DUBAI: For years, Apple fans around the globe have been flocking to the nearest Apple store on the day of a product launch with the intent of not only experiencing the new product, but also purchasing it. In some cases, like in China, fans rioted when the launch of the iPhone 4S was delayed for no apparent reason.
Closer to home, UAE Appleheads don't riot, but they are no less passionate.
Jimmy Grewal, a 34-year-old Indian and Executive Director at Elcome, once flew from Dubai to Boston to buy one of the first Apple Newton MessagePads and took a flight back the next day. That was in 1993. He has been collecting Apple products since 1995 and now owns around 40 of them. For daily use, he has a MacBook Air, a Mac Pro, an iPad, an iPhone 4S, and an Apple TV.
"I've done some crazy things to get my hands on Apple products; I've travelled to Apple events around the world since I was 14. Luckily, that led to a job developing Mac software at Microsoft, otherwise I would have a hard time justifying the time and money I spent satisfying my obsession," Grewal said.
But has he managed to convert anyone into using Apple?
"I've been using Apple products for almost 30 years and have probably converted hundreds of people into Apple customers. The most challenging was my mother, who now uses an iPhone even though she blames Apple for ruining my eyesight and ‘wasting' so much money."
Fouad Abu Kishk, a 32-year-old Jordanian and Partner and CEO of UTech, a company that specialises in mobile and tablet applications, as well as the proud owner of an iPod touch, iPhone 4S, iPad 1, iPad 2, and waiting on the third, received his first Apple product in 2010 when a friend presented him an iPhone 4. "When I got it, it came naturally to me, it made sense - it's the best phone I've ever had."
He felt compelled to convert the people around him and recalls with fondness an altercation he had with a BlackBerry user. "He was having trouble with his phone … naturally I suggested he buy an iPhone, but he refused to give it up for the messenger. I tried to make him understand why an iPhone was the better choice, but it seemed like it was of no use. Three days later he walked in with an iPhone saying: ‘I don't want to hear a word about it'."
Fouad readily gives away the older version of any given device to non-Apple users as soon as he's bought its latest upgrade, in the hope of converting them.
Speaking from an expert's point of view, he added: "When I call in my team to brief them about a new project, they always get excited about the Apple part of the work to be done. They really enjoy building apps for the iOS platform, which is the operating system for Apple's iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. It's a completely different development philosophy, building apps that centre around the user experience. In fact, Apple's entire success revolves around the user experience. The sheer attention they place in every detail of their products is felt by their customers and is the reason why they have massive sales every year and a fanatical following. If other businesses in other industries were to adopt Apple's values in business, the world would truly be a better place."
On the hospital floor
Sana'a Diab, a 26-year-old Palestinian, and a business development executive, has a unique story to share about Apple. "At the time of the second iPad launch, my sister was giving birth in the hospital. I had to be with her, but I also had to watch the launch live. So, I sat on the cold hospital floor, connected to wireless internet and accessed three websites with live blogs on my little iPhone's screen to see what was happening - it was worth it."
The 26-year-old owns a Macbook, an iPad, an iPhone, two Magic Mouses, two Trackpad, two wireless keyboards, one wired keyboard, one iPad keyboard, one Apple TV, one Airport, and two iMacs.
Like Jimmy, Sana'a has lost count of the number of people she has converted. "I converted many, especially to the iPhone and iPad."
Assia Merazi, a 23-year-old Algerian and a graphic designer, got converted into an Applehead when she purchased an iPhone 1 - she has not looked back since. "When other smartphone users have problems with their device I definitely have to point out that an iPhone wouldn't do that. Also, many apps on iPhone tend to give you exactly what you need instead of always having to search for it online."
She owns five devices and, like any other Apple fan, has managed to convert her family and friends. "I managed to get my brother, mother and three friends to use Apple products."
For 23-year-old Nilofar Khateeb, also a graphic designer, the conversion took place in 2007, when she enrolled to study visual communications: "I switched from PC to Apple, and I couldn't go back. Since I started using design software, I realised how easy and quick Apple was to use and intuitive, too. I even managed to convert some of my family members into using Apple products; they're all on the iPhone now."
Nilofar has an iPad 2 and an iPhone 4S, however, she fully intends buying the latest of both devices when they're out.
And soon, the new iPad will hit the UAE shores - officially.