Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The "Apple Advantage" is class signalling and always has been

Tomorrow is the great unveiling of the Apple tablet, that fabled bit of electronics that has caused so much virtual ink to be spilled. I may avoid the Internet altogether tomorrow, as the collective i-gurgling will probably corrupt even gadget-free sites like ESPN. I'm cool without, thanks.

Some people speak as if I am an Apple hater, but that isn't true. I simply have not sacrificed my discrimination and critical capacity when it comes to Apple, unlike most of the bloggers you will ever read. Apple makes many good products, and some great ones. The question has always been whether the products they make represent a good value. That's been the issue, for me. Sometimes, I find the answer is yes. Often I find the answer is no. Unfortunately, actually evaluating the pros and cons of Apple products is anathema on the Internet, where we are all expected to bow down to whatever Steve Jobs and his marketing team has decreed. This is a disease that has so infected the gadget press that I simply don't trust a word I read online about Apple. There is so much uncritical love thrown Apple's way that you can never sort the true claims about Apple's value from the false ones. Apple makes some fantastic products, I have counseled people to get them many times, but I am afraid that the media and the legion of fanboys devoted to Apple's perfection have left me permanently skeptical about anything positive that I read about the company.

Anyway-- here's something that to me is so obvious that it barely needs mentioning, and yet I never see people talk about it openly: the real advantage of Apple, for many people, is that Apple products are status objects. Displaying your Apple stuff proudly is just yet another of our culture's myriad ways to engage in a little subtle classism. Apple products are expensive, some very expensive, and they are often significantly more expensive than non-Apple equivalents. When I bring this up in cautioning people about buying a particular Apple product (even in the course of endorsing such a purchase) there's a weird defenselessness that happens. People don't disagree, and yet they don't weigh that as a negative factor, either.

The reason is simple: being expensive is part of the point. A Macbook Pro is just as much of a status marker as a Louis Vuitton purse or a BMW. Being more expensive than another product of similar capability isn't a bug, it's a feature. But unlike that purse or that car, Apple products come with a kind of built-in deniability about the fact that they are purchased in part because of their class signals. Look, people love to demonstrate wealth; it is one of our culture's more singular obsessions. But a lot of people, for reasons of politics and decorum (and this extends to conservatives and liberals alike), feel guilty about flashing their class. So while they look down at, say, black urban youth for wearing expensive jewelry, they make sure you know where they went to college. Both are signaling, and both have everything to do with money, but one allows you to deny that you are so signaling.

And that brings us to "Apple culture." This is a phenomenon we're all aware of. I can't tell you how often I've discussed a potential purchase, of a computer or phone or MP3 player, where my frank discussions of features compared to price point get held up because of terms like "philosophy," "individualism," "creativity," "personality." You know-- all the things that purchasing a commodity can't give you? That stuff tends to dominate discussion of Apple products, and has been the essence of Apple advertising for years. There is somehow an Apple culture, and this culture is associated with all kinds of vague (but very real!) virtues. There is, according to many, a category of "Apple people," and this somehow means more than people who prefer Apple products but instead has everything to do with a person's personal virtue, and most importantly, how "unique" they are, a term thrown around about a commodity owned by millions with such disregard for its basic denotation that my eyes glaze over when I hear it. All of this stuff, this strange but inescapable reference to Apple culture, is just a way to hide guilt about the frank status projection that prominently displaying your iPhone represents.

All of this is why the killer feature of the iPod was always those white earbuds. That was what really sold. You could ride the subway or walk down the street and everybody knew that there was something very expensive in your pocket. Why, otherwise, not switch to some nondescript-- and likely higher quality-- headphones? Because such headphones didn't tell anyone that you were someone who could throw down $300 on an iPod, that's why. I remember watching those white earbuds spread like wildfire across the city, accompanied by more knowing glances and quiet smirks than I care to remember.

