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Apple: The New Microsoft?

June 23, 2010

Jacky Abromitis

I recently read two equally interesting, yet very different opinions, on Apple – in particular, on the iPhone and iPad.

I first read “It’s Apple vs. Google in the New Phone Fight.” I have been a PC user for about 20 years. My first computer was the Apple IIc back in the mid 80s. Many educators will remember the IIc and IIe fondly, as do I. As a graduate student, I coveted the IIe but had to settle for a refurbished IIc. I’ll never forget my first “search and replace.” It rocked my world personally and professionally. I was an advocate of integrating technology in education from that moment.

As we all know, Microsoft came along and Apple microcomputers became the minority. PCs were so much cheaper, and on a teacher’s salary, I caved to the checkbook and went PC. However, I have become terribly disgruntled with PCs over the past several years. I was recently talking to an HP tech who said the rule of thumb was you should reinstall your Microsoft operating system (on laptops) every two years. Seriously. I know from personal experience that my all decked out and loaded for bear computers only last a few years. I don’t have hardware failures; I just get frustrated with conflicting programs, programs that no longer work, fighting viruses, and – mostly – sloooooowwww computers. I get frustrated and buy a new one, spending several days loading programs and transferring data.

I’ve been planning on going back to Apple. When I read “It’s Apple vs. Google in the New Phone Fight,” I was convinced I was making the right decision. I know Apple’s reputation: they work. They don’t get viruses. They are rock solid reliable. I’m willing to pay for those “luxuries.” Mostly, I love the concept of keeping my data in a “cloud”, usable from any machine. I never want to be tied to a computer that crashes with all my data again (yes, I do have a remote backup service, but reinstalling is never failsafe). Apple is bundling the cloud, the rock solid machines, and they make it work. Period.

Google’s open source phone operating system will surely make its way to a Google version of an iPad. The open source concept was, initially, very appealing to me from many angles. As an educator, the concept of open source, a community of learners working together, seemed like Utopia. Of course, in education, FREE is always wonderful. However, I’ve used some standard bearer open source programs, including Mozilla’s Thunderbird and Open Office, and they have both proven to me, in my use of them, to be substandard.

I was leaning towards purchasing both an iPhone and a Macbook laptop.

Then I read “Apple’s Bite.” An “Apple controlled marketplace” was the phrase that stopped me in my tracks. I have been handcuffed by a Microsoft controlled Marketplace for 2 decades, and I’ve not been happy for half of the last one. Am I going from the frying pan to an expensive bonfire? “But the most alarming aspect of Apple’s vision is its censorious instinct. Where Google operates from a deep commitment to free expression … Jobs detests an open orifice.” Apple controls what apps it will allow its users to use and what advertising may be run through them. “Such domination of the relationship with its readers would be no less a disaster for publishers than it was for the music industry.”

The Microsoft universe I’ve lived in the past 20 years has had many flaws, but none of them was restriction of information. Would I want to go to a library that only stocks books that they think I should read? Would I want to go to a bookstore that only carries books that they make the most money from? Editorialized content doesn’t sit well with this American educator.

Perhaps Google will be the hybrid of Apple and Microsoft. I yearn for the stability and reliability of Apple yet the “content” that was never restricted by Microsoft. I just hope that Google’s “open source” approach isn’t their Achille’s heel. Unrestricted apps and programs won’t be worth a thing if they don’t perform to Apple-like standards. It’ll be interesting to watch how Google balances open source and quality control.

Note: As this is a blog, I do not use APA formatting.

Categories: apple, education, google, technology
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