It wasn’t smoke signals, but it was pretty close to it!
Some months back I mentioned how Lori and I have never owned a smart phone. We have only had an emergency Nokia flip phone and we got that in 2007. It does nothing special but allow us to make an emergency phone call. We fill it up and it is good for year from that fill up date, and if we get a refill before that termination date, it takes the remaining minutes and adds them to the new. It worked this long. The problem was the running out of minutes and the termination date on the SIM card because of neglect, and giving the phone to whoever needed it, and the lack of real texting on the phone. It was a primitive cell phone compared to all the smart phones that came out in 2007 up to today. More and more expensive with more and more features, and more expensive cell phone plans, especially if you live in Canada. It may not have been smoke signals, but it was pretty close to it!
Over and over we were presented with situations, especially this year, where having a phone handy would have made life much simpler. There was the time I had to go to Emerge, and I had to get Caitlin to ask the nurse at the nurse’s station for the phone. There were no pay phones around at Emerge. How strange is that? Or the time of trying to phone home to call Caitlin to let her know we would be late coming home. We were on the busy road and did not have the emergency cell with us as Caitlin had it. Doesn’t work well in that situation does it? I could give you multiple scenarios just like these, but the point it, when you need a phone, and no one is around, you need a phone, and the best solution is getting your own phone, right? So we reached our saturation point.
Maybe that movie clip from Network, where Peter Finch goes over the top about and shouts out “I’m not going to take this anymore!” You get the point, I’m sure.
It all started with an actual need, and the expense of staying in the same ecosystem
It used to be that Apple’s line of products were far and away the more expensive products of its kind from any of competition. It is still higher end and more expensive but not like it once was. When Apple got into the smart phone business it rocked the industry, and the war between iOS and Android was on. They both quickly eliminated RIM/Blackberry out of the commercial smartphone business and reduced it to an enterprise device. Nokia self-imploded and when Microsoft bought it, it did what it does to most things that it acquires, it ruined it even more, to the point that this year they wrote Nokia off the books at a loss of over $7 billion. The people in Finland are planning a “Nokia Reboot” in 2016, after their agreement expires with Microsoft. It should be interesting to see how they re-invent themselves. This leads me to the point I want to make, and that is affordability.
I have had issues with the new technologies because of the high cost associated with the hardware AND the services attached to them. The cost to the end user of digital technology of Canada is so astronomical, and there few options in Canada, if you want a reliable internet or wireless network. We have legalized monopolies in this country, or better said, “duo-polies” in the form of Rogers and Bell. You would think there would be government regulations that would impede the growth and the reach of this two-headed beast, but at least on the Conservative banner, that party, as the government has done very little to remedy the situation for Canadians. This is why my wife and I have resisted both cable and satellite TV for over 20 years, as well as using other regional networks for our internet, and in our case networks who buy the lines from Bell for high end DSL service. Neither Rogers, nor Bell provide good customer service. I have seen the worst of customer care from both of these corporations first hand. They are not friends of the consumer. They are exploiters of the consumer. So the rates are always high and the service and customer care can be horrific. But Canadians have had few options but to grin and bear it and to complain to the government and the CRTC (Canadian Radio –television and Telecommunications Commission), an independent public authority in charge of regulating Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications. Some things have been done, but not practical enough, or hard or far enough to bring about equity and fairness and more options for services in internet and wireless services. Makes life as a “digitally oriented Canadian” more difficult and challenging, but in access and in cost.
The expense is compounded by the propaganda of the big players on the market, especially Apple and Microsoft and Blackberry, who love to pimp and promote their “ecosystem” and the integrated hardware and software on multiple devices, both PCs and mobile devices, and the use of the “cloud” to store your data so you can have access to it at anytime, anywhere on any device. It all adds up to gouging the consumer by using a regular source of income over a protracted amount of time, providing easy money to the companies that provide the services. When it comes to the ecosystem, and everyone wanting as big a piece of the pie as possible, the sheer greed and desire for revenue streaming causes companies to make some really money centric decisions.
I realize companies are in business to make money, but there are limits the average user cannot cross over — it’s called a “budget”!
I started to notice the trend at Apple when Steve Jobs was still around. He did not like all the companies creating MP3 players and all the music downloading taking place, and wanted a piece of the action. He and his team created the now infamous iTunes software for users to upload their CDs and put the music on the first iPod. This lead to the creation of the iTunes Store for music, audio tracks, and eventually to iBooks. Steve Jobs did not really seem to care too much about small time software developers, but that changed over time and that too led to the creation of the App Store, which makes a ton of money for Apple and generates a steady stream of cash for developers.
The most recent bloated and convoluted monstrosity iTunes update includes Apple Music, another attempt by Apple to play copycat to all the streaming music companies. One thing Steve Jobs had said was that Apple would never get into the subscription service, and that if you bought music, it should be yours to keep forever, and that was the whole point of the iTunes store. You could download legally any paid song directly to your Mac or PC and then to your iPod. It was a tangible and real purchase. Streaming music is another beast entire. You “rent” your music through your subscription, and once you stop, you have no access to it anymore. This would make Steve Jobs roll in his grave. If he only knew what Tim Cook has done to his precious vision!
Think about the costs you pay as a consumer, and if you choose to stay in the same ecosystem.
So I have bought Macs since 1989. I have been a loyal and faithful Mac enthusiast, a true Mac Addict and an Apple Evangelist, spreading the good news of the Mac OS everywhere, even to people who cringe in horror at the word “Apple” or the name of “Steve Jobs”. But I was a happy user and was more than happy to spread the good news of Apple everywhere.
