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Pomaceous Fanaticism

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I have an admission to make. I don’t like Mercedes cars. Now I’m sure that face to face Mercedes owners are all lovely, but on the road I can’t stand them. I invariably find that if there’s someone driving frustratingly slowly in the middle of the road it’s a Mercedes driver – made all the more irritating by the fact that they’re in a car that could most likely take off down the road quite comfortably - yet still they drive as if they’re in a three wheeled van, often across two lanes and generally acting like they own the place.

My beef with Mercedes is that the people who buy its cars generally don't have any interest in cars. All they know is that Mercedes are expensive, luxury vehicles and that just by owning one they move up the social scale. That’s why Mercedes cars are popular in rich countries worldwide, where owners think they’re being stylish and tasteful, when in fact they’re being the complete opposite.

Hopefully by now there will be some quite annoyed and angry Mercedes owners reading this, but if there are then I’m on my way to proving a point, so bear with me. By my own admission, the dislike of Mercedes is probably flawed, unfair and irrational. Probably. After all, the Mercedes’ S-Class is famous for introducing technology that many years later become standard on mainstream cars, anti-lock brakes for one, but that doesn’t stop me from being prejudiced against the brand.

I find that people behave much the same way against Apple. They despise the brand for its reputation and the smug way its owners act, which overshadows the genuine innovation and invention that the company has brought to the market.

Last week after a discussion in the office, I was accused of ‘Apple fanboism’ – that is demonstrating excessive enthusiasm and support for something that doesn’t deserve it. (You see I must be an Apple fanboy as I bought an iBook about four years ago and an iPod last year, so clearly I worship at the Temple of Jobs). My sin was expressing some anticipation and enthusiasm for Apple’s iPhone, released in the US on June 29th and here in the UK later in the year. It was claimed that I was only interested in the iPhone because it was from Apple and that if it was from someone else, say Motorola, I wouldn’t be that interested.

To me, this didn’t seem like a strong argument. After all, if a company/author/rock band has a history of excellence, it doesn’t seem too unreasonable to look forward to its next release. It was then argued that the iPhone is rubbish because its feature list is unimpressive by today's standards – but that is just completely missing the point with the iPhone. It’s not what it’s got, it’s what it does with it. It’s the revolutionary interface that could make this the coolest thing since somebody put something thin and sharp through the end of a loaf, and realised he was onto a winner.

I can prove that my interest in it is quite balanced as I’ve stated before that I’m one of about six people in this country that actually likes to use video calling, the great and unique selling point of 3G that almost nobody is interested in. And it does seem odd that a device that is set to make emailing and web browsing easier and funkier than ever before won’t be able to make use of the faster speeds of 3G downloads – it would see to be a natural pairing. And despite the fact that it doesn’t have it, I’m still keen on the iPhone. There are other shortcomings to it that could easily be levelled against it but again, I’m still there. Why? Because of the interface. Not just what the phone does, but how it does it.

Now Apple has a tendency to be a bit ahead of the technology curve – and with the iPhone it seems to be tuning in to the zeitgeist of next generation interfaces. A number of new releases on the market have made me see that we’re at the start of a move away from standard point and click interfaces to something more natural.

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