If you are at this point saying that none of this is a reason not to buy a particular product, I am in total agreement. White, straight teeth are also a class marker, but I am not advocating skipping the dentist out of some strained feelings of guilt. Again-- some Apple purchases make sense; some don't. The original iPod was, really, a miracle of design and superior tech. Hell, I owned an iPod, the original Nano, and while I would now go with a Zune HD above an iPod Touch, were I in the market for either, it would be close. As tends to happen with consumer electronics, good enough alternatives are now so cheap that the comparative advantage of devices like the Zune or iPod has diminished. But I did buy an iPod at one time. The tablet coming out tomorrow might be a great product and a very smart buy. We'll have to wait to find out; the gadget press will pronounce it the greatest achievement of humanity no matter how flawed it might be, in the short term. But in the long term, it might very well be a smart, worthwhile purchase. Just as an iPod or iPhone can both be really smart purchases. I would never pretend that isn't the case.

But-- if you find people are talking about Apple in pseudo-mythical terms; if people are endorsing a vision of Apple or Steve Jobs as anything other than capitalists with the sole priority of making profits; if you hear terms like "culture," "individualism,"or "philosophy," if you find that you are stammering and straining to explain why you love your Apple product beyond any rational explanation... be real. You know what the value is. It's okay; we all do it, I do it. I do think a little guilt is alright, here; unlike the great mass of political commentary in our culture, my opinion has never been that feeling guilty is always inappropriate. Just remember that the sound of someone stammering to explain how "Apple is about more than electronics, man," is the sound of white people trying to hide their guilt about exploiting naked classism.

Incidentally, people always say one of Apple's biggest strengths is aesthetics. This is always weird to me. Aesthetics are subjective. Personally? I think the toilet-seat white plastic shell that has come to define Apple is the absolute apotheosis of whitebread design, an entirely safe, focus-group vision that nonetheless prides itself on danger, a yuppoid futurist fantasy that isn't about "clean lines" or minimalism but instead about a certain sexless, antiseptic stab at middlebrow design profundity, the illusion of depth for people so shallow they're fooled into think that there's anything more moving about smooth white plastic than about that sickly computer beige from a decade ago.

But like I said. Such things are subjective. Nothing to get too emotionally involved with.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

ummm....sorry, but....no duh, dude. Apple is undeniably on the top 5 list of things white people love. They are a luxury. Believing you "Think Different" comes at a high price. You can advertise your privilege by paying for design rather than simply function. You seem to be suggesting this is a revelation on your part, but I think it's been an understood part of Apple's marketing scheme forever.

Matt Frost said...

"White, straight teeth are also a class marker, but I am not advocating skipping the dentist out of some strained feelings of guilt. "

Which is why you're you and Joe Strummer was Joe Strummer.

paul said...

I agree with about 95% of that, but here's the thing you always leave out when you talk about Apple:

Steve Jobs is a hippie. Like a serious, serious hippie; he took a great deal of LSD, wandered around India for a year, etc. He has said repeatedly, and I believe him, that he really and truly does not care about money; he wants to use personal computing to change the world. And you could argue that he succeeded, to an extent.

Now, okay, it's possible that the board of directors for the Apple Corporation has co-opted this, and that practically speaking, it's a soulless corporation cynically exploiting its customer base through advertising, etc. But it's not ONLY that.

Freddie said...

I know, Matt, I know. I'm cool with being a bit of a poseur.

bcg said...

It's really, really irritating to see people adopt an ever-so-slightly haughtier persona right after buying an Apple product, like they just upgraded their identity.

The Abstracted Engineer said...

Every single word you said above is true, especially if you took out "Apple products" and inserted "Toyota Prius."

Joey said...

I hear this all the time. I actually agree with it, the only Apple product I've ever really been happy with being my iPod Touch, and an original Blueberry iMac that I used at school. (This is where that "design" reputation comes from, and you're right, it's no longer deserved. Dell - freaking DELL! - makes prettier machines.)

