Why I’m done with Apple

posted in: Entrepreneurship, Tech | 5

In short, because their products are now mediocre, and their business practices are evil.

I’ll be the first to admit being, for a time, a giant Apple fannoun (I’m not sure we’re allowed to say “boy” anymore). This was in the brief happy period in the (very) early 2010s, when Steve Jobs was back, and the company just introduced the iPad and the first good iPhone.

However, since Jobs’ departure and the takeover by Tim Cook, Apple has been an empire in (possibly terminal) decline. It won’t be sudden, and it can be averted with a new CEO, but the current trend is a slow crumble setting the stage for an eventual rapid nosedive.

Previous criticism of Apple’s direction for your consideration are here, here and here.

The two major complaints are a lack of substantial innovation, and business practices more reminiscent of scientology than an ethical modern business.

Take the issue of repairs.

When a screen replacement costs $ 350, edge-to-edge displays are a victory of cosmetics over robustness, and a recipe for frequent expensive repairs. This seems to be a feature.

Get ready to pay up.

Add glass rear panels, so there’s now more that can break when, not if, the phone falls, and no matter how it falls.

Of course Apple says “Our new revolutionary glass is the most durable in history, hurr durr” – but the screens on half of all iPhones will break in the first year, and they know it.

In fact, they count on it.

When a new display costs as much as a perfectly acceptable smartphone from another maker, fragility by design is “good” “business”. 🍎🖕

That’s not the only way Apple ensures ongoing involuntary cashflow from customers.

Mac chargers are famously rubbish. In an open scandal widely known to Mac users, the half life of a Mac charger is around six months. The cable frays open and becomes dangerous afterwards. Houses have burned down because of it. Allegedly, this is because ecomentalists pressured the company to use a more “environmentally friendly” material. I question whether it makes up for the environmental impact of buying a new laptop charger once or twice every year, and having to manufacture and ship millions more.

This way, Apple basically charges (pun not intended) Mac owners an annual rent of $ 80-160. With millions of Macs sold every year, and most needing a replacement charger within months, it adds up.

That’s not the only way Mac users get fiscally raped.

More expensively, Macs come with a kill switch – each new version of OSX kills off a generation of older Macs. This is to remind customers that using a computer for more than three years is bad form, and a lack of dedication. The company is happy to help the flock remedy its moral failures by forcing it to buy a new Mac after that period. The performance drop is immediate and profound. Truly the moral leaders of “ethical”, “sustainable” capitalism.

This is not the only reason I’m done with Apple, at least until Tim Cook steps down.

Apple could theoretically get away with questionable – or even contemptible – business practices if it retained the order-of-magnitude lead it had on competitors in the past. But it’s merely one of the pack now, and not even the best one.

It follows trends, where it used to lead.

Microsoft now makes better – and somehow even more ridiculously expensive – laptops. The Surface family is amazing.

Microsoft is now a better Apple than Apple.

At the most recent Apple event, the first in Apple’s new spaceship-like campus (at a price that probably could have bought an actual spaceship), Steve Wozniak was in the audience, and he did not look happy.

There were some improvements to Apple TV, which is a fringe product from a revenues point of view. There was also some hipsterish “community” stuff that basically attempts to appropriate what’s already going on on the internet without specific corporate affiliation – people coming together to create and learn. They shan’t prefer to do that in an Apple store if they can do it in a café, or at home in their underwear, Tim.

In smartphones, Apple typically adopts and proudly shows off at keynote events features that Android had 3 years ago 😱👏👏👏, to thunderous applause of sycophant tech journalists who know full well that, Xi Jinping’s communist party congress style, insufficient clapping would have consequences.

I am fully confident that the iPhone X is gonna sell like Keira Knightley’s slightly worn garters – it’s the exact thing that everyone in Shanghai, Dubai and the City of London will just haaave to have. I’m not worried about the near-term cashflow. But the mojo that got Apple where it is ain’t there no more.

The iPhone X doesn’t have any buttons, and you return to the home screen by swiping up. I predict that’s gonna be infuriating as fuck, as people do it by accident every five seconds when trying to use the device. Some, especially senior customers may hurl it across rooms in frustration, contributing to screen replacement sales.

The added features are mere toys, with a notable absence of fundamental progress, congruent with a broader trend extensively discussed here.

Even the visual design side is slipping.

There was the brief, disastrous experiment with abandoning the trademark minimalist, Spartan design for tasteless bling and literal gold watches. Steve Jobs was probably screaming in afterlife, banging his fists impotently on the boundary between the worlds.

The second generation of the watch was okay. They dropped the bling and modestly improved the hardware. I got one.

The third generation of the Apple watch, introduced only months ago, is a step into the design abyss once again. While it can now make calls (in the three countries in the world where the feature works), its design is ruined by a glaring red crown whose only function is to signal that the bearer is no plebeian with last year’s model. It’s an intrusive design element that breaks the minimalist look, and clashes with like three quarters of the case and band options. See for yourself.

So to recap, Apple is actively evil and abusive towards customers, hasn’t produced a meaningful innovation in years, spins its wheels in fundamental technology, and is losing its touch in design.

Not a good place.

The problems continue. I laughed out loud when Tim Cook said the new iPhone did more for personal data security than anything else.

If you’ve seen the new iPhones, you noticed they’re more of the same old incremental development in the dubious direction of cameras and sensors eeeeverywhere, raising reasonable suspicions about mass surveillance and backdoors.

The NSA-centric development paradigm flourishes in Silicon Valley, and if you want to know who will be the next generation of tech giants, it will be companies that do what Apple, Google, Facebook et co. are doing, but without the spying. Privacy and personal data protection are the next frontier.

I’m already half in the “bearded linux weirdo”, camp and switched from Chrome to Vivaldi, from Gmail to notyourbusiness (that’s not an actual service, but it sounds like a great name for one), and from Google to Duckduckgo. There are signs the market is starting to move in my direction.

You may not be quite so paranoid, but to call the iPhone in any way a privacy-respecting, secure device is beyond parody.

Apple’s cult game is A+. The products and customer experience aren’t.

The company only ever did well under Jobs.

I sold all Apple stock – half my life savings – some time ago, and would not re-buy.

In light of the recent event, I reiterate what I’ve been saying for years – down with Tim Cook, or it will be down with Apple. The company is on trajectory to become another Xerox or HP or IBM – a former trendsetter surviving on the sidelines of the big boys’ game.

On an optimistic note, it is possible to come back from that.

Apple appears to be under the curse of the first nonfounder CEO – Steve Ballmer likewise almost killed Microsoft, before Satya Nadella turned it into an innovative powerhouse.

Now Microsoft is the new Apple, and Apple is the new Microsoft. The irony should be savoured with glee.

Disclaimer: This rant is only partly because I burnt my dick on an overheating charger cable last week.

🦉 Chip in for a new laptop that won’t burn my Mr. Hooty. 🦉