In the beginning, there was Windows, and it was good. As a wee Buffalo calf, I harbor fond fragments of life piloted behind weathered grey CRT monitors as I quested through virtual mazes on Prodigy. Many hours were dissolved by frantically playing NHL ’99 on an IBM tower with a Thrustmaster joystick—the pin connection type. I even remember my first dance with the Internet at the oblivious age of 15, assuming the acronym “BRB” meant the person I was conversing with in the chat room had just burped.
But tragically, this ill-fated love story was destined for a tumultuous breakup. After one too many bootups in “Safe Mode,” blue screens of death, the release of Windows Vista, and countless hours spent quarantining viruses, I threw in the towel and sought a new computational lover: Apple. In four years of owning Apple MacBooks, I have never encountered a virus, crash, or critically flawed OS trait. Of course, I’ve needed to employ the “Force Close” police from time to time, but that happens once in a blue moon and all is resolved thereafter. For what I do, Apple computers make sense. Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects and Garage Band all perform beautifully on my 13-inch MacBook Pro.
However, there are aspects that I pine for within the Apple ecosystem—things Windows gave me that no other companion was capable of. For instance, I own an iPhone. In order to transfer music onto my iPhone, I must do it through iTunes, therefore I must purchase the snake oil and sync everything together. With Windows, I simply burned a CD into MP3 files and used Winamp or any other third party music application to play the files. If I wanted to transfer songs to a compatible MP3 player like a Samsung USB-type stick, all I had to do was drag and drop the MP3 files and Bob was my Uncle. No preposterous AIFF files required—just pure MP3 goodness, my friends. I’m sick of iTunes and its proprietary book of law.
Furthermore, I’m reasonably sick of the “i” life. iPhone, iPad, iPod, iPuke. The letter “i”—that poor, unfortunate soul—has been defiled, deflowered, derailed, and devoured. “i” is now synonymous with “give Apple money.” The giveapplemoneyPod really doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? And iTunes. Oh, you boisterous bastard. You stroll in late to the party and in one fell swoop render CDs nearly extinct. The tangible romance of album art, lost. The indomitable force of CD quality audio, forgotten. The music industry negatively altered forever. When I was a teenager, I used to look forward to the latest album from Nirvana or Stone Temple Pilots. I didn’t care that every song on the album was not a gem. That’s what made the great songs even greater. But now, everyone hears the latest vomit-inducing Katy Perry song and buys it directly off iTunes. People are filling their music players with singles, rather than albums, and that is contributing to the gradual demise of the music industry.
While on the topic of audible things, let’s discuss Apple’s proprietary sounds. When I receive a text message, I don’t want to hear a clown horn, nor do I want to hear a dinner bell. I’m not wearing oversized shoes, and it’s not dinnertime all day. I want to be able to customize my own sounds, for instance the Legend of Zelda “Get Treasure Fanfare” sound effect when I receive a text or Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” as my ringtone. In order to do that, I have to jailbreak the iPhone or trick it by executing a lengthy .CAF audio file extension conversion that only works for ringtones. I understand that from a marketing perspective, limiting phone sounds to a proprietary family of effects increases brand awareness. But I’m tired of visiting my Mom and mistaking her iPhone for mine every 3 seconds she gets a Facebook notification about a comment on her “Hot flashes again. Damn it’s hot in here.” status update. Let us drag and drop MP3 sounds onto the iPhone, Steve. It’s not rocket science. Enough of this proprietary iCrap.
Even simple things like appending a different email signature to different accounts cannot be achieved natively on an iPhone. So every email I send, whether it’s my personal Gmail, Hotmail, or TechnoBuffalo account, has my Buffalo signature. Sure, I can download applications to amend this, but it should be available right out of the cute little iPhone box. And how about that stale OS you’ve been catapulting in our faces for four years, Mr. Jobs? Did you ever sit down to ponder the reason so many Appleheads jailbreak their iPhones in order to attain higher levels of performance? Android-like fixtures, such as widgets and themes are some of the most popular jailbroken additions. And where is Flash support? Hanging out with Waldo and Carmen Sandiego? Are you truly listening to your users, Jobsey, or are you giving them the iCold Shoulder? Remember that drop-down menu you tossed into iOS 5? That was nifty, but Android has had one of those fancy dancy schmancy dropdown thingamajigs for a quite a while now, ahem, cough, pots and pans clamoring.
And Steve, perhaps you could blow a dusting of time into your overflowing legal battle schedule to work on these impending OS quirks before you end up suing your mirror reflection for looking too much like Steve Jobs. You could sue Granny Smith, Braeburn, Gala, Pink Lady, Fuji, Cameo, Empire, Cortland, Ginger Gold, Honey Crisp, Jona Gold, and Red Delicious till the cows come home, but your Apple OS will still look like it did in 2007. Stop making sleazy lawyers richer and spend more time on developing innovations that will drive the market even further for you. Legal snafus will only make you look like more of a greedy curmudgeon and will ultimately hinder your creative progress as one of the leading innovators in technology.
In closing, I must say that I love Apple. But there are things that need to change in this relationship before I begin playing the field. You do have a gift, Mr. Jobs. My mom, who had never laid a hand on an Apple product in her life, recently bought an iPhone 4. All I hear about on a seemingly Infinite Loop is how the iPhone is the greatest invention since the sewing machine. She is a walking iPhone and Facebook commercial, thanks to you. For you and your team to design a device that could be adapted to in a matter of hours by a technophobe—that is quite an achievement.
So please, heed my advice Mr. Jobs. Vanquish the iShackles from your iDevices and give us more iFreedom. And stop iSuing. Because the day Bill Gates gets his act together…oh who am I kidding there.