Perhaps the biggest single achievement of Google has been to make technology less scary. Now that the generic bye-verb(?) for Internet Search is ‘to Google’ though, it has higher aspirations.
It wants Apple’s crown as the befriender of the reluctant geek – the sort of person who appreciates the near 50/50 weight distribution of some BMWs but is not sure why and may pretend not to even know. The horribly-named Nexus One is Google’s first attempt to break up the cosy fanboyism monopoly that Apple has garnered.No doubt the fanfolk of Apple will puke all over its aesthetic, but that is to miss the point.
The fact that you can buy your own passable, Google Android-based iPhone-beater outright, takes a key profit component out of the hands of the mighty telcos that Apple co-opted to keep its iPhone ‘exclusive’. These modern-day slavemasters contrived to bid up the ‘in your hand’ price of last year’s touchscreen talisman. In the process they happily tied iPhone ‘owners’ down contractually to up to two years of economic slavery – that was gratefully accepted. Proving, once again, it is far worse to know the cost of everything than the value of nothing.
The very fact that this launch was covered live on national television in the UK, illustrates that, despite the best attempts of Apple and others, technology really is losing its exclusive (meaning non-inclusive) mystique. This is a good thing. Face it fanfolk, phones are tools, not objet d’art.
I can remember when the thought of providing one’s own computer to toil for your employer seemed, well, ridiculous. However I rapidly forgot these feelings on starting my own agency. Furthermore PCs and phone bills are tax-deductible, unlike the ‘business casual’ clothes most people do meetings in but do not wear at the weekend.
So if we are selecting our own technology, which is essentially a powerful Web browser/GPS/Application Platform and supplying it to our employers, what should we do with the term Geek? Either we are all geeks now or we return the term to more rarefied tribes who design nuclear plants or take on mainframes at chess. No it is too late, despite its name, the Nexus One and its smartphone brethren, are the beginning of the end for the word Geek.
UPDATE September 2010. Some are now arguing Apple’s iPhone4 actually liberates users, while not subscribing to the iPhone model (literally), it seems that geeks number tens of millions – now we can call them appstore customers.