Remember your first Mac? Which model was it? Mine was the original 128k Mac from 1984. I loved it. It was like a gift from the future, landing on my parents’ dining room table, which is where it usually sat as I stared into its 512 x 342 pixel black and white display for hours on end.
My first taste of Apple computing came from an Apple II that my brother had.1 I can’t recall now if it was a base Apple II, an Apple II+, or an Apple II later upgraded to Apple II+ specs, but it doesn’t matter, it was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen in my life. I got to play with it in exchange for typing in programs from code listings in computer magazines, the way people did in the day. I don’t even remember all the magazines now: Creative Computing, Softalk, A+, Byte, and others that are lost in my memory somewhere.
These are classic computers, greats of technology, objects of historical relevance that people collect and rebuild and reminisce about.
I wonder how much that will happen with today’s Apple products. Is anyone going to look fondly at an iPhone 3GS, or a 2011 Mac mini, or a 2008 Macbook Pro? Is anyone going to track them down on eBay, buy them, try to restore them to working condition, create a museum around them? Maybe. It seems doubtful, but maybe that’s just because those are relatively current, and we had to race past them to get to where we are now. Maybe later generations will revere and cherish them too. I’m not convinced.
Apple itself has never looked back at the past with longing, or even at all, so I guess in that sense, there is no difference. The iPhone Upgrade Program is evidence of their desire to keep people moving on to the new, and not hanging on to the old. They want people to love their Apple products, but not to love any individual model too much, lest they stop the endless upgrade cycle on that for even an extra year or two.
We used to brag about the lifespan of our Macs compared to PCs, and OS X updates for a long time would make our older Macs faster, not slower, as new versions of Windows would do to PCs. Now people think you’re crazy if your iPhone is more than two years old, and even that is considered untenable by a lot of people.
Yes, yes, some of this is “old man yells at cloud” material, and personally I can’t wait to sell my iPhone 5s and get a 6s plus and really enjoy that giant screen and blazing performance. But I think I’ll hold onto it for awhile. POSSIBLY EVEN THREE YEARS, WHICH IS AN ETERNITY by iPhone standards. As it is, I’ll have had the 5s for almost two and a half years by the time I upgrade.
I addressed elsewhere that my feeling about plummeting iPad sales is that it’s just a symptom of people not being able to or not wanting to afford to keep up with all the Apple products and that it just happens to be the most dispensable2 item in the catalog for most people’s lives. Maybe I’m not the only crazy one who refuses to keep dashing after the shiny and has decided to try to hang on to their tech a little longer.