Regarding Apple and the death of the 'cool'.

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Regarding an article I read (When did Apple become uncool? - Yahoo News) I just wanted to quickly talk about Apple.  They're a great company, they've risen from humble beginnings to become one of these globa-mega-hyper-corp conglomerates that you kinda worry could actually enslave us all if they wanted to.  Some would say that they've already enslaved some of us via commercial means, but that's a subject for another day.  

I'm an Apple user.  They made my computer.  They made my mobile phone.  They made my MP3 player.  I wouldn't call myself a 'fanboy', nor do I feel like I have to be 'a Mac OR a PC'.

Basically, I have a bit of an issue with the whole 'Apple = Cool' thing.  

Y'see, as I understand it, they started making personal computers way back in the day which were successful but then slowly towards the 90s they were beaten out by the almighty Microsoft who were producing their more popular 'Windows' operating system which would run on a much wider range of hardware (see 'The Rise and Fall of Apple' section on their Wiki page).  Then with the introduction of the iPod and iMac brands (designed by Jonathan Ive) towards the end of the 90s, they began to rise again.  

It was during this rise that they began to change their marketing strategy somewhat.  The iPod MP3 players Ive was designing were revolutionary and beautiful.  The computers he was designing looked nothing like the Macs of previous years, or like any personal computers for that matter.  So whether it was their returned popularity influencing their marketing strategy or vice versa, Apple began to market their products with a bit of swagger.  I'm not saying they began to cater to a higher clientele, or that they knowingly wanted people to think 'Mac = Cool', but it kinda happened anyway.  The whole 'Mac vs PC' thing of recent years is a prime example of this.  I grew up using PCs, but when I began to look into Apple Macs, I liked what I saw.  I didn't at any point think 'Apple Macs are cool, I should get one so people know I'm creative and cool etc...', nor did I feel 'pressured' by commercialism into owning an iPod or whatever, and this is the main point of my argument:

Maybe, just maybe, some people buy Mac products because they're good, not because they want to look good.

I have nothing against other non-Mac machines; I own other non-Mac machines.  In some ways, they're better; in some ways, they're worse.  Macs are seen as being more stable, more reliable, less prone to viruses etc.  This isn't to say they never crash or break, but Apple made Macs, Apple made the Mac operating system to run on their machines, so it stands to reason they'd be much less likely to experience compatibility issues, to crash all the time, as opposed to Windows running on my piece of crap PC that I'd cobbled together from whatever parts I could find on eBay or have as hand-me-downs from my friends' machines.  Now that's not to say that using them is like some sort of waking-dream, no matter how many 'it's as simple as that' ads Apple churn out - at the end of the day, they're just computers, they're just MP3 players, I could effectively be doing the same thing on any other machine/OS combination, but I choose to do it on a Mac because they have a proven track record in my life of enabling me to get things done, whether they be Googling for kittens, or recording an album.

The article I linked to above basically talks about how Apple are apparently shifting in public image from the archetypal 'cool', benevolent, user-focussed corporation, towards a more self-centred outlook, not unlike the perceived image of old rivals Microsoft.  Whether or not this is true, I don't know, and to some extent don't care - if they keep making innovative, beautiful products, I'll keep buying em, and not because I like what owning them says about me; if some other company's phone or MP3 player or personal computer is better, I'll go a different way.  Some recent reports of Apple cracking down on people modifying their phones, or not allowing third-party developers to publish their applications do smack of totalitarian regimes, but it's their company and I guess they can do what they want.  If they piss off their users, they will probably lose them (I say probably remembering that there ARE a small minority for whom Apple could release the 'iTurd' and they'd be queuing for the midnight launch, but at the end of the day, I think most people will vote with their wallets...).

I don't feel my 'loyalty' to Apple as a corporation is a slave-relationship; they've gained my trust in as much as the products I own by them all enable me to incorporate technology into my daily routine and in doing so enrich my life.  Obviously there's always going to be a percentage of people who let their possessions define who they are, but that percentage is a lot less than 100%.  I, on the other hand, sometimes feel like I'm being judged for owning and using Mac products, and I believe this is unfair.  PC owners especially, or those who feel too 'uncool' for the Mac's sleek vanilla Justin Long social stereotype, feel the need to look down their nose at Mac users, much like the nerds in a typical American high school drama would look down their noses at the 'poor jocks with their crippling good looks and popularity', despite the fact that most of the PC users I know who act this way have never even tried a Mac.

The point I'm trying to make is, alright: Apple's marketing strategy might make all Mac users seem like indie-creative douchebags, but in reality, maybe owning a product that makes magic happen on a daily basis isn't a crime.


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