Musings Technology

I am not an Apple evangelist.

Neither am I an Apple apologist. But I think many Apple critics have gotten it wrong.

We knew a lot of things about September 9:

We knew that this event was going to introduce the new iPhones. (We knew there would be 2.)

We knew – ok, hoped – that Tim Cook would talk about the iWatch. (We now know that it’s not called that.)

We knew that it was going to be HUGE. (Flint Center = where the original Mac was announced = iconic venue. And hello! U2 is going to be there!)

We also knew that people were going to take the piss out of the iPhone specs.

And they did.

For all the positive buzz about what the iPhone and Apple Watch can do, there was probably an equal level of buzz about how Apple is just playing catch-up. And specs-wise, that’s true. Yes, Android phones already have huge screens, face detection, optimal image stabilization, 16MP cameras, NFC, sick resolutions and ppis, plus storage expansion. Some of them (*cough*, Samsung) even have something similar to Touch ID. Unfortunately, critics that rattle off the laundry list of specs that other phones already have seem to miss one crucial point: the decision to buy an iPhone isn’t driven by the specs, it’s driven by the user’s experience.

And iOS just works.

So, about these users…

Phone users typically fall into 3 categories: the powerhouse geek users, the megalomaniacs, and the everyday Joes who just want something that is pretty, and the regular geeks who want something that has a nifty interface that also works well. The powerhouse geek users and megalomaniacs are usually the ones that beat Apple fanatics over the head with specs sheets. The former do so because they are all about developing powerful apps, or playing games that suck processing power, or replacing their point-and-shoot cameras with their phones. They’re the ones that go for the Nexus phones or spend time trying to debloat their phones because they truly love what stock Android has to offer. The megalomaniacs lord their phone specs over others in much the same way some dudes compare the price of their cars or watches or the size of their… you know what I mean. In other words, they do so because that’s all they know. And that’s all they have.

I’d say I’m something between an everyday Joe and a regular geek. I’ve used Android phones and iPhones since the era of the HTC Hero and iPhone 3G. Today, I still use both an Android and an iPhone, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am a bit of a geek and have been known to spend hour upon hour reading and re-reading specs sheets. But while I would pay attention to the specs if I had to choose between two or three or five Android phones, they don’t factor in as much when I have to decide whether to upgrade my iPhone.

You know what they say about the size of the boat and the motion of the ocean.

In my opinion, the powerhouse geek users and megalomaniacs have missed the point. Apple isn’t playing the specs game. It never has. It’s playing the experience game. When someone buys an iPhone, he isn’t just buying a phone. He’s buying the experience of using one. Because it just works. Despite the specs, despite the fact that Android came up with the pull-down Notifications menu first, and despite the fact that many Android phones have cameras that beat the iPhone’s 8MP (specs-wise), the experience of using an iPhone is close to unparalleled. (HTC comes close to a beautifully minimal experience, but it’s lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.)

At the end of the day, the iPhone’s lower specs don’t seem to put a dint in its performance. This shows that it doesn’t matter so much what you have as it does how you use what you have. And Apple uses what it has very, very well.

After all, the specs are the means to the end. Not the end itself.

Here’s an analogy.

For many, buying a phone is like selecting a partner – it isn’t about ticking boxes on a list. Just as deciding to date or marry someone isn’t merely about checking items off a list, buying an iPhone isn’t just about the specs either.

Just as the specs are the means to the end, the ideals we have about our partners are typically also means to an end. Whatever that end is. Take being materially well-off, for instance. It’s not the money per se that’s the goal. At least, not to everyone. It’s what the money can bring. We think: if he has money, then we’ll be financially secure. If we’re financially secure, then we’ll be secure, generally. And if we’ll be secure, generally, then I’ll be happy.

The goal is happiness.

So, beyond the nitty-gritty, dating or marrying someone involves a consideration of overall compatibility. You’ll want to think about whether you enjoy the person’s company, whether the person is reliable, and whether this is someone you just want to spend more time with.

And the iPhone? He’s that guy.

Sure, he doesn’t earn a whole lot of money or drive a flashy sports car. But he’s the guy with the great sense of humour, who is there when you need him (although sometimes he takes naps*), and who doesn’t make you so exasperated that you wish for a user’s manual for some indication of where to find hidden setting and menus. (Read: You would be less likely to shriek, “How do I get this to work?!” with this dude.) This kind of fellow won’t make every one happy, but there’ll be some people he’s compatible with.

It’s quite romantic, really.

In conclusion…

To the geeks and megalomaniacs out there: you really don’t have to be all up in arms about the iPhone’s poorer specs. People who buy the iPhones aren’t looking for the same things you do.  And that’s okay. Because there’s something for everyone in this world.

Miss Miscellany


*This is an allusion to the iPhone’s poor battery life thus far, in case you were wondering. Yes, I agree that some parts of the iPhone aren’t awesome. Just as sometimes we aren’t awesome partners either. #guiltyascharged

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s