Finally. It finally happened. After years of smug creative-types telling the ‘normals’ how their shiny overpriced Apple Macs aren’t susceptible to such a common ailment as a virus, over half a million shiny Jobs-boxes have caught a bit of a cold, and frankly, I’m chuffed to fucking bits about it.
It’s worth mentioning that I am a Mac owner; I’ve owned an iPhone; I have been one of those people who let a bit of wee out when they unpacked their first achingly slick Apple computer, turned it on and heard that reassuring ‘thunnnnggg’ noise before things started dancing hypnotically about on the screen.
However, recently I’ve found myself falling out of love with the World’s biggest technology company. I can’t pinpoint exactly when this long and protracted break up began - it’s been the steadily growing sense of frustration and disappointment that brings a close to so many relationships. The strange sense of liberation is also eerily familiar.
The first thing to prick my irritation was their slightly sneery marketing campaigns. Remember the Apple ads featuring David Mitchell and Robert Webb? They reprised (or at least aped) their characters from Peep Show, with Webb cheerily exclaiming “I’m a Mac” and Mitchell ashamedly admitting “I’m a PC”. On the face of it, you can see what they were doing; the uptight, buttoned-down office-type versus the laid-back swagger of the bedroom creative. I can imagine the ad executive giving himself the afternoon off after pitching that one, but it just suggested to me that while your average PC was essentially a decent guy trying to do the right thing, your Mac was basically a self-serving cock who’d fuck you over at the drop of a hat and try to bang your sister.
Whilst I don’t have a sister, Apple has, after a chance encounter with an iPad, been trying to expose itself to my girlfriend. Since picking up this shard of effortless cool, I have had the conversation that started thus;
Her: “I really want an iPad”
And that’s it: “want”. People want Apple products, but rarely do they need them. Apple has set the bar in design no doubt; their products are shinier and slicker; the box for the iPhone alone suggests you’ve bought something that elevates you above the status of mere dead-eyed drone. But are they better? You can buy a machine that does all the things an Apple product does for a third of the price so why don’t you? Because Apple is cool. You aren’t buying a thing so you can send emails and go on web sites, you’re buying a lifestyle accessory; a silvery box that says you’re imaginative, creative, laid back; you’ve got some swagger about you; you’re all the things the adverts suggest you’ll be - a bon viveur, not some lost soul eking out an existence working 9 to 5 for the man. Oh no, you don’t send emails and check Facebook in the same way other plebs do – you’re using a mac, so all the pointless shit you do online takes on some kind of inexplicable purpose.
And that’s where they’ve got you. You believe in what this thing makes you, and Apple know it. They know that every year or so, they can bring out a new version of their product that really doesn’t justify the massive cost in upgrading, and nutters will camp out all night to become ‘early adopters’. Take the latest iPhone for example; it’s faster – of course it is, it fucking should be, newer things usually are; the screen and the camera is better – again, so it should be, things in technology just have a tendency to get smaller, faster and more advanced. So what’s different about this phone that has lunatics queuing outside Apple stores across the globe? Siri. What’s Siri? It’s a voice command thing that looks cool on the advert but will likely be of absolute fuck all use to you – it doesn’t work well in the UK, and more importantly; it will make you look like a tit. How many people do you see having loud conversations, seemingly with themselves, in the street? It’s likely an even split of people happy to use their Bluetooth ear-piece in public and tramps. Now, Siri is going to make anybody using it look like a schizophrenic PA frantically yelling orders into their hands.
You’re using a mac, so all the pointless shit you do online takes on some kind of inexplicable purpose
The practice of making small, barely justifiable updates and then selling them at full price is one that has seen Apple take advantage of their near-obsessive following, but it isn’t just the hardware that’s under-specced and over-priced. Take, for example, Apple’s me.com service, soon to become iCloud. It’s shit. I’m not being anti-Apple for the sake of it, it really is tremendously shit. As a browser-based email service with a few added extras it reaches the kinds of lows you would expect if you ripped a free AOL CD out of a Times supplement sometime in the late nineties, snapped it in half and rammed it into your eye. Strangely enough, it displays none of the problems on my shit-list if you use it with an iPhone or an iPad. Oh, and it’ll set you back £60 a year, whereas Apple’s competitors offer all the same services for free, and they work.
Of course, if I have a problem with an Apple product, I can just visit one of their stores and be soothed by an Apple evangelist – people who have seemingly been hand-picked to convey the Apple message through every facet of their being.
If I go into a shop requiring technical assistance, I expect the person helping me to be slightly jittery, lacking in the ability to maintain a conversation outside of their chosen IT obsession, and to possibly smell a bit funny; like sweat and shame. Anybody who enters a high street Apple Store is more likely to be high-fived by a guy who resembles the love child of Jonny Knoxville and Scott Pilgrim, and is so breath-takingly enthusiastic about all things Apple you imagine the only thing keeping up their low slung jeans is a tiny but permanent erection. Personally, I like to believe these creatures are developed by Apple themselves – ultra-geek human exterior covering an unnervingly pro-Apple corporate exoskeleton – I dub them Coolbots. Or Nerdborgs. Either way, I feel uncomfortable about kicking back at the ‘Genius bar’ (this is the actual name they’ve given their technical support area, the c***s) with a guy who knows a lot about computers but also looks, and probably is, much cooler than I am; it isn’t natural, and neither is a bar that doesn’t sell drinks.
The thing that really gets me is how Apple have (cleverly, admittedly) avoided all the criticism that has dogged other companies like Microsoft. Bill Gates has been something of a hate figure, largely because Microsoft was just too big, too powerful. Well, Apple is bigger, their business practices and policies are every bit as smart and controlling as anything Microsoft has ever done, but you can’t imagine anywhere near the amount of muck being flung their way – why? Because Apple is cool, man. High-five.
More stuff we found knocking about…
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