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Getting cranky with Apple.

A couple of people have commented on how cranky I've been with respect to the Mac recently.  For the record, I don't care what computer people choose to use, and I have family members who are very happy with their Macintosh computers.  Dave Winer's positioning of  me as a Vista advocate is incorrect.  When it comes to computers, I'm just a guy trying to puzzle my way through the same choices as everyone else. I've definitely flirted with buying a Mac, and recently too. 

No, this is something deeper.  For many years I've had a very high opinion of Apple, dating back to the first computer I ever used — an Apple IIe.  However, recently that view has become more negative. Why?

  • We're replacing a battery in one of my kids iPod's right now.  Because the unit is sealed it's taking a long time, and it's costing a lot of money.  It's a battery.  This should be easy, and it shouldn't be $70. 
  • I'm not an iTunes user. I don't personally have an iPod, and iTunes won't synch with anything but an iPod.   But you know, every time the Apple updater sends me a QuickTime update, it tries to jam iTunes down my neck.  Either make iTunes work with my music player, or stop sending it to me.
  • I'd like an iPhone, but the callous disregard they show for their early adopters when they routinely brick unlocked iPhones floors me.  The FCC says that carriers must unlock phones if requested.  Why does Apple think they're different?
  • The legions of Mac fanboy morons spreading half truths turn my stomach.  It reminds me of the Windows vs OS/2 wars in the early 1990's.  I thought, as an industry, we had grown out of that kind of behaviour.

I could go on.  Suffice it to say that my opinion has shifted from positive to negative.  I find their advertising arrogant and patronizing, their business ethics troubling, and their marketing tactics irritating.  Oh… and I think I already mentioned this, didn't I?  Their products are overpriced.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Mitch Brisebois November 8, 2007, 8:31 am

    Macs have been more expensive than PC in the past – I'm not so sure anymore… ZDnet compared near equivalent Dells and Apples, Apple came out cheaper on high end machines while only $150 over in low-end units. http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/?p=211

    Even if you prefer Vista over OSX, you can't ignore PC World selecting the MacBook as the fastest Windows noetbook! http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,136649-page,3-c

    I will agree with you Alec that Apple takes its customers for granted. They got away with it because few Mac users would go back to Microsoft. But now people have a choice of operating systems. If I was The Jobs, I wouldn't be so arrogant!

  • Peter November 8, 2007, 3:19 pm

    "Because the unit is sealed it's taking a long time, and it's costing a lot of money. It's a battery. This should be easy, and it shouldn't be $70."

    That's sort of the "good thing/bad thing" with Apple's designs.

    They're sleek. They're sexy. You look at them and say, "Oh my god! I gotta have that!" You compare them with other devices and you laugh at how boxy and ugly those other devices are.

    But, there's an engineering trade-off to cramming that much stuff into such a small space. That means that the battery is built into the device so that Apple can get a battery that is just the size that they need, they don't have to put in extra-strong housings in and around a user-accessable battery area, etc.

    All those other boxy and ugly devices don't require $70 and days away from home to get a new battery.

    Which would you rather have? Sleek, Sexy, and non-user-replaceable batteries? Or boxy, ugly, and user-replaceable batteries?

    "Either make iTunes work with my music player, or stop sending it to me."

    Agreed. iTunes on the Mac used to work with various brands of music players before the iPod came out. Now it seems to only work with the iPod.

    "The FCC says that carriers must unlock phones if requested. Why does Apple think they're different?"

    Because Apple is not a carrier.

    That is an interesting question: If I get my iPhone, sign up with AT&T, cancel my contract (paying whatever penalties are involved), and tell AT&T to unlock my phone, what happens?

