The WOW Starts with Apple

Early on, I drank deeply from the Apple Koolaid. I’ve been a Mac guy ever since.

When I was younger, I used to get into long debates, and enjoyed the tit for tat fight of “Mac vs. PC.” But as I got older, I tired of that. I no longer debate with PC-lovers, because I am absolutely certain there’s nothing they can do to change my mind, and equally sure there’s nothing I can do to change theirs.
In fact, I have come to believe that your choice of computer is a bit like your choice of religion, and that debating someone about it is usually just as pointless. I happen to believe my religion is the best one, at least for me. I also happen to believe my computer is the best one too. I am sure your situation is similar. That doesn’t prevent me from waxing eloquently about both, though. I’ve just come to realize that getting defensive about either is a little pointless.

Two seminal events happen back in January in the separate universes of Mac and PC:
About two weeks ago, Apple announced the long awaited, and much coveted, iPhone.”
Last week, Microsoft unveiled “
Vista,” its new operating system.

Both are touchtone events in the lives of both companies. But, I believe that long after Vista is forgotten we’ll recall the iPhone announcement as something that truly changed an industry.

That doesn’t mean I’m out to slam Vista. Frankly, I don’t know much about Vista. And, perhaps even more discouragingly for Microsoft, I don’t care about Vista. From what I’ve heard, it functions remarkably like OSX, which is really funny since Vista’s marketing slogan seems to be “The Wow Starts Now.”

Actually, the “Wow” has been around for close to a decade.

Truth is, computer users have been saying “Wow!” all month. But not about Vista. They’ve been saying it about the iPhone. What a cool device this is going to be! And while Vista may excite folks for a month or so (until the security breaches are uncovered) the iPhone has the possibility of literally revolutionizing the cell phone for years to come. So far, from what I’ve heard, there is nothing in Vista that will be nearly so revolutionary.

Think that’s too over the top? Think I’m too much of a “homer?”

Well, I will only point out that Apple had done this not once, but twice, before. Twice in their corporate history, their innovations have not just tinkered with a product, but have literally changed the product itself. First, they did it with the personal computer. Then, they did it with the mp3 player. Soon, by all accounts, they’ll do it with the cell phone.

Look out everybody, here comes iPhone. And it’s going to be a killer.

Worse Than Vacation Pictures: I Now Describe My Personal Computer History
(Yes, That’s a play on words. And, yes, there’s a point to this…)

apple1I got my first Mac while in graduate school. It was a 512 K Enhanced, aka “Mac Plus,” one of the very first Macintosh computers ever made. That computer got me all the way through grad school, and into the first years of work. I kept it at home, and got a Mac SE for the office. Those old computers seem terribly quaint now. They had less internal memory than the cell phone in my pocket has now. It was the mouse, and the easy-to-use graphical interface (GUI), that made those early Macs head and shoulders above every other computer. it truly was revolutionary. Sure, they are on every computer now. But what a breakthrough it was then.
The really funny thing is how, throughout its existence, people have predicted Apple’s demise. When Microsoft won
the lawsuit that preserved the right to sell Windoze, people said it would bury Apple.
It didn’t.

apple2 The second Mac I bought was the second Powermac ever made. They said it those computers wouldn’t last either. They said the company had already lost the computer wars and would soon fold.
It didn’t.

apple3 In 2000, we took a plunge and got a G4. When they came out, they were the fastest computers on the planet. The military classified them as a potentially dangerous weapon, and the first ones could not be exported out of the United States. They are still amazingly fast. They ran OSX, Apple’s beautiful and sleek operating system. But, again, folks said “these are nice, but Apple will probably go belly up soon.”
It didn’t.

apple5 Then came iPod. So, after twenty years of enduring the constant FOX-News-like negative “spin” that Macs were silly little second class computers, made from a company allegedly always on the brink of extinction, along came this revolutionary music player. Folks said nobody would buy it either, because it was an Apple product. Who would buy an Apple music player?! It was foolish venture, they said. It didn’t matter if it was more beautiful and easy-to-use than PC-based players. What a sad last gasp of a doomed company they said. Surely, Apple will go under soon they said.
It didn’t.
(Are you detecting the pattern yet?)

Bet You’ve Got an iPod, Don’t You?

Apple now has 70 percent of the legal music download market. Apple has sold
millions and millions of iPods; 21 million in the last fiscal quarter alone. This BTW, being the same quarter that Microsoft introduced the Zune. That’s right, not only did the Zune not sell well in its first quarter, but the iPod sold better than ever.

Not only that, but Apple sold more computers during that same fiscal quarter too. By some accounts, their share of the computer market has come up four points over the past ten years; a span that saw virtually every other computer manufacturer LOSE market share.

