[with adj.] a person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people.
The question is, does buying Apple gear turn you into a snob? It’s a question that I’ve been thinking about lately. It’s led to me examining my own attitudes and thinking about how they’ve changed over the years.
Anyone who has read my blog lately will know that I love Apple’s products. I’ve blogged often enough about why I like them. I’m now fortunate enough to own four Apple pieces—note the use of the term pieces as if describing art. In order of purchase they are:
- A 2004 20GB iPod with Click Wheel
- A 2005 PowerBook G4 12”
- A 2006 iMac Core 2 Duo 20”
- A 2007 16GB iPod touch
The Click Wheel iPod was the first Apple product I bought. It was the last iPod before they got colour screens and could display photos. It’s probably the last of that first wave of iPods in the sense that it came with elaborate packaging and lots of accessories, whereas nowadays the packaging is more environmentally friendly and you have to buy things like charging bricks separately. I love the ingenuity of the Click Wheel and the way the backlight fades in and out slowly rather than abruptly.
My 12” PowerBook looks amazing. There’s no clutter or extraneous detail and the underneath looks like something space-age built for NASA for mega bucks. In fact, I was watching the DVD of 2001: A Space Odyssey the other week and I don’t think my PowerBook would look out of place on board the Discovery One, such is the high level of clean detailing.
The iMac is my workhorse but with supermodel looks. There’s so much computer in such a small space. Not having to have a system tower on the floor is liberating. The engineering on the stand hinge that supports the whole computer is stunning.
All I have to say about my iPod touch is that it was sent back in time from the future.
As an exercise, let’s see what my thoughts would be when asked about a non-Apple product. I’ll imagine what they would have been prior to my owning Apple gear and then I’ll write down what they would be now.
The Product: Dell Latitude D530 laptop
Wow! I cannot believe how inexpensive that is! It’s amazing how much bang for your buck you get now. I don’t know how Dell manage to do it. They’re practically giving them away. I’d feel really good if I’d bought that, knowing that I was getting that much power and the very latest version of Windows for so little outlay.
My God, what an ugly laptop! That grey colour is horrible and it looks so utilitarian. I bet it’s got ports sprouting all over its exterior like warts. It’s bound to come with a huge power brick too. I see you can have it with Windows Vista, which in spite of the hardware will run like a dog and thrash the disk to death. Or you can have Windows XP, if you can live with the constant balloons popping up demanding attention and the sleep and resume issues.
It’s not just Dell computers that I now consider an affront to my eyes. Last week I was using an IBM Thinkpad on a training course that not only had a trackpad and a pointing nipple, but five buttons! Give me a multi-gesture trackpad with a large single button underneath anyday. Plus there were the usual assortment of slots, doors and ports. It even had a parallel printer port—has anyone used one of those since the mid-nineties? Worst of all was the dedicated Access IBM button. I mean, why would you want to?!
Lest anyone believe that I’ve completely lost my mind and am now a fully-paid up member of the Steve-one-button-is-all-you-need-Jobs brigade, I feel obliged to point out that I’ve never found Apple’s minimalist hardware aesthetic to be an issue. I simply don’t need any more bells and whistles than they give me. Everything else looks overdone by comparison. There’s no denying that something like an iPhone or an iPod touch does scream “look at me”, but that’s because
well-engineered elegant design is sadly rare in an age of constant product churn when the main differentiator is who can do it for the lowest cost.
I do think that like any cult Apple inspire fierce loyalty and a natural consequence of that is the rejection of non-Apple products. In answer to the original question of whether buying Apple gear turns you into a snob, I think that it probably amplifies any snobbish tendencies that you may already have, but perhaps more than anything it makes you aware of the deficiencies in other products through a heightened appreciation of good design. Is that so bad?