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Apple: Unfortunately, no longer the underdog

Cabel Sasser | April 16, 2013
Remember when Mac users were the fringe? The holdouts, the misfits, the ADB plugs in the USB holes? Don't look now, but everyone's found our party. That's awesome--but I'm still not totally comfortable with it.

But sometimes, late at night, I hear voices. They whisper: "How long can this last?"

Today's teardrops are tomorrow's rainbows

After all, today's Angry Birds is tomorrow's Pac Man, and today's Skrillex is tomorrow's Right Said Fred. In fact, that Skrillex joke was already out-of-date when I wrote it 13 seconds ago; by the time you read this, Skrillex will long since have been replaced by, I don't know, a new musician named Marsh-Mex who sings for the Sriachachas. This stuff moves fast. Try doing a Twitter search for "Who uses Facebook?" and you'll find the painful truth: replies laden with the "tween eyeroll" emoji about how Facebook is, basically, a place where only dumb old parents hang out and be dumb. Already.

When my nephew entered teenhood, he grappled with the all-important life decision of iOS versus Android. I bit my tongue as best I could. The pro-Android argument boiled down to the fact that his friends had Android phones, and you could customize everything on them: change the color of the menus, get new icons, stuff like that. When you're 13, this is a legitimately big deal, and this is something the clean-lined minds at Apple will never, ever enable. He was so very, very close to Droiding it up.

The problem with massive popularity is that it's fleeting, and it can hinge on the superficial.

But, you know what? I'm secretly okay with that. Because, don't tell anyone this, but I wouldn't mind seeing an Apple that's just a little less popular. Down a peg or two, a little bit. I sometimes very awkwardly find myself rooting for Microsoft, Nokia--anybody--to put up a good fight and keep that fire burning under Apple's collective behind. The smartest, most incredible people work in Cupertino, and their capabilities are boundless and their drive is endless, but sometimes--especially as a developer--you get the feeling that Apple doesn't really need you, and will do just fine without you, thank you very much. I want Apple to need us.

Apple in the middle

If Apple can find that comfortable middle, we're set. With keynotes still watched closely, but constant flying-car expectations mellowed out. Innovating constantly, but at a possibly more relaxed pace, so that those innovations can truly stand out. Still pushing the industry, but still with something to prove.

Of course, this means Apple's stock would plummet (more), and as a shareholder, that makes me an idiot. And don't get me wrong: I'm honestly glad Apple is receiving the success it deserved for so long.

If all else fails, Apple, take solace in this inarguable fact: We--the nerds--will always be there for you. As long as you don't dump too much DRM in our dingles, or donate all your proceeds to dolphin-harvesting, we'll buy every new thing, and hang on every word. We're your #1 fans. We might not always be cool, but we're awfully consistent. After all, "Weird Al" has been making parodies, with the same band, for 30 years.

 

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