I own a Mac but I am not a Mac person

I’ve never been a Steve Jobs fanboy, even though my personal and professional life have benefited greatly from the technologies he popularized.  He was a tyrant, he didn’t spend much time with his kids, and he wasn’t interested in philanthropy.  His death this week is an interesting cultural phenomenon to me, but the outpouring of sentimentality is more than a little strange. See The Onion: Apple User Acting Like His Dad Just Died.

I’ve owned many Apple products since the early 1980s, including the Apple IIe and the original Macintosh.  I currently have an iMac though I mainly use it as my Windows 7 desktop. My kids gave me an iPod years ago and Robbie and I both use it to manage our music collection.  I didn’t like the proprietary nature of the iPhone’s operating system and app store so I’ve opted for Android-based smartphones ever since they were available.  I didn’t like how the iPad required synchronization with a Mac platform ("Huh? I can’t dump my photos on it without using iPhoto? PHHHTTTTTT!") so I’ve waited for another tablet to catch my fancy.  Last week, I placed my order for a Kindle Fire. So I’m an Apple agnostic.

im-a-mac-im-a-pcTen years ago, I heard a marketing guru state that she was a "Mac person." She was illustrating the extent to which people can become emotionally attached to products—and that this was a desirable thing for a company.

Ever since, I’ve tried to become more aware of and discourage my tendency to do likewise in my life as a consumer.  I have enough trouble with my ego and mistaken ideas about who I really am.  Over-identification with a product is a trap I’m better off avoiding.

(FYI, I loved those I’m a PC/I’m a Mac commercials. For more, see the April 2011 HuffPo article, Mac People vs. PC People: What Your Gadget Says About You.)

So yeah, R.I.P. Steve.  Now let’s move on.


  1. Jane Moline said:

    Griff, I think you are being to harsh in your judgement of Steven Jobs. I think you would find lots more to criticize if you knew the facts from many other products–like even where the gas for your car comes from or your shampoo or many other products. Just because we know more about Steven Jobs does not mean that he was any worse than any other corporate mogul–and we know he was not as bad as Rupert Murdoch, who in spite of his companies’ obvious criminal and socially distructive bend, continues to deliver the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and other corrupted information delivery systems.

    Steven Jobs gave us what we wanted (for a price) before we even knew we wanted it. His genius changed our world. We will never know what we will have missed because of his death at a relatively young age.

    October 7, 2011
  2. Ben Miller said:

    I would have to agree with this assessment. I was in the airport yesterday flying back from DC and was amazed at not only the amount of news time spent on eulogizing Steve Jobs but the rapt attention of my fellow travelers. Steve Jobs was certainly a remarkable businessman and someone that had a talent for creating novel products (but not always – Newton anyone?).

    It’s appropriate to mourn the passing of a public figure; especially one who died at a relatively young age. That said, I feel that Americans too quickly confuse marketing and branding with culture and derive a false sense of connectedness and identity from what they buy. The Onion (as so often) nailed it.

    October 7, 2011
  3. Phil Poyner said:

    “Americans too quickly confuse marketing and branding with culture and derive a false sense of connectedness and identity from what they buy” This has certainly been going on for a long time. Even as we speak, someone amongst us will never buy a Ford truck, because “I’m a Chevy man…my Daddy was a Chevy man…my Grandaddy was a Chevy man…” Building brand loyalty, to the point of identity, is practically the “American way”, and in recent history few have done it as well as Steve Jobs.

    That having been said, the hero-worship has been a bit much.

    October 7, 2011
  4. Jane Moline said:

    Well, I guess I have been sheltered from any over-the-top media agrandizing of Steven Jobs–I just thought of him as a guy with some good ideas–but I am not in an airport or driving by an Apple store or otherwise overexposed to all the broo-haw.

    I just think that expecting him to be something else than a tyrant or to know whether or not he spent enough time with his family or kids or was philanthropic-enough is a little persnickity.

    October 7, 2011
  5. Apple would still have devoted fans even if they didn’t have their own OS. That’s how strong their brand is, and the “vision” (in the sense of corporate direction) of Steve Jobs played a tremendous part in that. Nobody considers themselves an HP or Dell fanatic. Particularly HP – look at the fiasco with their Touchpads. HP dumped who knows how many millions into creating a tablet, which they then pulled off the market just seven weeks later. That is not clear corporate vision.

    October 7, 2011
  6. Kathie Galotti said:

    Soooo…..if we organize one of those electronic “candlelight” vigils on Bridge Square, you’d rather give it a miss, right?

