My parents always had a separate machine from myself and my brother, and at some point in junior high we each got our own computer. This was Silicon Valley, and my father was a computer engineer - having a computer was as essential to individual studies as a dictionary.
Anyway, despite using Apple computers throughout my childhood I never developed a strong brand loyalty. I mean, they were fine computers as near as I could tell, and when the iMacs came out in all those pretty colors that was pretty awesome. But Macs were too expensive for a kid like me, plus my dad now worked for Sun Microsystems, so my computers have mostly been old Sun machines. (I wonder if those are collectible to some sort of computer nerd, now that Sun has been absorbed into Oracle.)
That's the biggest barrier, now that I think about it. Not the Sun machines, just the fact that Apple products have always been expensive. I mean, iPods have come down a lot in price now, but when they were first introduced they were a pretty hefty investment for someone like me. iPhones are really neat, but again, expensive - especially when you factor in the monthly data plan that goes with the phone. I would actually really like an iPad, but buying one would be a huge chunk of my annual income...just not worth it.
But indirectly, of course, my life has been completely flipped by Apple. Everything's going digital now - movies, music, books - and that wouldn't have happened without Apple. I mean, sure, someone else might have eventually come along and created an iTunes-like service, but realistically it was Apple that forced that change through. Apple drove the demand for movies on-the-go with video-enabled iPods and iPhones, which forced companies to create better streaming technologies. iPad may not be driving the e-book revolution exclusively - Kindle and Nook are right there helping - but I think it would have gone a lot slower if iPad wasn't there.
I don't actually like this trend of going digital, and for that acceleration I have only Apple to thank. Or blame. But in spite of that, I do have a lot of respect for Steve Jobs for having the vision and the drive to make it happen. I'm really curious to see how things go for Apple in the future. How much of Apple was Steve, in the end?