Editor in Chief: email@example.comPod, Cut and Run, English And Ford 500
By Orson Scott Card
I dont know about you, but Im about fed up with all the free and ridiculous advertising and publicity Apple Computers gets. If they decided to bottle air and sell it, calling it, no doubt, PowerAir or AirMac or AirPod, theyd claim that they had invented air. Then all the articles about the new MacAir would treat that claim as if it were true and suddenly start treating other air-packagers as mere imitators, playing catch-up with Apple.
I remember years ago, when Apple came out with their PowerBook notebook computer. I was at a meeting with an extraordinarily dumb young movie producer who kept going on and on about all the cool things his PowerBook could do. It can sign on the internet and get email! I can carry it with me on planes and it runs on batteries!
Finally I got fed up and just showed him my Toshiba laptop. I can do all those things, and this computer cost me a thousand dollars less than yours.
It was a cruel thing to do, I thought, to take the wind out of his sails like that. But no, I had forgotten: He was an Apple user! He gave me a withering look and said, Yes, but mine is an Apple.
Well, yes, but he said it as if that were a good thing.
Think about it. All the rigid, corporate-determined uniformity and buy-it-from-us-or-drop-dead attitude of Microsoft, but you have to buy your hardware from them, too. I watch Apple users attempt to manipulate their clunky operating system click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, just to get where I can go with a single action on my keyboard and I hear them raving on and on about what wonderful things Apple is finally deigning to make available to them, but which PC users have had for years, and it all makes me vaguely sad.
Windows crashes all the time, they say with a smirk. Then, when theyre talking among themselves and they dont think youre listening, they reveal the evil truth: Macs crash too. And Mac software has bugs and flaws and security gaps and stupidity built in, just like Windows.
What Macs dont have is any competition. Once youve bought into the hype and forked over your money, theyve got you and you cant get free without completely replacing everything.
The same thing has happened now with the iPod. I had been using wonderful MP3 players for years. My Rio Riot held 20 gigs of music. My little Panasonic E-Wear, and later my Rio Cali, let me take incredible amounts of music with me when I exercised or took long flights.
Then the iPod comes out and it doesnt do anything that I needed and didnt already have. Not only that, but it was deeply ugly, a plain ivory-colored box with pathetic controls that looked like it should hold generic earswabs. Compared to my Rio Riot, it was a piece of junk and looked like a piece of junk.
And now it seems to have taken over the world. Everything is geared toward iPods. I still have MP3 players with more capacity and better interface than the iPod, and people talk and write as if the iPod had invented the whole class of machine, and all the others were just imitations.
Even the current PC World magazine has been suckered into this Apple mystique. They had a brave and daring front-of-book essay about how PC makers ought to learn to do things more like Apple. And do you know what it came down to? The colors and shape of the cheap plastic they wrap their products in.
Yeah, thats right. They make the ugliest, silliest, most embarrassing-looking cheap plastic products in the industry, charge half again as much as youd pay for a cleanly designed, functional looking product, and they are given credit for design!
I know what will happen, of course. A lot of smug Apple owners will write me taunting letters about how Windows crashes all the time. Old news, kiddies. My XP doesnt crash at all. And I have about a hundred times as much software to choose from, and can customize my own machine (despite the best efforts of Microsoft) a thousand times more than you can, and Im paying less for it, and it looks like I actually intend to do serious work with it.
As for your iPod, I just have to shake my head and laugh. There are much better and better-looking products out there, and I already own some of them. But you go on believing that yours is the best in the world. Thats what Apple depends on. Youll get into the harness, theyll put the blinders on you, and youll think youre pulling the queens carriage instead of the old farm wagon youre dragging along.