Why I Switched From Apple Fanboy to a Surface Convert… A Consumer’s Perspective

For years I had grown up in an iHome, my family being comprised of half creative computing novices (to put it nicely) and half IT experts (one of whom worked in the industry), to say we were “brand loyal” was an gross understatement. Our home was decked in Apple logos from consumer products like iPads, iPhones and Macs to network and server solutions powering our growing thirst for integrated tech answers to our burgeoning twenty-first century, first world problems.

Phil Schiller’s Courageous Introduction of a Fan Favourite: The Dongle

So what happened? How did my Apple powered paradise evolve into a mish-mashed Microsoft-Android-Apple hybrid? It all started with the removal of the universally adored 3.5mm headphone jack, a simple, uniform solution to all of my audio/communication needs, this omission from Apple’s latest glimmering, slim, new product I simply could not abide.

When You Just Can’t Apple Anymore

Months had passed and I simply could not continue to keep using my iPhone 5 and thus I could no longer put-off my decision: either buy an outdated (and often overpriced) iPhone with a headphone jack or I could take the leap and invest in a cheaper more advanced (in my opinion) Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Against my better judgement I decided to see what all this Samsung fuss was about.

At first I will admit it was a shocker, my iTunes playlist integration had disappeared (I arrived exceedingly late to the Spotify party), Airplay was no longer a goer and some of my favourite purchased iOS apps simply did not exist on the Google’s Play Store. I began to question my decision to jump ship, had I jumped the gun? Was I spoiled by Apple’s ecosystem and just assumed the market was at the same level of fit and finish?

Super Daunting Screenshot of My GS7’s “My Files”

In short, no. It had taken time, but I eventually realised that part of Apple’s marketing genius is not only creating pretty products but changing how consumers think of how they should interact with a product rather than how they could. Never before had the slogan Think Different made so much sense to me. I had begun to forget about how Apple wanted me to live my life and started expressing myself in ways that I actually wanted to. Sure there was some clunkiness associated with this newfound freedom (it can be super off-putting to see a phone’s internal file storage system), but ultimately I was more able to integrate innovative third party apps like Dropbox, Facebook’s Messenger and a variety of others into my daily workflow.

My Long Wait for a New Laptop Companion

After Apple’s lacklustre 2016 Special Event I was left disappointed in the new MacBook Pro (lord knows why they persist to keep the “pro”). I, like many other prosumers, had very few USB type C devices or peripherals. I was a semi-professional photographer who needed a SD card slot or at least a type A USB connection to transfer files, none of which were happening on Apple’s shiny new devices. For all of this compromise I received a mushy strange-to-touch keyboard and a gimmicky Touch bar, hardly a proper consolation to my mind. After this second blow from my once favourite tech giant, I decided to look elsewhere.

Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) Looking A Lot Like Apple

Coming off this new freedom high I was ready to take my next step and do the unthinkable, purchasing a PC. A promise I had made to myself and (somewhat embarrassingly) others, had been broken. Many Windows die-hards will note that a jump from a Mac to a Surface is about as close to being Apple outside of the Apple ecosystem, and they’re right. I may be sick of Apple’s perpetual ignorance of its consumer base and it’s ever growing corporate arrogance but I am not going to discredit their control over both hardware and software, the model has worked for them because it works in general.

So why Surface? Like many others in the consumer space I was sceptical of the concept of Surface upon its launch, my adage like many others being “Why buy a tablet and a PC when you can get a device that delivers on both terribly!”. The original Surface’s problem was not in concept but in execution, Microsoft needed to create a device that could showcase its decades of experience in the desktop space, whilst future-proofing its products with touch and tablet like capabilities. Running the industry-deemed dismal Windows 8.0 and later 8.1 despite its tempting specifications every PC prior Windows 10 simply wasn’t an option for me, I needed a desktop first and a casual consumption device second.

Along Came a Surface Pro 4

A Confused and Slightly Cheap Looking Wilderness

Disappointed with Apple’s current performance, dumping my favourite products like Aperture and subsequently killing my favourite ports I commenced my journey into the PC space. After delving through countless reviews of Dell, Asus, Acer and other Microsoft OEM products I was drawing blanks, I wanted something premium and attractive, but with enough grunt to take care of my occasional power-user needs. Then I stumbled across the Surface Pro 4, an elegant solution to my needs, a laptop when I needed it, a desktop fully fledged desktop with one cable and finally a tablet with a snap of a keyboard. The Surface was a good looking, performant elegant solution to my scope of needs and my god was it portable, I had found my next computer.

So what happened to me? Well, most noticeably of all, my fears as to integration melted away. By relying less on large organisations to provide all of my computing needs, I began to turn to smaller nimbler cross-platform developers whose size granted them the ability to better cater their products to their specific base’s more niche needs, apps like Wunderlist, Spotify, Whatsapp and Facebook’s Messenger to name a few.

Surely there must be some things that piss me off? Absolutely! Windows 10 is far buggier that Mac OS, errors I simply would not accept on my Mac I seem to brush off as teething issues for Microsoft’s baby operating system. To date I have had to re-install my PC a total of 4 times to get everything working fine (and there are still some minor store bugs I’ve just had to get used to), but to me this is all part and parcel of such a shift in ecosystems and, to be brutally honest with you, despite 2015 Mike killing me for saying it, I value openness over more stable and restricted environments.

Is Apple and evil organisation? No. Is Google safer to store my data with? Probably not. Has Microsoft reformed itself into an ultra-modern, consumer focused startup-like multi-billion dollar company? Doubtful. So if the status quo hasn’t really changed, if organisational culture remains for the most part unmoved and if the products only slightly differ from their predecessors, why did I uproot my Apple house and re-sow a more diverse tech crop? Because my life changed, my needs shifted and thus I made a change. I’m not saying for a second that Apple’s products are junk or Microsoft and Google are the new consumer champions, far from it. However, what I am arguing is that brand-loyalty is an ancient relic that should be confined to the past. No longer should perspective buyers allow organisations to become complacent because “I’ve always bought my [insert product here] from them”, we need to be more fluid in our purchasing decision making processes so as to not only buy better products for ourselves but to encourage true competition between rivals whilst creating a fertile environment to encourage new, innovative and fresh start-ups.

Thanks so much for reading,

Mike