One of the more notable Apple, Inc. marketing slogans is “It just works.” While the slogan was used to market Mac OS X, many users have found that it is apropos to most Apple products and services. A contributing factor for the “just works” trait of Apple’s technology is the focus on user experience first. I previously wrote about user experience and removing user annoyances, and this really gets to the heart of the matter for me. I am a Linux expert and systems administrator by day. However, when my work day is complete, I am a user of technology at home, and as an end user of technology, the last thing I want to do when my work is complete is come home and do more work, so I have a requirement that any technology I use as a consumer and creator in my home must “just work”. Not only must the technology work with minimal interruption, but it must also fit into my workflow that I have developed over the years. In my case, that workflow is heavily Mac-centric. The reason for this is that my first Mac jump started my creativity, and I’ve become accustomed to the tools and processes that came about as a result of my working on a tool that got out of the way and allowed me to create things.
Mac OS X and other Apple software and hardware are not without their faults and annoyances, though. Nothing is perfect, but Apple comes close where users are concerned. Why? Because I can work on my projects and get things done.
David Drake wrote about his battle to stay on the Linux platform for home computing, but how Apple ultimately won him over. In a nutshell,
I was tired of spending time on my computer working on my operating system instead of working on my projects.
David’s is a switcher story, yes, but don’t discount his opinion. He is not saying that everyone should go out and switch to Apple products. He is saying that although Apple’s ecosystem is a “closed” one which has been vilified over the years, it is a closed system that absolutely affords the user a high level of customization and minimal annoyances when it comes to device support.
The hardware is great. The OS is a constant pleasure. All my time that I want to spend developing or doing things is actually spent developing or doing things instead of the constantly interrupted, buggy experience I had before. Because it’s Unix-based, everything is familiar or easy to learn since I spend most of my time in a terminal.
Instead of finding a brand new and unfamiliar experience, I found the experience I was looking for Linux to be: a great and consistent environment for me to get things done.
The experience that David had is very similar to my first encounters with the OS X world. As a Unix/Linux systems administrator, I was pleased to still have Terminal access and all the Unix trappings I was familiar with, but on top of it all was a graphical user interface that was beautiful and stable, and an application ecosystem that was robust and powerful.
Do I run Linux servers at home still? Of course I do. I never stop learning and improving my skills as a professional. Would I jailbreak an iPhone and tinker with it? Of course I would, but when it comes to the phone I carry with me at all times, it will be an iPhone that runs the current iOS release from Apple, and until it fails to provide the features I need, my home router will always be an Apple AirPort Extreme. Also, I will keep an AppleTV hooked up to each of my televisions until Apple manages to manufacture a television with the device built-in, and I will upgrade my Mac to a new one when it ceases to work. Why? Because all of these Apple products are consistent, and they “just work” both individually and together.