  • Chuck November 8, 2007, 7:11 pm

    I guess people who are more of a Windows type don't understand where Apple comes from. I suppose there is an arrogance that flows down from Mr. Jobs. But Apple tries to make great LOOKING products where the form and the function are superior. It's totally subjective. But you can't argue they haven't done this with the iPod. And they are doing this with the iPhone. I mean, they don't own a reality distortion field. Millions of people LIKE Apple design and the functionality of their products. Should we all just be forced to bear with the Iron Curtain-type design of most PCs? To each his own. But Apple is making a lot of money these days, from the brink of ruin, mind you, because they THINK about how the product looks and how it functions. If you don't like it, fine. But you act like Apple has the greater market share in computers. Last time I looked they had maybe 8% in the US.

    My how times have changed. We now have to argue that Apple is TOO arrogant and doing TOO well.

  • Alec November 8, 2007, 7:19 pm

    Chuck — I didn't say their products didn't look good. What I said was I wanted them to treat me like a customer.

    1. don't jam products I don't want onto my computer
    2. don't gouge me on replacing a battery
    3. don't brick my phone after I've spent hundreds of dollars with you

    And most of all… don't patronize me by telling me that because I'm a "Windows type" I don't understand "where Apple comes from".

    Fanboy!

  • Edward November 8, 2007, 9:21 pm

    I find it hard to believe that people fought over an operating system in the 90s… Surely it must have been a CRS Online phenomenon. :)

    I switched several years ago to a Mac laptop and I have never looked back. I do not believe that you can compare the attention of detail that Apple puts in their products compared to the competition… From packaging to the entire out of the box experience, switching to the Mac was like a breath of fresh air.

    Not everything is perfect however in Apple-land. Their products have their own personalities and quirks but compared to the competition, I would still strongly recommend their computers for personal use, especially when you couple it with other Apple products, e.g. iPod. They just work out-of-the-box.

    As for gouging on the battery replacement. I agree, it should be cheaper and faster… But I've also had to dispose of many bluetooth headsets because they either did not offer a replaceable battery or the cost was equivalent to a new unit, so I don't think Apple is alone in this field. As Peter said, there is a trade off – make it small and sexy or boxy and user-replaceable. Most people want sexy as is shown by the iPod sales numbers.

    re: bricking the phone
    Definitely a slap in the face but I think they are trying to protect their bottom line which is getting their share of the revenue from the carriers. I think Steve Jobs does not like to relinquish control and he'll try to exert his power to that extend.

    re: iTunes and QuickTime
    I doubt that I would be using iTunes on Windows as well. Windows has a lot of great options for media management and while I understand that QuickTime is required for the video media management, I think it should also be optional as not everyone needs or wants to transfer videos to their iPod.

    On the flip side, you've got to admit though that Window users have let the vendors get away with far too much in that respect as well. When you buy a new Windows computer it comes pre-loaded with so many demos and junk that you literally need to reinstall the operating system from clean Microsoft CDs in order to regain some sanity.

  • Alec November 9, 2007, 4:01 am

    Ed — CRS… now that's a blast from the past, and I remember your name too 😉 Wow! I still keep in touch with some of the OS/2 and Windows folks from that time.

    And, of course, you're right on the vendor junk issue. I routinely build my own PCs, not because they're cheaper, but because I control what's in them.

    Thanks for dropping by, and dredging up the past. You made my day!

  • Chuck November 9, 2007, 5:48 am

    Thanks, Alec. I said "more" of a Windows type (I mean, most are, right?). I didn't say you were "a" Windows type and it wasn't meant to be offensive. But I guess I get the big "fanboy" tag. You can't be anymore creative than that?

    Nice way to treat your readers. Much love to you. I won't be back.

  • Alec November 9, 2007, 6:53 am

    Chuck — I owe you an apology. That was definitely over the top, and I'm sorry.

    Regards, Alec.

  • Thomas Howe November 9, 2007, 10:31 am

    Wow – what a fever pitch over this one. Huh?

    Don't worry, Alec. We love you, and we'll keep loving you even after you do switch. Until then, here's some tough love that made me wet my pants. I had to recreate this on my MacBook to see if it were really true – and apparently it is.
    http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/10/leopard-bso

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