Technology-Agnostic Is the New Black

I’m going to say something really controversial here:

I don’t have a strong opinion about Apple. Or Microsoft, or Google, or any other big technology company.

Riverhead Gold tobacco, 1940s?
Brand loyalty can kill you.

It’s not that I have no opinion. It’s just that I think the big players have strengths and weaknesses and no one is consistently great at all things.

I grew up on Windows PCs, switched to Apple when the iMac and (later) iBook came out, and then switched back to Windows because it was easier to use the same OS as my employer. In the mid-90s I destroyed a PC by attempting to install Redhat Linux, but I’m sure that was just me.

A few of my opinions, as of today, and totally subject to change:

Apple’s iOS kicks ass. I had a terrible time with an early Android device, and switching to an iPhone felt like a tremendous leap forward.

Windows 7 kicks ass. I held onto Windows XP for years past the stale date, but my work computer has Windows 7 installed and I’ve grown to love it. Every time I have to do something on my wife’s Mac I’m like “WTF is this?” but I’m sure if I used it every day I’d get reacquainted . (My biggest beef with Mac’s OS 10.x is the way it tries to control the way you organize files (by date, by type, etc.). Windows 7 feels like a sensible evolution of file structure, built upon years of trial and error.)

Google Chrome kicks ass. It’s fast and and it gets out of your way. I love being able to open up Chrome from any machine (including my iPhone) and have all my history and bookmarks transfer. I used Firefox for a long time before getting sick of all the security updates, which Chrome handles seamlessly. I use IE8 at work. It’s slower than Chrome and Firefox but an improvement over earlier versions. I understand IE9 is pretty good.

Yahoo! Mail kicks ass. (Really.) I also have a Gmail account, so I know what people like about it, but Yahoo’s incremental improvements over the years have led to a damn good email client that has never failed me. I have over 15 years of email history in my Yahoo account, and maybe it’s partially laziness, but I haven’t seen much benefit in switching to Gmail (except for the obvious one of having an email address that doesn’t make me look like a 70-year-old collector of Hummel figures.)

These are opinions about technologies, not companies; I like what these technologies do for me, but I am not really a fan — let alone a fanboy — of any of the companies that manufacture them. And I think that’s how most people operate.

Rabid devotees of Apple/Microsoft/Android/Ubuntu/Etc. represent a tiny fraction of the world’s population. They just happen to be really noisy and passionate about their chosen “team,” so it can seem like you have to choose. But most users — if they give it much thought at all — choose technology a la carte, selecting what works best for them, within their budgets.

If you work in any kind of tech field, you should pay attention to a-la-carte users like me. Don’t judge us; learn from us. Otherwise, carry on foaming at the mouth. It’s pretty entertaining from where I sit.