Why I'm Taking A Break From Apple

After 18 Years I’m Taking A Break From Apple

In Blog by Jerad Hill4 Comments

My first computer was an Apple II. Prior to that, we had a PC in the house running DOS, but I was pretty much just played Load Runner on it. I remember toward the end of that computers life I dialed into a couple of BBS boards to post some questions. It was not long after that when I got an Apple IIGS for Christmas. That computer was awesome. It was color, had a CD-Rom, and an internal model. It was the future.  I used that computer for several years and upgraded it along the way. I was 8 years old when I upgraded the RAM on my own. (Watch my video and continue reading below.)

Fast forward several years, I purchased a PC computer from Dell with college savings money. I wanted more power than my IIGS had to offer and it was getting hard to code from a severely outdated Mac. Windows is where it was at. Windows 98 had just dropped and Apple was struggling to find it’s footing. For the next four years, I was a PC user. I upgraded to Windows XP, built a powerhouse of a computer as I had recently started editing video. In early 2001, I started hearing about how much better it was to do creative work on a Mac. Final Cut Pro had come out and I wanted it. I purchased a small Mac laptop called a Powerbook G4. It was a pretty powerful little laptop. My plan was to use it to edit video and keep my PC for my important work. Within a week, I had found software to write code in and my PC was shelved. From that moment forward, I was an Apple user.

Over the last few years, I have grown frustrated with the way many companies develop and deploy their products. Apple has not really innovated much in the last several years, yet they continue to release new variations of their products each year and charge a premium. Apple is not the only company to do this, it’s simply the state of the technology industry. We are in a valley right now where tech companies don’t have to release anything good. They had their major advancements several years ago and now they simply have to slowly release small updates and call them fancy names like “Retina” or “Edge.” I used to upgrade my Macbook Pro laptop almost every year because there would be a decent increase in performance due to a new type of hard drive or something like that. I would justify purchasing the latest iPhone each year because I ran a tech website and wanted to have the latest features from Apple. I have always been an early adopter of new features.

This last year especially, I have felt a lot of apathy toward technology in general. I spent so many years chasing and implementing new technologies into my life that when innovation kind of stopped, I felt empty. Apple has not done anything interesting in several years. People can say the Apple Watch was an innovation, but smartwatches are kind of a novelty. I think that the SmartWatch is simply something else for us to buy while companies try to leak more money out of us while they battle to figure out what will be next. I have had a dozen different smartwatches and all they are is an additional distraction. None of them work that well and do much more than notify us of things.

Apple is not the only one at fault. Samsung and other smartphone companies are not doing much innovation outside of adding gimmicky features that most of us don’t really need. I have used the word gimmick to explain smartwatches quite a bit.

I felt that Google was very close with Google GLASS, however, it was a little futuristic for people to accept and it never went anywhere. I still feel that our notifications will be displayed to us in some form of a heads-up display (HUD) in the near future through something like a smart contact lens. Technology just isn’t quite there yet and in my opinion, the tech companies know they have not squeezed every dollar out of us that they can with the current technology available.

My battle with technology has been quite public. In late January of this year, I announced that I was back on the iPhone after having taken almost an entire year off of the platform using nothing but Android devices. If you look through my Instagram or Twitter feed, you can see additional evidence of this ongoing battle. In late 2014, I purchased my first Sony camera because I was tired waiting for Canon to innovate again. What I am going through now with smartphones and computers is what I was going through toward the end of my time as a Canon Photographer. What really burned me with Canon was having spent almost $6,000 on a Cinema Camera only to have them cut the price almost in half and upgrade the camera in under a year after it’s original launch. Canon obviously did not care about their customer’s investments in their products. Sony does update most of their cameras every year, but at least you know what to expect from them.

Up until late last week, I had been using the same Macbook Pro for a little over two years. That is a long time for me as I usually upgrade my laptop every year. I had been contemplating the purchase of an upgraded iMac. I needed more power than my laptop was offering but I didn’t want to buy a new laptop because not much had changed in the past two years. I was not willing to give Apple another $3,500 just to get a small bump in performance. The upgraded iMac that I actual had on order was going to cost me just over $3,500. I was not that thrilled with what I was getting for the money because it still was not that much better than what my laptop currently offered me. That is when I started considering switching to PC.