So, funny thing? Nobody talks about Apple going under anymore!!!

In fact, more and more people are giving Macs a chance. Based on their experience of the iPod, they assume (correctly) that Macs might be just as easy to use. And, mark my word, there will be more of these users coming in the years to come. A completely non-scientific study of my daughter’s nine-year-old friends reveals that eighty percent of them have iPods. I bet if you asked around among your friends, you’d find the same thing.
Some of the millions of kids toting around iPods will grow up to be Mac users, mark my word.

In the past few years, Apple made another bold move and changed over to the Intel chips in all their Macs. This means that anybody who just has to have Windoze in order to live, can now run it on their Mac –no problem– side by side with OSX.

Throughout its history, Windoze has copied both the use of the mouse and the easy-to-use GUI that Apple created. But the Mac OS was the original. And it’s still the best. People ARE switching to Macs. And once they use one for a while, they’re finally admitting what I’ve said for years: Macs are better.

She Used to Love the View, But Now It’s Overbuilt

But, what do I know? I’m a Koolaid drinker. So, perhaps you’d be more intrigued to hear it from Erika Jonietz.

apple6 Jonietz is a Senior Editor at Technology Review, and she’s just written an essay entitled: Uninspiring Vista: How Microsoft’s long-awaited operating system disappointed a stubborn fan.”
First, she establishes her bonafides as a Microsoft Windows Koolaid drinker:
“For most of the last two decades, I have been a Microsoft apologist. I mean, not merely a contented user of the company’s operating systems and software, not just a fan, but a champion. I have insisted that MS-DOS wasn’t hard to use (once you got used to it), that Windows 3.1 was the greatest innovation in desktop operating systems, that Word was in fact superior to WordPerfect, and that Windows XP was, quite simply, “it.”

When I was forced to use Apple’s Mac OS (versions 7.6 through 9.2) for a series of jobs, I grumbled, griped, and insisted that Windows was better…Yet my adoration wasn’t entirely logical; I knew from experience, for example, that Mac crashes were easier to recover from than the infamous Blue Screen of Death. At the heart of it all, I was simply more used to Windows. Even when I finally bought a Mac three years ago, it was solely to meet the computing requirements of some of the publications I worked with. I turned it on only when I had to, sticking to my Windows computer for everyday tasks….

So you might think I would be predisposed to love Vista, Microsoft’s newest version of Windows, which was scheduled to be released to consumers at the end of January. And indeed, I leaped at the opportunity to review it. I couldn’t wait to finally see and use the long-delayed operating system that I had been reading and writing about for more than three years. Regardless of widespread skepticism, I was confident that Vista would dazzle me, and I looked forward to saying so in print.

Ironically, playing around with Vista for more than a month has done what years of experience and exhortations from Mac-loving friends could not: it has converted me into a Mac fan.”

Jonietz is honest enough to admit what I said before, that Vista is not really “new”:
“…many of Vista’s “new” features seemed terribly familiar to me–as they will to any user of Apple’s OS X Tiger operating system. Live thumbnails that display petite versions of minimized windows, search boxes integrated into every Explorer window, and especially the Sidebar–which contains “Gadgets” such as a weather updater and a headline reader–all mimic OS X features introduced in 2005. The Windows versions are outstanding–they’re just not really innovative.”

Jonietz also says Vista is a “memory hog.”
“Although my computer meets the minimum requirements of a “Vista Premium Ready PC,” with one gigabyte of RAM, I could run only a few °©simple programs, such as a Web browser and word processor, without running out of memory. I couldn’t even watch a movie: Windows Media Player could read the contents of the DVD, but there wasn’t enough memory to actually play it. In short, you need a hell of a computer just to run this OS.”

And, she found that many of her peripherals didn’t work either, and that she and many others will probably be forced to buy brand new ones:
“Microsoft’s Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor program, which I ran before installing Vista, assured me that my laptop was fully compatible with the 64-bit version. But once I installed it, my speakers would not work. It seems that none of the companies concerned had written a driver for my sound card; it took more than 10 hours of effort to find a workaround. Nor do drivers exist for my modem, printer, or several other things I rely on. For some of the newer components, like the modem, manufacturers will probably have released 64-bit drivers by the time this review appears. But companies have no incentive to write complicated new drivers for older peripherals like my printer. And because rules written into the 64-bit version of Vista limit the installation of some independently written drivers, users will be virtually forced to buy new peripherals if they want to run it.”

