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Summary:

I realize that suggesting a break from Apple products on an Apple blog is heresy, but there are good reasons to pop your head up and look around at what else is out there every once in a while. Here’s why I occasionally take time off.

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I realize that suggesting a break from Apple products on an Apple blog is heresy, but there are good reasons to pop your head up and look around at what else is out there every once in a while. Gadget tunnel vision is a dangerous thing, for both your sense of perspective and your budget.

Brand Loyalty Carries No Tangible Reward

Brand loyalty can be a very strong emotion, especially around Apple Inc. But what’s it really worth to you? You could argue that by being loyal, you’re encouraging Apple to continue putting out high-quality products, but it’s not a one-to-one relationship. Buying a piece of kit from Sony or someone else here or there won’t destroy Apple’s R&D capabilities.

In reality, you get nothing for your loyalty beyond the ability to wave it in the faces of others who aren’t so loyal. Which, admittedly, can be quite satisfying in the short term, but doesn’t really amount to much in the long run.

Playing the Field Gets You More Action

Pardon the double-entendre, but it’s true that if you have greater variety in your choice of gadgets and tech, you’ll have a much broader base of experience from which to draw for both professional and personal purposes. At work and on resumés, platform agnosticism plays much better than single-minded devotion to one company. Most employees don’t want to see “haven’t touched a Windows machine since ’95″ listed under “Skills.”

Knowing about, say, Android as well as iOS, for example, will also get you far in personal interactions. The one-note Apple guy or girl isn’t always the most popular person at tweetups and tech conferences. Even if you’re debating the merits of OS X versus Windows 7, think how much stronger your argument will be if you’ve actually used both extensively.

Your Apple Vacation Can Be a “Staycation”

You don’t need to invest in new hardware to take a break from Apple. Bootcamp on OS X allows you to run Windows or other operating systems on your Mac computer. Or, if you’d rather not even leave OS X (though I recommend you do), there are always Parallels and VMware Fusion which allow you to run Windows on an emulated machine within Apple’s OS.

You can also even run Android on an iPhone or iPad using OpeniBoot, though it’s pretty buggy. But if you’re the adventurous type, and want to test out Google’s iOS competitor without spending money on new hardware, this could be the way to do it.

The Future Is Multi-Platform

Developers aren’t going to focus on just one platform, so long as user interest in a platform continues to grow. Nor are content providers, advertisers, or enterprise IT departments. There’s no reason why users should, either. Device and platform flexibility will inform UI and UX decisions going forward, and consumers with a wide variety of experience will help inform those decisions.

Apple is a great platform, and will likely remain my platform of choice for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean I’ll use it to the absolute exclusion of all others. Variety is the spice of life, and that maxim applies just as well to my digital existence, too.

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  1. The comment about résumés is simply incorrect. A scattershot “I do everything” dev will only be hired for the most junior roles, and be the first fired. Specialists win because they’re good at their jobs. “Jack of all trades, master of none” is a very poor career choice.

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  2. I’m in computational biology. I currently use an aging but still sturdy Mac Pro at work and a MacBook Pro at home. I use an iPad (paper reading) and an iPod classic (library in ALAC). I’ve been using OS X since the beginning and switched to Mac from Windows-based machines because of the promise of OS X. In the meanwhile I’ve used Debian Linux and OS X exclusively.

    I still think OS X is the best desktop OS. Hands down. But I find that my next work computer, which I use often as a computational server, will not be lacking if it is a less expensive Linux box. Will I be able to find an internal hardware design that matches the Mac Pro? Not sure, though I have my doubts. It will be less expensive than the current Mac Pro lineup; that’s almost guaranteed.

    But at home, I won’t soon go to Windows (unless it’s UNIX based, Dear Other Steve … ), so I would like to keep Macs around my house for my personal computing. Linux + iOS devices is awful.

    The point of all of this is to say that it’s taken a lot of thinking about computational needs in various places to understand what will work for me without great sacrifices to my workflow. I’m almost surely going to make the break from Apple on the next server machine, without major problems.

