Today (May 6th) marks the 20th anniversary of the iMac’s introduction to the world. Today is also the day that I placed an order for a Microsoft Surface Pro with the intent of it being my main laptop.
I have been using Apple computers since I was in 1st grade playing Oregon Trail and Math Blaster on the Apple 2C computers in our computer lab at school. My moms friends had a performa with a CD-ROM drive and when I would stay with them, I got to play classics such as Manhole. The cost of Apple hardware kept it out of close reach but around 2001 I had a job and disposable income to put towards whatever I wanted. I got to play with my computer teachers Powerbook G4 and 1st gen iPod but the price put it slightly out of my grasp. I coveted it but was never unrealistic about owning something like that. Apple was the underdog in a PC world and their hardware, software combo just didnt appeal to me or so I thought. I used to watch ZDTV on satellite to feed my desire for tech news. One day they were covering a MacWorld Keynote speech featuring Steve Jobs. I knew of Steve but had never really watched him speak about anything for more than a few minutes. This was different, this was Steve’s arena and he was about to blow my mind with his strategic storytelling that mirrored an evangelical preacher. He was your best friend during the speech and he knew of every problem that you had but also had the solution. I was in awe.
The product pitch was for the new sunflower iMac and the full realization of the “Digital Hub” strategy with the final application announced being iPhoto. I owned a digital camera and was an aspiring young filmmaker so Steve was speaking directly to what I wanted. You could import a digital photo, edit, produce slideshows and even have a book printed of your photo collection, amazing. These tasks seem rudimentary now but at the time it was a revolution and I was hooked.
My first Mac was a PowerMac G4 933 Quicksilver that was purchased in 2002. It had a DVD burning Superdrive and the most amazing fit and finish. I was truly a work of art designed by an underdog company that cared about customer satisfaction. I remember owning that computer for a week or so and received a followup phone call from an Apple representative. “How is the PowerMac working for you?” He asked me over the phone. “Do you need any help with the hardware or Mac OS?”. I didn’t, I ate slept and breathed everything Apple from the moment I purchased that computer.
Over the next 15 years I used and purcahsed an untold number of Apple products. I had a new Powerbook / Macbook every 2-3 years, second hand iMacs, macminis, iPods, iPads. Apple computers were the only computer that I would use as my primary machine even though I have worked in a Windows centric IT world for my profession.
Reason for switch
Last year my aging 2013 Macbook Pro Unibody felt like it needed to be updated. It was slowing down and had been upgraded to the max capacity. I anxiously waited the release of the New Thinner(TM) Macbook Pro. It had been reengineered and looked like a Macbook but had some questionable design decisions. My needs were not excessive (I did want 32GB of RAM) and purchasing a new unit was kind of a no brainer but something wasn’t right. I know not to buy revision A apple hardware because the kinks are never worked out so I had to wait a bit. The reviews came out and were the typical Apple fluff but again something wasn’t right. Everyone complained about the keyboard, lack of ports, missing magsafe and how useless the new “touchbar” was and the price was a little more than what it should have been. I decided to investigate some things on my own and found several benchmarks of the new and older machines. To my amazement, the 2015 Macbook 15 was more powerful than the current model and still included all of the features that I loved. I bought one second hand on Amazon and have been using it ever sense. Its not a bad computer but its bulky and not the most grab and go friendly computer. I use it as a workstation plugged up to multiple monitors on my desk.
The most recent update of Mac OS High Sierra has started warning me that some of my software is 32-bit and will not be supported in a future release. This is kind of insult to injury considering MacOS has been lacking innovation for the last few years. A lot of my favorite software hasn’t been updated, abandoned or updated to a very dysfunctional state. Why is this? Apple had some revolutionary software years ago and now its all gone. The replacements are poor versions of their predecessors. The end to end solution that was a key selling point has also been abandoned. Apple recently officially announced that the Airport wireless solution has been discontinued joining the Apple Displays. The Mac mini hasn’t officially been abandoned but it hasn’t been updated since 2014 and a new MacPro is supposedly “In the works” after not being updated since 2013.
What is happening at Apple? The flagship products haven’t been updated in years, the services are subpar (Siri!!, Apple Music), The software seems thrown together and the support is not nearly as good as it was. I spent hours in an apple store just to see if my phones battery was recalled and eligible for replace (it was but would have taken another 4 hours… why??).
The reasons for using Apple hardware and software are no longer there for me. I have analogous software available that fills the same roles (and sometimes better than before). The support and hardware are gone and the new areas of focus are not my main needs. I understand that the iPhone is the main revenue driver for Apple but this also has its problems. My phone has developed a nasty audio skipping bug which practically makes the phone portion of my iPhone unusable. How can the main focus of this gigantic company let a problem like this slip? I am still in awe of where this company was and where it is now.
After all of these years it feels strange moving back to Windows as my main working computer. Im exciting and I’m nervous to move to a new environment and back to what the rest of the world uses. It will be nice to use applications that aren’t forced on to a platform. I anticipate the problems but at least there is a known path for growth unlike Apple’s plans.
The Apple of the late 90’s-Early 2000’s was truly a historic company, now they are just a company.
Thank you to everyone that made Apple what it was.
Tony Fidel, Avie Tevanian, Sal Soghoian, Guy Kawasaki, Steve Wozniak, Johnny Ive, Scott Forstall, Phil Schiller, Jon Rubenstein, Steve Jobs