Part of this comes from, I think, the shift in Apple's position from being really marginal (as I recall they were in the 90s) to being really huge.

Ian M. said...

Freddie, would you believe someone if they said after carefully considering numerous laptops they settled on a macbook because it was the best value for their needs?
On design, I always thought this was a functionality argument, not an aesthetic one.
bcg - it's nothing to get emotional about

Freddie said...

Freddie, would you believe someone if they said after carefully considering numerous laptops they settled on a macbook because it was the best value for their needs?

Yes! Absolutely! I have counseled friends and family members to get Macbooks in the past. Fairly often.

Beth said...

In NYC, a whole lot of us get rid of the white headphones very quickly to avoid being mugged for an iPod. That, and as you pointed out, they suck. In terms of desktops and laptops, I have to say that I've found that Apple products last much longer (currently using one from late '03) than PCs, especially since spyware and viruses aren't an issue.

Anonymous said...

Yawn... I couldn't make it through this blog entry. Can you make your uninteresting observations using fewer words?

Sabahat Zakariya said...

I really, really loved your post. With the exception of the aesthetics bit, i agree with all else you said and was so happy to see someone say it much more eloquently than i could.

carly said...

LOVE this:

"I think the toilet-seat white plastic shell that has come to define Apple is the absolute apotheosis of whitebread design, an entirely safe, focus-group vision that nonetheless prides itself on danger, a yuppoid futurist fantasy that isn't about "clean lines" or minimalism but instead about a certain sexless, antiseptic stab at middlebrow design profundity, the illusion of depth for people so shallow they're fooled into think that there's anything more moving about smooth white plastic than about that sickly computer beige from a decade ago."

PS. I am typing this from my iMac. Just so you know.

(joke)

April said...

Apple laptops are more expensive to make than PC's. That's most of it imho.

Srsly-Wtf said...

Well said sir.

Aydan said...

Huh. I had never really thought of Apple stuff as a display of wealth, though I knew they were more expensive than others. You're right that there's a definite Apple culture (and I don't by any means deny your points about class), but for me it was always about being "unique" and "creative" rather than snob appeal. (And now that I've used a Mac since I was 4, I don't really want to change...)

Anonymous said...

You wrote, "Just remember that the sound of someone stammering to explain how "Apple is about more than electronics, man," is the sound of white people trying to hide their guilt about exploiting naked classism.""

Non-whites can't be middle-class classists now?

tapati said...

Thank you! I love many Apple products but I am happy someone is willing to talk about what we all know, the class angle. Classism doesn't get mentioned enough.

Perhaps Anon has never suffered the effects of classism and thus has the luxury of finding a post about it boring. That's class privilege, btw.

Kathi said...

Oh, sure. Spew out 9 thick paragraphs of disdainful snark (concluding with the dismissal of all Apple users as "shallow") and then say it's nothing to get emotionally involved with. But that's a hater's typical disingenuous posturing.

However, you are also full of it on at least three counts.

1) The "value" argument: I've had 3 Macs since 1991. How many PCs have you had in that time (assuming you could type in 1991)? Game, set, match.

2) "Apple culture" is what it says it is. It's not about status. It is to some extent about being nonconformist, yes. Apple's software and hardware have been highly individualistic, compared with DOS/Windows gear, since the very first Mac.

3) The rants about white things are where your bitterness really starts to eat away at your shabby arguments. The earphone rant is too stupid to even touch. But "the toilet seat white shell that has *come to define Apple*"?? Who do you think you're kidding with that BS? What color is a Mac Pro, hater? And have you looked at the Macbook line lately? The lone white Macbook is the LOW END model. So much for your status-flashing argument.

Jacob said...

"White people" often tends to be used in reference to socioeconomic status, not necessarily race, as exemplified by the hugely-popular-for-a-little-while blog Stuff White People Like. In this sense, not all white people are White People, but plenty of non-whites are, and I'm relatively certain this is the sense Freddie intends.

Anonymous said...

