Had a splendid week away in Ireland. In disconnected remoteness, missed much of the happenings of one world, but experienced the greater realities of another, such as the beauty of gardens, rivers, lakes and mountains, the sweet sound of bird song and waves washing the shore, the peace that descends when no mobile or wi-fi signal can be found. Wonderful weather, a family reunion, lovely walks. A soul replenished and refreshed.
When I was first getting into graphics, I yearned for a Mac (but could not afford one). That was way back when they were beige: not cool, but highly functional.
However, when they started that whole PC vs. Mac (Geek vs. Mr Cool) campaign, that really killed it for me. I can see why it worked: it played on base emotions, because nobody wants to be called a Geek – and you still see it played out in forum discussions: the superior, smug, “we’re cool” attitude. That marketing approach was pure genius, and the only fallout was to lose people like me who had already experienced too much of that in real life. No big deal, for the Cult of Mac had been well and truly cemented.
So it didn’t really matter if the marketing campaigns that came after it were boring and unimaginative: the consumer already had in mind that the product was the personification of cool. And I think Apple rested on its laurels, marvelling in this apparition it had created.
Now they need to do something, because that Cool has been tarnished by the likes of Samsung, which has used a similar strategy to say, We’re Young, We’re Really Cool, We’re Not Smug… Or to put it another way: Think Different… don’t be an Apple Sheep. It’s the same emotional marketing technique, simply updated and turned around.
However, I think Apple’s marketing team were not entirely wrong in their criticisms. Apple has some great products, but they are falling behind.
At work I use both a Dell with Windows 7 and a Mac with OSX Mavericks. I think the Apple hardware is generally unmatched, but if you were to ask me which OS I prefer, Windows 7 wins hands down.
There’s no danger that Apple will lose out to Microsoft of course, because MS is simply rubbish at consumer marketing and their brand-name is too tarnished with alleged Geekery, Greed and Arrogance.
But they will lose out to newer, younger companies, who have marketing clout and the ability to say We are New and Different.
Apple needs to find a way to say, We are not middle-aged and boring. That might mean fewer commercials featuring old men rambling on about technical matters against a white background. But they also probably need to realise that most of us are happy buying a compromised, less perfected product that hits the right price point.
If I had the money to buy my own Mac Book Pro, I’d buy a Dell XPS 18 instead.
And here ends my sermon for the day.
To be honest, there’s very little nobility or goodness in our actions these days, and all that’s left is an odious caricature of faith.
For all the claims a decade ago, that journalists are a far superior species to bloggers, somebody needs to explain why so many newspapers now quote stories in other papers verbatim, without verifying the facts; how Twitter became a trusted authority; why so many spurious claims which are later found to have no basis get circulated worldwide. If journalists are the upholders of standards, then standards have certainly slipped.
We will most likely learn in weeks/months/years to come that the plane simply crashed and that all the other information about military radar, diverted flights and pings were mistaken or misidentified items, or ideas or theories provided by semi-official spokesmen, which the media has simply seized on in its effort to tell a story. We have witnessed many of these cases over the years: eventually the story will be corrected with facts reanalysed in hindsight — although this will never satisfy conspiracy theorists who will cling to the earliest reports as the only true testimony. With One are the keys of the unseen.
Sometimes the action required of us is to do nothing. To not fly into a rage. To not demand revenge. To say nothing. To not forward emotional blackmail. To not charge into battle, to not add suffering on top of suffering, anarchy on anarchy. Inaction is not always indifference. Sometimes it is absolute wisdom.
My companions are brilliant, erudite, learned and wise; perceptive, with piercing insight. I sit with them, flummoxed by my own ignorance, confounded by my dumb tongue and my outbursts of unmistakably unhilarious humour. They are the hyperliterate intellectuals our community so desperately needs. I am the court jester, muttering incoherently, constrained by my unmatched, unfailing witlessness. I have been blessed to count these sages amongst my friends. Perhaps they have been blessed to count this fool amongst theirs. All together we keep each other in check.