In my early teens around the mid-90s, when I was a gamer and aspiring programmer, there was a good-natured schism of sorts between PC (‘IBM PC compatibles’) users and Mac users. It was like the computer nerds were split into two camps. We didn’t actually know much about Macintoshes, but somehow we knew we didn’t like them and that they were less powerful than PCs. Macs were rare in my circles back then, but from time to time we poked fun at their occasional owners.
As I got older, this PC vs Mac antagonism seemed silly, and it still does. It’s like Apples and oranges: neither of them is wrong, but to me the latter just tastes a bit sweeter. However, in 2007, with Apple’s release of the iPhone and the hysteria and hype that ensued, I started getting a bit anti-Apple again. Here are nine reasons why Apple is indeed rotten, and why I hope to be able to avoid their products. The list is written in jest, and is not to be taken too seriously. After all, I’m just talking about phones and technology here, and not truly important issues like war, poverty, pollution and world hunger.
1) They Have Closed and Restricted Environments
I have a friend who’s into Linux, open-source software, electronics, programming and all things Internet. He works a bit with web design and videos as well. When he bought his first Mac, a MacBook, he initially got seduced by all the eye-candy and how flashy, simple and smooth the OS was, but he soon got frustrated because he couldn’t do most of the stuff he was accustomed to, since the system didn’t allow it. When you use a product by Apple, you’re confined to their way of doing things, both when it comes to the hardware and the software. There’s no room for customization, experimentation, modifications or real personalization. How can you express your individuality with an iPhone? Basically by installing a certain kind of apps, but that’s about it.
It’s like Apple doesn’t trust you, treats you like a kid and locks things down. As if they presumed that the majority of the users of their products would mess everything up if only given the chance – and in Apple’s defense, that just might be a correct assumption. I’m all for user-friendliness, but not at the expense of features and functionality.
2) Their Products are Less Powerful and Less Advanced
In his show Part Troll from 2004, acclaimed British musician, actor and stand-up comedian Bill Bailey makes a very funny joke about what U2 would sound like without all the reverb and effects on their guitars. The same joke could be made about Apple and their eye-candy.
If you watch Apple’s introduction to the iPad in the video below, it all sounds and looks great at first glance. However, if you take away the nice and flashy UI and the fancy sales pitch – what does the iPad actually do? You can read eBooks on it, play games, run apps, watch pictures and videos, surf the web, handle email and listen to music. To me, when you strip away all the nonsense, it seems like Apple once again mainly has put a stylish, user-friendly UI on top of a great touchscreen, and little else. Don’t people realize that it’s slightly absurd when Apple talk about a basic accelerometer based feature, like automatic screen rotation, as if it was the greatest and most amazing thing in the world of technology? In the video, the dude in the black shirt appears to be possessed, brain-washed or an unholy combination of the two, and he’s preaching the Apple Gospel with his wide-open eyes. Scary stuff.
That the iPhone in many ways is technologically inferior is a fact, and when it comes to powerful hardware, Macs have been behind PCs for years.
The only Apple product I have ever bought is the iPod Video back in 2005. Sure, I enjoyed having 60GB of storage, but that was pretty much it. I explored all the iPod’s features in less than an hour, and I could not believe there wasn’t more to it after the massive hype. From then on, I mainly got frustrated by not having the features I needed, that the competitors had but the iPod lacked. Sadly, I fell for the hype. Another grievance is that Apple include as little as possible from the start, which restrains functionality, in order to sell more accessories.
3) Apple are the Censoring Fascists of the Tech World
Yes, I know. That’s a bold and probably somewhat overblown statement. But to make an application for the iPhone, you have to ask Apple for permission. Earlier you even had to sign a non-disclosure agreement first; a demand that after colossal criticism and backlash was abandoned. When you have invested time and money into developing your software, you have to ask Apple again for permission to sell or even give it away. If they decline, then that’s just tough luck.
