Why I’m Not A Fan of Apple

A couple of weeks ago I got into a debate on Facebook between Android and Apple. I have never really been a fan of Apple products, despite owning an iPod for two years and using an iMac and a Macbook Pro at work. There are many reasons why I prefer Android and/or Windows over Mac OS X and iOS. So let me go through them.

 

  Cost

The number one reason why I don’t like Apple products is that they are ungodly expensive. Looking at their current website, a Macbook Pro 15″ (non-Retina, which I’ll get to later) costs $1,799. A similar specced out PC computer from Newegg.com costs $629. That’s an $1170 difference, and I ask you: what is it you get from that $1170 in a Macbook that you don’t get in that Windows 8 ASUS laptop? “Build quality”? Please. You don’t buy a laptop because it looks cool or it’s attractive, and if you are then you’re fundamentally misunderstanding the point of a laptop. You buy motorcycles or cars because they look sweet and cool.

Computers are appliances. Sure, if they look nice, that’s a plus. But that’s not the core requirements. What you need and want is a good performing computer, with a relatively fast processor, lots of RAM, hard drive space, and the ability to run the programs that you want, at a good price point.

And quite frankly, after seeing scuff marks and other wear and tear signs appear on a Macbook, I’m not really convinced that’s all a great decision.

But it basically comes down to cost. Macbooks are not economical compared to PC laptops and even Linux machines. Frankly, buying a Macbook is a stupid financial decision unless you’re a professional or semi-professional media creator (music producer, photo editor, videographer, etc.).

Similar things can be said about Apple’s mobile products. While there is less of a difference in the mobile realm thanks to carrier subsidies and other factors, if you still look at the iPhone and, say, the Galaxy S4, you realize you’re getting a much better bang for your buck with the Galaxy. You get a faster processor, bigger screen, more memory, and more talk and stand-by time. So then, like anything, it comes down to subjective desires and values. But when you choose an iPhone over an S4, what are those values you are choosing?

 

  Looks Over Performance

I mentioned this before in the Cost section, but it bears repeating: for Apple, you’re buying looks over performance. In a sense, you’re buying sex. And do you really want to spend money on a whore?

Okay, that’s harsh (but the line demanded to be written.) Yet when you look at it, it’s clear. Apple invests a lot into making their devices look nice. The smooth aluminum of the Macbook, the sleek dark looks of the iPhones and the iPods, you do have to admit they are good looking. But again, as I said above, that’s not why you get a computer. That’s not even why you get a phone. You get a phone to call people, and in this smartphone era, to also browse the Internet a bit, check social media, text folks, listen to music and maybe watch videos,  and perhaps schedule tasks and other productivity tasks. It’s the same thing with computers, except you’re A) doing more and B) usually you’re actually creating content instead of being limited to just browsing it.

True, Apple did just introduce the iPhone 5c, which I see as a belated recognition that they have to stop being the 1% providers and actually have to supply the masses if they want to continue. For almost the entirety of Apple’s mobile product history, it was the sleek iPhones for the upper-class.

Think about what that means when you buy into it. You really want to show off that you have the latest iPhone? (That’s what iPhone fanboys do, don’t deny it.) How shallow must you be that you have to say that you have the absolute latest new smartphone from Apple? It’s simultaneously pretentious and pathetic. I may ask people about their phones from time to time, but it is a quiet matter, usually when I’m in the market for a new one.

This is not to say you should go out and buy a completely ugly phone. But looks are really not that important, especially in an era when we cover all of our phones in cases. Performance is what matters: can it do what you need it to do? And no, you don’t need your phone to woo a date over for you. If you’re relying on that, then you’ve already lost.

