July 20, 2020

The Power of Peer Pressure in an Ecosystem

Just adding to the craziness of 2020, I purchased a MacBook Air. 


If you know me well enough and weren't sitting down when you read that, I apologize.  This blog is meant to stand as my defense.  Well, at least it makes me feel better.  If my wife would have told me 10 years ago I’d own a slew of Apple Products, I may have thought twice about proposing (by the way - she approved of this blog before posting).  You know the saying, "Don't underestimate my kindness for weakness?"  I'd like to modify that a bit and say, "Don't assume I hate Apple because I'm a Microsoft aficionado."  Spoiler alert, I still am an aficionado. 

A little background…

After graduating college with Microsoft products leading my way through school since elementary, I soon was able to teach a high school computer repair class.  Throughout these 5 years, I was also the “computer guy” for our church. A title that has changed over the years with many helping out along the way.  Even before I was in that role, the church exclusively used PCs.  You can imagine, a computer repair class doesn't mess with Apple products too often.  Don't get me wrong, in regards to the class and certification exam, for the sake of normal hardware procedures, they're the same.  The only difference is the Operating System (Windows vs. OSX).  So, you can imagine - someone who is surrounded by Microsoft products regardless of where they spend time (professional or personal) probably wouldn't have Apple products laying around.

However, there is one major exception.  I did own the second version of the iPhone - the 3G (around 2008).  I mean, come on - anyone who's techy in any sense could plainly see it was a technological revolution.  In those days though, phone plans were on contracts unless you bought the phone outright - and for a college student, that wasn't in the cards.  So, I had to wait two years to change phones.  Except this time to Android.  Then, had to wait another 2 years before being able to switch to Windows Phone.  I had multiple iterations of Windows Phones, and to this day, I'll still argue they were miles ahead the other phones available in regard to speed and the camera quality.  I owned the Lumia 920 on release date in 2012 which came with wireless charging, arguably its own type of "otter box" and a camera that took better pictures (especially at night) than any iPhone or Android released in probably the next 5 years.  It was definitely ahead of its time and a shame the Windows Phone world didn’t get any traction to take off like it deserved (especially after being followed by the 1020, 950, 1150, among many price effective others).  Sorry, this isn't meant to be a post about how sour I am over Windows Phones.  Or is it …?

After being in the PC world for years and now in the Windows Phone world - what's next?  The litany of Windows tablets, laptops, and Xboxes weren't enough.  Enter Microsoft Band.  Yeah, you know.  The Microsoft smartwatch released BEFORE the first Apple Watch.  Again, I purchased one on release day as well as its successor.

Now, all through this time, my wife followed my lead as she generally didn't mind what she was using.  Not to mention, she sold the MacBook she owned shortly after we were married.  I couldn't really help her with it, and she really didn't need it with everything else I had laying around.   This is where I start to blame her and my other family members.

After getting a new job, she lasted as long as she could on Windows Phone before having to switch to an iPhone in order to use an app only developed on iPhone.  I didn't fight her, nor was it a big deal to me.  Believe it or not, I've always told people to buy what works for them and while I may have picked on her, I let it be.  Again, I don't hate Apple…or Android for that matter.

Then, Microsoft killed off the Windows Phone.  This is the start of when the peer pressure of my family came in.  When --- literally --- everyone in my immediate and extended family had an iPhone, I could not be a green bubble any longer.  If I were switching from a Windows Phone, and arguably switching because of the lack of apps (as much as I argue the Microsoft Phone OS is still better than Android or iOS, it was missing A LOT of apps), it only made sense to go to iPhone.  Here, I could iMessage.  Which, if everyone else is using it, and it's 1000 times better than standard text messaging, why not?  Text messages will always go through; texts go through much faster, pictures/videos aren't compressed, among others.  FaceTime is the new Kleenex, right?   Of course, there are other options, but for all of the family to have an iPhone, again, ease of use wins here.  Arguably, any app worth having may be on both platforms, but it probably came to iOS first.  Hard to deny the iOS ecosystem wins in the app space.  Without calling any of them out, I even have family members who don't really install apps.  So getting everyone to use Skype or Zoom is never going to happen.

