Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Simple-minded appreciation

I ordered an iPhone 4 last Thursday, June 24, and it arrived Tuesday morning, June 29. So far, it's wonderful. I especially like the high-resolution display and the new camera. Reading a document or web page on this device makes you want to read everything on it.

What really amazes me about the iPhone 4 is the manner in which my order was filled. It came directly from the factory in China, by way of FedEx. Here is a summary of its journey:

When the FedEx driver delivered it to my door, I was greeted thusly:

To the best of my knowledge, everyone who participated in getting the device from the factory in China to my home in Georgia did so voluntarily and profited from it. No central czar dictated that it should be done this way, in this time frame, at this price. From what we know of history and economic theory, it was the absence of such a czar that made the whole operation possible.

It's amazing that in this age of government corruption and meddling that something like the iPhone could be made and delivered voluntarily, and in such a global manner. No one was killed, intimated, or robbed in the process - other than the taxes paid to the governments involved. Through the international division of labor, people produced and traded the product of their efforts for a certain payment, all to serve me, who to them is a faceless consumer, at a price I could afford. And I ended up with a device I could not have built on my own if I had ten lifetimes to live.

We made one another a little richer in the process. It's for "miracles" like this that we should all fight for liberty.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The iPhone 4 Thunderbolt

Of all the criticisms leveled at the users of Apple products, the one that emerges most often is the charge that they're lemmings blindly following a cult leader. What an odd accusation it is, given that Apple made history with its anti-"1984" Superbowl commercial in 1984. Has the the company become the IBM of the mobile technology field, a market force so big that competitors clone Apple products and stick their labels on them, hoping that lower prices (made possible by minimal or nonexistent R&D overhead) will keep them solvent? Not at all. Apple is only the number two smartphone maker. Research in Motion's Blackberry has the biggest market share in the U.S. Its other competitors, Google and Microsoft, have the resources that could relegate Apple to a small player in a big field.

That still doesn't mean Apple users aren't lemmings, though. Certainly there are people who buy Apple products with little or no reason for doing so, other than to associate themselves with a certain lifestyle or to see Steve Jobs make keynote speeches in San Francisco. Could such technophobes be considered lemmings? Sure. But this is true of any product. What gives Apple critics a certain leverage is the claim that Apple's fans are buying a technically inferior product. The charge is they don't research the market and buy the best product - they fall under the Apple spell and obey their suggestions uncritically.

Apple might seem to have more than its share of lemmings, but that could be more a reflection of repeated end-user satisfaction and trust than uninformed obedience. Apple creates innovative products with features people want - and in some cases, dream about. And the features usually work as advertised. It makes sense to stay with a company that satisfies customers so well. Loyal customers are being mistaken for lemmings. As for uncritical acceptance of Apple's offerings, check out an Apple forum sometime and read some of the rants the "lemmings" make about their master's products.

Now we have the iPhone 4. At least one reputable source gives it a big thumbs up, and they followed this with suggestions on what to do with it. (No, it's not what you're thinking.) Other interesting iPhone 4 links:

6 iPhone 4 tips
Apple Responds to iPhone 4 'Death Grip' Reports
Smartphone Camera Battle: iPhone 4 vs. the Android Army
Apple iOS 4 vs. Android Multitasking: Which Approach Is Better for Users?
77% of iPhone 4 sales were upgrades
First day sales: 1.5 million iPhone 4s?
What the iPhone means to Apple
What's driving iPhone 4 sales?