 

  Severely Limited Consumer Choice

This one probably isn’t going to matter to most Apple customers out there, but it’s one that really annoys me: significantly reduced consumer choice. You are very much locked into Apple’s idea when you buy an Apple product. With Android and Windows, you get significant choice and can lose yourself for quite some time evaluating what you can get with your money. I could not even count the number of Windows hardware configurations in existence right now. Hypothetically, I might be able to with Android phones (restricting the list to only those phones being currently manufactured and distributed) but I won’t because that would still be quite an endeavor. But you have a lot of choices, from budget computers for old grandmas to high-powered gaming monsters for teenage nutjobs to workstations for professional content creation and scientific work; from small phones with a QWERTY slide out keyboard for basic functions with a 3.2″ screen to BIG DAMN SCREENS with 6.4″ portals to the cyberworld with quad core processors and huge space for data and room for a mammoth microSD card up to 128GB. The possibilities are not quite endless, but they go pretty far.

Even after you purchase your device, you can engage in a lot of customization and, if you’re into it, “hacking” to make it your own. On my own Windows 8 laptop, I got a program that gave me back my start menu and start button, bypassing Windows 8 Metro interface completely. On my Android phone, for a long time I used something called “Smart Launcher,” which radically transformed the way that the Android OS looked and even, to a small degree, operated. It’s very flexible and gives me loads of choices for optimizing my user experience.

Apple….not so much.

For ages, Apple remained stuck on the 3.5″ screen size, competitors (and customers) be damned. Perhaps that why iOS’s market share has tumbled down to about 13.2% this year while Android is over 70%. (Not the only reason, mind you, but one of them.) Even as variety blossomed in screen sizes, from 2007 to 2012 all iPhones had 3.5″ screens. It wasn’t until the introduction of the iPhone 5 did they give you another choice, that of the 4″ iPhone. Yet there still wasn’t much choice; you couldn’t get anything with similar capabilities at a 3.5″ size if you wanted, you were stuck with the iPhone 4.

Another thing is that when you buy the product, there’s not much you can do to optimize it. Sure, you can jailbreak it, but that would void your warranty and is probably not really a good idea to do unless you have some idea what you’re doing (i.e., you’re an Apple engineer, you write for Lifehacker or The Verge, or you just read slashdot incessantly.) Remaining within the lines, you’re basically stuck with the standard iOS material. Now that probably doesn’t bother most people, and that’s fine. But it’s why I wouldn’t purchase an Apple product (well, not until they come up with at least one with a 5″ screen) and I do believe it’s a reason why Apple products are inferior.

One of the greatest things about capitalism is that it’s an economic system based on choice. You are free to choose who you do business with, what you buy, how much you buy of it, and so on and so forth. Companies that give their customers choices do really great work and post great numbers and earn a lot of profit. They succeed where others fail. Not only do they do the traditional job of an entrepreneur, by providing a means to alleviate a problem the customer has, they do so by giving the customer a number of choices of how to alleviate that problem. Regrettably, in the past couple of decades as crony capitalism advances and solidifies, displacing true free market capitalism, and the collusion between big business and big government grows, that has been changing. Companies stifle competition and in turn just give customers one-size-fits-all products, then tell them to “deal with it.” Consumer choice is being reduced across the board.

Apple has always taken that route with its products. You get limited customization with it’s Macintosh computers, and since they control the software and the hardware, and exercise tight control over their supply chains, there aren’t really any alternatives. (A company called Psystar tried to make their own Mac OS X computers in 2008, but they quickly went bankrupt from a combination of incompetence, lack of credibility, and getting strategically carpet-nuke-bombed by Apple in court.) Apple also exerts much more tighter control over its App Store than Google does over its Play Store. On the one hand this does mean this gets less garbage apps (supposedly), but on the other good apps don’t get approved and in the end you have fewer choices you can make.

I like choices. I like freedom. And Apple’s policy of being very restrictive and selective in what it gives you, and forcing you to do things one way, does not strike me as a good bargain. And if you can’t really use the product in your way, then why did you spend money on it in the first place?

 

  The Cult of Mac

Finally, the biggest part…the Cult of Mac.

The first commandment was "Thou shalt not use Flash." At least we agree on that.
The first commandment was “Thou shalt not use Flash.” At least we agree on that.

