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Apple users are masochists

I have just realized what is so amazing about the iPhone: its users. It is not the interface, or the battery or the OS or even the interaction design. It is the users. The iPhone users are primed to accept anything that comes out of Apple as the greatest thing ever invented. And they are ready to believe that it was invented by Apple. This is an important part of why You Can’t Innovate  Like Apple (and if you want to discuss Apple as a designer in the future you really need to read that article) – your users are not like their users.  Or rather, they may be the very same users but they have a different relationship with you, if you are not Apple.

The best part is that Apple users are happy to pay for everything, or at least to wait for it.

Tethering? You mean, actually using your phone as a modem for a PC? Something I used to do with my stodgy Nokia 5120 rubberphone what, eight years ago? 

but perhaps the best example is the amazing Find My iPhone, an exciting app with the following features (cut and paste from the Apple site)

Find myIphone Alternative
Locate your iPhone or iPad on a map Google Latitude has been out for a while.
Display a message and optionally play a sound for two minutes at full volume (even if your device is set to silent) SMS Flash messages plus making silent mode expire after a few hours (many phones can do this). Flash SMS have been around for ages.
Remotely set a passcode lock on your device, or lock it using your existing passcode Nokia phones do this but in a different way. 
Remotely wipe your device to permanently erase all of your personal data This is probably a bad idea. I am waiting for the first exciting exploit, and the following global wail of despair.

the big news is that now Apple made the software free.  The cognitive peculiarity of the Apple user is that, instead of being irritated at the company for making him pay previously, he is delighted because now it is free!

Other excellent examples would be cut-and-paste and multitasking. What good is a device like the iPhone when it does only one thing at a time – making you choose between e.g. running some IM program OR browsing the web OR running Skype OR checking your calendar? It beats me. But I am not an Apple user. So I cannot join in the delighted cheer for the multitasking in IOS4: I am still too flabbergasted by the absence of multitasking in IOSx, with x<4. Of course, all the update goodness does not distribute evenly across iPhone models: slightly older ones get little or no loving. But the Apple user does not care! Because now he can convince himself that he desperately needs multitasking, the same feature that he had previously rationalized away as Android nuttiness only good for techies: which means that he can make one more happy trip to the Apple store, preferably with a queue that starts at 4AM.

And he can have one more unboxing experience, which, as we know, is an important part of the Apple product experience.

But again, I am not a boxophiliac iPhone user. I have the privilege of knowing many, though. I can see how hugely insincere they are when they complain because the display of their phone broke: actually they are delighted because they can give another lump of money to Apple. And I am ever amazed by their inner strength. This is from gizmodo:

In previous versions of the iPhone OS,
if you are working on email and there’s a link to a web page, clicking
on that link will open Safari and close Mail. Then, once you were done
watching that web page, you close Safari, get back to the main iPhone
menu, click on the Mail icon, and go back to your mail.  (from Gizmodo, How Multitasking Works in the New iPhone OS 4.0 published on 4/4/2010, dowloaded today)

The amount of fortitude required to engage in something like this is, I am afraid, beyond me. I have been spoiled in my youth, and I can’t put up with this amount of crap any more. Of course, I have used computers that do not multitask and don’t even switch tasks, but it was in the Eighties (home computers: Commodore and Sinclair). Then I found out about UNIX, that has been multitasking since 1969 (when it was created to run on computers whose memory was measured in kilobytes). To say the least, you could call multitasking a pretty well established idea in the field. I am too much of a wuss now for single-tasking computers, with the exception of the Arduino.

The condition of the Apple user is similar to somebody who is in thrall to a demanding, expensive, prostitute. You buy her affection with money (or you imagine that you are buying it), and she stingily doles out her favors, turning every little element of life into a theatrical show where you have to pay and pay. She can do everything for you, provided it is what she wants to do. And you pay, you watch the streaming video shows where the Wizard sells you whatever he feels is right and you read the fawning press. And of course, you import the phone from faraway countries where you can get it unlocked (imagine that!), jailbreak it in complex and dangerous ways, terrified that your wife might find out… it is all there inside Venus in Furs. I am indeed going to pay a high compliment to the Apple user, by comparing him to the Baron de Charlus in À la recherche du temps perdu and his passion for being whipped.

In short, his desire to be chained and beaten betrayed, in its ugliness, a dream just as poetic as other men’s desire to go to Venice or to keep a mistress.

Or, as it were, to be Apple users.

Now putting on my assistant-professorial hat (it looks just like a professorial hat, only it is smaller, less furry and the sequins are silver) I will point you to a an enlightening post about the iPad ecosystem and how you would need to create one if you wanted to make very succesful tablets, and to an old post about the chicken-and-egg problem by Joel Spolski, a very sharp software guy. BTW, chicken and egg is another way of saying "you need the whole ecosystem, otherwise you are just a hardware pusher putting lipstick on a sow".Slightly less techy but still on the ball you can read an NYT article, "The power of the platform".

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