Apple Schmapple

by Bill Dawson on 9 April 2010

After several years of only using Linux distros at home, I broke down and got the cheapest possible Mac Mini last year.  I’m even using an old 17″ monitor on it, and have only had an Apple keyboard for it since two weeks ago.  Prior to that I used a wireless PC keyboard that I already had.

In other words, I’m a pretty cheap guy, right?

No, I’m just not an Apple fanboy.  I’m not willing to fork over gobs of money for that whole “Apple experience”.  I don’t refer to Mr. Jobs as “Steve”, and I don’t tune in to webcasts of his stage performances.  I often wince with embarrassment when hearing Leo and the guys on MacBreak Weekly (though I like the show and listen to it.)

In fact, when it comes to software, I lean very heavily towards open source.  But I’m also fairly pragmatic, and when evaluating things last year I just had to admit that OS X is simply the best desktop experience right now.  Because I could get it for about EUR 700, I went ahead and did so, taking the cheapest possible route (short of a Hackintosh).

One of the deciding factors for allowing myself to make that change was the recognition that the command-line experience (i.e., Terminal) and general Unix-y characteristics of the operating system would make me not miss Linux so much.  It’s that “kinda open source but not really” aspect of OS X that makes it very acceptable to me.

I got an iPhone several months before the Mac Mini, at a time when other smartphone alternatives weren’t stacking up real well against it.  Prior to the iPhone, I had the Nokia N95 8GB, which I bought at a time when it was absolutely the best smartphone available over here in Europe.  After about a year with that Nokia, I held and played with someone else’s iPhone, and had to admit that it blew the Nokia out of the water.

So, why did my heavily-leaning-towards-open-source self accept the very closed, highly controlled iPhone platform?  Because, at the time, I found it far and away the best smartphone available.  It was a trade-off I was willing to make.

See, when it comes to highly secretive, very controlling corporations like Apple, it’s all about trade-off: how much you’re willing to put up with in return for getting a good user experience.

Now, as of yesterday’s iPhone OS Agreement spectacle, I gotta feel that Apple is pushing their luck on this trade-off thing.  I look at some of these new Android phones and, honestly, I don’t see that huge gap anymore like I did when I held my Symbian-based Nokia in one hand and the iPhone in the other.  I read about the zenPad (UPDATE: okay, that was a seriously crappy example) and rumors about HP’s plans for a “slate”, and I’m thinking: watch out, Apple.  If you guys push up the pain meter on your side of the great trade-off, then fare thee well and au revoir and seeyawouldntwannabeya.

All of the above was about Me The Consumer.  Now a few words from Me The Programmer: Screw you, Apple, and your Objective-C!  I hate square brackets.  I already know some great programming languages that I can use on more than one platform.   I really have no intention of getting good at yet another programming language just for the sake of one platform.  So if the fears about your new developer agreement are founded, then you lost me in the mobile sphere.

Whither Titanium goeth, I go too.  Either you let me do mobile apps in a language I already know, or I don’t do mobile apps for your platform.  It’s really that simple.

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