Two out of three Macintosh users are, to put it bluntly, feverish fanatic fanboys who fap to fabulous fantasises. They constantly go on and on about the superiority of Mac and iOS products, usually going on endlessly about how Windows always gets infected by viruses and how Mac OS X systems are impervious to assault. Nevermind that at hacker conferences Max OS X always gets hacked first, and that in 2008 a leading security guru called Macintosh users who said this “ignorant,” and that despite Mac’s alleged superiority it has less than 8% market share. It is manna from heaven, and if you do not use Mac, you are a heathen.

I wish I was making this up, but I’m not. Back in 2004 a journalist wrote a book called The Cult of Mac detailing the religious-like qualities of the Apple fandom. Uncyclopedia, a parody of Wikipedia, has a joke article with the image caption being “It’s goofy pseudo-religious iconography like this that makes this article so easy to write.” Nearly every comment thread about Apple has these crazy fanboys jump in with a vigorous defense of their company, to the point where you wonder if they’re trying to be funny or if they actually had someone spike their Monster Energy Drinks with psychotropics. (Not that Android fanboys are innocent; the Android v Apple wars are like a light-hearted version of American politics, where there are virtually no stakes whatsoever.) And even though there are massive issues with iOS 7 and it appears to be, yet again, half-baked, they still go on to say that the iPhone 5S is literally the greatest phone ever made and they’re going to really explode and overtake everybody! We’re being super serial, you guys!

Of course, every product line and company has a fanbase. There are fan forums dedicated to Suzuki motorcycles, Keurig coffee machines, and even IKEA (which is it’s own form of nuttery in some cases.) This is understandable, if you like a product and want it to succeed, you’ll naturally want to evangelize this to others so they buy it and keep it going. (Unless you’re a hipster. But I digress…) However, the degree of intensity many Apple fans go to is just absurd. They’ll completely ignore facts and just smear other products indiscriminately, especially anything Windows. They’ll spout ludicrous lines about how Windows is constantly infected with viruses and everyone everywhere has major problems all the time, etc. If you’re not a Mac user, well, you don’t understand. Also, you’re a goddamn heathen.

I have never seen anything like it. No other commercial product has quite the fanbase as Apple’s Mac OS X and iOS. I’m struggling to think of one…and I just can’t. I’m pretty sure such a product really doesn’t exist. If you do know of one, leave it the comments, because I would be really interested to know.

 

Anyways, that’s why I personally do not use Apple products, and why I think Apple products are generally inferior and not worth the hype. Of course, other people are free to disagree and continue to enjoy their Apple products. Not every Apple fan is crazy, and there are some legitimate uses for Mac OS X. (Namely, professional media creation. For reasons that I do not know, it seems that OS X is better at professional video and photo editing, although you can easily do these functions on a PC too. Mac just seems to be preferred.) But for the average consumer, Macs are needlessly overpriced and I can’t see them giving you too many bennies. In this day of variety and choice, as well, iPhones are exorbitant luxuries that should make you think twice about how much you really care about poor people.

But hey, to each their own. Me, I’m going to save that money and buy a Suzuki GS500F and flip you off when I blast past you on the street.

  • Michael Rastrup Smith

    Crap !

    • jdkolassa

      Well yeah, that’s how I generally feel around Macs…

  • larry91403

    OK, I don’t understand why this was omitted from your article but I’ll list it here… When you buy an Apple product you are paying for the OS. My guess is that if that OS could be purchased on cheaper hardware, people would buy the cheaper hardware. But the number one selling point of Apple, from day 1, has always been how the software has worked. That is why people tolerate paying a billion times more for a Macbook then for an Asus. And why they line up for hours at an Apple store for an Iphone and can pick up a Galaxy with little effort.

    • jdkolassa

      It wasn’t omitted. If you noticed, I specifically mentioned that Apple controls the supply chain. People buy the computers because of the way they look and how they are manufacturered. You CAN get Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware, and it’s not (that) difficult. (I also mentioned Psystar above.)

      The software is actually not any better than Windows software. Currently it runs off of a variant of BSD/Mach, which you can also get for free. But it’s not any more advanced than Windows, and in some aspects is rather annoying and frustrating to use. Minor things, to be sure, but if you’re really spending all that money for the *software*…why? If you really like the looks, you can make Windows look like it (though I don’t know why.) But that just brings us back to point #2.