Oh good lord, Kathi. The fact that you're getting so violently defensive pretty much proves his point.

Kasim said...

I think both sides of the debate could stand to back down a little. The elephant in the room is the PC snobs, who have bombarded me for years how awful Mac software (or the lack thereof) is and how Mac OS is so difficult to do DIY repairs with. I'm a life-long Mac user - there was a time before I developed my critical thinking skills where I bought the hype about creativity, but even though I now recognise that for the bs it is, I still feel more comfortable using them. I can use a PC, but I would never do so voluntarily unless I absolutely had to.

The point Kathi makes that is bang on is about the built-in obsolescence factor. I think Mac's gotten worse for this with its more recent lines of laptops, but to be frank, it's a problem that plagues the entire industry, and can't be laid at the feet of one company or another just because of our own built-in prejudices.

So yeah, I'm repulsed by the Mac users who flaunt their iPods or PowerBooks - I see people do it all the time, and I go out of my way to avoid giving that impression myself. But there are people who use Macs because they like to, and don't actively try to show them off.

Anonymous said...

Kathi, I am sorry that you couldn't afford to upgrade your expensive Macs more often than three times since 1991.

Chris said...

Also don't forget the iPad is clearly a secondary, leisure and entertainment device. You can't plug in all your peripherals nor can you b expected to do real work, use a spreadsheet, process a photo, write a paper, etc. on an iPad. This is a device for people who can toss out at least $500 extra on top of whatever computer they use to do their work.

Ask yourself would you get an iPad instead of a computer? Of course not, this is only for people who can afford it on top of a computer. A little extra perk of being bourgeoisie.

Anonymous said...

Yes. It's okay to make a post with intentionally inflammatory phrasing (toilet-seat white? how utterly neutral).

But to present the opposing opinion? You're just proving him right!

Freddie said...

It is to some extent about being nonconformist, yes. Apple's software and hardware have been highly individualistic, compared with DOS/Windows gear, since the very first Mac.

What I would like to push back against, gently, is the idea that purchasing a commodity can ever be a noncomformist or individualistic act.

As for being provoking, here I am guilty as charged. I tend to think that part of the reason it's fun to talk about the PC/Apple divide, or sports, or similar things, is because the stakes are so low. So you can have a little fun with it. Whereas when issues are about things like health care and foreign policy, life and death are literally on the line.

So I apologize if I seem intemperate-- I do like some Apple products, and many, many people who own them. I just don't like a lot of the weird talk about them, as if they transcend consumer electronics, when they don't. That's all. And if you can't be a bit of a punk every once in awhile, where's the fun?

Kristen said...

As someone who grew up learning Apple in an otherwise "poor" or poorer, school, I never saw Apple as a status object, I thought it was the opposite. I used the really old dinosaur macs then iMacs from 1st-7th grade. It was only when the iPod was released that I think this happened. I use Apple now because I was tired of buying PC's that ended up crashing on me for no good reason. I spent $2,000 on a laptop and pc only to have each kick the bucket after a year. Complete blue screen, motherboard failure. I like Apple but don't subscribe to Apple culture - I just want a reliable computer. And I bought it second hand refurbished.

NimChimpsky said...

Can't believe no one's brought up the recent book 'Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior'. Even though some of the science behind it is a bit controversial, it's still a great read. Combines costly signaling theory and personality theory. Essentially, what we choose to purchase and 'display' is in part a signal of our personality traits to potential mates.

Anonymous said...

Yes. It's okay to make a post with intentionally inflammatory phrasing (toilet-seat white? how utterly neutral).

But to present the opposing opinion? You're just proving him right!


Well you have to admit, she is. Freddie made a point of mentioning, several times, that Apple products have their merits and he is not being a purist either way. But Kathi is not merely presenting the opposing opinion, she is presenting it in a fashion that plays directly into the worst stereotypes of "Apple culture" - for one, actually insisting that it is a culture, built on "individuality" (odd statement to make for a mass-produced product), and vehemently denying even the possibility that the products are used as status markers. She's displaying the same purist devotion and complete lack of nuance that Freddie derides in the article.

