A week or two ago, I read an article that talked about the concept of Enough.” The idea is that you don’t need to make a million dollars a year to be happy, you just need Enough to buy what you need when you need it. Shortly thereafter, a friend of mine and I have a conversation about his shoes, of all things. Turns out that he owned a pair of Dr. Martens shoes, and for the past seven years he’s just had them resoled, keeping them in his rotation ever since the first day he bought them.
So what the heck do these two things have to do with Apple? It’s about a little epiphany I had the other day. Bear with me, there’s a point to all this.
About this “enough” concept. You really should read the whole article, but here’s a snippet:
Having Enough is awesome. How would I define “Enough”? Enough means that you can take a friend out to a nice lunch and not have to worry about how much it costs. I have hung out with a couple of billionaires—my experiences indicate that being a billionaire is just incrementally better than Enough.
I’ve found myself chasing the money dragon for years, and recent events have caused me to question that practice. Not only has it caused me undue stress, but it’s just not healthy. The chances that I’ll ever have ridiculous amounts of cash are slim, so why act like it’s just a few 80-hour weeks away from happening? Be happy with what you have, and just work towards having Enough. Enough that I don’t have to stress about having money when a washing machine breaks down or a kid needs braces. Enough that money doesn’t become such a problem that I’m worrying about keeping up exorbitant figures and having to push those 80 hours to 100. Enough.
A friend of mine (not the guy with the shoes) always buys cheap tools. His logic is that it’s cheaper, so if it breaks, he just buys a new one. Me, I buy the pricey tools. Not for the name brand, but for the warranty — lifetime replacement no matter what happens. When I purchase a tool, I plan to own it forever.
It turns out that there’s a name for that concept: BIFL or Buy It For Life. And even better, there’s a subreddit dedicated to the topic. It’s about the idea that you should buy quality items that will last you a lifetime, thus saving you money over the long term. That appeals to me on a number of levels — sustainability, recycling, costs — it just keeps going. But ultimately, part of the reason why I buy any of the stuff I purchase is the quality, which is where Apple comes into the whole thing.
Apple, Enough and BIFL
I’ve bought Apple products since 2004, with my first iPod (the iPod Photo, if you must know). To date, every Apple product that I’ve kept still functions perfectly well. If I didn’t keep it, I sold it without a substantial loss — sometimes even a profit — because they’re all solid, reliable, well-built machines. And reading articles like this cement that concept even further.
I don’t think any piece of technology can truly qualify for BIFL status because of Moore’s Law and how electronics keep moving forward. However, you can keep a machine for a long time, especially if you take care of it. The MacBook Air that I’m typing this on will likely be in our household for the next decade, passed from me to my kids and maybe into a home server of some kind. We currently have an ’07 iMac sitting in my office awaiting an SSD upgrade. Why? The iMac will make a great learning tool for my three-year-old son, and the SSD will help pick it up in speed. And we would’ve used it as-is, but the hard drive just gave out after six years of service.
The mobile devices are just the same. My original iPad is still chugging along just fine. Even though it can’t run anything newer than iOS 5, it’s a fun tool for my 8-month-old daughter to use to learn how to interact with things or watch the occasional movie. No problems with battery life, no issues with anything else other than a tweak in the screen where my son dropped it (and even then the glass didn’t break). They may not last forever, but they sure can go a long time.
A Shift in Direction
I think that we all get wrapped up in the hype of Apple and their new product releases. I often find myself buying whatever the new gadget is online via pre-order or whatever, particularly with iOS devices. And even though I sell the previous model for a good amount, there’s usually still some out-of-pocket cost associated with the deal, and that all adds up.
But now I’m making a change. The Retina iPad mini that sits on my bed stand right now is an amazing machine, and I don’t see any reason to change anytime soon. My Air is the best Air I’ve owned, and since I’ve had a few (one is my wife’s now), I can say that with authority. I just can’t see a need to buy the next big thing, no matter what comes down the pike. Sure, there will be a faster iPad mini, likely with the fingerprint scanner and all that. Or the next Air, which might have a Retina display. And yes, I might want them for just a little bit because I am still me, a tech loving guy, and it’s easy to get caught up in the Apple hype machine (and it’s my job, there’s that). But I don’t need them, not by a long shot.
I’m getting there, but right now I just don’t have Enough yet. And until I do, I think it’s best to just be happy where I am and continue working my way forward. We don’t always have to own the latest and greatest, and maybe, in my case anyways, it’s best that I don’t.