      They’re paying for the looks, not the functionality.

  • Lewis

    I’m interested in why you say build quality isn’t important in a computer?

    There are lots of people out there running Macs that are 3,4 5+ years old and they run as well as they day they were new. I’m sure this happens with PCs too, but it’s much much less frequent.

    At the company where I used to work they replaced all of the Windows laptops with MBPs because the TCO over the life of the machine was cheaper. They needed to be replaced less often so spending more up front was cheaper in the long term.

    Macs also hold their value really well so upgrading a mac (or iPhone) if you sell your existing one is actually not too expensive, where as other brands lose their value very quickly and so has little trade in value when you upgrade.

    • jdkolassa

      Thing about build quality is that computers aren’t really supposed to last more than four years. Way I see it is that hardware advances in leaps and bounds during that time, costs come down considerably, and it’s easy to buy a new computer. And if you don’t, you’re likely sticking with older software that increasingly becomes vulnerable to viruses and eventually loses support (as, for example, XP loses support next April.)

      If it makes financial sense for your company to switch to Macs, then by all means do so. I understand the considerations of a business or nonprofit and don’t want to second-guess those decisions. You have to make those kind of cold decisions and if the numbers play out better that way, go do it. I just doubt it’s as good a deal for the average consumer as some think.

      As for resale, well, I’m trying to sell an older Windows laptop, we’ll see how that goes…

      • Lewis

        It would certainly be interesting to know the hard figures across a range of laptops in terms of TCO. But not interesting enough to spend the time to work it out 🙂

        At my company the laptops wouldn’t last two years let alone 4, and those were high end Sony ones.

        I hadn’t realised XP is going out of support, isn’t it still the most popular OS in the world? I thought MS were stuck with that forever! It would be another (slightly) interesting thing to compare which versions of Mac OS X are still in active support. I would bet that ones from the same time as XP aren’t, but then they don’t need bi-monthly security releases…

        • jdkolassa

          The security issue really irks me. Mac OS X, as I said before, is not really any more secure than Windows. It’s just that Windows has a lot more users so it gets targeted far more frequently. Mac, by contrast, tries to go by “security by obscurity,” a strategy that has begun to fail since about 2007 as more and more people buy into Macintosh computers.

          Also, viruses keep updating. New hacks and exploits are discovered. Bi-monthly security updates do not bother me. They are a fact of life. Complaining about them is like complaining about your physical checkups with the doctors. (Ok, maybe a bad example, but it’s still necessary.)

          As for Windows XP market share, according to this Sept 19 article, it still has 21% of the market. MORE THAN ONE OUT OF FIVE COMPUTERS ARE RUNNING A DECADE OLD OPERATING SYSTEM. Jesus. I mean look, I’m a huge XP fan, it really redeemed Microsoft in my eyes after the ME debacle and Windows 98, but holy cow people, give it a freaking rest. (Course, that’s worldwide, but I would imagine it’s higher for just within the good ol’ US of A.)

          http://www.neowin.net/news/microsoft-windows-xp-market-share-at-21-percent-goal-of-13-percent-by-april-8

          • Lewis

            Obviously Windows has a lot more users than Mac OS. Also because 99.9% of Mac OS users have an Apple machine, they don’t have a pirated version of the OS which helps make it more secure.

            But that doesn’t mean that Apple doesn’t take security seriously.

            Mac OS X is built on BSD which is a very secure solid base. It prompts users for a password if they are doing something which could jeopardise their system. There is no registry to get f^&*ed up and have to go fix.

            Even with the rise of threats most Mac users don’t feel the need to have anti virus running because if you’re doing legal things it just isn’t necessary.

            As more and more users take on the app store only model the mac will get more and more secure. iPhone and iPad have huge huge user numbers and hardly any security issues. And there are plenty of people who want to break into those devices.

            On the other hand, the whole model of security is broken on Windows. By default it prompts you (just asking is this ok) for silly things. Most users then go an turn that off and they have less security. Maybe that’s better in W8, but that was how it was in W7. It was an unfunny joke.

