“It’s the WAY you look at a thing, not whether you look and not how it looks.”
This image prompted me to do some thinking this morning. Which isn’t odd since I wake up thinking and go to bed thinking anyway. But this one struck a chord that resounded and rebounded and stretched itself so that it could fit into any number of other topical issues.
The concept won’t be immediately obvious to anyone who isn’t in the IT industry, nor will it be obvious to anyone who wasn’t building and working with PCs in the years up to 2006 when the first Intel iMac appeared.
I was building my own PCs in the 90s and early 2000s. I was buying the parts, assembling them, and installing operating systems and software programs back then so I know first hand why Apple is “awesome”. And it’s not because any one Apple machine is awesome in itself, but because what Apple did to the PC in 2006 made using PCs easy.
For those of us who were building PCs back then, it was never about the best components you can assemble in a machine. Nor was it about the best operating system to be had on a machine. It was all about how well the components and the operating system worked together in a machine so that you spent less time fixing shit and more time using it instead. I spent a lot of time fixing shit – drivers that didn’t work properly, power supplies that were inadequate, operating systems that were buggy… it was a nightmare for me because I got to the point where all I wanted to do was be able to just use the damn thing without the constant headache of fixing shit.
Apple was the first company to produce a machine that “just worked” out of the box. Apple is still the only company that produces a complete package that “just works” out of the box.
Context is everything.
There is no doubt that better hardware exists out there. It always has. There is no doubt that components work far better together in a self-assembled PC than they ever had. And there is no doubt that the software developers are now producing better capable software than they ever had. Those are all a given. But none of them produce, in and of themselves, a system that “just works” right out of the box. They all still need one another to make a system that works. All PCs still need an operating system from some other company to work. And all operating system developers need hardware produced by someone else to work.
The point is that Apple doesn’t produce the best hardware, nor does it produce the best operating system or application software. But it still is the only company to produce them all from within itself, while adhering to standards that are more than adequate for the average user.
Context is everything. So when you tell me that “too bad Apple knows that a few PCs are just behind them”, I scoff at that because it’s nonsense. Apple was never trying to be the best hardware or software. What they were trying to do, and are still achieving in my book, is the perfect symmetrical marriage of hardware and software.
If I want an ultimate gaming rig, I know I can build a better one than the iMac that I have. But I don’t have to and that’s what matters.