Karthik Subramanian provides insights into what he discovered as the strengths of Apple's ecosystem when compared to others
Two years back, I got my first Apple product: the 2011 iMac, the one which still had the DVD drive, after being a dedicated Windows PC user for over 15 years. The logic was simple: “For years, you have been a technology lover. So why not, for once, just go ahead and experience the premium product.”
Today, I have shifted all my computing to Apple products: iMac, Macbook Air, iPad and iPhone.
And though certain leading technologists — most notably the likes of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and technology evangelist Guy Kawasaki — praise Android as the best possible mobile OS today, for me at least, Apple products work well in synergy. For a power user and a gadget lover like me, spending that extra cash did not hurt much.
Here is how I stopped worrying and started loving Apple products more.
The only other time I had used Apple before November 2011, was for a brief duration at a journalism institute in 2005. Using Windows PC since 1996, the first impression of the iMac was it looked dramatically different. And once it was powered on, the user interface was different too.
Both the hardware and software were pleasing to the eye, but I had got used to the Windows operating system ever since the Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 days, and it was challenging to wrap my head around the Mac OS interface.
The same problem surfaced when I eventually bought my iMac in 2011. It took me a bit longer than I imagined to get used to the design and the layout.
The biggest challenge was in getting used to the filing convention in ‘Finder’ as compared to the ‘Windows Explorer’. Today, even though I think Mac OS trumps Windows on so many other counts, I still miss the simplicity of Explorer.
The other problem I faced initially while moving from Windows (I was last working on XP platform) to Mac OS was in understanding how the desktop Apps got installed. While installing the Applications from the 'App Store' was not a problem, installing third-party Apps from the Web was a bit complicated. And figuring out how to delete Apps was also a bit of a challenge.
Power of aesthetics
Apple works on the philosophy of aesthetics and symmetry, both internal and external. The core value of Steve Jobs, as explained during the course of his interviews to biographer Walter Issacson, was to ensure that attention was given to make every single detail look good, even those parts which are hidden.
In some ways, this inspired me to write more and produce more podcasts and web videos than before. Some software optimised for the iMac — including free video editor iMovies and photo editor iPhotos, part of the pre-installed iLife package, and other third-party paid Apps like distraction-free word editors iA Writer and OmmWriter — all made the iMac experience memorable.
The video editing tool — iMovies — especially was far superior to what I experienced with Windows Movie Maker. (I had tested the latest Movie Maker in the Windows 8 PC too but I would still rate iMovies as far superior.)
Once I started enjoying the work I was producing on my iMac, I was able to understand why most creative professionals — be it designers, video, audio editors or interior decorators — prefer the iMac and the Macbook over Windows PC.
In 2012, I bought the iPad simply because it was and still is the better tablet device around. Though I also have a Nexus 7, I still prefer the iPad for three reasons: the selection of mobile Apps for iOS devices is still better; the convergence between iOS and Mac OS, especially with the iOS 7 and new OS X Mavericks is superior; and generally among mobile devices iPhones and iPads still have competent battery life and standby time.
Apple's iCloud services are also a great help. While similar effects can be achieved through third party Apps like Dropbox on Android, or Microsoft's SkyDrive, I prefer the ease of setting up an iCloud account.
Generally, though there are competent laptops and desktops from Windows PC universe and likewise competent phones especially from Android universe, at this moment, only Apple seems to have got its game right across platforms.
In fact, Microsoft Windows 8 seems to be the biggest vindication of Apple's approach to computing. The Windows 8 OS is a lot closer to Mac OS than its previous editions and in fact, tries to balance the worlds of Windows XP and Mac OS.
The questions raised about Apple and its business models — that of its ‘walled garden approach’ and its efforts to power its ways in cornering marketshare — are valid to a large extent. But it also delivers best in class computing experience for someone like me who is keen on content generation. Until the other alternatives emerge with the ability to provide a harmony of experience across platforms (mobile, desktop and laptop), Apple would be hard to resist.