When someone says “Pass me a Kleenex,” you know what they really mean is “Pass me a tissue.” But the brand Kleenex has been so successful that the word has become synonymous with the product. The tech company Apple has likewise left such an imprint with its ubiquitous iPod, which spawned the term “podcasting.” Most people now realize that a podcast doesn’t require an iPod, but the term has stuck. This is a testament to how Apple has left its mark on the world of technology, and even in popular culture.
Steve Jobs was the visionary behind the company Apple. His recent death was prominent in the news and it has prompted a look at the legacy that is Apple.
It’s clear that Apple has made such a dramatic impact on the world, but why is that? And are Apple products really as great as they’re hyped up to be? Or is it merely slick marketing?
As technology expert Leo Laporte explained, Apple was not the first to come up with their technologies; rather, they were the ones who took those technologies and made them mainstream. Edison and Ford didn’t invent the light-bulb and the automobile, respectively. Instead, they brought it to the masses and thus became the popularizers of their day. A quick look back at Apple’s history confirms this unmistakable pattern.
In the early days of computers, people used keyboard text commands to operate their computers. Apple brought personal computers into the average person’s home by having a Graphical User Interface (GUI), which consisted of windows that you could open, close, and manipulate with a mouse. It was such a success that Microsoft soon followed suit with its own “Windows” operating system.
Next came portable music players. Apple wasn’t the first one to make a portable music player that could store and play mp3s, but their product was so sleek and simple to use that suddenly iPods were everywhere and people who had never before heard of mp3s were now listening to them on their iPods.
When Apple introduced touch-screen capabilities to their devices, they weren’t the first ones to invent such technology. But again, they brought it to the masses. The pattern repeats itself with the iPhone storming its way into the smartphone market, and then the iPad setting the bar for the tablet market. By this point, Apple had changed our culture. Everywhere you look, you can see people using their mobile devices, and you can bet that a good portion of them are Apple devices.
There’s no denying that Apple’s been successful. But what is their secret? Are their products truly better than all the others? That is the never-ending debate amongst tech enthusiasts. When a student is shopping for a computer, smartphone, or other device, how are they supposed to decide whether they should by an Apple product or something else?
The truth of the matter is not black and white, but it can be simplified. Apple does indeed make high quality products. This is reflected in their high price tags. But their marketing campaign has been almost as equally impressive as their products. Through advertising, they have managed to convince many consumers that their product defines them and that buying an Apple product means the purchaser is stylish, creative, unique, ahead of the curve, and not bogged down by technical mumbo-jumbo: “it just works.” This marketing technique has been immensely effective. People identify their personalities with their Apple products.
However, the marketing is just that: marketing. While it is true that Apple makes good products, it is not true that they never break or that they break less than competing products. They certainly are stylish, but when it comes to getting the most for your money, Apple is not the place to turn. For those who can afford the higher prices and prefer the style of Apple products, there’s nothing wrong with them. But for a student on a budget, look elsewhere. An Apple computer can cost hundreds of dollars more than an equivalent computer of a different brand. And iPhones have serious competition from Android phones.
The bottom line is this: there is no doubt that Apple has revolutionized our modern tech culture. For those who have the extra money to spend and prefer the style of Apple products, they won’t be disappointed. However, for those looking to get the most “bang-for-the-buck” or don’t necessarily care for Apple styling, the competing products are just as good and cost a lot less.