I bought desktop Macs, high end graphics Macs, PowerBooks, iBooks and MacBook Pros. I got Macs for all my kids and for my wife. We were the “Happy Mac Family” poster child! I waited until the iPad 3 before I succumbed to an iPad. I figured it would take at least three generations to get the hardware and software right, and so far it has been proven true. The iPad 3 came with the last update of iOS 6. I have hated EVERY version of iOS since. I even did the beta versions of iOS 8 and iOS 9, and both are really pathetic operating systems. If people have not used Android or Microsoft mobile OS, they really cannot appreciate just how bad iOS really is, both in esthetic appeal and in OS functionality. The death of Steve Jobs just made things at Apple continue to hum along, but not in a good way.
Then Tim Cook came on the scene. Apple Music and iCloud were the last straws. I can’t take it anymore. I have reached my saturation point.
I was perfectly happy with Drop Box for my cloud service, and then Apple makes everything sync through iCloud and makes it difficult as a Mac user to use other independent services which are rivals to Apple’s new or revamped services. iCloud is more than imperfect. It is incompetent. Period. I have had nothing but headaches with it and I refuse to use it. I even deleted everything from iCloud. As I said, there are better, cheaper alternatives. You know Apple is feeling the backlash because on their release of iOS 9 they announced a new pricing structure for iCloud service. They want to keep as much of the revenue streaming into Apple’s coffers as possible. Don’t be duped. Don’t cave in to the Beast of Cupertino.
It is an irony of sorts, isn’t it, that Apple’s address is 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014. Infinite sources of revenue streaming that brings in infinite amounts of money for an infinite amount of time!
As a consumer I want the power of choice, and I want as much integration as possible, without having to have the same ecosystem.
It costs so much money for hardware, software, and keep current. The costs of technology have not gone down, but the need for current technology is more important than ever. Much of our day to day business and financial transactions as citizens takes place over secure networks online, be it on a PC, a tablet, or a smartphone. So we need good reliable technology, but we should not have to pay through the nose for it. Not only is it about cost, but whether or not I want in your ecosystem. I should be able to adjust settings on apps that remove the feature from the app. They have the technology but don’t want to give us freedom of choice.
As a loyal Apple user, I determined after my bad iOS experience that I would not get an iPhone. I would not succumb to buy an iPhone, even though it would be breaking with the iOS/Mac OS ecosystem. I could live with that. I am so fed up with Tim Cook and his antics at Apple, which makes me want very little to do with Apple. The hybrid Mac OS/iOS experiment is enough to drive a sane man over the edge. I don’t like my Mac to look like or act like an iOS device. I knew I was done when the Apple Photo app came out, essentially the same app in both iOS and Mac OS. People think this is great, and I don’t happen to be among them. Sameness doesn’t mean better. It means sameness, the same old boring and bland pastel effeminate flat OS has migrated from iOS to the Mac OS. Makes me want to puke.
There are palatable options to the Apple user out there. If you are concerned about where the company is going with its technology vision, its hardware and software, and its iOS and Mac OS, and you hate the high costs for it all, never mind adding the cost of internet and wireless in Canada, then you have to make some choices. You have to become informed about your options. Where do you start? What do you buy? How do you know what is compatible as a product and as technology?
So to break from Apple, you have to start somewhere, why not with a phone
For me the options were greatly reduced. I live in the heart of Blackberry country and I loathe RIM/Blackberry. So they were never an option. Besides they were no longer focusing on the ordinary consumer but on corporate and enterprise, which is not my interest. Microsoft was not an option either. The evolution of the OS from Windows 7 through 9 to the new Windows 10 has been something to watch develop and grow and as much as I see progress, I really don’t like Microsoft as a corporation or its vision.
Microsoft and Apple are Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. They are the same beast. They believe in their own ecosystems and in their vision for multiple devices with similar integrated OS compatibility and features. They all claim it is for the benefit of the consumer. No, it’s not. It is to the benefit of their corporations, their boards, and their shareholders. They want to continue to make billions of dollars at yours and my expense. But we, have the power of choice.
So, I am left with Android. Yes, I know that Google and Apple are at war, a war that Steve Jobs declared he would win by obliterating Android. I am an Apple guy who also loves Google. There is no such war in my home. My daughters and my wife Google all the time. It is the search engine of choice. Not only that but we use all kinds of Google apps and features, everything from Google Docs, to Google Photos, to Gmail, Google Chrome, Blogger, and a host of others. We are “Happy Googlers”. So there is no war. There is peace and I tend to work toward keeping it that way.
So Lori and I took the plunge yesterday. We purchased our first midrange phone, ironically made by a former partner with Apple, Motorola. We bought 2 Moto G cell phones. They arrive in a couple of days. We did not want expensive phones so this will do fine for what we need them for. To cut down costs, we will be ending our lifelong commitment to Bell and we will be terminating our land line. We have researched extensively and consulted with several local experts as to the best options for a cell phone plan, and we are going to go with Koodo. All we want our phones for is phone calls, and texting, with a minimal amount of data for GPS when we need it. We can use WIFI if we need to surf for anything. That is not a big problem. This phone was purchased as a need, as a necessary expense and with enough features to meet those needs, and not as a phone for a power user. Neither my wife nor I would be power users when it comes to smart phones. This was a practical need met through an affordable cell phone, some call that a budget phone. Be that as it may, it is the phone we will use for the foreseeable future and our first entry into the smart phone market.
I checked out Android pretty thoroughly and my son-in-law is a happy Android user and a Mac user. So if he can handle it, I can too.
So I will write a post about my Android experience in the next month or so, but for now, the fact that I have made a choice for Android is a big choice for this Mac dude. A really big choice, a consumer choice and one that is fine for someone on a “budget”.