    I think the larger issue is that I am trying desperately to avoid being locked in where it counts the most (at work). This means embracing open technologies and formats whenever possible and using programs that are cross-platform.

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  3. First off, I think you’re a fool (probably young) to even consider a piece like this. I mean, who cares? If you want to write about different hardware then do it on a different blog site, and then when you feel you have something to add about Apple, then do it here.

    Just do it!

    You have issues it seems if you feel the need to confess your “ideals” in such a manner. It is not important, it’s just hardware.

    Rather cool hardware but… :)

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    1. I just realized that I used the word “hardware”. I also mean software.

      I should have said it’s just stuff, consumer stuff. It’s not a life.

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      1. It’s fine; probably just your age showing.

        Sorry, I couldn’t help but respond to such an arrogant (and useless) jab… even though I wholeheartedly agree with the actual points that you made.

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      2. Sorry cptgibbs, I guess it was arrogant. I’m just a cranky old man who has his own set of issues. :)

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  4. I don’t have to use Windows 7 or Android extensively to realize they are inferior products. A trip to the electronics shop will probably further fuel brand loyalty.

    Developers are going to do whatever makes them money. If that is one platform or 30, they will do what’s best for profits in the end (or go out of business). As can be seen on OSX apps vs Win apps or iOS apps vs Android apps.

    In the end most users of Apple products do so because life is simpler with them. Loyalty plays a part, but if the products are junk that dies off (see Apple TV Gen 1, Shuffle w/o buttons, etc).

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  5. This is somewhat a very concise and excellent article. It’s reasonable and full in common sense, way to go!

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  6. I occasionally hit a system limitation that causes me to think outside the Apple box. For example, I would like to install an inexpensive hot-swap bay inside a Mac Pro to economically handle media backups (versus an external chassis + i/o card), but the hardware design does not enable this without hacking metal. Such issues arise more in the developer / author segment where systems must be customized for specific tasks. I think Apple should rethink how to better support its developer community (remember direct bus CPU upgrades?) in its successful bid to win the home market.

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  7. “Variety is the spice of life .. ”

    How many girlfriends do you date ?

    Are they happy with the situation ?

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  8. “Most employees don’t want to see “haven’t touched a Windows machine since ’95″ listed under “Skills.””

    Untrue and inaccurate. On a resume, you write something along the lines of “Familiar with the following software: Windows XP, Apple OS X, etc.” Unless your job requires you to really know the OS inside and out, familiarity is all you need to have. And since most companies are sticking with XP, you don’t even have to worry about keeping up to date on the latest Windows OS. In fact, you could apply for a job working at a company that has upgraded to Windows 7, explain to them that your old company only used XP and you’d still be fine.

    For a typical corporation, actually knowing the ins and outs of any OS is already more than enough.

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  9. You mean there are other technology companies? When did this happen?

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    1. Priceless…love it…if I didn’t work at Best Buy I would say the same thing…but they are in my face all the time…and I hate it

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  10. Well, I’m not sure I can see the point here, let me explain: For most of us, readers, we are also kind of geeks, or even techcs, or have an interest in those OS’s discussions related stuff. I would say we’re also the ones using different platforms because it’s part of our life or jobs. People outside don’t give a penny about those things. I use Macs coz it’s the best for me, I have an Ubuntu partition, and a Win7 too, that I very seldom use. I don’t want any iPhone coz it’s too big for my purposes, and so, I’m very happy with my old sony-ericsson (aren’t we name dropping?) minuscule smartphone (yes, smartphone, it syncs with my macs and run java apps). What the heck? I’m not an Apple fanboy, but I use their products since the first LC came out, I had a PC before, and do not regret the move. I like the way Apple is showing a certain path regarding the evolution of computer related devices, I like the way they think, and most of all, I recognize myself in this path. And so does the vast majority of people even in the PC world, If I can judge thet by the huge numbers of iPods and iPads that are selling. The fact that Windows is more and more mac os like, that every other tech company is developing Apple like products and marketing and follows Apple trends says a lot, too.
    This is what people want, because it well taught out.

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