“The iPhone is the smartphone for people who don’t want to have to think about what they’re buying.”
On the surface this might seem like a fairly standard bit of Apple bashing – maybe even not too far removed from something I might have said myself. Say what you like about Apple (and I have, often) it’s done an incredible job of offering a total package to its hordes of mindless fans, although I suppose “consumers” is the polite term.
Apple stores are kitted out like a 1980s director’s idea of Heaven: it’s white, it’s spacious, it’s got lots of glass and I’m reasonably sure I saw Warren Beatty in one. So when you walk into an Apple store’s womb-like interior (assuming your experiences with a womb involved a Neo-Bauhaus design aesthetic) it’s instantly comforting, relaxing, non-threatening. You don’t need to worry about purchasing choices because there’s a nice chap with a blue shirt who can help you with that. They might even have an App for it. Or so I’ve been told – I’ve never been in one of the Apple stores.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t actually meant to be a column dedicated to Apple-baiting, even if it is one of my favourite pastimes. It’s actually more about my current frustration with people displaying what can only be described as wilful ignorance when it comes to purchasing decisions. Yes, we currently exist in a time where we are frighteningly spoiled for choice but there’s also a lot of information out there to help us make decisions based on thorough research. It’s not even that hard to find thanks to a little thing called Google.
My colleague Zara Baxter is notable for many reasons but the one I want to highlight now is her decision to carry no less than 8 smartphones around with her at any given time. It’s a commitment that goes above and beyond anything I’ve managed to come up with. It means that Zara gets a lot of questions about what the phones are like to use. I understand this: people are asking her to give a personal value judgement based on her experiences. It’s a good thing. But every time somebody asks me what the difference is between an HTC phone and an Android phone I want to physically slap them with the Let Me Google That For You website.
Like many of us, I’m often called in for family tech support – how do I scan photos, how do I print this, why won’t the DVD play – and I don’t mind doing it. It’s family. But when people who I know are fairly techno-savvy make astounding claims such as suggesting that Apple have the only Tablet available on the market (true story apparently) or that you can only buy Android phones from Google because they own them (I’m not making this up) I’m forced to wonder if they’ve lost both arms in a tragic accident and can’t type into a search box anymore.
I know that the signal to noise ratio is a little low when it comes to the internet – there’s an astounding amount of bunk out there, even on otherwise trustworthy web sites. (Obviously not this one – we’re proudly bunk-, hokum- and cozenage-free.) But if spending 20 minutes doing a little research prevents you spending a year complaining that the only thing you actually like about the product you bought is the Apple logo on the back, surely that’s a good thing?