Sophie Loubere said...

I thought a lot of this was probably true, though I haven't experienced a lot of it first hand, mostly due to the fact that I don't live in the suburbs or in a city. However, as it hasn't been brought up yet, I will bring up the functionality of the mac vs. the pc. I used PCs for most of my life until I was 19. Everyone kept saying that artists should be using macs as they worked better for graphics, etc, so, being an art student, I got myself a macbook pro. I have to say that the big reason I will never go back to PCs is the operating system. I haven't personally used anything post Windows XP, but that operating system was ANNOYING. Things kept popping up all over the place and programs kept freezing and crashing. Mac OSX, on the other hand was clean, much nicer on the eyes, and once I had it figured out, much easier to deal with. Things I don't miss? Icons clogging up half my screen. Also, aesthetically, while apple might not be "exciting" anymore, I appreciate a simple, clean computer design with little to distract the eye from what I'm working on. For me it is less about the product itself and more about what you can do with it. Alas, I am a white middle class female in her twenties who is in art school, so it's a little difficult for me to get around the hipster stereotype. At some point you have to just not care and do what makes you happy and what works.

opportunemoment said...

I totally agree with a lot of this (although I do think the design is pretty... toilet seats are often masterpieces of form and function in my opinion!), especially the thing about the white earphones. For the record I'm very white and very middle class and, I like to think, at least vaguely aware of the ridiculousness of my privileged gadget love... but when I first got an iPod I used my old black headphones with it rather than the white ones because I liked the product but I really, really didn't want to go along with the visible trend of having one.

Just like Freddie says, lots of Apple products are great, but flashing them about smacks of poser to me.

That said me, and my middle class gadget privilege really want an iPhone, more than we want another brand of phone that probably works better in some ways... so I think there's something to be said for a different kind of class posturing that people like me do where we get things and then get all faux-embarassed by them. A sort of 'look how cool I am, I don't even need to show off with my new iWhatever'...

Anonymous said...

Wow. I completely agree with you. I'm surprised considering I wasn't expecting to after being directed to your column from elsewhere. :-)

I got my iPod as a gift a few years ago. It was the second or third generation with a clickwheel and 40 Gb memory. I remember shopping for a neutral case and new headphones for it so that people wouldn't see the white cords, would think I was carrying something cheaper and would be less likely to mug me. Seriously.

I'm currently typing this on a Mac desktop. However I can honestly say it would be too much for me to buy myself had my company not purchased it for me (my desktop at home was assembled from parts bought from a number of different websites). I didn't buy an iPhone, and got a Pre instead, because I hate AT&T's cell service. Still, I feel like I got almost the same phone, with a few obvious limitations.

Next week I'll be presenting at a conference using my company's MacBook Air. It now makes me wonder what kind of image I'll be presenting. :-/

crysd90 said...

I really liked this article and there are definetly some good points. But at the same time, I don't mind paying $1000 for a laptop that won't go crazy on me and end up at Geek Squad for a month. You get what you pay for in that respect.

notemily said...

I Heard Somewhere (citation needed) that if you add up the price of all the non-Apple parts you would need to match the functionality and power of an Apple computer, it'd be about the same price. Apple just puts it all together, without making it optional. I personally like this, but I can see how other people wouldn't.

Apples don't get viruses. That's the bottom line for me. My Apple laptops last about 4-5 years of heavy use before they stop being reliable. I used a PC for about a year, and while I enjoyed having all the applications and such that don't come in a Mac version, in every other aspect I like Macs much better.

Anonymous said...

I'm writing this on the mac I use at work, but I will say this. The macs last longer argument is silly- through upgrading various pieces I've had the same PC since 2001. Its my only personal use computer and sees very heavy use. I run Linux on it, which is a lot like OSX, only much more customizable, if we want to talk about a culture of individuality.

