8 Years of Apple
April 1st, 2016
No, the title is not a mistake.
I know that today Apple celebrates 40 years since the day it was officially incorporated by the two Steve and the one Paul, but I wasn’t even close to be born back then. So instead of reliving the entire history of the fruity company, I thought it might have been fun to relive my personal history with the Cupertino brand.
The Trojan Horse
It all started with the second generation iPod Touch, not immediately after the release, but almost a year later, during my first year of Erasmus in Ireland. One of my friend was the first one I knew with an iPhone 3G. At the time I was already following everything that was happening in the Apple ecosystem, but very much as a spectator only. I still remember the keynote of the original iPhone and I was completely blew away by it. At the time I was rocking one of those HP Windows Phone that had to be used with a stylus because the keyboard and every other icons were ridiculously tiny. The iPhone was clearly the revolution.
The original iPhone never actually made in Italy (at least not in an easy way), so I could only dream about it. Its successor, the iPhone 3G was the first model that became ubiquitous in Europe1, and became for me a sort of obsession. At the time I wasn’t in a position to afford it, so I went for the second best thing I could buy: the iPod Touch.
Since the moment I took it out of the box I was completely sold. I had opened the doors to the Apple Trojan horse and I knew there wasn’t going to be an easy way back. That iPod also served for me as the first introduction to the world of jailbreaking and all the wonders and new functions you were able to add to a limited device. I clearly remember the pain related to having to do everything through my HP laptop (more on that later), but I soldiered on, because the reward meant I got to play with an awesome portable device.
The more I kept using the iPod Touch, the more I kept fantasising about owing an iPhone. Still, I wasn’t in a position to afford one.
Going full circle
The Christmas of that year my awesome parents made me a great gift, in the form of my first MacBook. It was the unibody white plastic MacBook. What a joyful machine. Light years ahead of my two years old HP juggernaut. With that machine, I was for the first time fully invested in the Apple ecosystem and that’s when you realise how things work much better when they are under the same roof. Or in this case, they both have the same apple on the back.
It’s now summer 2009 and the iPhone 3GS just went on the market and the iPhone 3G, got a price reduction. At the time I was living in Brussels and with my first pay check I sized the opportunity: I sold my iPod Touch and I bought myself an iPhone 3G, 8GB(!). It was the middle of the summer but for me it was like Christmas again. I vividly remember the day the phone arrived because it had been brought to me by a friend that came to visit from Italy. A quick hug to greet him and then it was all business putting on charge my new toy.
Never looking back
After the iPhone 3G, I became kind of obsessed with the iPhone. Because I was already a year late to the cycle, I skipped the iPhone 3GS and went straight to the iPhone 4. This was also my first all-night queue at an Apple Store. At that time we still didn’t have an Apple Store in my town Turin, so we two other friends we went on a trip to the closest store in Milan2. That night was great. I met lots of other Apple fans and we had so much fun waiting in queue, playing board games, drinking beer and just discussing on all the different reasons that brought us there. The common denominator was definitely the passion toward the company, but also the pure love for an amazing technology that still to this day doesn’t fail to impress.
The iPhone 4 was particularly exciting for me, because it was the first iPhone that I bought in time and so I was fully synced with the Apple software schedule. One thing that I remember of the iPhone 3G is that it became very quickly much slower with the new iOS releases, so much so that jailbreaking was at the time the only way to actually use the device.
The iPhone 4 never became my favourite design-wise. The materials were great, but it always felt very sharp in the hand and never was a very comfortable device for me.
The year after I decided I wanted the iPhone 4S on Day 1. Remember that Italy is never included in the first release wave, so the iPhone 4 was a Day 1, but only for the second way. This time the, I went with a friend to the Apple Store in Nice, France, which is a country always included in Apple first wave. There, I finally got my Day 1-1! Again, a very very enjoyable time, excluded for the moment a random group of forty Russians invaded the queue, disrupting the order we kept all night. In the end we all got our brand new shiny iPhones, so it was still ok.
