Last year in Holland I interviewed the Miro Lucassen, editor of the country's Mac magazine 'Mac Fan'.

This year I found myself here again so thought it would be interesting to talk to a dedicated Dutch Mac user, and had the good fortune to meet a man who trades as Mediatoop in Rotterdam.

We talked through what we both think about Apple while I gained insights into the Dutch Apple scene.

Mediatoop was born in Nijmegen, in the east of the Netherlands, and has played basketball here and in the US and lived for a time in Berlin.


He first saw a Mac when he was eight years old, having previously played on Atari and Commodore. From the moment it turned on with the 'Welcome to Macintosh', he was smitten.

Mediatoop attended Graphic Design School in Nijmegen, then worked in graphic design companies. Later he went to the Art Academy (1999) because he wanted to do something with his creativity, specialising in graphic design and media arts.

There he ended up assisting the IT guy to keep the Macs humming. "That's when I totally dived into Mac, because that was the time Steve Jobs came out with the first colourful iMacs, the start of the revolution of the Imperial Mac Stuff we have now." He laughs at his description.

"At first, Apple was really a niche product for graphic designers and musicians here. It wasn't such a general computer for ordinary computer users [in Holland] because they didn't know about it. But when Apple came out with the new iMacs, and that was the start of the new Mac age, and I think it was really clever how Apple did it. Because after that Apple took the consumer music industry with the iPod.

"Then came iPhone, and at first I was a little afraid. Why is a computer company making a phone? At that time, Nokia was top with phones, so why? But the iPhone is also a computer, so ... it's actually similar in functionality to a laptop. I don't see it as a phone. And you can use it as a phone too.

"Other smartphones are great, sure, but the simplicity of iOS and the way it works with my Mac is the selling point. If I get an Android in my hands, it's working great, but it's a bit like Windows. Lots of things going around ... I prefer the simplicity and the powerful software so it all works properly."

Currently, Mediatoop does some design work and helps people in Rotterdam with their Macs, fixing and changing hard drives, installing extra RAM, cleaning up the software and giving buying advice.

He also follows the Mac Open Source community and recently started to create his own electronic music in Ableton.

"I grew up with electronic music, from 1993. I like it. For me it's like the modern version of what Bach and Mozart did, back in the day."

Mac Planet - One person having control of many streams of music to make a whole?

"Yes. And the beautiful thing is, when you do a live gig, you can change mid-track.

I am working up to playing live. I have friends who are deejays and I've been following this music for a long time. I keep up with the trends and sounds."

He also veejays as well as deejays. "I veejay like a deejay - scratching with the images when the deejay is scratching with the vinyl."

Like Nijmegen, Amsterdam and Berlin, Rotterdam is an established hotbed of electronic music with some great venues.

"I think the iPod changed a lot for the consumer. Now many normal people these days have Macs, but you still don't see them that much in offices, although a few companies in Amsterdam have changed to Apple. It's expensive, but easy to maintain and they don't have all that trouble with viruses.

"But I think Apple has to be careful. The latest MacBook Pros aren't configurable - you can't change the RAM or hard drive yourself ." He concedes the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is beautiful and very powerful.

But "The Mac Pro tower is the ultimate. These are monsters. They are beautifully designed, like art pieces. They are extremely upgradeable. If you have that computer, you can work for 12 years with it. If you open a similar PC, it's totally a mess inside. In a Mac Pro, everything is logical. Everything is clear. You can put four hard drives in, three video cards, and boost the RAM astronomically."

He hopes the new Mac Pro Tim Cook has hinted about for next year is as upgradeable as the current line-up, with perhaps four-times or eight-times Quad-Core CPUs. "Something monstrous! But it's not the trend. I hope Apple doesn't do the same thing with the new tower that it's done with the MacBook and iMacs."

They're long-lasting, too. "I still get Macs to sort out that are six years old. PC laptops - and there are great ones, no doubt about that - but after three years you can throw them away. If I buy something, I expect it to last longer than a cheap appliance."
Mediatoop has advice for Apple. "One, I think Apple needs to bring this upgradeability back. Two, Mountain Lion needs to be sorted out. Snow Leopard was a perfect system - strong, fast, small in data terms and didn't crash. This was the ultimate OS X ever. I think Apple's development cycle got too fast on OS X and they need to sort out the bugs in Mountain Lion, and recreate that very stable platform."

The cycle has been driven by iOS - iCloud compatibility in Lion, then Mountain Lion supporting iOS6 and iCloud better.

"I think Apple is experimenting a lot when it should be focussing on stability. And as for the features that make it more like iOS, well, fine, but really it's two interfaces on one Mac - the normal OS X we are used to and this optional touchpad-like interface.

"Steve Jobs had a philosophy of building the best possible. Apple has to keep that. Tim Cook has to be aware of these things. I hope he is. Because when I saw Mountain Lion for the first time, it reminded me a little bit of Android and Windows."


"Of course it's not Windows, but they have to screw it back. Clear the code in Mountain Lion and get rid of the bugs. And this stupid Location thing, tracking your Mac everywhere. Why? That's like Microsoft thinking: to know where you are."

What about the criticism that Apple is a Walled Garden?

"Not true. Apple releases the SDK (Software Development Kit) to anyone, and there are more Open Source Mac developers out there than you think. I dived into that and saw a lot of great, sometimes weird programs."

Mediatoop thinks Apple has really made it in the consumer market in Holland; the very first Apple Store opened late last year (before, it was only Licensed Resellers as is still the case in New Zealand).

"Now, everywhere I go, I see Macs in people's houses. I think it's at 16 or 18 per cent of the market here now. But it's still not really in office environments. I think that's Apple's next target."

Mediatoop uses his Mac in English as that's how it was when he learnt, but thinks the language support built into the OS is a fantastic feature and has helped Apple to gain users around the world.

"I think Apple's support for local languages is a great feature.

"But I don't get why Apple doesn't sort out problems with Flash and Java. They are both good systems - and that's one reason why everything works well on Snow Leopard, because they integrate well. Java used to be an excellent partner with OS X. Maybe there's a secret fight there, I don't know. Perhaps Apple wants only Apple code in its system, to make it stronger."

What about when Apple runs out of big cats? Little cats like the Civet and Ocelot don't really cut it.

"Yeah, maybe they're going to build 'OS X Black Panther'." Laughs. "Then maybe we're going to get 'OS 11 Walrus' or something. Not quite as good as cats."

Where to, for Apple?

"I think they're going to go for all the big companions in the world. They want Macs on all those office desktops."

Imagine the metrics and location data Apple would gain from more widespread business penetration.

"Exactly. Apple could change the business world a lot. Also in the financial world."
And what about resistance from the IT guys?

"Well, there it's already changing - at an IT course I attended here in the last couple of years, a quarter of the students had Macs."

That was unthinkable a few years ago.


The full text of this interview is on macnz