During the 90’s, Apple were content sitting on the fringes making fantastic computers for niche market areas and developing ground breaking software packages like QuarkXPress and Photoshop. They revolutionised the Desktop Publishing industry with a near monopoly on the entire scene.
One day they must have woken up and thought to themselves, ‘ok lads, we’ve pretty much got this market sewn up, we need to expand or we’ll stagnate.’
Taking on Bill Gates in the home/business PC arena and to be able to steal a large enough market share to be profitable seemed a mountain that not even Sir Edmund Hillary would want to climb, so they decided to try a different tack, to diversify into new areas. You might say they were relatively successful, from a share price of $26 in 2001 to a massive $257 a share today (Jul 2010). In the past 9 years, Apple has created one of the largest and best known brands in the whole i-world.
I nostalgically remember when iPod’s first came out, with the silhouetted characters bopping away to funky up-beat music from artists like the Propellerheads and Daftpunk. It was a new type of marketing campaign for a newly revitalised company.
Like all new ideas and new technologies, they had their share of teething problems, almost as soon as they released the first generation iPod there were screams that the batteries were rubbish, and the software was clunky and people didn’t want to be forced into using Apples proprietary iTunes software. As new generations came out there were more issues with Hard Drive failures and overly fragile screens and of course, poor battery performance. More often than not these problems lead to exorbitant repair costs, only a year after paying for a hugely expensive piece of technology. Some people rightly or wrongly thought that 2 years is not an adequately long enough period for a £300 piece of kit to last.
I still have my 40quid Sony Walkman and even now, 20years down the line it still plays my Chromium Oxide tapes of old Queen music with its Dolby Noise Reduction technology (TM) and auto-reverse functionality (admittedly I have had to replace the AA Batteries once or twice over the years, damn you Duracell!!).
I have tried my best to keep up-to-date with the various new releases of all Apple’s new “best thing since sliced bread” technologies over the years, but recently, maybe it’s just me but....meh, aren’t they all a variation on a theme?, and that theme seems to be “B U Y O U R A P P S !!!111oneone”.
After buying your shiny new device, (whichever of the latest i-fads it may be, an iPod Touch, an iPad or one of those new fangled iPhone4’s that you can only get a signal on if you don’t actually touch it...), the pair of you are now intrinsically linked until one or the other of you dies (no doubt a max of 2 years, unless you get hit by a bus and somehow your Apple product outlives you).
If we are to believe the shadowy figures from the TV adds, all these essential life enhancing applications can be downloaded to your i-XXX at the merest press of a button (Sequence Shortened). But the inconvenient financial truth is that each one can cost you anywhere from around £1 for the most piddly useless apps, to those that can cost $999 (some surveillance app from the US). Ofcourse, which ever of these technological beauty’s you decide upon has to be purchased through the iTunes AppStore which they no doubt get a slice of the [Apple] pie each time.
We recently had a customer whose child had unknowingly spent £250 that month on iPhone apps and iTunes downloads; clearly they were both amazed and enraged that it could be that easy for them to spend so much money, I suspect many of you know someone who’s had a similar experience, if maybe not quite so substantial.
I think that 20 years ago, I would have found it very tough to take my parents credit card to Our Price, have them believe I actually was 18, purchase £250 of cassette tapes and smuggle them back into the house without their knowledge.
Has the advent of all this technology somehow lessened a lot of our life experiences? I have spent the last 15 years working in IT in one field or another, so I am not about to preach an Amish lifestyle, but an example keeping with the entertainment theme;
In my youth I used to love spending hours trawling through sale CD’s in music stores or going to music / computer Fayre’s in Church/Town Halls, or going to the Market every Saturday with my mates just to see if any new games had come out for my Amiga500. Nowadays all I need to do is sit at home, logon to Steam or browse Play.com and I can download a game, have my DVD delivered to my door next day, or digitally download my songs from iTunes, my poor mates don’t get a look-in in my decision making process, not unless one of them was to MSN’s me saying “OMG m8 get Leisuresuit Larry X its gr8!!” /ignore.