Phill Jupitus became a Mac user in 1999, with support from another celebrity Mac-fan: “I met Stephen Fry when we were doing a voice-over job together, and I said I’d just bought my first ever Mac and he said ‘Oh, you must send me an email’. So he gave me his email address and I sent him my very first email. And the subject line of his reply was quite funny because it was ‘Hey Mr. Tangerine Mac’ because it was the tangerine iMac that I had.”
Radio Producer Phil Wilding has been a Mac user a little longer, starting off with a PowerBook: “One of those black curvy ones. I basically got mine because of the aesthetics – it was so beautiful. I basically wrote a book about the Verve just so I could buy myself a PowerBook. The Verve paid for my PowerBook. Not directly, you understand – Richard Ashcroft didn’t come up to me and say ‘What you looking for lad? I’ve got it, here you are, thanks for the book’. So I wrote a book on a PC so that I could buy a PowerBook, which is a very pleasing idea”.
Phill’s love of music is well known, particularly from his continuing stint as team captain on BBC2’s ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’. So it’s unsurprising that he has an iPod and a number of accessories for it. “I bought the iTrip, the illegal FM transmitter when they very first came out before they got banned. It’s really good fun,” he says.
He does, however, have grumbles about the Apple Music Store: “Two weeks ago I registered onto the iTunes Music Store and it doesn’t have a big enough collection at all. I’ve been on iTunes five times looking for things and it’s never had them. But that’s the UK iTunes; I think the US version might have more music on it. I went looking for some Divine Comedy and all they had was about four singles. It was the first time that I was willing to do something I had never thought of before – which is to own music that just exists in theory. Being of the generation that owned a record and then you manage to let that go to want to own CDs and I’ll be f**ed if I just get to own the idea of a song. When I want a record, I want a physical record”.
iTunes is highly favoured by both Phill and Phil, and gets used during the radio show. “The other day somebody asked for a track,” explains Wilding, “and it was on his iTunes – so we burnt it onto a CD and played it on the air. Stuff like that we would never have been able to do before”.
Jupitus agrees: “I had the computer with me the other day and suddenly I realised that, with some burnable CDs, I’ve suddenly got access to my entire music collection – over 20,000 tracks. It’s incredible when you think of it like that”.
Wilding bemoans the amount of time it takes to move to the iPod: “How many afternoons have we all lost burning CDs into iTunes? I must have just lost days doing one CD after another. It’s like the way drugs used to be. It’s like Techno-crack, or the iPipe!”
Despite now enjoying numerous aspects of their Apple machines, neither of them were computer enthusiasts before becoming Mac owners. Jupitus admits that he was “always something of a Luddite” in that respect: “I thought that having a record player and CD player was really top of the line. I did work for a graphics company as they were changing from doing old-style layout work, which I was being apprenticed in, to DTP. So I was still doing layout the old-fashioned way. While the guy upstairs was just moving a mouse, I was downstairs getting eye-strain and smudging one line and having to completely start again. So I was one of the last generation of people not to be shown the computer way of doing design,” he says.
Jupitus and Wilding have both been on the Internet since 1999, and have recently embraced wireless broadband. For Jupitus, there is nothing to compare with it. “I’ve been on wireless broadband for about 18 months and it is like I used to say at stand-up gigs ‘Once you’ve gone fat, you never go back’. Once you’ve had broadband, everything else is just the slowest thing in Christendom. And I get really irate when you go to hotels and and they don’t have WiFi – I just go nuts.”
“Or they’ve got one place in the Lobby where you can go and sit, or in the bar,” expands Wilding. “Like I really want to be sat with two grand’s of iBook with someone running around with pints of lager.”
A short journey down the road from the 6 Music studios is the new Apple Store. Jupitus is a great fan of the set-up. “It’s like a techno-Narnia isn’t it? There is a real Lion, the Witch and iBook vibe about going through the doors.
“Do you remember the bit in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where they’re in the white suits and it’s all white everywhere? It’s like that. Only without the top-hats. I think they should have one day a year when you are only let in if you’re all in white. And it would be like Heaven, and they could dry-ice on the floor and coming down the staircase.
“I think it’s a really friendly store; user-friendliness is the key to it all. I think someone from Apple has gone into PC World and looked at the way they behave there and said ‘let’s do what they are not doing’. That is to have beautiful surroundings, not just racks and racks of stuff, and that brilliant area upstairs for lectures and things.”
The cult-like devotion shown by some Mac users is not surprising to Jupitus. “I think that what they’ve done that nobody else has cottoned onto in computing is to make it hip – and that is what all the other companies resent about Apple: that cachet of hipness. With the iPod, Apple has done the thing that Hoover did, what Walkman did, which is where your item becomes the word for the thing.
“Apple, through design and marketing, can create a consumer need. They manage to create things that have practical applications but that you never needed before. Like GarageBand – I wouldn’t be without it now.”
Having connections to some people close to Apple, they hear of numerous rumours of the next Apple thing. “I believe the next device is the iPod phone with Sony Ericcsson,” suggests Wilding. “Which, of course, all the networks are against because they get money from people downloading tunes at the phone rate rather than people downloading from computers onto their phones. I think there’s a demand for something like that because it is one gadget less”.
Jupitus agrees that such convergence is the way forward: “I think that will continue, so I envisage it will combine the iPod, phone and PDA and develop headphones with a mouthpiece connected via Bluetooth. So if that was to come along I’d definitely be getting that.”
As Wilding jokingly points out, Stephen Fry probably has one already, “And in the colour he wants as well. As if his life wasn’t good enough already!”
Phill Jupitus, with Phil Wilding, is on digital radio station 6 Music from 7-10am on weekdays, and another series of Never Mind the Buzzcocks is due in the autumn.