Lorenzo Villani

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Now I See...

Nov 2, 2014

… why Apple is so successful.

It’s easy to hate Apple. It’s a vertically integrated company that offers little diversity in devices and services. They use open standards and publish open source software as long as it serves their bottom line, then lock you in with exclusive and proprietary integrations on top of that. They are secretive. Their products will cost you an arm and a leg. There’s no “low-end” for Apple. Their only tier is “high-end” and you ought to to like it. Price tag included. Their way or the highway. What’s not to hate about them, after all?

Maybe you start with a second-hand iPhone or MacBook, to save money. At first you don’t notice anything exceptional about it. I certainly didn’t. My MacBook just looked like an expensive machine donning an aluminium armour. Sometimes, it crashed and sucked just like the Linux laptop I was using before that. 1

People only notice the beautiful case and Jony’s industrial design. What sets Apple products apart is, however, what you don’t see.

You won’t probably notice that the battery on your Mac lasts two hours more than a similar laptop running other operating systems. You won’t notice Time Machine transparently 2 back up your computer every hour. You won’t notice Spotlight indexing all files on your Mac to provide it’s amazingly fast search feature. You won’t miss having to decide whether to shut down, suspend or hibernate your laptop: just close the lid. What about the spell checker being able to detect and automatically switch languages, enabled system-wide? You will notice the Retina screen as soon as you switch to a lesser one.

On your iPhone you won’t probably notice that all your stuff is encrypted out of the box (with full disk encryption). You won’t notice TouchID flawlessly recognising your fingerprint to let you past the lock screen. You won’t notice that iOS disables 3rd party keyboards on password fields to protect your privacy. You won’t notice that its camera is leaps and bounds ahead of many high-end phones out there. You also won’t notice its battery lasting longer than many Android phones with the luxury of higher capacity batteries.

It is technology that fades in the background.

But it doesn’t end there. Apple devices gain strength when used together. With OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 you can seamlessly pass documents between devices. You can answer calls and SMS coming to your iPhone right from your Mac 3. All devices seamlessly become windows over your content.

At some point you realise that all of this works out of the box, without having to lift a finger, tweak settings or configuration files 4. Then realise that nobody else on the market gives you the same experience, the same attention to details, the same hardware quality.

Suddenly, that phone and that laptop gain value. They aren’t expensive anymore, nor overpriced, because nobody else offers the same experience at a lower price point.

That’s why many are choosing Apple.

  1. Wi-FI on my MacBookPro , for example, didn’t work properly until OS X 10.9.4, and that was around five months after I had bought it. This is totally unacceptable for a company that has to test a limited number of hardware/software combinations. Unlike Windows and Linux that have to run on millions. 

  2. AFP, however, is a huge pile of shit. Seriously, Apple, kill that crap in favour of SMB or whatever standard protocol works for Time Machine’s use case. 

  3. Google is starting to offer similar integration (location aware unlocking of devices: e.g.: if my Chromebook or Phone detect my Android Wear device nearby it won’t challenge me with a password/PIN lock). Their hardware ecosystem is much more limited though, e.g.: the Chromebook is not near the level of usefulness of a MacBook (which is a real computer with a full blown operating system). 

  4. Sure, there are some hiccups from time to time but nowadays operating system are complex Rube-Goldberg machines and it’s impossible to have a flawless experience with any of them.