Well, time to eat some crow… I sit here in a hotel in Akron, looking forward to the Spokesman Club Ladies Event tomorrow morning, and typing this blog post on my new iPad using a wireless keyboard. My negative feelings about the iPad (I quote my first review in full: “Bleh. It’s just a giant iPhone.”) are on record on this blog, as are the more positive and enthusiastic comments from others and the warming of my attitude. Here’s a fairly thorough, chronological list for those who are interested in perusing (though I’m not sure why you’d want to!):
- “Previous Post Potpourri”
- “My iPad Rant”
- “A Follow Up iPad Non-Rant”
- “Another iPad review: optimistic but cautious”
- “The real potential of the iPad”
- “Guest iPad Review”
You’ll notice that the tone mellows after the initial rant and that the last post–by an anonymous guest reviewer–is pretty spot on and even prophetic in places, given that it was still discussing the 1st generation iPad. But beyond the “warming” noted in those posts, several things have changed since then.
For one, I feel like I am watching Microsoft implode before my very eyes. One of our local malls now has a Microsoft Store, like Apple has its Apple Store. In fact, both stores exist on the same floor of the mall, though mercifully they do not exist side-by-side. If you have been in an Apple Store but not a Microsoft Store, it is easy (with just a little oversimplification) to describe the latter fairly completely by comparing it to the former. The Microsoft Store looks like an Apple Store, except the clean, white, “Ship of Lights from the 1970s Battlestar Galactica” theme is replaced by a more varied and colorful theme that is probably supposed to say, mainly, “Look, we’re not copying the Apple store because, hey, colors.”
I was excited when I saw the store was coming to the mall, but now that it is here it is just depressing. The Apple store is always chock full of customers and happy blue-shirted service reps running around helping them buy goodies, while the Microsoft store is almost always completely devoid of customers, with not-as-happy colorful-shirted employees mainly stand there with no customers to talk to unless they are playing X-box games with each other or Fruit Ninja on a big screen. And when I say “devoid of customers” I really do mean devoid of customers. Barren. Just barren.
Back when I was excited about the potential of the new Surface tablets (which did one of their commercials at the Ambassador College campus in Pasadena, by the way–the “angry, dancing school girls” commercial), my good friend and Apple-phile John Robinson sent me some “intervention” e-mails to help me see through the haze, and it wasn’t pretty. While I still have hopes for (a future version of) Surface if Microsoft survives, I’m not so hopeful that Microsoft will survive. I still don’t think that iPad fully demonstrates the possibilities of a tablet computer, and I do like the brief demo that Josh Penman gave me during a visit at HQ where he actually printed a Word document off of his Surface to a local printer with an ease that real computers should be able to do, but none of those things has proven enough to prevent me from submitting to the Borg’s siren call. (“You will be assimilated into the Apple ecosystem. Resistance is futile.”) And the depressingly empty Microsoft store has only enhanced my concerns about the company’s future prospects.
The other things that helped me switch over were minor, but they built up over time. My concerns about the ergonomics and awkwardness of typing on the same geometric plane you were reading were eased the first time I saw Phil Sena using his wireless keyboard Bluetooth-paired with an iPad propped up on an Origami workstation (in fact, the very same set up I am using now). I had long been sold on the quality of MacBook Pros, having seen a few upclose, like Adam West’s, and bought my wife one last year to replace her old, well-used, even-survived-a-sweet-tea-on-the-keyboard-spill MacBook. I knew that various programs would allow you to run Windows software on a Mac if you needed it (still no Apple substitute for MS Access out there that I’ve seen), and I had long thought it would be nice to have a MacBook Pro for myself, or even a desktop Mac (you know–if all of a sudden a meteor made of money landed intact in my yard). I’ve never been anti-Apple–other than for the sake of ribbing Mr. Sena, which someone should do–and I’ve loved every iPhone I’ve owned.
But I have been anti-iPad. And some of my criticisms still stick, methinks. I mentioned the fact that it seems to still fall short of what I would want from a “tablet computer” and I would love for Surface to make that come true with whatever operating system they decide to create, if they survive, after Windows 8 is banished to an OS Nether-realm. I don’t like that the “real Internet” (as the original iPhone commercials used to talk about as they zoomed in on a digitized copy of the New York Times) still isn’t really the “real Internet” (as demonstrated by the fact that my attempts to post this blog in WordPress through Safari were frustrating and forced me to stop and compose most of it in the WordPress App while I go to the full WordPress site to do some final touches). And being micromanaged by the ghost of Steve Jobs is a bit frustrating after being so used to the complete freedom to tinker/modify/accidentally destroy that is PC ownership.
However, I understand the micromanagement concept and the ecosystem that it helps to enable. And, frankly, I’ve been tempted by the idea long enough that I think I will move into the ecosystem completely. I’ve got an iPhone, as does my Beautiful Wife. She has a MacBook Pro. She has an iPad mini I bought for her, and now I have an iPad. (I think she requested a mini because she didn’t think I would spring for a full-sized iPad. Then I bought me one. I might be in trouble…)
My next steps are currently projected to be these: Buy a Mac Mini–which is way easier to imagine affording sometime in the foreseeable future than its more complete siblings–for use as my desktop, and then experiment with an iPad/iPhone-only mobile computing existence. I would sell my current laptop and hope to help pay for part of the cost of getting MS Office (at least Word and Excel) for the Mac. If those steps will happen, when will they happen? I’m not sure, but I will report back if that money meteor hits the yard.
The saddest thing for me? Not that I have to eat some crow. I’ve eaten crow before. It’s not so bad if you cook it right. (Note to undiscerning rumor-monkeys: I don’t mean literal crow.)
No, The saddest thing for me about deciding to switch from a PC-based existence to an Apple-based one is that it feels like Han Solo deciding to sell the Millennium Falcon and get an Enterprise D. But an Enterprise fits my needs better these days, methinks, just like a nice minivan fits my needs better these days than the old 1972 Four-Door, No-Air-Conditioning-In-Texas, Metallic-Blue Chevy Nova named Euclid that, to this day, I still wish I had.
But maybe in a crazy world where J. J. Abrams is directing both Star Trek and Star Wars, anything is possible. (Though if I see a single lens flare in Episode VII, I’m suing.)
And if Microsoft gets its act together and begins bundling Wookies as standard issue, I might be back.