Further, macs cost a lot more for the same performance specs. The performance/dollar you get for a mac is always substantially less. You are paying for the design, not the function.

That being said, for a laptop, I can understand why people put a premium on design.

Alexandra said...

I have noticed this in recent years, to some extent - I think it's less about classism and more about trendiness, almost. I can't help feeling like the current culture surrounding Apple products is a bit...embarrassing. I want to say 'gauche' but I guess that would just be another form of classism, haha. I just mean that I dislike ballyhooing about brands for the sake of it rather than as part of an honest discussion of merits. I honestly don't think I worry much about the image my laptop sends to the world - for most of my life, my [or my parents'] Apple computers were a source of teasing from friends, and I didn't care then. I don't care much now.

I found the earbud comment interesting, as most people I know with iPods have always been quick to upgrade to better headphones. In my circles, it seems widely assumed that people with the white earbuds either a) don't care about sound quality (with all the implications inherent in that designation), or b) can't afford better headphones. On occasion I rely on my white earbuds and I'm always embarrassed, because they're so much more prone to leaking sound all over the guy next to you without you even realizing.

Brit said...

I think this is a bit of an exaggeration. Or if its true I bet its true only in a small sub-culture of media type who talk to each other. I really don't see the masses doffing their caps and tugging their forelocks to ipod owners.

I've never actually owned any Apple product of any kind in my life - more of a PC person when it comes to computers, and the ipod just doesn't seem as good as its competitors to me for various boring technical reasons, plus I don't see the point of a mobile phone of any kind...but I've never associated it with status or class exactly.

Certainly I can't say its ever occurred to me to accord status to someone because they own an Apple product. If I were feeling charitable I'd just think they are in a different cultural tribe. Being uncharitable I'd conclude that they had more money than sense, but, you know, live and let live - this cultural analysis stuff is all meaningless fluff in the end, its not actually politics or something serious.

Well, OK, it is somewhat a middle-class thing, but its more a sub-tribe of the middle-class. It's arty types, probably with jobs in the media. People who aren't that interested in techy things but have quite a bit of money. When it comes to computers for example Apple do have their strengths (i.e. not requring so much fiddling about to keep them working), I can accept that for some people it is indeed the rational choice. Its just a shame that a few seem to turn Apple worship into a religious cult. I mean its just another profit-maximising corporation.

Its all fluff anyway, this cultural analysis, consumer-product choice as a mark of identity. That's not really what social class is about. That's one reason why I can't stand that 'stuff white people do' site - not only does it seem to have that American thing of saying 'race' when they mean class (just about everything on it is a signifier of class not race), its so unbearably smug in its self-satirising. Ironically, writing stuff like 'stuff white people do' and getting a lucrative book deal out of it is stuff upper-middle class people do.


@Matt Frost

Joe Strummer was very middle class, and got his teeth fixed in the end. Besides, he was British and we don't worry about teeth cosmetics as much over here, as countless Americans have observed.

Mom said...

Sorry, no signaling here, just smart spending. Economically speaking, my family is considerably below the local middle class, yet we own several apple products. It's not a class thing, we simply can't afford not to. Living on a very small budget we buy for function and durability. For example, our homeschool curriculum is PC based. A few years ago we tried to save money and bought a PC first. After 5 times (2 months total) in the Geek Squad repair room, it was deemed irreparable so we bought a Mac, used VMWare Fusion to load Windows on it and haven't looked back. The only problems we ever have on that machine are on "The Dark Side" (the aptly named partition on which Windows resides).

Our children both have Touches, not as status symbols but as sanity savers for mom and "tutors" for kids. All of their chores, sports and commitments are in their calendars (no longer mom's problem :-) and the app store makes learning math facts fun, not to mention the ability to bring hundreds of books and educational podcasts wherever they go. I used to take my MacBook Pro with me to the kids' karate classes not to make a statement but to use the down time to catch up on bills, emails, grading homework, scrapbooking, etc. Hubby and I now take our iPhones which have replaced our land line phone and do-nothing cell phones. In the two months we've had them, their maps, apps and internet capabilities have more than paid for the price difference between them and the competition.

