I wasn’t always an Apple fan. I still don’t see myself firmly in one camp or another. I have two Android phones and just the one iPhone, for example. But my home is filled with other Apple devices, from old iPods to new MacBooks.
Still, Apple has had a profound impact on the tech industry, the industry I have been covering for years, first on my own personal blog, then on ReadWriteWeb and now on TechCrunch. Simply put, Apple delivers beautiful, near-perfect devices that have revolutionized computing.
More importantly, I think, Apple’s lasting legacy is what it has done for technology itself: it removed the “geek” factor from computing, and made tech “sexy.”
Apple took technology mainstream.
Everyone can use and enjoy a computer, said Apple. “It just works.”
And really, it does.
The iPhone, for example, is a marvel. I remember the day I first held one in my hands. It was 2007, and I still had a day job in I.T., working for a bank here in Tampa. I had read about the iPhone on all the tech blogs, but it wasn’t until I actually saw one that I really understood how much everything had just changed.
"Sarah, you’re going to love this," my co-worker said at the time, walking into my office unannounced. "I have the iPhone."
I did not have the iPhone.
I had the BlackBerry Pearl, which, until that moment, I thought of as one of the best cell phones I had ever owned.
"Look," my co-worker said. "You can watch YouTube videos on it." We watched this. And we laughed.
She didn’t tell me how much memory it had, how fast the processor was, what the screen’s pixel density was or any other such technical spec. Frankly, she didn’t care. She wouldn’t even know what those terms meant.
But she knew that she could get her email, view maps, and watch YouTube. And the iPhone was pretty.
It was amazing.
I had never wanted to own a device as much as I wanted that iPhone. I wanted to snatch the device from her unworthy hands and run down the halls of the office screaming: “it’s mine now! It’s mine!”
I think I dreamt about that iPhone.
But I wasn’t a rich accountant, just a lowly systems engineer. I had to save up.
I eventually bought the iPhone 3G. My world, it was rocked.
I no longer work in I.T., the land of Microsoft technologies. I’ve forgotten a lot about fixing computers, digging in the registry to modify keys, applying login scripts via Group Policy, sharing printers on the network, poking holes in the firewall, adjusting user permissions and modifying Exchange Server rules.
I used to find these things interesting, but very few people wanted to talk about them. Their eyes glazed over when I spoke.
But now, I can share my passion for technology with everyone - parents, grandparents, in-laws, cousins, friends and strangers alike. Apple made technology friendly, fun, interesting and accessible.
We can talk about Macs and iPads, iPhones and iTunes. We can talk about apps and games and music and podcasts.
We can talk.
Technology is a part of everyone’s life now, and it has radically changed our lives for the better, I firmly believe.
The real impact of making technology accessible is only now being understood. Apple, but also social media, the Internet, the Web, PCs, email, SMS, mobile operators, browsers, search engines, algorithms, sensors and servers - they’re all playing a role here. Apple doesn’t get full credit for this. All these things make communication possible, information reachable and our world smaller.
But Apple is one of the only companies that actually made people want to use technology, not because they should or they can, but because they desire it.
So to Steve Jobs, I say this:
Thank you for demanding perfection, for considering what a real user needs, for the quality of Apple’s end products, for the focus on ease of use and attractiveness of both Apple hardware and software. Thank you for the iPhone, the iPad and this MacBook Pro I blog on.
Thank you for the app ecosystem and the mobile landscape it produced. Thank you for inspiring mobile developers. Thank you for forcing competitors to make Android and webOS and Windows Phone, and thank you for forcing them to make them better and better. Thank you for tablets. Thank you for iTunes (well, sort of). Thank you for making the Internet portable.
Thank you for the Genius Bar, so I can stop fixing other people’s computers. Thank you for the Apple Store, where limited choices mean easy decisions for non-technical people.
Thank you for institutionalizing your ideas so Apple can live on without you.
And thank you for wanting to make a ding in the universe.