Tag Archive | Steve Jobs

You may choose not to read this post and that’s OK

A war has raged for years. For most people it has been on the precipice of awareness, thrust into the spotlight only when they log onto the interwebs. I refer to Mactard vs Droidtard battles. It’s difficult to say who started it but a rudimentary timeline would be

  • Apple release path-breaking products
  • Haters hate
  • Some folks are interested and buy them
  • Word of mouth spreads about Apple’s uber-cool, hipster reputation and soon millions more are making a beeline for their products
  • Haters look for alternatives because a. they don’t want to follow the crowd b. they would like to buy an Apple product but their well-publicized ideological fanaticism has made that untenable c. they can’t afford Apple products so they need to emphasize its negatives to highlight the absence of any value for money
  • The cheaper, more accessible Android OS is released and haters really turn up the anti-Apple volume.
  • Haters now begin to quote sales stats wildly especially as Android with almost 100+ distinct handsets carrying it, starts to eat into Apple’s formidable cellphone share (which is driven by less than 10 handsets). That a significantly large group of people labels another large group of people as a “herd” is an irony which completely escapes them.

So perhaps it’s not too difficult to pinpoint who started it. Apple did! By creating world-class products which were adapted by competitors into functionally embellished offerings, subsequently thrown back at Apple’s face as “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT!”

Droidtards also point out the undesirable autocratic nature of the late Steve Jobs through unflattering comparisons to genocidal dictators.

But this post isn’t really about Apple and Android. I’m just using it to highlight a central theme which is conspicuous by its absence in all these arguments. Freedom of choice.

Here’s my problem

We defend freedom of choice but we criticize those who exercise it because those choices may not be concurrent with ours. (This does not include criticism of the product or service itself. That is simply an opinion and an integral part of our buying behavior. What I mean is criticism of the form “Anyone who buys an iPad is a douche because they could’ve bought an Android tablet for half the cost with twice the functionality.”)

It’s valid to criticize someone else’s choices if they infringe on our rights, safety or endanger others. But I fail to see how this applies to choosing a personal electronics product, buying a book or selecting an institute of learning.

(Yes, I’m coming to it.) Chetan Bhagat, IIPM.

We just love to hate them (I’m including myself among the haters). I relish the occasional Chetan Bhagat ribbing as much as the other person but these days I’m trying to apply the “choice” filter to my snark or critiques. If it’s about his books, it’s fair game. If it’s about people buying his books despite the presence of better offerings, it’s not. For the most part, he services a hitherto unmet need, that of accessible English fiction and he profits from it. If you don’t like his books, you have a choice not to buy or read them.

Similarly, it’s absolutely fair to critique IIPM and the questionable claims in its advertisements but picking on those who choose it isn’t right. Although there is no such thing as a rational buyer, information on all choices is readily available (especially on the internet) so it’s a fair assumption that someone who chose IIPM over another institute would’ve done so due to practical or sentimental reasons. In any case, how does their choice of IIPM *over* another institute affect us?

Returning to the great Mactard war, how does it matter if there are seemingly better choices available out there? Unlike genocidal dictators, Steve Jobs hasn’t coerced anyone to buy his products. People choose Apple products for their dependability, sexiness, intuitiveness and coolness. Others choose Android for its versatility, functionality and affordability. Some choose a Chetan Bhagat book over a Salman Rushdie because it’s easier to follow and entertains them. Some choose IIPM for their education because they believe an MBA degree is essential to moving up in the world and they found IIPM a viable choice on many criteria.

So who’s smarter or dumber if their choices are personal and do not affect anyone else? There’s no need to answer this question because the answer doesn’t matter.

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