Since its founding over 30 years ago, Apple has been one of the most important companies in the tech industry. Having defined the personal computer, mainstream GUI-based operating systems and an arsenal of other gear, Apple has been instrumental in advancing technologies. But for all its accomplishments, Apple also manages continually to be one of the most inflammatory companies trading today.
When this piece was presented to me, I was feeling a good deal of animosity toward Cupertino and so, I eagerly agreed to write it. After suffering through the catastrophic failures of two Powerbooks in as many years, I found it impossible not to feel vindictive. So I slighted Apple left-and-right and swore up-and-down that I’d never purchase another Mac. I flung myself into the market in search of a notebook capable of appeasing my requirements, but my search was like firing in the dark.
And so, my temper simmered, as tempers will, and I soon found myself quietly perusing the MacBook Pro specs—for educational purposes, I told myself. Then in some automatic action, I found myself making a purchase and waiting for Fed Ex with a diligence I haven’t observed since my childhood, stationing myself to pummel Santa on Christmas Eve (long story).
I had just undergone the techie equivalent of a make-up-break-up relationship. The experience compelled me to reexamine my inclinations. My self-analysis forced me to confront some demons that lay fat and happy deep within the bowels of my unconscious. Namely a prejudice toward Apple products dating back to the late ’80s.
What I realized is that, despite all of those aforementioned technological achievements, Apple is easy to hate. The Apple Vs. Microsoft dichotomy has cut rift between the mass of computer users that has created the equivalent of tech-racists. There is genuine rancor on each side that frequently gets heated and out of line.
Despite drifting back to a state of cautious admiration (my MacBook Pro really better not blow up), I’ve decided to proceed with this piece, because the polarizing nature of Apple is an interesting topic that deserves to be examined further. To be fair, there are two parts to this puzzle: Microsoft and Apple. Everyone knows why Microsoft is widely hated (see: evil organization intent on crushing competition in a play for world domination, etc.), but it’s hard to fathom why Apple draws so much flak.
At first I set out to understand why Apple, this seemingly benign company, gets thrown so much hate. It was an ambitious objective. As I started, I quickly realized that the task would require advanced psychoanalytical skills and I was forced to abandon that course of attack (for you see I’m only an intermediate psychoanalytical hobbyist). Dejected, but not despondent, I set to developing a more realistic route for answers.
At last I settled on a list. Simply outlining the truths of why we hate Apple. I’ve been told that putting matters into the open is one of the surest means for reconciliation.
And so, with that altruistic philosophy in mind, I give you the Things We Hate About Apple:
The Mighty Mouse
Apple’s Mighty Mouse sucks. The cord isn’t even a foot long and thedesign is really lame. The fact that I don’t have a physical right-button to click annoys me greatly when I go to play games like World of Warcraft. Plus, it’s overpriced. For $20 cheaper you could get something equally good from Logitech.
You can’t DIY with a Mac
A few years ago, my 12-inch Powerbook G4’s hard drive went kaput. Because my Powerbook had a small ding on one side, it was deemed that it would need a “Tier 3″ repair costing about $1000 (I had AppleCare mind you). So instead of being smart and paying to have it fixed, I went and bought a new hard drive, ripped my Powerbook apart, installed it, and got it working. Only problem is, I damaged my trackpad, had 20 screws leftover, and keys fell off periodically. I should be able to easily replace parts inside my Mac or upgrade them easily if I choose to do so. My iMac I can’t do that with. Open up a little Apple.
I’m what most normal people would call a music snob. I have a large, large collection of music. (All but a handful of bootlegs of The Clash and The Replacements are what the RIAA deems legal, by the way.) I do download about 10 or so albums a month, but I still buy CDs and the occasional platter of vinyl as well. I’m also a Mac user. And I hate iTunes. I have since the very beginning. I hate it so much that I built a Windows desktop for the specific purpose of downloading, ripping, burning, managing, tweaking and serving up my music collection.
I hate that if I’m listening to an album and go to browse my Library, the music stops when the song currently playing ends instead of continuing to the next song. I hate that there’s no automatic folder watching, so when I download or add a new album from a source other than ITMS it doesn’t just show up in my Library. I hate that I can’t add more than one folder at a time to my library. I hate that there are almost no audio plug-ins for it. (I only know of OSS 3D, which isn’t really a plug-in, and Volume Logic. If there are more out there, please let me know.) I hate that it’s not skinnable. I hate that I’m forced to have my music mixed with my video. I hate that if I import a CD I have to go to Preferences to change any little fracking thing. Most of all, I hate that no one seems to be making a competitive Mac OS X product for music collectors like me.
When Apple Acts Like Microsoft
There is some sour irony to the notion, but Apple tends to push aside or even rip-off key third-party vendors. Because of Final Cut, Adobe quit making Premiere. With iWork maturing, the future of Office on the Mac is questionable (I mean long term; we know there’s a new Office on the way later this year). And Dashboard, with it’s Widgets, is a near carbon copy of an application called Konfabulator. We understand Apple’s argument that a closed environment leads to better interoperability and stability, but pushing aside the work of others (fanboys, even) is really a Redmondy way to do business. (Yes, I used the word Redmondy.)
I once had a conversation with a guy who insisted to me that Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was better than any album Pink Floyd ever made. He was also a Mac user who mindlessly adhered to anything from the mouth of Jobs like he was the second coming. I consider this to be a good character analysis of the typical Apple Fanatic, the key component being delusion.
As I mentioned above, I believe Apple makes some decent products from time-to-time. Jobs and pals are not, however, infallible, ineffable or any other adjective that deflects error. In contrast to its impressive list of successes, there is an equally expansive list of failures—anyone remember Lisa?
The problem is that Mac Fanatics are, well, fanatical. They’re quick to point out errors in everyone else’s products, but are notoriously forgiving of Apple’s shortcomings. It eliminates the checks and balances system created by the relationship between consumer and manufacturer. So even when Apple drops a turd like the iPhone, its fandom will swoon maniacally and declare the product the greatest thing in the history of creation (at least in the history since the previous Apple product was announced).
For Apple to really flourish and become a real alternative, rather than just a lifestyle choice, the community needs to hold Apple more accountable. When something is a letdown, say it. Think for yourself, you’re not a lemming.
Apple vs. The World is a collection of features by the CrunchGear team about the present and future of Apple Inc.