Switching to Windows had been an ongoing joke at Hill Media Group. We joked around calling Windows 10 the superior platform. In all honesty, I kind of liked Windows 10. I had it running in Parallels on my Mac so I could test websites and code in Microsoft Edge browser. Microsoft seemed to have found a nice mix of what they were trying to do with Windows 8 and what was great about Windows 7. Though Windows 10 is still very much Windows, it is so much better than it has been for many years. The last good version of Windows, in my opinion, was Windows XP. That was a pretty solid OS, even though not a day went by without a new exploit having been discovered. It was solid, and you could trust it.

Up until now, I didn’t even consider Windows as a solid option because I had so much invested in Apple products. I felt that I was much more productive on a Mac than I could ever been on a PC. That was very true up until Window 10. I probably could have gotten by on Windows 7, but would have been devastated once Windows 8 came out. Some could argue, but the Mac is what has worked for me.

We all come to a crossroad where we have to decide if we can justify making decisions the same way as we have in the past. When it comes to my technology choices, I have been more open to change lately. That change is mostly connected to cost and features. There really has not been much as far as innovation from both sides of the computing fence in the past few years. Microsoft has tried with it’s updates to Windows, but hardware has not seen anything revolutionary. Apple has not done much either. So that leaves me with the question, “why continue buying expensive hardware?” I find myself spending the majority of my time in specific applications like Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and code editors. These applications are exactly the same between both platforms. There are small useful features Apple’s OS X has such as AirDrop, Messages, and simplified system settings. The problem is that most of those features are only useful if all of your devices run Apple software. While using Android phones and tablets, I have found solutions that allow me to use some of these services. I also realized that I have completely neutralized my devices by using services that work on both platforms. On both iPhone and Android I use Google Photos, Google Drive, Slack, Trello, and a variety of other apps that are cross-platform. Whether I use an iPhone or an Android phone, it’s a similar experience, just on different devices.

Last week I switched back to Android because I realized I had too much technology that I was not using and that was not optimized to fit my current needs. I have a Macbook Pro, an iPhone, an iPad Pro, an iPad Mini, an iPod Touch, and an Apple Watch. I found various reasons for justifying each purchase but what it really came down to is that I realized that Apple has built multiple technologies with just enough additional features to get people like me to buy each of them. I bought the iPad Mini because we needed an iPad at the office and it’s perfect to use with my camera drones. I bought the iPad Pro because it’s an excellent replacement for a laptop when I don’t need all of the features of a larger laptop. In fewer words, it’s more mobile. More mobile than a thin laptop? Come on! Obviously, I have been in a technology spiral for a while now.

The other day, I placed my first order from Dell since 1998. It was for a Dell XPS 15″ laptop, which is basically Dell’s version of a Macbook Pro. It has decent technology packed into a sleek looking package. It has a touch screen and I can put enough RAM in it to handle Adobe Lightroom a bit better. I get all of that, and it’s a few hundred dollars less than a new Macbook Pro. It doesn’t sound like much more, and it’s not. It’s just different and it’s a step in a direction away from premium priced hardware.

Please don’t take this as a dis on Apple. They are a company that is here to make money. They didn’t make it to the most profitable company in the Unites States on accident. Profit comes from placing as much space between cost to create and retail price as possible. Apple has become the leader in this practice and there is no way to achieve extreme profitability while at the same time releasing next level technology. Other companies have been trying to replicate their practice. It’s just the way it is.

So I am surrendering and going in a different direction. I have sold some of my Apple gear and plan to get rid of the rest. I don’t know how long that will last but I don’t see myself returning to Apple for a while. We will continue to have a few of them in our home as we have invested a lot of money in movie and tv show purchases. I need hardware that can keep up with the software I use without costing a fortune. The platform doesn’t really matter that much anymore. The gap has closed and all that is left is deciding what kind of hardware you are going to use. Some may try and argue with me over that fact but that is ok. It’s a matter of opinion.

