Apple makes the iPod earbuds out of a special material that is actually resistant to getting tangled when you put it in your pocket. The power cord snaps in place magnetically, so when someone eventually trips over the cable, it doesn’t hurt your computer or the cable at all. Discs eject by themselves, or with a key on the keyboard, not some clumsy button and pop-out holder. When you put your MacBook to sleep, the power light dims, and then glows, slowly, on and off. It doesn’t blink, but rather it fades from lit to almost off, and back again. When the room grows dark, my keyboard lights up and my display gets dark so it doesn’t strain my eyes. The list goes on and on.
Tonight, as I was untangling some random power cord with a wall wart type plug, I thought about why technologies as cool as the special cable types that Apple makes haven’t trickled down to other products. Products not made by Apple.
It’s probably for more than one reason. The build quality of the device that came with this power supply isn’t anything special, actually. It’s not something Apple would have put out to begin with. And the wall wart plug is standard enough that I’m sure we have another one laying around that would work just as well. They throw it in, and build their products to work with a generic interface. Apple essentially makes their own power supplies to some degree so they don’t have to ship the typical shit that everyone else does. That’s why theirs look so striking. They’re white. Everything else is black.
I would put it down to two reasons. The obvious one is that cheap products are going to be cheaply made – you get what you pay for. Sure, this is true. But the other reason is that Apple makes a point of patenting these inventions. They have literally hundreds of patents, as many corporations do. Steve Jobs claimed that Apple had over 200 patents just for the development of the iPhone! While I’m not sure if it’s true or not, it does make it intimidating to try to build something similar, for whatever reason.
So I guess I’ll just have to deal with my tangled cords for now.