    October 7, 2011
  7. David Henson said:

    Steve Jobs did not create the Newton (it was during the period he was fired). Newtons still sell for upwards of $500. on Ebay – incredible for such old tech. The Newton was way ahead of its time and I suspect much of the software know how was used in ipod, iphone and ipad. Steve killed the Newton right after he returned as CEO

    October 8, 2011
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    Jane, how about Apple’s environmental record under Steve Jobs. Still persnickety?

    As recently as 10 years ago Apple’s computers were assembled in the United States, but today they are built in southern China under appalling labor conditions. Apple, like the vast majority of the electronics industry, skirts labor laws by subcontracting all its manufacturing to companies like Foxconn, a firm made infamous for suicides at its plants, a worker dying after working a 34-hour shift, widespread beatings, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to meet high quotas set by tech companies like Apple.

    October 8, 2011
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    Kathie, yeah, I’ll pass on the candlelight vigil for Steve Jobs. Apple under him has become too Big Brother for me:

    Because of its enormous strength in both music sales and mobile devices, Apple has more power than at any time in its history, and it is using that power to make the computing experience of its users less free, more locked down and more tightly regulated than ever before. All of Apple’s iDevices — the iPod, iPhone and iPad — use operating systems that deny the user access to their workings. Users cannot install programs themselves; they are downloaded from Apple’s servers, which Apple controls and curates, choosing at its whim what can and can’t be distributed, and where anything can be censored with little or no explanation.

    The Steve Jobs who founded Apple as an anarchic company promoting the message of freedom, whose first projects with Stephen Wozniak were pirate boxes and computers with open schematics, would be taken aback by the future that Apple is forging. Today there is no tech company that looks more like the Big Brother from Apple’s iconic 1984 commercial than Apple itself, a testament to how quickly power can corrupt.

    October 8, 2011
  10. Jerry Bilek said:

    if you’re worried about Apple being too big brother than why would you buy a Kindle Fire? Amazon is selling these close to cost for one big reason. Data. it’s all about the data. they want your buying and browsing habits so they can sell more stuff to you and other retailers can as well. Jeff could become the biggest brother. Surely you heard about his 1984 mistake?

    October 8, 2011
  11. Jane Moline said:

    Yeah. Still too persnickity. Every computer built by every company and all of our TVs and all of all of our printers and most of our cars are built under appalling environmental and even employment issues.

    You just can’t blame all that on Steve Jobs.

    We all need to quit buying all the junk—and only buy what you NEED. Steve Jobs was just a guy.

    October 8, 2011
  12. Griff Wigley said:

    Jerry, yeah, that Orwell incident was stupid, as Jeff Bezos said. He apologized.

    As for The Content that they want to sell me via their Kindle, sure. It’s the razor blade model, ie, cheap razor, we’ll make money on the blades.

    The difference: I don’t have to buy their blades, unlike Apple’s devices. I can put pretty much whatever content I own on it.

    October 8, 2011
  13. Griff Wigley said:

    Patrick, Amazon will provide the option to turn that feature off:

    You can also choose to operate Amazon Silk in basic or ‘off-cloud’ mode. Off-cloud mode allows web pages generally to go directly to your computer rather than pass through our servers. As such, it does not take advantage of Amazon’s cloud computing services to speed-up web content delivery.

    October 8, 2011
  14. Griff Wigley said:

    Jane, you ignorant slut.

    I’m not blaming all those environmental and other problems on Steve Jobs. I’m just arguing that he doesn’t deserve adulation.

    I have some sympathetic leanings towards the occupywallstreet crowd, but it makes no sense to me that they vilify most billionaires, yet give Steve Jobs a pass/worship him just because he created cool iShit.

    October 13, 2011
  15. Griff Wigley said:

    I got my Kindle Fire just before Thanksgiving but returned it a few days later. Some of the reasons are covered in this NYTimes article:

    As Kindle Fire Faces Critics, Remedies Are Promised

    I’m considering the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 (rated equal to the iPad 2 by Consumer Reports) or else wait for an ultra-thin laptop that comes with a touch screen.

    December 12, 2011
  16. Megan Tsui said:

    My husband has a Droid tablet because he felt much like you do, Griff, about Apple. I have an iPad 2. I often find him looking longingly at it…I know he wishes he would have gotten the iPad instead. More apps, easier functionality…really, it’s everything they say it is and more. Besides my husband, family, friends, and critters, it’s my favorite thing in the whole world.

    December 13, 2011