Apple has produced some pretty amazing gadgets over the years, but for the time being, I need to take a break from the mediocrity of their current offerings.

I am definitely not losing out or sacrificing by switching to Android and Windows 10. I am currently using the Samsung GTalaxy S7 Edge as my phone. The screen on this phone is much more vibrant and clear than the iPhone screen. The camera is fantastic as well. The Edge features are a big gimmicky, but I have found using Edge for the quick launching of apps to be nice. It allows me to keep apps off of the home screen of the phone so I can see my background photo. I am currently using a Lenovo Yoga 900 series laptop. It is underpowered, but it has some cool features. While I wait for my Dell XPS 15 to get here, I am getting used to Windows 10 and finding that it is more customizable than Apple’s OS X operating system.

Yesterday I had a client call who was experiencing some major issues with their website. Though I had yet to do any developing on Windows 10, I did have a few applications installed I knew I would need. There were two short instances where I had to remember a few Windows-specific functions, but I was editing code in no time and I felt comfortable.

It will take some time to tell whether I will regret my decision to move away from Apple. I still have some learning to do in regards to Windows 10, but I am enjoying it so far. I still like Apple and their products, I just can’t continue on a path of spending so much money on them. If their products were truly providing value that I could not get anywhere else, like they used to, then I could justify the expense. However, these days Apple products do not provide any additional value. They may be good looking products, but they are also the more expensive choice.

What are your thoughts on this? I know that people can get very emotional when it comes to their technology products. Over the years, people have called me an Apple Fanboy among other things as I have always been fairly pro-Apple. I am still a fan of Apple, I just hope they can once again find their Steve Jobs roots and start innovating products that change the world again.

Comments

  1. Hi Jerad,

    My PC-owning experience was the opposite to yours – was a Windows user full-time for best part of 20 years, but started using Macs at work for graphic design, video editing and content authoring work about 12-13 year back. After I had two consecutive PCs fail on me in the space of just over a year, I bought an iMac in 2012, and it has been my mainstay ever since. I also have a 3rd-gen iPad (which replaced an original iPad which finally ran out of steam in 2012), and an iPhone 4S which I’ve had since 2012.

    Overall, I’m pretty happy with my iDevices. Yes, they’re not as whizzy as the new models, but they get the job done.

    I will probably replace the iPad with a new one this year, as I do make a lot of use of it for both work and leisure. Still up in the air about what will eventually replace the 4S. I’ve had an Android phone before, and am not totally tied to Apple’s services, so could switch fairly easily. I did consider the Nokia Lumias at one point, but there are too many question marks in my mind over Windows Phone for comfort.

    Like you, I’ve been using Parallels Desktop to run Windows for those apps I still need. Windows 10 is OK-ish, certainly less of a hassle than Windows 8 was, but the way Microsoft have been acting lately makes me wary of putting too much faith in their platforms.

    As it is, I’ve started to relearn working from the command line on the Mac, as I get into web development more (Remembering some of the Unix stuff I learnt at university back in the day), and living inside of a text editor (Sublime Text, in my case.) Talk about coming full circle!

    I stopped thinking about PC-vs-Mac or iOS-vs-Android a long while back. Like you said, there isn’t that much of a difference nowadays. Yes, Apple have a reputation for better fit and finish on their stuff, but you also have to live with their less-well-thought-out ideas as well. Same goes for Google, Microsoft and the others in the game. It’s a matter of weighing up the pros and cons and deciding if a particular device or platform will be useful to you over the long-term.

    Alan

  2. I went from iOS to Android and haven’t looked back.. so much more configuration and open ended customization, can’t beat it

  3. Interesting perspective. Sounds like we are very similar in interests, hobbies etc. I was inspired by your take on Sony vs Canon as a user who has owned nearly every dSLR since the Nikon D1 many moon ago.. In fact, I pre-ordered the 7r II after doing a bit of research beyond your post and will likely sell my 5dMIII and make it a long term move.
    I have you in age by a few years. Perhaps that contributes to my take on this thread.

