Has Apple finally won me over?

The title of this blog post alone will likely cause at least a couple of my good techie friends to disavow any association with me, especially after I once referred to the iPhone as an "overpriced piece of iHype".

Here's the thing. I've been doing a lot of reading and research over the past several months - really over the past several years. And after trying every other major platform (BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Android), I'm finally starting to realize that Apple products actually live up to the "iHype" and just might be worth the premium price.

Now before you lay into me (or congratulate me), promise me you'll at least read the rest of the post to see where I'm coming from. And be warned, this is a bit of a ramble! This is me thinking out loud, so please bear with me.

I want to make it clear that I believe there is no single product (and no single brand) that is "the best". What is "best" is subjective and depends on each individual. When people ask me questions like "what is the best smartphone?" or "what's better, Macs or Windows PCs?", I respond with something like: "Well that depends. What do you want in a [smartphone, computer, etc.]?" It's not about what is best, it's about what is best for you.

The struggle I've been having with trying to find the best smartphone for me is that I can see the unique benefits of the each major platform...and I want them all! But realistically, I cannot have them all (at least not yet). And so, I must consider and compare all options and go with the product that I feel most closely fulfills my requirements.

Though the only Apple products I currently own are a third generation iPod Touch and an iPhone 4 (my wife's first smartphone), I did use a MacBook Pro (mid 2010) and iPad 2 for nearly 2 years at a prior job. I was the only one in the office using a Mac as my primary computer, so there were challenges at times, with file compatibility and connecting to the office file server. But OS X was the most intuitive interface I had ever used on any computer. Exposé (now Mission Control) allowed me to multitask so much more efficiently than I had ever been able to do in Windows. With a few mouse gestures, I was able to fluidly navigate between multiple desktops and windows. It greatly enhanced and streamlined my workflow, and OS X handled everything I threw at it.

In spite of its shortcomings (read my posts on the BlackBerry PlayBook and you'll understand what I'm looking for in a tablet), I did find the iPad 2 to be a dependable, useful device in many ways. The best feature, for me, was apps. iOS has the best mobile app library on the planet, and whatever shortcomings the OS or hardware might have had, I was able to overlook them because I had access to some fantastic apps.

When I left that job, I left those Apple devices behind. I have since toyed with the idea of purchasing a Mac, iPad, and iPhone at one time or another, but I always ended up talking myself out of it - mainly due to the price. I've always settled for cheaper products, many of which were very good in their own ways, even better than Apple products in some ways, but always wishing in the back of my mind that I had just been a little more patient and saved up for what I really wanted.

Recently I came to the realization that I have been using Apple products as my standard, my measuring stick by which to judge all other products. So if I hold Apple products in such high regard, why don't I own more of them?

Again, the main deterrent for me has been price. I consider myself to be a "frugal geek". I rarely own the latest and greatest technology, but I'm usually able to get pretty close and spend relatively little money to do it. It's a fine line to walk, and not easy, but I think this approach has worked well for me thus far.

I'm starting to wonder, however, if I haven't actually been spending more over time on certain things than I would have if I had just saved up and gotten a top-of-the-line Mac or iPhone soon after its release and kept it for at least 2-3 years.

Third Generation Apple iPod Touch

For example, my trusty old iPod Touch is nearly 4 years old, but during that time it has received 2 major operating system updates, and even though it's now running an outdated version of iOS (5.1.1) and will most certainly never receive another OS update, it still runs many apps that you can't find on any other platform. And with the exception of depleted battery life (to be expected in any 4-year-old battery operated device), it still runs as well as the day I bought it. I've gone through several different phones, laptops, and desktop computers during that time, none of which were Apple products, and none of which had the lasting appeal, quality, and usefulness of my little iPod Touch and the other Apple devices I've used.

So it appears I have come full circle. Before I ever owned my first smartphone, my iPod Touch was my mobile device of choice. Mainly due to the high initial cost of Apple products, I went with other options to try to fill my smartphone and computing needs. But through it all, Apple products have been the standard by which I measured all others. And now, finally, I'm ready to admit to myself that they're what I've been wanting all along.


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