Will The Real Apple Please Wake Up

Has anyone seen my Apple? It was just here. I sat down to look over OS X.1, and when I looked back it was gone. In its place was a company that looks like Apple, talks like Apple, but is definitely not Apple. I feel like Iim caught in a bad sci-fi movie entitled, ‘Invasion of the Apple Snatchersi.

John: "Donit let your Mac go to sleep, Marsha, it might turn into one of those things out there."

Marsha: "But John, my Mac just went to sleep. You donit suppose..., OH MY GOD!!! ARRRRGH!"

OK, maybe Iim exaggerating a bit, but only a bit, because Apple has been acting very strange lately. Just like in those old movies, the strangeness is not something youid notice right away, itis subtle. The doppelganger in the movie would lull you into in thinking everything is fine, then BAM! It eats your face off, or, in the case of Apple, it gives you iPod.

Am I being over dramatic? Perhaps, but when you take into consideration the fact that Apple drummed up a small hurricane of speculation surrounding this "breakthrough digital device", knowing fully that, while the iPod has some leading edge qualities, it is not what most would consider a breakthrough in technology, then I would say that it was Apple who was over dramatic.

OK, so Apple whipped us up into a frenzy and let me (and apparently a bunch of you) down with the iPod announcement. So what? Big deal. Iill tell what the big deal is, Sparky, if Apple keeps screaming when it should be merely talking, people will start to ignore them. Worse, Apple might start getting the kind of attention it work so hard to separate itself from, the negative attention of the press.

Donit misunderstand me; iPod is not a bad thing. In fact, if you can ignore the price, itis pretty cool, but it hardly deserves the hoopla it got. And thatis why I have to wonder if this is the same Apple that gave us the iMac, Airport, and the Cube, because that Apple really had something to show us that was deserving all of the attention.

So, letis cut to the chase and talk about iPod for a moment. Letis see if this is the product of the Real Apple, or something from an alien mind.

Thereis no denying that iPod is well engineered. It syncs with iTunes, downloads in a flash thanks to its FireWire connection, and even manages to recharge itself while connected to your Mac. All neat tricks, but I contend that the Real Apple would have opted for an Airport connection, gave it the ability to make voice recordings, and perhaps gave it a radio. I also believe that the Real Apple would have given iPod customers a choice in price and options, because they understand that many folks may want the iPod, but canit afford the US400 price tag. Maybe they could have offered a model the uses the removable IBM MicroDrive. The Real Apple might have also given the iPod the ability to manipulate data on the iPod using the screen as a guide. For instance, if Iim using the iPod to store data I would want to get a file listing just as I would song listings. I should be able to move those files around in the iPod without having to first plug it into a Mac.

There are traces of the Real Apple in iPod, however. The user interface is pretty slick, thatis definitely Apple. The form factor and the ability to use iPod for data storage also points to vestiges of the Real Apple. 5 gigs of instant portable storage that occupies the same amount of space as MP3 player without a hard drive almost makes iPod worth the cost, almost. A year ago the price might have been fine, but not now when a similarly featured player thatis only a little bit larger can be had for a touch over US200. True, you would have to put up with the slower USB interface, but it becomes very affordable.

I know there are those who think the iPod is the brainchild of the Real Apple, that it points to how adeptly Apple can take leading edge technology and make it available to the average Joe. Iill grant you that, but that is what makes this alien Apple so insidious. The iPod is engineered well, it does use the latest technology, it does have a slick user interface, but is it breakthrough technology? Did it deserve the intensity of anticipation that Apple seemed to have intentionally whipped up? Is it worth US400? The Real Apple would have used the lesson learned from the Cube and understood that, while the technology may be first rate, there will be many who canit or wonit pay a large difference to get it. Itis as if this alien Apple canit figure out or have forgotten who we are and what we want, like it was just dropped on this planet. Just like in the movies, itis the little things that gave the alien away, so it seems with this alien Apple.

In the movies, the hero discovers the alien plot to take over the bodies of Earthlings, and manages to destroy the invaders. I donit think the alien Apple has fully taken over its host, but Apple canit afford to sleep. If it does it might wake to find it has alienated the very people it needs to survive, something it cannot afford to do even in the best of times.

John: "Is it true, has your Mac been taken over by iPod, Marsha? Marsha? NO! Not you too!"

Wake up, Apple. Come back to us, before its too late.