    Now… Apple oh Apple. Frustrating. So frustrating.
    From my very first Apple Newton I knew great things were about to come back to Apple. I would hold it to my head and tell my friends, “this is the future of phones”. Innovation!

    I cut my teeth on Unix. Best OS ever created, that is beyond debate. Unfortunately, usability matters! I’ve written thousand of lines of code using vi and to this day, love it. I’ve coded for hours and never reached for the mouse. But I digress.

    In the mid ’90’s I supported Apple products for a computer distributor. I handled Apple, Cisco, Novell, MS, Banyan, 3com, and others. Apple didn’t have it at that time. The OS was just not reliable enough for my liking. I had an Apple provided PPC 8100 series right next to my Sun Sparc 20 workstation. XP quickly became king and I agree was the best OS for the masses for years.
    Then Apple innovated again. Intel set the stage for a new operating system. To their credit Apple took the best OS in the world and made it usable. Brilliant.
    I think it’s still the best OS available today. But not much has happened.
    Here’s what hasn’t happened…. Windows ME, Vista, Windows 8 etc.
    Just can’t excuse the headaches MS missteps have caused me over the years. I’ve lost years of my life talking my friends and relatives through silly problems on windows.
    Apple hasn’t done much but at least they haven’t gone backwards.
    Please don’t think I’m excusing their lack of creativity and lethargy as of late. They need some change.
    it’s sad to see their dominance in innovation in decline.
    HOWEVER….
    Where else are we going to go? Windows 10? omg I cringe. I’ve been using operating systems since the dawn of operating systems and I can’t go to any two computers running MS operating systems since Win7 and find a darn thing. Don’t try and do what you ‘think’ I want to do… Do what I tell you to do! I click in Win10 and stuff starts flying around the screen like MS knows what I need.
    If my computer illiterate friends call me with problems on their Mac, I can walk them through it with my eyes closed. Literally.
    So I guess the older I get the easier I want things. Apple’s suite is closed and sometimes frustrating but it’s easy. I know what I can and can’t do. I know I can shoot a webpage from any apple device to my AppleTV and go over it with my team. Easy. I know I can deploy an app to an iphone that will fit and work.
    It’s all just stuff. I want to use the easy stuff because I’d rather be out taking photos or spending time with my quickly aging kids.

    Final thought. Hardware costs. Yep, Apple is more expensive.
    But, Here’s the deal. I bought an Air in 2011. This is the first Mac I have EVER purchased and the first I’d used since the 8100 PPC mentioned above. So I suffered many a year with MS operating systems.

    After I stopped overthinking everything I fell in love with the Air. Used and abused it for years and when my oldest headed to college in 2015, I wiped it sent it away with her. It’s still getting it done and frankly I still love using it when she’s home. Is there another hardware platform that could last 7 years and still provide this value? I’ve never owned one.
    Now, the counter point. Absolutely inexcusable that there has been so little software innovation in 6 years that this system is still relevant. To your point, the industry is stale.
    But for now, I still believe Apple is the best value. If they can find a way to run OS X on my iPad pro while still supporting iOS apps it will go a long way to restoring some faith.
    I’m expecting to be underwhelmed next month during the yearly quest for cash, I hope I’m wrong.
    Thanks for the provoking thoughts, my magic 8 ball says you’ll be back. Ha.

  4. Hi Jared,
    Just wondering how your switch was going? I remember reading on your Ditch Auto Facebook group that you returned the Dell and bought a Lenovo.
    I am in the process of looking for a new laptop myself. I have always been a windows user and I did look into the possibility of buying an Apple but I now decided that I will stick to Windows.
    I am just so unsure about what to get, I do not have a large budget and every time I think I have found one I start second guessing myself and start looking at other laptops again. I guess I am still a bit unsure about what to look for as well.
    Would love to hear more about how you are finding your Lenovo.
    Kristi.

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