Apple has changed the world, literally. They’ve let us bring our music libraries with us where ever we go, made smart phones cool for the average joe blogs, now they’re going to shake up up portables and how we read news and magazines.
While this is brilliant for us, who are now so used to seeing the Apple logo, it’s practically one of our five-a-day now. The Software and hardware giant has also livened up competition, made other companies fight for our attention and forcing them to produce machines that don’t just work, but look attractive.
Phones are no longer bricks, laptops no longer black plastic, and our music is so small we can never stop consuming, much to the annoyance of the record labels.
However all good things, must come to an end – or must they? As with all competition stirred up, the old guard never want to change. Apple has threatened the dominion of all the major manufacturers. From Microsoft, to Nokia and all in between, including Sony (remember the Walkman anyone?).
These companies have tried their hardest to halt Apple in it’s tracks, even Google is taking shots now with their Nexus One, which could be argued is the only real threat to the iPhone, given that Apple are filing legal charges against its Android phone manufacturer HTC.
Nokia had the N-Series, Microsoft has Windows 7, and Sony jumped into the e-reader market. But the thing is, even with these endless attempts to stop the Cupertino behemoth, only minor dents have been made. The App store still over shadows Ovi and Android apps, and iTunes is the go-to music program for shopping and listening.
What are these companies doing wrong? How could Microsoft, Apple’s old rival and Google, the worlds largest and most powerful corporation be stumped by a company whose fortunes in the past have been mixed, at best.
Well, it could be design. John Ive, UK born and living over in San Francisco has designed classics, which will probably never age, the original iPod looks just as hot now as it always did, and the click-wheel is being incorporated by competitors still.
Macs were revolustionised, phones were given rounded edges and made not only look, but feel comfortable, and something you could live with, finally electronics lost their nerdish , and metallic or plastic image and became something which began to favour form, rather than function and unlock a market to the average consumer previously seen to be niche and the realm of techies.
This later forced others to fall in line and make products people could enjoy using as well as having to.
It could also be function. As I said, Apple didn’t sacrifice function for form, they looked at how to do both. OS X, or it’s current name of ‘Snow Leopard’ is easy to use, a much more flowing, less hierarchy, menu based structure, favouring instead how you want to work, utilising codes for plenty of developers to make small widgets to help make your life easier, such as ‘Quicksilver’ for handy access to files and programs, and Google Mail for inbuilt mail notification on your desktop, all make life easier, the OS also tries to make day to day usage light on processing with such handy tidbits like full page previews of a document without going through the processing power of actually opening it.
Once using OS X, I find it hard to get into work and sit in front of XP, Microsoft’s most widely used build of their Windows operating system.
Another first; brought about much more recently is a distinct lack of need for accessories. Most laptops or desktops require you to get a separate webcam, or mouse, or anything else you might need, short of an external hard drive – the MacBook and larger iMacs, have it all, webcams built in, wireless keyboards and mouses, and on the desktops; just one wire, leading to one monitor which houses everything.
Wait, wait… WAIT. Apple, and more so Steve Jobs, have perfected the art of hype. The entire planet knew about the iPad, sorry iSlate, no – iPad almost a year before its release. A level of hype which Google and Ballmer just can’t manage.
Mostly it’s Apple heads who attend product launches, but you can bet that the entire world is well aware of the happening just at the same time, and most are ready to pre-order. Few companies can make such exposure. An example would even be the Nexus One, half the world still don’t know it exists, but there were lines around blocks in New York the day of the iPhone release.
Apple know how to work the crowd, they understand the logic of whetting appetites and getting the fans excited, and the results? iTunes has its 10 billionth download, Apple has made Macs a serious contender for home and office computing which was formerly an exclusively Windows territory, few people use the term MP3 favouring iPod, and while typing this half of the cafe have their iPhones out.
It can be something to do with Apple’s image as the struggling rebel to Microsoft’s omnipotence, even though now it’s turning the opposite way around, especially in the portable market. However Apple is still on a knife edge and can go either way for the moment they keep the image of being a thorn in the side of major industry.
Steve Jobs seems to know what works, and how life could be made easier. Wireless hard drives, remotes with laptops, wireless media drives and full internet on a phone. Apple doesn’t necessarily get there first, but where it doesn’t it makes an idea attractive, where it does get there first then it makes life, just easier.
The iPad is all set to revolutionise the news-stand, and how we consume print media and like all Apple products set to revolutionise our world, there’s a host of ‘killers’ being developed. Where there’s an iPhone, there’s a Nexus One or a Nokia and where there’s an iPod there’s a Zune.
But in the end, Apple has the style, the hype and general sensibility to trump the lot. How long this lasts, is up to the Cupertino power house, it could even be suggested that it’s as long as Steve Jobs is at the helm. For the moment however, Apple is getting a much deserved time in the sun to impress us with new devices, and generally stir up competition, which in the end can only be a good thing for consumers by keeping the valley well on it’s toes.