The numerous reports of Apple’s preposterous censoring of the App Store are too many to mention here. They even censored a dictionary. What’s next? A good old fashioned book burning? This is a quote from the band Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor, regarding their iPhone app getting rejected:
I can understand if you want the moral posturing of not having any “indecent” material for sale – but you could literally turn around 180 degrees from where the NIN record would be and purchase the film “Scarface” completely uncensored, or buy a copy of Grand Theft Auto where you can be rewarded for beating up prostitutes. How does that make sense? You can buy The Downward Fucking Spiral on iTunes, but you can’t allow an iPhone app that may have a song with a bad word somewhere in it. Geez, what if someone in the forum in our app says FUCK or CUNT? I suppose that also falls into indecent material. Hey Apple, I just got some SPAM about fucking hot asian teens THROUGH YOUR MAIL PROGRAM. I just saw two guys having explicit anal sex right there in Safari! On my iPhone!
Come on Apple, think your policies through and for fuck’s sake get your app approval scenario together.
In the US, there’s generally no issue showing kids all sorts of violence and people getting shot on a TV screen. But there is an uproar when a harmless nipple is shown. What’s more harmful for a child: watching graphic violence, or a women’s naked bosom – the most natural thing in the world that they’ve already spent a year sucking on? I’d say neither is damaging in 99.9% of the time, and certainly, definitely not the latter.
Apple is far, far away from the openness of Google’s Android platform. For a lack of a better word, Apple’s approach, their attitude and way of doing things, their products and the iPhone in particular are just “uncool” to me.
4) They Lie, Brag and Exaggerate About their Products
The folks at Apple usually advertise their products as “revolutionary“, and as the “best” and “most advanced in the world” – which is just a load of plain wrong horse doodie. The worst part is, people believe them. Even in their commercials, Apple have an entirely different style than Google’s more down to earth, humble and humane approach. If you’re actually really good at something and feel secure about that, there’s no need to brag and exaggerate. True achievements will speak for themselves.
In 2008, Apple called the iPhone 3G the most advanced handset in the world. What the frak did they base that on? Perhaps the 2MP camera without auto focus, a lens cover, a flash, advanced settings and video recording capabilities, that would have been underpowered even on a basic dumbphone three years earlier? The complete waste of Bluetooth or the lack of multitasking? Maybe the claim was based on the fact that the iPhone 3G (initially) didn’t have copy & paste, tethering, a radio, a front camera or support for flash, MMS, Java or memory cards? You certainly got some cohones, Apple. And when they finally add a feature to the iPhone, that’s been available on other platforms and phones for years, they advertise it as “revolutionary” and make it sound like they invented it.
5) They Unjustly Sue Other Technology Corporations
Apple supposedly has the fiercest, most aggressive lawyers in the business. In the classic 1996 PBS documentary Triumph of the Nerds, Apple CEO Steve Jobs says “…Picasso had a saying, he said good artists copy great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
Now Apple has sued HTC over alleged patent infringements, and Apple also counter-sued Nokia for the same reason. One of the patents they sued HTC over is “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image”. Come on, are you serious? Unlocking a touch screen with a gesture? Apple should worry about paying Nokia for all of their patents they have infringed upon instead of picking on HTC. I can see why they feel threatened, though. HTC’s rate of development is extremely quick compared to Apple’s, and they bust out device after device that all trump the iPhone.
6) They Stole Their Name from the Beatles Record Company.
Damn right, they did! They messed with the Fab Four. Bastards ;)
7) They Make Technology for People Who Can’t Handle Technology
That is all good and a true achievement in its own right, but I consider myself somewhat tech-savvy and hence I’m not included in their target audience: the fashion-conscious, the easily influenced, the technologically challenged and the technologically dyslectic. The only possible way to power use an iPhone is to jailbreak it. I know that countless of tech enthusiasts, and even tech professionals, mobile journalists and experts will disagree, since Macs, iPods and iPhones are loved an revered by people from all walks of tech. Still, I would feel confined if I had to use the iPhone as my only device.
