The iPhone X: Apple’s Ideology of American Techno-Exceptionalism
Five Alive

I bought my first Apple in 1977, an Apple ][. I was told at the time that I was an idiot, that with the TRS-80 and Commodore 64, Apple was doomed!

Ever since then, I’ve kept buying Apple products and people keep telling me that Apple is doomed.

Here’s what you miss. It’s not the feature list. It’s the experience. It’s the implementation. People did fingerprint security before Apple — unreliable, and in reality not that secure. Apple designed TouchID so not only was it a great fingerprint reader, but it was stored in a way it never left the phone and other software couldn’t get at the data.

Now, face recognition. Which has been done with other consumer devices before — and could be fooled by a picture, needed to be bright to work, didn’t work well on darker faces. Apple’s design actually projects an infrared beam at the face, draws a 3D result (flat pictures won’t work), it checks that the eyes are open and such, and can work in low light level. If all that is true (and I have no reason to doube it), this is one that will work. And you’ll see it on other phones in about two-three years.

They weren’t the first to use NFC connections for pay by phone. Google did it long before Apple did, but they just sort of threw it out and said “Here, use it if you want” — Apple actively evangelized the process, very successful at getting the banks involved, partially successful at getting the vendors involved by still working (those with Android benefited from it because, if they support Apple Pay, they support Android Pay).

Yes, Samsung provides the screens, so they make money off the iPhone X (and most of the other iPhones too) — they’re very, very good at making screens, so why not use them? Other phone makers use them too, building a high quality screen making system is difficult. But Apple didn’t grab the first OLED screen Samsung had to offer. They had requirements to adopt the technology and once those were met, they adopted it.

They do design their own processor chips, because the ones they could buy off the shelf didn’t measure up. If Samsung stopped making good screens, Apple might invest in making their own screens — Samsung knows this, so they invest in making them better. (And other customers too, of course)

Are they perfect? No. Do they make mistakes? Sure. And then they fix it. Not always as fast as I’d like, but they’re a big company with a lot of people depending on them so they don’t turn on a dime.

They don’t chase market share. Never have. They never have with computers — so that’s why they never filled them up with bloatware in a desperate attempt to make money. (I was in a company, made Mac and PC software, and we paid to have demos of our software on PCs.)

So it’s 40 years ago this month when I bought my first Apple (bought it second year at college, saving up money earned during the summer). People have told me all along that I’m making bad choices, that Apple can’t survive unless they go for the mass market and look at those competitors they’re dooomed. But I’m still here, typing on my iMac, waiting for a call on my iPhone 6, charging my iPad Mini 2. Yes, none of those are the latest and greatest — the Apple products I’ve bought have lasted long, and in a couple weeks I can install the new operating system on all of them. The date it’s released.

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