanboy club card

Just because I'm a self-confessed "Mac guy," should that mean that I have to like the iPhone and iPad too? Or can I go Android or Bing without being labeled a traitor?

A couple of posts by two of my colleagues yesterday really made me stop and think about choosing a tech camps - you know, Camp Apple, Camp Google, Camp Microsoft.

First, there was Mary Jo Foley's post confessing that she - a self-confessed "PC" - not only bought an iPad but was loving it, as well. Then, Jason Perlow, chimed in to talk about how iPad adoption is starting to kill the elitist attitude among Apple users.

And it got me thinking about the beating that I've taken from readers of this blog about everything from last year's Microsoft advertising campaign - remember those horrible Jerry Seinfeld ads? - to my most recent coverage of Apple's Antennagate. In each of those posts, I was largely accused of being a shill for the other side, of being clueless, an idiot and so on.

So, here's my question: why do I even have to pick a camp? Is it too much for me to have a Mac, an XBox and an Android phone? Have I betrayed one camp because I bought - and actually enjoy using - a product by one of the competitors?

Regular readers will know that I prefer Apple's computers over those running Windows - even Windows 7. My own experiences with both platforms over the years is what made me choose - not because I wanted to be part of a cool or elitist group. No, the elitist attitude came later, when I realized that the Mac - in my opinion - offered a superior computing experience that was well worth the premium price. If someone had asked me back then which camp I belonged to, I would never have hesitated: Camp Apple. I even use an Airport Time Capsule and have a (rarely used) Apple TV.

But now I'm not so sure about this whole camp thing. Like everyone else, I anxiously awaited for Apple's news about its secret tablet computer, which we now know to be the iPad. I waited for an angry mob with a noose to be waiting by my car when I wrote that that the iPad was nothing more than an oversized iPod Touch that offered no killer app to make it worth my money. Oh, the blasphemy.

Then, after waiting a really long time for Apple to bring the iPhone to Verizon, I was mesmerized by the new kid on the mobile block - Google. I really like what Google has done with Android and what the device makers are doing with design. A few months ago, I finally gave up on Apple and bought a Droid Incredible. And I have no regrets.

Also, let the record show, even though I'm not much of a Microsoft guy, I have tried to keep an open mind, thanks largely to my cousin Raquel, who works for Microsoft. Through her prodding, I hosted a Windows 7 preview party in my own home - which, by the way, turned out nicely - and also agreed to her challenge to give up Google and give Bing a try for one week.

In both instances, I had good things to say about Microsoft's products.

This all comes up because it feels to me like I'm suddenly no longer a card-carrying Apple fanboy, a traitor to my camp . I like my Mac. Actually, I love my Mac and would never trade it in for a Windows machine in a million years. But I'm also very excited about what Google will offer with its Chrome OS when it comes out, as well.

Does that make me a traitor to my camp?

In this environment, we're starting to see innovation again - in products, in services and in design. And that's leading to some great choices for the consumer. But I refuse to get caught up in buying an iPad or an iPhone just because I prefer a Mac computer over Windows. Likewise, I also refuse to feel bad because I prefer Android for my phone or like the search results that Microsoft's Bing provides.

You know what I like more than anything else? Choice. Now that Android is giving mobile phone shoppers an alternative to iPhone, Bing is giving Web users an alternative to Google and Windows 7 is gaining some traction, consumers have choice again.

To me, having choice is better than being locking myself into a particular product just because I feel like I should be loyal to my camp. If that means I have to give up my membership card, so be it.

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