Apple products are higher in price, but you get what you pay for. We have been, and expect to be, using these Touches, iPhones and Macs for several years. So, being below middle class, how do we pay for our Apple gadgets? The kids' Touches were free when we bought their Macs (Thank you, Mr. Jobs!). The Macs were paid for with VISA points and money saved from not buying (and replacing) poorly made wannabe products that break in a year.

Anonymous said...

Hold on, this blog is called "L'hôte"? Are material goods the only class indicator in this country? Class is about more than money, and not every working person has the time and energy to learn French, or read Camus, etc.

Sure there is a bit of a class component to Apple computers. But an Apple computer has cultural meaning besides just class.

First of all, we're not talking about a Rolls Royce here. Apples cost roughly 500 dollars more than a technically comparable Windows computer. While 500 dollars is a lot for working class people(a vague term), it isn't completely inaccessible. If your computer is really important to you. Are cars that don't have 100,000 miles on them classist too?

The "individual" image of apple derives not the from fact that "apple" makes you more creative or more of an individual.

Rather, a creative type might spend a lot of time writing (on a blog with a french name perhaps?) and therefore put great value on the tool they use for this. Just like a carpenter could own a quality hammer or a chef a quality knife. And unlike Gucci purses which, to the best of my knowledge, have never produced anything.

Sure there is a class component to being a "creative type" itself. The term is a bit odd right? Only artists and writers create? But I think you should attack that instead of hating on apple.

NancyP said...

For what it is worth, Macs were the status computer among molecular biologists from the birth of Mac to the last decade or so. I remember seeing the first Mac in the department, with its 6" black and white screen and the draw program, and thought "cool, I won't have to go to medical illustration anymore for line drawings (vector and construct maps and such)". A boom in amateur-written scientific freeware and shareware followed, and it became cheaper to buy the Mac and get shareware than to buy the PC and deal with the expensive software sold to drug companies. For 15 years after the debut of Mac, this was the case. In the last decade, much of the computing has shifted to online free services maintained by the labs whose principal investigator (faculty) or student wrote said software. For very basic purposes, in the early days of OS X, I used a bunch of old programs for which I had a OS 9 emulator, until similar freeware and shareware programs were written for OS X.

I use whatever box is before me at the moment, and strenuously resist PC OS updates until the OS isn't supported. Of course, I can do this because the box is behind a corporate-weight firewall. I am on a Win 2000 version now.

Anonymous said...

My experience is that Apple users think they are smarter and intellectually superior, not necc wealthier, than others.

JR Moreau said...

Nice job on this post man. Not a popular point of view, but it needed to be said!

Roxie said...

I agree with pretty much all of this and have thought about it frequently. Especially when the ipod came out. The part about the white earphones is SO dead on! I purchased black earphones around that time b/c I didn't want people to know what I had in my pocket.

By the time I was able to afford an mp3 player, I was shocked at the lack of features ipod had in comparison to iriver & the like (several years ago). I've always found Apple products to cost more and offer less than what I can afford & what I want/need.

Anon January 30, 2010 5:37 PM
Said that Apple products are usually $500 more than their pc counterparts. $500 MORE is inaccessible for a lot of people, including myself. I could buy nearly two pc laptops for $500 more.

I understand why some people like Apple products. How they "never get viruses" (I've never had a virus on any of my pcs), the OSX, etc, etc..That's fine.

I have experienced quite a bit of backlash when I express how useless they've been for me. Which is to say, they are not the product for me and in response someone will say "HOW DARE YOU!"

Anonymous said...

I made the mistake once of asking my friends on a social networking website whether or not it was a good idea to upgrade to Windows 7 or find a decent open-source alternative. I own an iPod already, and I plan on investing in a new laptop when I have the money, but at the time I wasn't looking to spend more than, say, fifty dollars.