It's okay, I still had my Microsoft Band to hold me over.  Until it was killed off as well.  I had a second Band because I broke my first one and it was still under warranty.  Then, my replacement had a recall (which ultimately led to them retiring this product).  Upon sending my third Band in, I didn't get a replacement, but a check.  Yes, they gave me my money back.  Good customer service, I guess?  So, when I needed a new smartwatch, why would I get anything Android over an Apple watch?  It may not have ALL the same features, but it has a few only available for use on an iPhone - which is what I had.  And if Apple does anything right - everything just works and works together. 

Here we are today.  I am in school pursuing a PhD, I'm working full time, and I have an almost 3-year-old.  I NEED a computer at home.  Who doesn't nowadays?  I have a work computer I can use at home, but I don't use it for personal things - like this blog post.  My "PC" that I do have is a 17" Laptop which was designed to be a desktop replacement.  It's still kicking after 8 years and can and will do anything and everything I need to do which includes the occasional video editing.  The problem is - a 17" Laptop is not really "laptop-able" nor will the battery last longer than about an hour.  As is the case with any laptop of that age.

Around mid-2019, I came into possession of a 2011 MacBook Air.  Having never owned an Apple computer, it wasn't a huge deal as I've used them over the years at the church - literally every Sunday.  Regardless, I only used it for instances my PC didn't make sense.  Mostly - typing in Word, OneNote, or the web while sitting on the couch.  In some cases, while my son was running around and we were playing, I would go back and forth to typing a sentence or two.  This 9-year-old computer was perfect for its job.  I could open the lid and be typing within seconds.  It just so happened - since I used an iPhone, I could now text message from this laptop.  Very cool!  Although to be fair, Windows (and Macs) can do this with Android phones, too.  But then I noticed I could also make and receive calls - audio and FaceTime.  Having a larger screen when FaceTiming is great for a child.  And being able to talk while typing allows me to not worry about holding the phone with my hand, making sure my phone is close by while on speaker, or having to fumble with my headphones. 

Ultimately, I found myself using this computer more and more.  As such, I found more issues.  The OS couldn’t be updated anymore, so I couldn't install certain apps I needed.  The battery also was very weak and lasted maybe an hour - depending on settings and current workflow.  Which leads to the following…

It's time for a new computer.

IF, and that's a big IF, everything I personally need to do can be done through a web app or through an app that's available on Mac OS X, --- AND --- I already have an Apple Watch, iPhone, and iPad, why would I purchase a Windows-based laptop?  Especially if I already have another one should I absolutely need Windows for a specific piece of software.  And that's the question I couldn’t argue anymore.  Even more so having used an almost decade-old piece of hardware that arguably worked better (at least for me and what I need it for) than it's PC counterpart.  Arguably, if someone came to me with the same scenario I'm in, I'd tell them to buy a new MacBook.  So…

I bought a new MacBook Air. 

Having used it for a few weeks now, I don't have buyer's remorse.  I'm glad I purchased it, I would buy it again given the chance, and if nothing else, I look forward to potentially developing an iPhone app or two.  Something you sadly can't do on a PC.  BUT, it's Microsofted out.  I use the entire Microsoft 365 Suite - Outlook, Word, Excel, PPT, etc.  Chrome and Safari are nowhere to be found as they are replaced with Microsoft Edge. Apple's iCloud, photo backup, and notes are all replaced with Microsoft OneDrive and OneNote.  If you haven't seen my other blog post on 36 Reasons You Should Have Office 365 (https://hy.page/gwheat/post/36-reasons-you-should-have-office-365), you should check that out!  Lastly, my iPhone is very similar with a Microsoft app replacing any Apple or Google counter app where available.  


All that to say, just because I joined the dark side doesn't mean you have to!



Photo by Brad Pouncey on Unsplash