'I dumped Apple because it's too prima donna,' said the Best Buy salesperson

In my second attempt to see how different retailers suggest you avoid Apple's ecosystem, a Best Buy salesperson offered an eclectic grouping of gadgets. And some deep emotions.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

It's down to you, Kevin Durant.

After the Golden State Warriors plunged to an ignominious defeat in Game 2 of their NBA playoff against the Steve Ballmer-owned Los Angeles Clippers, I softly exclaimed they wouldn't win the championship.

My wife, a more reasonable and positive sort, saw her chance: "If they lose, you're throwing all your Apple crap into the Bay."

She was just kidding. I think. She knows, after all, that I'm going to different retailers and seeing how they suggest getting out of Apple's ecosystem, if ever I needed to do such a strange thing. It's merely an experiment.

Last week, I went to a Microsoft store and was told it was so easy to leave Apple behind: Just sign up for all of Microsoft's software. As for recommending any actual Microsoft gadgets, well, that didn't happen.

This week, it was the turn of Best Buy. I've had varied -- but mostly very enjoyable -- experiences at the revitalized Best Buy.

I hoped that this time I'd have a tale that would elicit sympathy.

Help Me. Please, help me.

"I've got a bet with my wife that if the Warriors don't win the whole thing, I have to give up the Apple ecosystem. What do you suggest?" I said to two Best Buy salesmen who were loitering with contentment.

"Yeah, I was mad when they threw away that 31-point lead. You could have a big problem. Good luck with that," said one.

His co-worker, though -- let's call him Steph -- took my dilemma on as a serious intellectual exercise. "Come with me," he said.

What followed was one of the most absorbing exhibitions of tech salesmanship I've seen in a very long time.

"Let's start with your HomePod," he began. "We'll replace that with a Sonos One."

He took me over to the Sonos display, turned on the One, and blasted the music across the store.

"You've got your choice of Google Assistant or Alexa," said Steph.

"Which one do you recommend?"

"Alexa is more of an assistant, like a secretary. For you, I think Google would be better."

"You trust Google?"

"Yes," he said, with what I found an absurd faith.

"And look, if you want to stay away from Apple Music, you can have Spotify -- and the Sonos is only 179 bucks." 

I find both Google's and Amazon's smart speakers unspeakably ugly. I confess, though, this Sonos could live in my house.

It was curiously warming that he'd started with music. It put me in the mood for change, if not hope.

You Want Me To Get Which Phone? That One?

"What about phones?"

"It's got to be the LG V40," Steph said, without hesitation. "It's got seven cameras and they work automatically for you."

I've not often considered LG phones. The only time I consider anything LG is when I turn on my TV and LG insists on telling me life is good.

"Why have I never heard of this phone being so good?" I asked.

"Because LG has worked out who their market is and they sell them to those people."

He briskly walked me over to the LG display. There wasn't a V40 in sight. Still, he insisted that the V40, a pricey $949, was definitely the phone for my new, non-Apple ecosystem life.

I still wondered why he was so enthusiastic about this phone.

"I've got a V30 and I love it," he replied.


"And this'll sync-up easily with the Sonos?"

"Yeah. And we might even have a great deal with Sprint, where if you buy an unlocked one, trade-in your iPhone XR, you'll be paying 20 bucks a month for unlimited talk, text, and data."

OK. And Which Laptop?

Again, he took me for a walk. Best Buy is a good place to get some exercise, and Steph had quite a stride.

When it came to laptops, he was again confident about his choice, should Kevin Durant continue to display erratic tendencies.

"This should be perfect for you," he said.

It was the Surface Laptop 2. He reeled off all those numbers that nerds adore and humans tune out like nagging.

"The balance is so much better," he said, picking it up with one hand. "Most laptops have all their weight at the bottom, but this is so much more even."

"So do you have one of these?"

"No, I don't have a laptop," he said.

"Wait, doesn't everyone still have a laptop?"

"I built my own computer. I do a lot of gaming."

Well, of course. Most people do that, don't they?

"This Surface is a lot better than your MacBook Air," he claimed, which was odd, because a few weeks ago I went to a Best Buy and a salesperson had told me that the best Windows laptop was a MacBook.

Salespeople have their quirks and their reasons.

In Steph's case, he assured me this Surface would easily sync with the LG phone and the Sonos and anything else I chose to link to it. And if I needed a tablet to go with my new configuration, he chose the Surface Go.

"Everything has pretty simple instructions these days," he reassured me.

Pretty simple for whom? And wait, Steph wanted me to use Windows. That's not exactly perfect.

Revealed: I Used To Be A Mac Guy, So I've Been Through This Process.

As he showed me his recommended watch -- the Samsung Galaxy -- he lauded the notion that I could personalize my gadgets so much more if I went this route.

He could see the doubt waft over my eyes like smoke in a Croatian cafe.

"I used to be a Mac guy," he said. "So I've been through this process."

"What made you switch?"

"The garbage can."

"The what?"

"The Mac Pro," he explained.

"That's when Apple just forgot about performance and went all prima donna. The machines started to break under heavy use. And Apple just wanted everything to look good."

The word performance is often used by the more nerdy sorts to signify something that more regular users don't recognize.

Real people want their gadgets to be simple, light and work with everything else.

The challenge of dumping Apple wholesale is whether that'll happen.

This excellent, animated salesperson would think nothing of syncing these varied gadgets together. Many Apple users just don't want to face it, fearing it'll be too hard and some of their photos or files will be lost.

Still, he gave me plenty to ponder, not least the rest of the Warriors-Clippers series. If my wife is serious, this bet -- by the way, we haven't yet worked out what I get if the Warriors win it all -- might cost me at least $3,000.

Just before I left Steph, I asked one more question: "Since the garbage can drove you away from Apple, would anything bring you back?"

"Apple has got a bit better since then," he said. "I'm just not sure it's enough.

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