Driving along Fairfax in late afternoon traffic. My brand spanking new phone rings, the ringtone of one of those black ’50’s phones that are so prized at the Pasadena flea market. A friend who still patronizes video stores is standing in the aisles looking for a suggestion – yes, there are people who still rents dvd’s. I slide towards the curb and chirp in my microphone: “No problem – do you want me to read you my latest Netflix wish list?”. I log on my Netflix account, while still chatting, and rattle off a series of titles. I hang up and resume my driving, smiling at the sleek iphone that just helped a friend in need.
That Apple managed to turn the most gadget averse person I know into an avid fan is a feat I would have never imagined. I still don’t know how to use a remote control but I can navigate my mysterious iphone 4 no problem. I actually pored over the 300 page manual to learn the most obscure functions. As I have always despised gadgets and technology and novelties in general, I had to ask myself what changed.
Computers entered my life as word processors at first and then as work related instruments that weren’t even allowed in my house until 15 years ago, care of a bulking laptop my boss wanted me to carry around. The inner workings of it were hazy at best, to me at least. I always managed to learn the basics so that I could fulfill whatever was required of me at work, or search the net in times of need and keep in touch with friends through e-mail. Nothing much beyond that. I found the lingo boring and the company sponsored workshops incomprehensible so I stumbled along until I gave myself a Mac.
When I brought it home and started following the set up props I found myself having fun – with the graphics, the icons but, above all, the language. It’s truly designed for creative people or for those whose brains don’t work on binary lines. The equivalent of “Word” is called “Pages” and its ink and quill icon challenges my imagination – I just want to click it open and write. For its brilliant technology, all the icons look old fashioned and…fun. Everything is so intuitive that a technological zero like me can follow along – I can type approximate questions in the help section and I unfailingly get an answer that makes sense to me. Every time I am stumped with a PC and I try to figure out how to proceed, it takes me forever, partly because the language it uses is geeky and unfriendly. As are the well intentioned people at the other end of the phone I resort to calling when I can’t help it – it’s usually an exchange between two individuals trapped inside Babel. On the other end, waltzing into an Apple store with some inane question and chatting with the blue shirted associates always produces instant results.
Am I talking as a devotee? I know I am and I surprise myself. Wish I had invested in some Apple stock when the time was right. With all the furore around the iphone 4 antenna and the dropped calls and Consumer Report advising people not to buy it, I just had to say I am having a ball with it. Those folks in Cupertino who are being accused of being arrogant by not responding to the accusations and waiting for it to all go away know they can count on fans who will overlook a minor flaw (yes, it is minor and no, I haven’t had a dropped call yet) because what they deliver is a product whose functionality is only half the point. Opening your mind up to previously unimagined possibilities is.