Wikipedia defines ‘nerd’ as “A person, typically described as being overly intellectual & obsessive … who may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities..” I see myself as a nerd more in terms of the obessessive interest I have displayed in certain activities. One such activity which has my undivided attention mostly to the chargin of my family and friends is my obsession with Apple.
Being an Apple fan has got me into arguments with friends & family. I cannot recount the number of times they’ve scorned at me, pointing out how limiting Apple devices were in features or how apple is a closed garden or how android was feature rich compared to Apple, etc. I do not want to start a fan war here, but I’ll suffice it saying that except for the lack of bluetooth option for file sharing, I’ve not missed any feautre which other platforms may have by default. But, one thing is right – Apple, is not for everyone.
Six years back, I only knew about Apple computers, but never had seen one. But, when I did, I was amazed – with aluminium casing, edge to edge glass display, touch trackpad, inbuilt CPU, buttonless mouse – what I saw was a machine from the future. With used to seeing computers with a CPU tower, monitor, keyboard & mouse and wires protruding from everywhere, looking at the iMac design was refreshing and made a lot of sense. Why didn’t anybody think of this design before? If they did, why didn’t they push it to all computers? The design made lot of sense and the product looked elegant because of it. (I could not forget the pride in the sales guy eyes). I couldn’t afford one then, but, that moment I fell for Apple. Its focus on product design and how the machine exuded grace and quality (in the words of Steve Jobs – they had sex in them) made me rethink about consumer electronics market which was littered with cheap plastic goods – especially mobiles. Two years down the lane, I bought my first mac and never looked back or regretted my decision ever. It was like the machine understood me. Why do we have a computer? Other than software professionals and nerds, regular folks predominantly use it for storing some kind of data (documents & photos), watching movies & playing music. The mac either had a great app built-in to take care of these activities or had great apps to handle them, readily available in the appstore. I worked on windows for a long time but ’haven’t seen as many beautifully designed apps as I saw for the mac. Using each app was an unique user experience. I could login quick, work with the required app, quit & move on. It was fast and to the point. ’loved using my mac.
My jaw dropped when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone. The experience of the mac raised my expectations for the iPhone. By then, I had two iPods (Classic & Schuffle), but a full screen touch phone with an iPod? You gotta be kiddin’ me. I was excited. But, I had to wait for another four years to buy an unlocked iPhone(4) in India. But, it was worth it. When I held one in hand, I knew it would be revolutionary. I said to myself, “Just think how the world would change when this phone would soon double up as a computer-in-hand”. The same awesome design and quality of the mac extended to the phone with retina display, front & back glass panels, amazing capacitive touch, sturdy body – it not only looked but also felt premium. Today there are other feature rich phones available in the market, but none came close in delivering the same experience of using an iPhone.
If the hardware determined how good the device was, it was the software which delivered the experience. Not just the availability of apps but also the quality of apps available for a platform determine their success today. Great apps such as Things, Evernote, Day One, Due, Reeder, Fantastical, make using my mac and iPhone a delight. But, apps as such got a real boost when Apple released another great service – iCloud. As devices kept growing, users started to see data fragmentation. One photo available here but not in the other, one song here but not there? Why not have all of it in one centralized server and let users access it across all their devices? iCloud was aimed at precisely doing that. This background service brought much needed sense and ease of use to the way we used iOS devices. Now, our data could be accessed from every device. This ecosystem of Apple, with the liberty of starting on one device, stopping and continuing on another, truly heralded the ‘post – PC’ world for me.
Apple may not have been the first to produce a touch phone nor the first to introduce an all-in-mac, but they’ve refined the products to such a degree that, they are a class in itself often setting benchmarks for others to reach. Apple fans are laughed at, for their cult like devotion towards the company, but is it just because of the reality distortion field created by the tech wizard or is it because, the machines are really good that people (and I) throng for it? Is there a method to the madness? Not everyone wants these setups/ecosystems. Not everyone wants ‘the-best-your-buck-could-buy’ material, not everyone cares for quality or design. But, for those who do, look no further than Apple.