8) Apple Spawn Annoying Fanboys
I have nothing against fanboys per se, heck – I probably even am one myself. But Apple and iPhone fanboys can be annoying. They are usually biased, and they often haven’t got a clue about other smartphones and the technologies of other companies. To them, everything that Apple does is the epitome of awesomeness, and the iPhone is the best and greatest and most advanced phone ever – and that’s all they want to hear, they will not listen to reason. When the iPhone finally gets a feature that’s been on other devices for years and years, they often believe Apple invented it. Oh my.
A survey was made regarding what the American public considered to be the best cellphone. The iPhone was the device that received the greatest number of votes, despite the fact that the survey took place months before the first iPhone even was launched, and that most of the people voting hardly knew anything about the alternatives or the iPhone’s features. Apple has a tendency to make people appear narrow-minded and one-tracked.
8) The iPhone
In a way, the iPhone is a toy for people who can’t handle proper smartphones. Comparing the iPhone to a real smartphone is like comparing a video game console to a computer: anyone can handle the former but the latter is much more powerful. I understand why less tech-savvy people who aren’t into phones or technology get impressed by the iPhone if they upgrade from a dumbphone with a small, non-touchscreen display, no application store, no email (or at least no email that they knew how to use), web browsing or any of the standard smartphone features. But I’m surprised that so many of those working in the field of technology don’t notice its limitations. The iPhone has a great touchscreen and an unusually user-friendly OS with a bunch of awesome apps that anyone can use, but it doesn’t excel in other areas.
If the iPhone had been an unappreciated underdog, would I have been a champion and defender of it instead? Maybe. It certainly has some redeeming qualities.
9) Apple is Unbecomingly Greedy
Virtually all companies want to make as much money as possible, and there is certainly no harm in that by itself. But Apple seems to be profit-hungry to the point where they are downright greedy. You can either bust out groundbreaking and revolutionizing services that are free, and make life easier for millions and millions of people around the globe while doing it, and have an anti-corporate, ethical and “don’t be evil” philosophy like Google, and still be one of the world’s largest, most popular and successful technology corporations. Or you can do it the Apple way and overcharge for your products, try to earn as much as possible from accessories in a sneaky way, have false marketing, censor applications, try to make developers sign non-disclosure agreements and shut them up, sue other companies and screw over your users to make an extra buck, but that doesn’t come across as nice in my book.
Will I one day succumb to all the Apple media hype? Will I in some unforeseeable future be one of Apple’s drones? Perhaps the next-gen iPhone (HD?) will totally geek me out this summer and make me a believer, but that’s very unlikely. I know there are unique qualities to Apple’s products, of course – otherwise they wouldn’t be so popular, and Apple has made some fine technological accomplishments. The iPad is probably really fun to use, and the iPhone did revolutionize the phone industry in the way that it managed to become the device that all other touchscreen phones get compared to, and Apple brought a new standard to the user-friendly, attractive and stylish UI, and took touchscreens to the next level. The iPhone currently also has a greater software supply than any other mobile device.
But out of principle, I would like to never buy another Apple product. What’s your position? Are any of you Apple fanboys? Have I just exaggerated or did I make some fully valid points? Did any of you even read the entire piece (it got more comprehensive than I first expected)? Feedback is appreciated, or I might look like a ranting and raving loner…
These are all excellent articles on the same topic that I recommend reading.
- Why I won’t buy an iPad (and think you shouldn’t, either) @ boingboing.net
- Apple Faithful: Arrogance Is Not a Virtue, and Why I Will Never Buy a Mac @ blogs.zdnet.com
- Tim Bray on the iPhone vision @ boingboing.net
- iPhone developer EULA turns programmers into serfs @ boingboing.net
- Owner’s Manifesto @ makezine.com