Saturday, August 29, 2015

Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon

I use Google for gmail, Google docs, Google apps for business, and most recently, Google photos (which automatically uploads any photo I take on my Apple iPhone and stores it in Google photos).

I have an Apple iPhone and Apple Macbook Pro.

I use Amazon Prime as my source for books and food I don't want to go to the store for...And because I have a Prime membership, I get access to Prime instant video and Amazon Prime Music.

And Microsoft, well, I grew up on a PC. Mac's in the computer lab at school, but PC's at home and in High School. The computer lab's of the late 90's were a magical place. All of those brightly colored iMac's humming in synchrony.

I believe 7th and 8th grade I was laptop-less, just like the rest of my friends. Sleep overs were spent huddled around the family desktop playing games and illegally downloading as many gigs as we could get our greedy little hands on. It wasn't until 2003 when I went to Shattuck St. Mary's that I got my own laptop. The school was a part of a computer literacy program being funded by Gateway. The computers came in white boxes with black spots, like cows. Remember that? For some reason Gateway had a thing for cows.

It was a big deal back then, to be 14 and have unlimited access to the internet. I remember emailing friends in class. The IT staff eventually figured out how to shut off AIM during the day and after lights out, but there was always one kid who could figure out how to hack in and make it work (Thanks Max). Those days spent emailing in class seem oddly familiar to what I see happening in offices now...People coming to meetings with laptops open and phones on the table. I couldn't fool my teachers back then and you definitely can't fool me now. I wish everyone (who doesn't absolutely need to have them open) would put the tech away in meetings. 

As soon as I hit college I asked for a Macbook. I guess Gateway's attempt to hook me from a young age didn't work...Mac's were just too cool. 

And I still don't know why...which brings us back to the story about Google Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. 

My current Macbook is almost 5 years old. I'm due for a new one, but haven't had to buy one because the kind people I've worked for over the last 4 years have always been generous enough to provide me with one. 

Now I find myself in Seattle. My recent transition, which is still in progress, has put me in an interesting position to reexamine the market and my choices. Something I haven't had the opportunity to do in a long time. 

Trying to understand what I mean? Okay, well ask yourself this, 'What computer do you use at work? What operating software? What tools do you use to manage your time? Your contacts? Your music?" 

Now I'll ask you: Are they your first choice? Would you really buy a Lenovo if it was up to you? 

I didn't think so. 

All of a sudden I found myself at U-Village near the University of Washington standing in an Apple store, staring across the parking lot at a Windows store. Things look a lot differently when you're paying the full price tag yourself. So I sauntered out of the Apple store and into the Windows store. I was pretty blown away at what they had to offer for the price point. The Surface Pro 3 seems pretty legit for a toy to keep around the house if your employer is footing the bill for your work computer, but then again, maybe it's just all of those Russell Wilson commercial's speaking to me subliminally. But what was especially awesome, that I can't believe I didn't know about, is I've been using Google docs so long I didn't even know you could access Microsoft Word for free online. 

I feel like I've been woken up from a horrible nightmare where I've been making all of my purchase decisions based off of stock prices, only to realize that my nightmare is true, and even worse, I finally understand how irrational the Market really is. 

Everyone you talk to is on a different side. And everyone that works in the stores are getting paid to tell you their company and it's solutions are the best. 

I wish this was a blog post with some closure, but I'm sorry, it's not. I'm just getting started. And I feel like I'm back at the beginning. Sitting in that dim old computer lab, wondering which computer is really the best. 

Do I go full Google and get a Chromebook and Andriod phone and watch TV on Chromecast? Or the Amazon Fire Stick, a Kindle and Prime? Do I stick with Apple and continue over paying for things I don't even use? 

In a world where we're told that technology is supposed to make things easier for us, this sure is difficult. 

The difficult part is that it's all subjective. And the next time I step into an office I'm sure they'll have an operating system that they'll want me to use. I think the work place maintains a stronger hold on our technology habits than we realize, and as the lines between work and life continue to blend, completely eroding the idea of work-life balance into a singular existence, my advice to the tech companies battling for our allegiance is this: Everything is going to come down to the details and design. 

I'm extremely interested to see who will win the race to create their own entire ecosystem. 

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