Are You an Apple Fanboy Yet?

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You got another Apple gadget for Christmas, didn’t you? And you love it, don’t you?

So at what point do you officially declare yourself to be one of those Cupertino Kool-Aid-guzzling, Steve Jobs-worshiping, pathetically devoted Apple fans you used to loathe?

Ten years ago, there were two kinds of people: PC users (a.k.a. “regular people”) and Apple fanboys. At least that’s how it looked from the PC side.

Macs were pretty, but considered by us PC users to be overpriced, underpowered, insufficiently supported by either software or hardware, too hard to customize, optimize or repair and completely devoid of key application areas, such as games.

The world was black and white. You were either a PC or a Mac. Then things got complicated.

Just in time for the 2001 holiday season, Apple launched the iPod. After initial resistance, many PC users bought one.

For example, I bought an early iPod. Then another. Then another. They made great gifts for my family members. It didn’t take long for us to have several in the house.

But iPod ownership does not a fanboy make. I and everyone in my family were still red-blooded PC users for most of the decade.

When the iPhone hit, I was fascinated by the user interface, but underwhelmed by AT&T, call quality and general performance. The first phone I bought after the iPhone shipped was a BlackBerry Pearl. I loved that phone, because call quality was great and the size was amazingly small. The “pearl” trackball was the biggest thing going in cell phone hardware innovation. And I got really good at using the SureType system that enabled two letters per key that enabled the Pearl’s diminutive size.

I was happy. But then, on July 10, 2008, Apple did something really underhanded: They launched the iPhone app store.

In this single, bold stroke, Apple completely changed the iPhone from one gadget into thousands of gadgets. Friends, colleagues and online “influencers” kept bragging about this app and that app, many of them free.

Like millions of other PC users, I got an iPhone. I’m now on my third, and really love it. Several other platforms, most notably Android, have apps galore, and impressively spec’ed hardware. But it’s hard to move away from iPhone in part because of how easy it is to discover and download new apps.

Of course, when the iPad hit this year, I had to have one. As a daily iPhone user, I expected to be perfectly familiar with the iPad user interface, and I was not disappointed.

Like many PC people, I was completely blown away by the 13-inch MacBook Air that came out in October. I would have bought one if I didn’t already have an iPad. I just couldn’t figure out how to justify the purchase.

Meanwhile, without my knowledge or permission, Apple has been training me. The iPad keyboard has gotten me used to copying and pasting, for example, with the “command” key instead of the “Ctrl” key. I’ve really learned my way around iTunes and the app store.

When I got an Apple TV for Christmas, it suddenly hit me: What have I become? Sure, I still use a powerful 18-inch Sony VAIO as my main system. I’m still a PC guy. But that PC is surrounded by Apple stuff: iPod, iPhone, iPad and now Apple TV.

And my family has turned. My wife’s workplace is an Apple shop. She carries a MacBook Pro, and uses a 27-inch iMac at work. I can’t honestly say I’m not envious. My oldest son, who used to be a die-hard PC user, now has it all: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and iMac.

My Sony VAIO still works beautifully. I never have any problems with it. But should it die today, I’m pretty sure I’d buy its replacement at the Apple store.

So this is how it happens. You don’t become an Apple fanboy in some great religious epiphany. There are no angels singing, light beaming down from the clouds or even a conscious decision to embrace Apple. You just wake up one day and realize that almost every gadget you own and love begins with a lowercase “i.”

Am I alone? Is this happening to you, too? Are you an Apple Fanboy yet? Tell me your story in the comments below.