As I had expected, I got a slew of responses telling me to "get a mac", as if that were the be-all solution to the problem I was experiencing (major registry fail). People just took the opportunity to push a product that no one seemed to be able to provide the most basic information about, other than it being "better than a PC".

I tried (in vain) to explain that I simply could not afford it in these circumstances, but my refusal was perceived as some sort of strange self-flagellating denial of the greatness of Mac products, and ultimately met with ridicule.

It really pissed me off, but not because people were giving me bad advice (or ignoring my original post altogether). My friends just couldn't see their own privilege, or simply refused to admit it.

Having grown up in a low-class, single parent family of five and currently putting myself through my sixth year of college, it dredged up this unshakable old feeling of unworthiness and emptiness. It was like there was something validating that everyone else had (or seemed to have) because they, in some way, deserved it in a way that I did not. I was green with envy, no doubt, and sometimes still am. I know these ideas about being unworthy aren't true, but looking at people beam about their expensive new gadgets and all the pleasure they get out of them, could anyone blame me for feeling at least a little left out?

I dunno, maybe it's just one of those things that irks me and no one else notices.

jess said...

could not agree with this article more. i have been saying for years that i-idiots are mindless lemmings. i don't buy the shit on principle and i CAN afford it!!

Phix said...

This page has too many comments, but here's mine anyway.

Fun fact: A mac is the only computer that can legally run all three major operating systems: Windows, Mac, and GNU/linux.

A PC with comparable hardware specs may be cheaper than an Apple computer. This is important if you need a great deal of performance, but there are other tangible factors to consider when buying a computer. What Apple has that comparable sped'd PC's don't have is an attention to detail that makes using a computer less annoying.

*integrated software for the built-in webcam
*Fn keys that are used without having to press the 'fn' key.
*No extra "mail" or "internet" keys on the keyboard.
*ambient light sensor (instead of a bright blue LED)
*a multitouch trackpad.
*excellent battery life and magnetic charger cable
*operating system that's optimized to use all of these to their full extent.

You certainly don't need a computer that does all these things, but it does make it easier to use, day to day. If you want a PC with similar attention to detail, you'll pay more for it, in money, time, or both.

So frankie, while Apple products may be purchased as status symbols, I think you missed a lot of people who pay that premium because they're spending a lot of time on a computer, and want the most enjoyable experience.

Lily Crawford said...

That's why I so love every gadgets made by Apple Inc. I love the company itself. They are brilliants and their personnels are just genius.



absolute apple lover

Milla said...

This type of blogs is very recreational, call attention because of them you always learn something useful and not as in other blogs that are a waste of time and learn nothing.Congratulations for this blog and hopefully they are more like this, I regret to say that I've only found the Generic Viagra and this with the material of common interest!

Milla said...

This type of blogs is very recreational, call attention because of them you always learn something useful and not as in other blogs that are a waste of time and learn nothing.Congratulations for this blog and hopefully they are more like this, I regret to say that I've only found the Generic Viagra and this with the material of common interest!

buy jeans said...

I dunno, maybe it's just one of those things that irks me and no one else notices.

byb bye blemish said...

Wonderful submit from professional additionally it's going to probably be an exquisite know-methods to us and thank you a large number for posting this useful info with us all.

EJ said...

A year late to this, but I really just wanted to say:

"1) The "value" argument: I've had 3 Macs since 1991. How many PCs have you had in that time (assuming you could type in 1991)? Game, set, match."

Three; two monitors in the span of that time.

I also have a five-year-old laptop, and a three-year-old netbook, both PCs, both run just as well as when I got them. And it's not like I don't use them. I work online.

Anonymous said...

This "Apple Classism" has invaded the workplace as well. At my job the ones with "iPhones" all go to lunch together, talk together, go to meetings together....like some kind of sick "Hive Mind".

It's pitiful.