The recent keynote from Apple was definitely 'loaded', spring or otherwise. But the callback to the original Mac truly put me into a slightly nostalgic, albeit depressed mood.
Why am I depressed? Well, the latest announcements from Apple have significantly added to the confusion around which Apple product to buy. Needless to say, that does not help the already fragile love-hate relationship that I share with Apple. But to understand that, let's take a quick trip down memory lane.
Ah! Don't worry. It is not my memory that I am talking of, but rather the collective memory of every kid who lived through the 90s!
The golden age of consumer electronics
Or as Sauron would prefer - the era of one device to rule them all. Well, not exactly one device, but rather one per use case.
Would you like to make a phone call? - There's Nokia
well was. 🙄
Do you want to watch Dr Who? - Grab the best seat on the couch and switch on the idiot box
which was literally a hefty box back then, but the idiot part bears resemblance even today
Want to get some serious work done? - Sit at a desk, with a 'machine'
IBM, Microsoft ring any bells? Nothing speaks more professional than International Business Machines or staring into a Window. Get it? 😁
And that was it. All use cases neatly segregated without any confusion.
Then came the age of shaking things up
This was the time when the simple use cases themselves underwent a revolution.
We did not need to sit at a desk to work anymore. The laptop made sure that all we needed was a place to rest our hinds on, and we were good to go!
As long as we had a charging port handy, of course. 😂
The tablet made it possible for us to watch our favourite sitcom in bed, or the washroom, or the kitchen while pretending to cook.
And of all the above locations, the washroom was the only revolutionary one. 😁
And the modern smartphone made all of the above possible, in every scenario, provided the tiny screen did not unnerve you.
P.S. I am not going to refer to those six-inch monoliths as phones. They are big enough to raise children of their own. 😒
Anyway, this period was quite fruitful for companies such as Apple and Samsung! Each had a device that practically covered every single cross-section of utility, and all those devices made perfect sense. Ironically, this was also the time when I got hooked on the concept of 'ecosystem'.
My allegiance to Apple
I haven't always been an iSheep. I used varying iterations of Android phones for five years! Well, I had to. They wouldn't last me more than a couple of years. 😋
I've also used a Lenovo Thinkpad for a big part of my professional life. That device was the Nokia 3310 equivalent of the laptop world. But eventually, I ended up inside the fabled garden of Apple. And though the journey below has been rearranged for the sake of beautiful prose, the gist remains the same -
I need an iPhone to click decent photos and while away time on social media. I've forgotten something important, haven't I?
Bell probably rolls over in his grave every time someone asks that question. 🤣
But I can't watch the latest episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. on that tiny screen. Let me get the iPad for good measure. Quite handy, portable, and great for making those convenient FaceTime calls.
By the way, following a similar logic, shouldn't audio calls be called LipTime calls? 🤨
But wait, I can't work on an iPad, can I? Have you tried using the on-screen keyboard to type out an entire blog post like this one? Let me save you the trouble - don't. So I obviously need a traditional computer. I have to get a Macbook.
Well, I could have gotten myself a Dell XPS... but then where's the ecosystem? 😏
Meanwhile, Apple execs - "One million... ten million... hundred million... damn we need a better Mac Pro to process all this data!"
But to cut a long story short, I own an iPhone, an iPad, a Macbook, and what the hell, my wife owns an Apple Watch as well!
Fast forward to the Apple Silicon era
Ever since Apple introduced the M1 chip, the world took notice. Not because the products themselves have transformed, but because all those use cases just became ever so indistinguishable.
With the same chip powering the iPad, the Macbook and the iMac, the purchase decision is no longer governed by the internal power of these machines. Rather, it is the presence of other niche features that defines these products - such as a full-sized keyboard, or a mini-LED display, or the promise of portability, or the ability to draw on the screen!
I can't stop laughing at the fact that the idea of someone drawing on the screen would send my parents into a fit in the 90s! 🤣
How is this different from the pre-M1 era?
Back then, I had to depend on multiple devices because there was no way to fit all that power into a small handheld device. There was no conceivable way for a laptop to last for an entire day. But today, all that is no longer a constraint.
And yet, I need a separate device to sketch, compute, type, and watch my content in crisp cutting edge quality. Because the iPad has stellar touch but a less than satisfactory desktop experience. The Macbook has all the beauty of a desktop but does not support touch or a mini-LED display. The iMac has the convenience of a full keyboard and mouse but STILL does not have the best screen in the market.
So which one should I buy then? The answer from Apple - all of them!
Which brings me to that love-hate that I spoke of
Apple has practically reached a stage of engineering that has blurred the line between most of their devices. The future could very well look similar to the golden age that I mentioned earlier -
A multipurpose consumption and creation device
An entertainment hub for the family
And I love Apple for making this remotely probable!
But that is not what their product lineup looks like today.
And, I understand Apple's decision to take things slow and hold on to their aces until they've got the whole pot. But for someone like me, who adores the simplicity that Apple strives for, this period of limbo feels like a last-ditch attempt to sell all that they can. The result - a complicated mess of connected devices that trudge along in the name of an 'ecosystem'.
And I hate Apple for treating me like a fourth cousin twice removed.
But do you want to know the worst part? I'll probably buy them all anyway. Because at the heart of every dysfunctional relationship, there's a sucker who just can't let go! 😄