Mike Bailey

Back To My Mac, Confessions of a Reluctant Apostate

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Rethinking Fanboyism

Two years after replacing my Apple Macbook Pro laptop with a Dell running Ubuntu Linux I’m going back to Apple. I moved away from Apple for a mixture of philosophical and practical reasons. One of the main reasons was my belief in the importance of a viable linux desktop operating system. The backflip came about because I feel happier when using Apple products. In my attempts to get away from Apple I think I’ve learned more about why they have been so successful.

Android was the Catalyst

I didn’t get a smartphone until mid 2011 and even then it was mainly because the battery on my Nokia was needing to be charged nightly. I picked up an HTC Sensation and began hating it almost immediately. I’m usually pretty good at pointing out flaws but the HTC was a bit of a mystery to me. While I can list a few flaws (battery not lasting a day is one!) I just didn’t like using it. After three months I decided to buy my first iPhone.

I Feel Love

So this is the fucked up thing. Within 30 minutes I was texting people to tell them how much I love my new iPhone. It may make me sound like a total fanboy but even while I was in the store I was bonding with the device. It feels wrong saying I love a machine but  at the same time I’m curious how it could elicit such emotions. I can only put it down to the design of both hardware and software.

The Cathedral and The Bazaar

Steve Jobs was the high priest at Apple. We’re told he was obsessive about detail and that it was his way or the highway. Part of the reason I avoided getting an iPhone was the control exerted over the distribution of Apps through the App Store. I was surprised and disappointed by my first experience of the Android Marketplace. A search for “shopping list” returned hundreds of apps with no indication which were most downloaded or highly rated. Maybe you can’t design an OS or phone by committee?

Get Out of my Way

If I’m going to be iPhone boy then life would be easier if I used OSX on my desktop.

It’s been about 4 years since I last bought a new Macbook Pro. My efforts to avoid vendor lockin are now being replaced by efforts to avoid unproductive work (like debugging problems printing from Ubuntu 11.10). I want to get on with the fun stuff and OSX just seems to make the fun stuff so much easier.

So What Now for Freedom?

I was shocked earlier this year to hear a techie say he wouldn’t care if the linux desktop went away because he’s happy with OSX. My issue is that Apple could make OSX unpleasant at some point in the future and without a viable alternative to switch to we would just have to accept it.

I don’t think me going back to Apple is going to make an ounce of difference to Linux but what would the world be like if everyone followed this path? I guess I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my own happiness trying to support this particular ideal.

Well Done Steve (and Company)

The iPhone and Macbook Pro are masterpieces. (I didn’t mention I’ve had an iPad for the past 12 months and love it to bits). I tried to extract myself from this web of awesome production but have failed because they are so well designed. I would love to create something as compelling.

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