Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Is Apple starting to shrivel?

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About three years ago, I bought my first Apple product. I saved $2,500 of the hard-earned money I made from working at a golf course. I went online to Apple.com, and ordered a 13-inch black MacBook, fully loaded.

I was beyond ecstatic. After the MacBook came the iPods, then the iPhones, the iMac, and now I'm using a 15-inch MacBook Pro. It's been a good ride. I've probably given Apple more than $10,000 by now.

My loyal readers know that I've been ranting hard against Apple lately. I finally shed my iPhone 4S and converted to the Samsung Galaxy S3. I must say it's awesome. But is my MacBook the next thing to go? Will I switch to Windows? Is the Apple brand fading away?

Ever since Steve Jobs died, Apple hasn't been the same. I remember being so hyped up for his keynote addresses. I would tell the teacher I needed to go to the bathroom, and then I'd tether Internet to my laptop and see what Jobs had to announce.

I don't feel that same energy with Tim Cook. To be honest, I didn't even know when the keynotes were this year. I feel the brand awareness isn't the same. When that turtle-necked, jeans-wearing CEO walked out on stage, a presence was felt, and excitement was generated for a product that you didn't need, but were going to buy anyway.

After all the refreshments of the Apple product lineup this year were released, there wasn't one upgrade that I thought was innovative, interesting, or cool. I didn't buy one single Apple product this year. It seems that the way technology is emerging, the only thing Apple is doing is making its products thinner and faster. Where are the design changes? Where are the new innovative technology advancements? They seem to be non-existent.

Microsoft is releasing Windows 8 next week, and there's been a lot of chatter around the web. Is Windows 8 going to be a hit? I personally think so. The way touch technology is these days; more people are beginning to use it. It's becoming a medium. Windows 8 is a very touch-friendly operating system. It also has a very metro user interface. I think Microsoft is changing with the times more than Apple is. I'm not saying I'm going to convert and be a diehard Windows user, and am going to write for four weeks about which kind of PC I'm going to buy. I'm just expressing my complete and utter disappointment in Apple as a former -- and still sort of -- Apple fan boy.

This may be rash, but I believe the only reason people are still using Apple products to date is because of iTunes. People may argue that the iPhone was Apple's "revolutionary" tipping point. I would strongly argue that the iPhone wasn't, or the MacBook, it was iTunes, paired with the iPod lineup. When Jobs was going strong as CEO, the iPod was it. Everyone had one. No one said, "Man what kind of MP3 player do you have?" Everyone said, "What kind of iPod do you have?" It's sort of like Under Armor. If you are wearing Nike or Addidas sports apparel, people don't refer to it as "nice Nike shirt." They say "nice Under Armor." The only reason people are sticking with Apple products is because they've collected music over their lifetime, and it's all stored in iTunes.

The hardest part of me switching to Android was that I couldn't sync my device with iTunes. I have 5,000-plus songs imported into that program, and I wasn't looking to switch anytime soon. But I found a program that used my iTunes database as a portal that would allow me to sync my music to my phone, so I was content.

We have Apple IDs, iCloud memberships, and cloud syncing available with Apple products. We set it up years ago, and people don't like change, so they aren't going to switch. But the question is, how long are you going to stay with Apple products before they get boring and redundant? Or are you going to be in the Apple cult for life?

I would really like to have a discussion and hear YOUR opinion. As you can tell, I'm getting fed up with mediocrity. Apple has some of the most intelligent designers and engineers in the world. Why aren't we seeing greatness? Shoot me an email at db@thedavidbell.com -- let's talk. If you don't like to type, you can always hit me up on Twitter @thedavidbell.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2012 A15

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