Feb. 13, 2014, 4:59 p.m.

We had an interesting discussion at The Dish Daily the other evening: Tim, our publisher, wondered why I’m still a MacHead (iHead? iFan?) locked into Apple’s iUniverse. Allow me to explain.

(Courtesy of IanMatthewSoper via Creative Commons license)
(Courtesy of IanMatthewSoper via Creative Commons license)

I grew up alongside Apple products, but I wasn’t always such a devotee. At one point, when I was attending high school in the late ’90s, my family bought a Dell desktop and laptop. As someone who has always been endlessly fascinated by new technology, I was predisposed to jump into this new Wintel world, all the more so because at the time, Apple looked like it would fall into irrelevance. So I alternated between my family’s Apple and Wintel products for a few years.

But as Apple started unveiling its new strategy, complete with the iMac, iPod, and Mac OS X, I slowly moved away from the Wintel world. What I initially saw in Apple’s approach, I still see today: a vision of a unified experience. The Wintel model worked when the universe of interchangeable parts consisted largely of hardware commodities — disk drives, memory and graphics cards, cheap peripherals. Since the dawn of the “digital hub,” I’d argue that the Wintel model is the one that has fallen into obsolescence.

Today, we have too many hardware and software options. Incompatibilities and inconsistencies get magnified by these products’ prevalence in our lives. Apple realized that it could assume the responsibility for curation, placing its brand on the line as an assurance of quality.

I’m not against customization and ecosystem-internal competition. I do, for example, own and operate my own homebuilt Linux tower as a server for files and websites. Thanks to a neat little hack, my MacBook Pro thinks one directory on the Linux machine is actually a Mac Pro configured to host my Time Machine backups. The system works perfectly, even over the Internet, and I built it at a cost much lower than the asking price for a new Mac Pro.

But most users aren’t like me when it comes to playing “Linux superuser;” in fact, it’s not something I generally do either. Usually, I just want everything in my digital life to fit together seamlessly without too much supervision on my part. I’m willing to pay a premium for the best overall experience. And for that reason, I still choose Mac.

This post was originally published on before it was acquired by The Stanford Daily in summer 2014.

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