She concludes with this conversion experience:
“Struggling to get my computer to do the most basic things reminded me forcefully of similar battles with previous versions of Windows–for instance, the time an MIT electrical engineer had to help me figure out how to get my computer to display anything on my monitor after I upgraded to Windows 98. Playing with OS X Tiger in order to make accurate comparisons for this review, I had a personal epiphany: Windows is complicated. Macs are simple.”

For those of you who know nothing about Macs, I know this last line seems like gloating. But Jonietz explains how she comes to this conclusion:
“I just want things to work, and with my Mac, they do. Though my Mac barely exceeds the processor and memory requirements for OS X Tiger, every bundled program runs perfectly. The five-year-old printer that doesn’t work at all with Vista performs beautifully with OS X, not because the manufacturer bothered to write a new Mac driver for my aging standby, but because Apple included a third-party, open-source driver designed to support older printers in Tiger. Instead of facing the planned obsolescence of my printer, I can stick with it as long as I like.

And my deepest-seated reasons for preferring Windows PCs–more computing power for the money and greater software availability–have evaporated in the last year. Apple’s decision to use the same Intel chips found in Windows machines has changed everything. Users can now run OS X and Windows on the same computer; with third-party software such as Parallels Desktop, you don’t even need to reboot to switch back and forth. The chip swap also makes it possible to compare prices directly. I recently used the Apple and Dell websites to price comparable desktops and laptops; they were $100 apart or less in each case.”

But enough about Vista. As I said, I haven’t really been thinking much about it. Really. Strangely, I don’t think many other people have been either.

Meet the Phone of Your Future

apple7But in the same month that the long overdue Vista is finally released, here comes iPhone. And what a splash IT made!!! It’s already got more buzz than Vista, and people are already buying Vista. Mark my word: cell phones will never be the same. iPhone may never be the best selling phone; but like the iPod before it, it will transform an entire industry. But, again, I suppose you may say I’m just a Koolaid drinker. So, check out these recommendations:
Chicago Sun Times says: “You Could Call the iPhone Perfect”
PC Magazine (A Windows Publication) says: “A day after Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPhone during his MacWorld keynote on Tuesday morning, I actually got my hands on one. For all of ten minutes. Ten minutes isn’t much, but I can safely say that the iPhone is even more impressive than it appeared during the Jobs keyote. And that’s saying something.”

I am eagerly awaiting the iPhone. I want to get one. Unfortunately, because I washed my Treo 600 with my underwear the other day, I found myself in need of a new phone right now. (note to self and others: cell phones don’t wash)

So, I had to go back to Sprint and get an upgrade. Got the new Treo 700. And it’s a VERY cool device.

But I can tell you that the iPhone will be better. If you haven’t really looked into it yet, and don’t want to watch Steve Job’s whole MacWorld keynote, check out this story from CBS News for a cool visual sample:

It’s phone…it’s an internet device…it’s a personal organizer…it’s an iPod.

Six months from now people will start flocking to replace their phones and iPods with the all-in-one iPhone. iPhone will run OSX, and have a full feature web browser. It will be a full-function iPod too.

This thing is going to be HUGE. It will transform phones. Mark my word.

I only have one major concern (that I am sure Apple will fix) and one minor one (that may just be my own ignorance). The first is that the initial iPhones will only be available in four and eight gigabytes models. But for someone like me, who assumes they’ll be replacing their iPod when they get one, that’s about twenty-to-forty gigs too small. My hunch is that, like the history of iPod itself, the storage space in these babies will explode over time.

The second concern is minor, and may already be taken care of. At this price range (and, no, they are not the most expensive phones out there!), a lot of the initial buyers will be switching over from other smartphones. They will want to be sure that the “personal organizer” functions of iPhone are top notch.

Apple has not really talked up the iCal functionality of iPhone. That surprises me a little. Along with lots of iPod/iPhoto storage space, the personal organizer side of the phone will be a necessity for me, and I’ll want it to be every bit as great at the Treo/Palm world. My hunch is: it already is, but Apple is simply playing up the cooler side of the iPhone design in this initial release.

One of the things I’ve been noting is how people talk about Apple verses how they talk about Microsoft these days. I’m talking “Zeitgeist” here…not statistics or stock prices…but what is the culture says….

First, I offer this video from Conan O’Brien about iPhone:

Then, there’s this skit from Saturday Night Live:

What’s fun about both these is that they don’t make fun of Apple for pathetic or clunky products. They make fun of Apple for products for being ridiculously, almost inconceivably, good. And the reason these “bits” are funny is because we recognize the underlying truth that Apple products ARE a amazing. They just might invent an iPhone you can keep a kajillion contacts in!

So, while I suppose folks will slowly and begrudgingly migrate to Vista, get ready for the iPhone. It’s really going to shake things up. Apple has done it before, and they’ve done it again.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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