All The Screens
While keeping myself busy with the iPhone business I obviously kept my eyes open in regards of all the other product lines. In particular just around this time my White MacBook was really struggling to keep up and that’s what prompt me to switch to a MacBook Pro, specifically the first generation with a Retina Display. This thing looked and still looks amazing. Not being able to see the pixels on the screen, made the display stand out from a millions miles away. It’s a joy operating such device and still today it remains a beautiful machine.
Also of course, an iPad made its way into my life. The first one was the iPad 2, which quickly was replaced by the first iPad Mini as at the time it didn’t make sense to me why you would want to have such a big device3. The iPad initially for me was more like an impulse purchase rather than a real necessity. I ended up using it for some web browsing, occasional gaming and not much else. Also, the iPad was still very much a new concept and the software (both the iOS and the third-party apps) was still in its infancy and very much just a bigger iPhone.
One More Row
The year after was the year of the iPhone 5, the first model with a bigger, actually just taller, screen; giving us one more row of icons on the Home Screen. It was September 2012 and in the meant rim I had moved to the UK, a country that again is always included in the first wave of release by Apple. This time no queueing outside, just a painful early morning online pre-order that guaranteed the delivery on Day 1. Less fun and rewarding, but so much more comfortable. This iPhone is also the only one that lasted for two years, since I’ve skipped the iPhone 5S. Touch ID alone didn’t seem enough of a reason to switch and I decided to wait and see what a completely new design was going to bring to the table.
That was also the period when, after the iPad Mini, I came back to the bigger brother as the first iPad Air was first introduced. It was more powerful and it had that beautiful Retina Display that I was missing so much on my Mini. That’s the iPad that stayed with me for the longest time, until last November.
We are now jumping to the end of 2014 when the iPhone 6/6+ made their first appearance. The design of the device was absolutely elegant and a decidedly step forward compared to any previous model. It was an insta-buy and despite the initial indecision, I ultimately went for the little brother and settled for the 6. Because again, why would you want such a big device in your pocket?4
The Most Personal Device
After the iPhone 6, the next big thing that Apple presented us with was the Apple Watch. Touted as the most personal device ever created by Apple, they released three different configurations of the device: same internals, but different cases, from Aluminium to Gold, passing through Steel.
By now you should know what happened. I bought myself an Apple Watch Sport.
This time it wasn’t a Day 1 purchase because I was very much on the fence regarding this device. I’ve always worn and loved mechanical watches. They are beautiful pieces of engineering and a precious object that can pass through generations within a family. I bought anyway. I had mixed feelings toward it since the first day and after a few months of daily usage it went back into a drawer and now it’s waiting in a box ready to be shipped to my buyer. I’m not say the Apple Watch is a bad device, I think the entire category still hasn’t found an appealing formula to actually make a smart watch and interesting proposition.
Go Big Or Go Home
And now we are finally getting to today, or better late last year, the year when I realised I had got it wrong since the very beginning. 2015 quickly became the year of bigger is better.
When the iPhone 6S was introduced, I took it as an excuse to update to the bigger 6S+. Phone-wise is the best decision I’ve ever made. The big screen is stunning and it allows me to do so much more than ever before. So much so that sometimes I find myself preferring it over any other device I own.
And then of course it was the year of the iPad Pro. Where should I start? To me the iPad Pro is the most transformative and disruptive device release by Apple in recent years. This truly is the future of computing, if not for the masses, definitely for me. Since I got it, I barely use my MacBook. And why would I do that? The Pro does everything the MacBook does, but it does it much better, faster and in a much more polished way. The iPad Pro also very much transformed the way I work in the office. It became the only device I take in meetings, an indispensable device to sketch, design flow charts and handle emails. I could use my iPad Pro for about the 80% of all my regular tasks and day after day I’m actively trying to push that percentage as high as I can.
That’s always a good question to ask yourself. It has only been 8 years for me in the Apple world but they’ve certainly be very productive and packed years. I’ve loved every single device I’ve owned and I was always amazed by the new ones coming in. Every year I think to myself that there’s no way they can actually do better. And of course every year they do, leaving me stunned like a child in front of his first bicycle.