There's been an awful lot of Applebashing going on recently and, while I'm not claiming it's undeserved, I want to make it clear that I was bashing Apple long before this most recent trend because a) it's fun to be an iconoclast, b) I enjoy taking potshots at the "cooler than you" crowd, and c) it's difficult to compliment for more than a couple sentences without sounding fanboy-ish. This said, my assault on the Appleverse or iVerse or Macverse today has little to do with joining the "Bashfest Club" and more to do with my original A, B and C tendencies.
Whenever one walks into an Apple Store (and I know you have, even those that don't want to admit it), if you can push your way to the back through the Birkenstock, hemp bags, and air that's thick with pretension, you'll notice the "Genius Bar". The Genius Bar is where you can bring your Apple products that you just can't figure out anymore. Your name goes on a list like you're lining up for headcheese and corned beef at the local deli and you stand around trying to look cool. You thought the DMV was bad, at least there if you have a lingering remnant of Taco Bell piquante sauce on your shirt you're still easily the best dressed in the place. At the Apple Store, if you're wearing a ringer tee, it better have cost $75 at a store with wooden shutters and lighting so dim you'd think you were in a Philip K. Dick novel.
Anyway, back to the Genius Bar. When Apple's famed 1984 commercial shocked the world, we thought we'd found a company that would be making products by the people, for the people. Products that were simple, elegant, and just worked. Let me offer up some full disclosure here: I've almost never had a problem with any of my iPod products. Other than some frustrating glitches when updating the iPhone/Touch OS, my experiences have been relatively good. Which is part of the reason I'm always shocked to see the Genius Bar TAKING APPOINTMENTS for the next day OR WEEK to fix problems with people's iPhones, Pods, and Macbooks.
Is it really a good selling point for Apple products that the Genius Bar has to take reservations? Isn't this a testimony to product failings? And why should I have to be a genius to fix my Mac or iWidget? I understand that a catastrophic failure of a MAC PC may require some outside help, but why does Apple relish celebration of flawed technology (and let's admit it folks, those Mac v. PC ads are a bit ridiculous considering the Mac IS a PC). Forcing people to stand around like their in a refugee camp is something that boggles my mind. If you're standing in an Apple Store waiting to see a Genius or waiting for a Genius to deliver a push-hold button combination to your iPod in order for you to listen to John Mayer again, you have become a testimony to how Apple does NOT build technology for the people, but, instead, technology for the Genius.
Remember when we could open computer cases and fiddle around inside to add cards, RAM, or swap hard drives? How many Mac owners do that? Remember when you r first mp3 players could be popped open if the headphone jack ever got worn out for a quick repair? If I popped open my iPod Touch, I get the feeling I'd need a roll of duct tape and vice to cram it back together again.
Apple makes elegant, sexy, cool DISPOSABLE technology. What ever happened to the all-seeing Big Brother eyes that were supposed to be the evil overlord's intimidating the general tech-buying public? Have those eyes become Steve Jobs'? Is he the real Genius because he's convinced a population that technology is only good for a one to two year cycle before it should be discarded - hell, I'm not talking about technology just not being cutting edge any more, but how many people still tote around their 1st and 2nd gen iPods... before they were called Classic... and before the Genius playlists.
And if the Genius Bar is supposed to be, in any way, related to the Genius playlist generator in iTunes, then Apple has a lot to worry about, because when a list of ten songs out of a pool of a couple thousand, are completely unrelated but for an ID Tag that says "pop" or "rock", you've proved yourself about as much a genius as a sorted list in Lotus 1-2-3.
The real genius' are the consumers who have been bored of the PC/Mac ads for over a year, won't buy a PC unless they can get into it to do minor upgrades, and would completely ignore any mp3/multimedia player that requires you to install bloatware in order to load it up with media... with my iPod Touch securely in my hand, I may not be a genius - but two outta three ain't bad!