Steve Jobs passed away from pancreatic cancer today at the age of 56. It's hard to believe that one man came up with so many innovations that are commonplace today. With people checking into a local bar on Foursquare with their iPhone, while someone else reads the newest comic book on their iPad, or listening to the latest podcast on an iPod, the Apple line of products are everywhere. Even harder to fathom is that his products were once considered the red-headed step child to the other products out there, namely any IBM or Windows based system. You can say Apple was the HD-DVD to the Blu-Ray, the Sega Master System to the Nintendo Entertainment System, or a more modern example, what Android is to the iPhone. Here's my relationship with Apple.
which wasn't quite as cool as the Commodore 64 which had the capability of carrying a bunch of video games. But the IIc did have games, such as Lemonade Stand:
and of course the dysentary infested Oregon Trail (which, in the 80's-90's, was the closest thing you had to playing video games in the school library..)
So, it was a decent start, you had a vast array of educational software (which in retrospect, was the reason my parents probably bought it) and the slight option of playing video games on the system, (which was the more pressing option to any kid).
Maybe it was its sleek design, maybe it was the fact that I was too lazy to input DOS commands when I log onto my computer (Macintosh was one of the first computers to have a desktop system, until Windows 95 software eliminated that pain in the ass step). With its user friendly system, I dug the Mac. There was a pretty good microphone system which I used to record sound effects and make prank calls. I beat the Jerky Boys...or whoever did these Arnold prank calls to the punch (but wasn't very good)..
So while I had the ability to do school work, make those sound effects/prank phone calls, and continue playing such kick-ass educational video games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego ...
My friends were playing bloody, violent games first person shoot-em-ups such as Wolfenstein 3D and Doom from the comfort of their PC
(Mortal Kombat came out a few months later, which took the helm as violent games)
Not only that, there was something called the internet that started to become a craze. There were ways to log onto the 'net with the Mac, but not without ordering/installing additional software to the out of box Macintosh . So for the next 2-3 years, I had to use the Macintosh primarily for schoolwork, but I had to go to my friend's house to play Doom or to log onto the World Wide Web for
meeting girls in chatrooms who claimed they were cheerleaders from the next town over but were probably dudes "research for school". With the need to get on the internet and the because 90% of the computers in my school's computer lab were PCs, my relationship with Macintosh and Apple products officially ended in 1997 with my first ever PC.
Even though I eventually conformed to the rest of the "PC society", I always felt an enormous dearth. It was cool to have something different. Time went by. Windows operated PCs were the conventional system to have while the Macs were better suited for creative outlets like graphic design and sound production. Apple and Macs continued to be on the fringe movement.
By making the terms music and download more palpable to both the record industry and the general public, Apple then revolutionized how we purchased and listened to music with iTunes and iPod.
The iPod became the prominent MP3 player in a market that had no defined leader. With a credit card stored online and the click of a button, a song or entire album of your choice can be yours. The record store model eventually transitioned online (shutting down major and independent stores in the process). This was my first foray into an Apple product. It beat carrying around a huge 20 CD wallet when I was on the subway.
Using the momentum of the popularity of the iPod onto the Apple brand, (and capitalizing on the problems with Windows) there was a resurgence in the marketing campaign for Macs.
The iPhone revolutionized how we communicated, searched for information, made reservations, etc. It became less about having an iPod phone and became a personal computer with internet connection in the palm of your hand. The iPad came out a few years after and intended to be a slightly bigger iPhone but a smaller laptop.
While Windows based PC's still sell more than Apple Computers, the race is much closer now. But with the iPhone and iPad, Apple clearly has the advantage in the smartphone and tablet market, respectively. In these respects, the tide has turned as apps are developed with the more popular Apple products in mind and the other markets addressed second, if at all. The competitors of both products try to emulate their Apple counterpart. In some cases, they succeed. But in the end, the iPhone or iPad are the premiere products to have. This is a far cry from when Apple fanboys..or girls were in the minority.
It's ironic to think that what will drive me back to Apple (I plan to get the iPhone when my current contract is up and I plan to get a iMac when my current laptop explodes from the many viruses that have been acquired during its short two year life) was what drove me to a PC, namely internet access. But through persistence and a knack for innovation, Apple managed to stay relevant during a time when Windows was the premiere brand and changed business models, for better or worse. Steve Jobs once said, "People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas there are. You have to pick carefully." Jobs picked right almost all of the time and will be sorely missed/