As I anxiously await the arrival of my iPad Wi-Fi + 3G, I have taken to scouring the Internet everyday for any sign of a potential delivery date. I realize the futility in this as, if/when Apple gives a real date, I’m sure it will not take much effort to find. However, in my wanderings I have run across many articles, blogs and posts that really make me wonder about the writers and their perspective.
For example, take this article from PC World. It seems that they want to dismiss the 300,000 iPads sold the first weekend of release because they were only purchased by “current Apple product owners”. I have a couple of problems with this. First off– I don’t care who bought them as 300,000 units at a minimum cost of ~$500 is $150M in sales over a weekend; that’s not something that should be dismissed so lightly. Second — if you just count people who own any Apple product, there have been in excess of 220M iPods sold since introduction; even if you account for people who have owned more than one and take out international sales, that’s still a much larger number than merely 300,000.
But this bothers me for another reason. Am I simply a Fanboy? Is this why I ordered an iPad the day pre-orders were taken? Maybe I am, but it’s not just some mindless love affair with Steve Jobs, it’s because of one (maybe two) simple reasons. First–they are beautiful devices with amazing engineering and attention to detail. Second–they tend to work–or at least be fixed quickly when they don’t. In a nut shell, Apple products have form AND function; something that isn’t always the case with many other products.
Good Products Are Hard to Find
I have a Sony VAIO laptop many years ago that I kept using much longer than the technology should have. The reason–VAIO is as much a work of art as it is a computer. The external peripherals were all designed with built in storage for cables and connectors, and the unit itself just felt “right” when carrying it around. They put effort into building something that was user friendly, easy on the eye and, for the most part, worked. I hated to see that go.
Likewise, I had several digital music players before I bought my first iPod. None of them had both the functionality I wanted as well as the form-factor I needed. The Archos Jukebox was nice–but it was like carrying around a lead brick–and you couldn’t skip “backwards” if you were doing random shuffle–it would actually random shuffle backwards. Well, sort of, the “random” was not exactly what you’d call random as–from a cold boot–it would always play the same songs in the same order–just not in any order that you could predict manually. It wasn’t until I bought my first iPod that digital music became a reality in my life. I’ve never touched another music player–or another CD–since.
I also have owned several smart phones, including the Nokia 9000 which I didn’t exactly own, but used as part of one of my jobs. I had several others as well, but most of them failed miserably at doing even the basic things. Getting email was a pain, there was little “Internet” capability and worst of all–what things the did do often kept them from doing the things they should do–like answer an incoming call. In addition, I also found that I often carried a phone for work, a personal phone and then my iPod as well; inevitably, when I took my iPod I’d never use it and when I didn’t, I’d always wish I had. So, when the iPhone came out–I was excited. I did NOT, however, run out and buy the first generation one the first day. I waited until the 3G model and then replaced it the next year with the 3Gs because I LOVE THIS PHONE. It has literally changed the way I live my life. I have a family plan with 5 iPhones on it for the rest of my family. It is central to our communication system as a family. Never before have we been able to look up the phone number and address of the new dentists office and ‘text’ it to one of our children so they know how to get there and have the contact number–all from the emergency room that we are unexpectedly visiting with one of the other children. Plus, while we wait, we can listen to music, play games or surf the Internet. Oh–and when someone calls–it actually answers the phone.
Naturally, when I had finally had it with my Windows-based desktop machine–I began to wonder if maybe a Mac wasn’t the way to go. To put this into a little perspective–I’ve been a Novell certified engineer, Microsoft certified engineer and a Sun Solaris certified engineer; I’ve been around the block a few times. There are many, many reasons that I decided to buy a MacBook to replace my old desktop–which are really geeky and even less interesting than this ramble–but certainly, my positive experiences with the iPod and iPhone were big factors. AND, I have never been happier with a personal computer than I have over the past 1.5 years with my little MacBook. Sure, it does still have some problems occasionally–but there are some things that simply can’t be taken for granted. For instance, I’ve probably burned over 100 CD’s and DVD’s since I got my MacBook–and exactly 1 failed. On a Windows-based machine–the failure rate is much higher. I’d go through dozens of back bad burns.
After that, it was a slippery slope. The AppleTV came next, followed by the MacMini to run my entertainment system (to feed the AppleTV’s) and finally a new MacBook for the wife and the order for the iPad for me.
Am I a Fanboy?
Am I a Fan of Apple products–absolutely. The thing is that it isn’t born out of some mystical reverence for Steve Jobs or some belief that Apple knows what I want/need more than I do. I couldn’t give a hoot for Steve Jobs. After all, he doesn’t really care about me either–just my wallet. What I am fond of though is that Apple has consistently delivered products that do what I want, what I expect, does them well and does them with a little style and panache. It’s called trust. I trust them to deliver on their promises–because they haven’t failed yet.
I didn’t order an iPad simply because Apple wanted me too. I actually have a valid use case or two. I intentionally didn’t buy a Barnes & Noble Nook when I bought my wife one this past Christmas–because I knew that Apple would be coming out with something like the iPad this year and that a digital book reader was one of the functions. Also, while my main machine *is* a laptop and is portable, It’s not often as portable as I’d like. I’m in the process of ripping my extensive DVD collection to digital media (to feed to my AppleTV) which means that my MacBook is often sitting in my office plugged into a 1GB LAN connection and can’t really be moved. The wireless (yes, an Apple Airport Extreme) simply isn’t as reliable for ripping the media to my NAS on the network–plus, the laptop gets pretty warm when it’s spinning disk all the time. In this case, the iPad would be really nice as a satellite system for doing email, IM and web-browsing while in the living room. Lastly, I really LOVE the calendar application on the iPad. Just like being a satellite system at home, being able to take a smaller, lighter and more maneuverable device to meetings at work to take minor notes and have my calendar at a glance is definitely something I’m looking forward to.
So am I a mythical Fanboy? Probably not, and I’ve never met one really. Despite all the hype and the hyperbole about people buying expensive products just because Steve Jobs says so–I don’t think they really exist. They only exist in the minds of people who can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want what Bill Gates told you did. As for me, I guess I’m just a wanna be fanboy because I know that as soon as Apple doesn’t uphold their end–I’ll be looking else where, like Ubuntu maybe. Of course, at the moment . . . I’m still waiting for Apple to deliver; my iPad Wi-Fi + 3G, that is.