I ought at this juncture explain what my professional relationship with Apple is. I have often been told that I am a “spokesman” for the company and it is assumed by a few that I am on a retainer of some kind. I own no Apple shares and have never accepted (or indeed been offered) a penny by the company or their representatives. I have attended the odd launch at their invitation, but they have never paid my travel expenses, nor would I want them to. On the other hand they have given me gear. My friend Jony Ive, Apple’s chief designer, likes me to have the newest products to play with and through him I am lucky enough to get early versions of all kinds of devices. On the other other hand, the nice people at HTC have also given me prototypes and hot-off-the-press versions of almost all their WindowsMobile and Android smartphones too. I have sat and chatted to their Chief Marketing Director John Wang, a man I greatly like and admire and he has made sure that I have a full range of his superbly put together devices to use and evaluate. The wonderfully kind BlackBerry chaps from RIM have also done the same for me — giving me a new Bold, a new Storm and much else besides. I am a very lucky fellow indeed to get all these devices but I don’t tell you all this in order to elicit envy, admiration or wrath. I tell you simply so that you get a picture. Being a tech blogger, a figure who is known to be excited by smartphones and digital devices of all kinds I am sent lots of toys to play with for review and personal use. A small minority of it is in fact Apple, but nonetheless those who like to believe in agendas, conspiracies, graft and corruption will continue to imagine that I have a vested interest in Apple. The anti-Apple lobby sees that kind of thing everywhere. The BBC, god bless them in their paranoia, fear and writhing self-conscious insecurity, are hard put sometimes ever even to mention the company, knowing all too well that there will be those accusing them of being unpaid PR operatives for Cupertino, disgraceful lackeys and running dogs spending MY LICENCE FEE on the furtherance of Steve Jobs’s evil plans. And on and on it goes.
The causes that lead some to hate everything Apple are complicated and various, but they are certainly not rational. Hate never is. Nor indeed is love. We are dealing with emotions here, not thoughts. Apple divides people in tribal, primal and almost frightening ways. Not all people, of course, indeed only a tiny, tiny minority of people, but they (we) are the ones who take up most of the bandwidth in the tech blogosphere and make the most noise and fill up Twitter and Facebook and other forums with our polemical deliberations and bellicose disquisitions. Although it is a minority who are so riven, it is a significant and loud one. I do not think you find such divisions and disputation in many other areas of human life, except religion, politics and sport of course. Some people prefer Ford cars to Honda say, or Parker to Waterman pens, or Sony TVs to Samsungs or Colonel Sanders to Ronald McDonald or Beethoven to Mozart but you don’t find online ideological wars or virulent tradings of insults on the subject. Apple haters cannot wait to tell you how underwhelmed, how (exaggerated yawning gesture) bored they are by the hype, what suckers, what sheep what idiots we are for even discussing the iPad. They know perfectly well how much better the HP Slate is, or the JooJoo or the Notion Ink Adam or any number of Android or Windows 7 netbooks, smartbooks and tablets. Only a susceptible ignoramus would rave about a ‘slick’ (what an insult) over-designed (d’uh?) iCon (hoho) like the Apple iPad.
I exaggerate. Of course I do. A little. Only a little. Most people, as I have already said, are on neither side of a Swiftian civil war between LittleEndian Applistas and BigEndian Anti-Applistas. There are plenty of people who are more measured and reasonable in their scepticism about Apple, it is not my mission to characterise everyone on each side as a fundamentalist. But you know there really is fury out there. Absolute fury. Otherwise funny and sane people like Charlie Brooker have taken up anti-Apple stances as a matter of style. ‘People who like Apple are pretentious and style conscious, so I will never ever have one,’ the argument goes, if I can call it an argument, and obviously I can’t, because it isn’t an argument it’s just a dumb and slightly mad assertion. After all, how style conscious do you have to be to refuse to be seen dead in anything so fashionable. Huh? I mean huh?
The fact that I will have turned off my website’s comments facility or moderated it into effective silence is even now driving some of my readers (a tiny minority I’m happy to think) insane. They are dreaming up insults about me and the iPad and dripping with cunning clever remarks to show what a fool, what a pretentious idiot, what a preening, posturing pseud of a lame waste of skin I am to champion Apple and their controlling commercial ways, their over-proprietary software, firmware and hardware and their whole corporate style. How dare I not let them flame me off the planet with their bile and spleen and choler and other medieval bodily fluids? It is their right and their need not just to disagree with me but to grab me by the scruff of the neck and push me face down in their prose until I squeal for mercy and admit that the iPad is a failure and a disgrace, that I am a fool and a nothing for falling for it and they are supreme and knowing and right, dammit, and why won’t anyone listen??? The desire to wag a finger, to take me down a peg and above all to show a superior understanding of Steve Jobs’s motives, Apple’s deficiencies and my shortcomings, hypocrisy and smug stupidity must be overwhelming, but you will have to forgive me for suggesting that you do all that on your own site, not on mine.