Why Apple is the New Microsoft*
Rotten Apple. Photo by Steve Snodgrass (FlickrCC)
*If Microsoft stabbed you in the back.
Feel free to share this in the hopes that an actual human being at Apple might read it (although that’s about as unlikely as a 2nd generation iPod still working). I know I usually write about travel. Well, this has been a different kind of a journey.
I live in a 7-device Apple household. The first time I tasted an iPod, I became addicted to the Apple sauce. Soon enough, it became a personal mission to introduce friends and strangers to the wonders of the iPod, the iPad, the Macbook, and the iPhone. “Look guys, Apple does everything better!” Sure, it cost a little more, but things that work better (and look better) usually do. The premium was worth it for a laptop that never crashed, an intuitive MP3 player, a fully integrated tablet, a phone/camera/device that finally delivered on the tech-marketing hype of “convergence” and “ubiquity.” Apple was the Rebel Alliance to the PC’s Empire. Those of us working in airports with a glowing logo on our laptops would acknowledge each other like we were in some secret club, the way motorcyclists do. We got it. We were chilled-out creative Justin Long, not stodgy, stuffy John Hodgman. Didn’t matter that the logic board of my first Macbook fried before a big presentation. Didn’t matter that my iPods fast became bricks, and I had to return a new Macbook to the store three times because it kept crashing. At least it wasn’t a PC, which took ninety days to start up and was constantly besieged by hackers and anti-virus programs. At least I wasn’t using a Creative Nomad, or a Nokia. Man, I loved Apple. Perhaps like you, I was proud to be an unofficial brand ambassador. I took my Macbooks, pro and otherwise, to about 75 countries. And then it all went to crap.
You could smell the shite every time you had to buy a new power adaptor or screen adaptor with each new model. You could taste the excrement when Apple’s premium products shipped without basic chargers. You could feel the foul faeces as each software upgrade rendered your device slower and more unresponsive, forcing you like squeezed toothpaste towards an expensive hardware upgrade. And then came the yahoo masses, buying into the dream with such gusto that our funky alternative solution to personal technology became the world’s largest publicly traded company. Now we had to shop in Mac stores staffed by blue-shirted acolytes so full of their own superior bullshit you’d have to beg for attention. Which would all be tolerable, in some way, if the devices still delivered on their promise. But then came the crashes. The iTunes accounts wiping out our music libraries and our painstakingly handcrafted playlists. The software flaws and compulsory upgrades that made us feel like we were assisting in an unwanted suicide. We can all take a little madness with our genius, so we put up with eccentricities of Steve Jobs, who berated his employees, suffered no fools, and famously refused to work with people who belonged on the B teams. Apple clearly took their dead hero’s philosophy to heart, berating their customers, disregarding our valid concerns (how can your software upgrade wipe out my music collection and still be legal?) and treating us all like we belong on a B team. But, like victims of an abusive digital relationship, they would dangle shiny things and we’d come back for more.
You want a discount? Na-ah. A special? As if. An incentive for your loyalty during difficult economic times? Who do you think we are, the world's biggest company? Have a business idea? Speak to the hand. Like untouchable royalty, they will reach out to you, if they see fit. Apple is a smug honey badger. It simply doesn’t give a shit. It’s so rich and mighty and powerful, multinational record labels and publishers grovel at their feet. Even the major banks must yield to its demands negotiating fees for Apple Pay. While Apple uses upgrades to ensure you’ll be forced to buy a new phone, iPad and Macbook every second year, it's worth noting that Tesla uses software upgrades to make its hardware more efficient.
Navigating OS has become as convoluted and unintuitive as Windows 95. Machine crashes are common place. Photostream and iCloud only work if you’re using the latest software on the latest hardware and clutching your nuts while prostrating before the biography of Steve Jobs (blessed be His name). We’ve turned over ownership of our photos and music and movies, and if you’ll just join Apple Music and increase your iCloud storage account and buy an iWatch and bend over and take it in the iRectum, Apple might deem you worthy to get it back. I can’t honestly say that all employees of Apple are not arseholes, because after working for 15 years in media, I’ve yet to actually meet one. Not counting the kids in Apple Stores, because everyone knows they’re a bunch of arseholes.
In the midst of writing this post my Apple TV died. No Input Found. Yesterday the input was found. Not today. I went online, and, you guessed it, lots of other people have this problem. A definite software bug. Apple knows about it, but has done nothing to address it, other than the sage advice: Buy a new Apple TV. There’s a new updated model you know. It does less, and costs more. I went to Best Buy. I bought a Roku. Suddenly, it’s like I’ve escaped prison. It works. It’s fast. There are dozens of third party apps that make it do five times more than the Apple TV. It was also less than half the price. We’re now a 6-device Apple household.
My frustration is mirrored by, well, just about everyone. I don’t encounter unofficial ambassadors anymore. Just consumers betrayed by a brand that once promised to think different. Apple is indifferent. Whatever happened to them? Maybe Justin Long knows, although come to think of it, whatever happened to that guy? These days, you know who’s thinking different? Everyone but Apple.
This post was written on a Macbook Pro. I'm aware of the irony. Now, please keep working. Please don't crash. Pretty, pretty please....
No offence Microsoft. Unlike Jobs, Bill Gates has proven himself to be a thoughtful, generous visionary devoted to improving everybody's world.
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After many years running a behemoth of a blog called Modern Gonzo, I've decided to a: publish a book or eight, and b: make my stories more digestible, relevant, and deserving of your battered attention.
Here you will find some of my adventures to over 100 countries, travel tips and advice, rantings, ravings, commentary, observations and ongoing adventures.