  • Bob Roebling

    As a Mac user since 2006, I agree with you on a lot of this, although there a few things.

    Looks over performance…gaming, yes. Crunching numbers…no, especially over a network. I can re-encode a 4 GB movie into a different format using a mac and a windows computer of the exact same specs and my Mac outperformed my PC by 10 minutes. Copying 200 GB of music to an external drive on my Windows PC took 36 hours (in 2006 running XP) Mac OS 10.4 copied the same amount in 12 hours. Writing files to a network share, my Mac took 7 minutes for 4 GB and my Windows PC took 32 minutes. Same specs each time.

    I will agree with the cost, it is high, but in the past my Mac’s have always outlived my Windows PCs and I work primarily on Macs.

    Cult of Mac, I can agree with you on this, most Mac users think their computer is impervious to viruses, it isn’t. It is just as vulnerable, the only difference is that more people use Windows so its a much higher target than Macs. Mac OS is also a subset of Unix (so is Linux) since most people who write viruses try not to infect their own machine with the nastiest of viruses, they will write them on a *nix machine for Windows. Which slims down the amount of people wanting to attack a Unix-based machine.

    Severely limited choice is actually done on purpose to “Keep It Simple Stupid” I used to love buying a new PC but I hated trying to figure out which one I wanted because there was the #20 model which had this and that, but the #21 model had a better gaming experience but lacked the beefy processor the #20 had, and unless you built it yourself you end up having to compromise. When I bought my 2012 iMac it was simple I wanted the best they had to offer, I was able to pick out what I wanted and cut back where ever I wanted. Essentially I had my own custom built Mac as it isn’t sold outright in stores that way and it was pre-built so I could just turn it on and be done with it. (later I upgraded to 16 GB of RAM since it was cheaper than buying from Apple)

    Cost…if it didn’t cost so much I’d buy more of them and more often. I as well as other Mac users hear you on this one.

    My biggest reason for buying a Mac…as a network and server admin, I really don’t feel like going home and having to troubleshoot my home computer, so for me, the once a month updates and combined updates are worth every penny I spent. Plus a $300 applecare plan allowed me to get a new monitor for my MacBook Pro 2 1/2 years after I bought it which was an $1100 (retail) replacement screen itself made their service a lot better than Dell’s after one year it breaks buy a new one service.

    • jdkolassa

      Honestly did not know about the file transfer speeds. I don’t really care about that all that much, but it is interesting to know. Had no idea Mac was so much faster on that front. I blame Thunderbolt.

      I suppose with choice that’s really going to be a subjective viewpoint. I prefer choice, but I readily accept that many consumers actually want less choice to keep things simple. However, you also mention the option of building, and at least that’s an option with PC. Less so with Mac (though as I did note in another comment, you can easily have a Hackintosh, it’s just not *as* easy as a custom PC.)

      Yeah, cost is really my big thing. I cannot imagine buying a new Mac on my budget at any point, and I also can’t imagine buying a used one since by the time I could afford one of those they would be horribly outdated.

      Interesting points all around, especially things I had not considered. I’m not really a network admin guy (and don’t want to be) so that’s definitely an intriguing point of view.

    • jdkolassa

      Also, with regards to Dell, they’re just garbage. I’m an avid Windows user and I think Dell products are utter crap. I fear that much of the hate towards Windows is from people who bought one of Dell’s horribly substandard computers last decade and figured *ALL* Windows computers must be this way, when it was really just Dell’s shoddy manufacturing. I mean, come on, custom RAM sticks? Who does that sort of thing?

      I haven’t touch a Dell outside of the workplace since 2007 and have no intention to do so again (and I think I only used one Dell at work since then) unless it’s marked “Alienware.” Even then I’m cautious; I bought an Alienware Area-51 from the pre-Dell years and it’s fantastic, but I’m worried that Dell incompetence may have bled over into the Alienware brand.

      • Bob Roebling

        I can say that Dell pretty much kept Alienware safe from their destructive ways so you can still pick up a pretty awesome gaming rig if you buy one, although watch out for the bloat ware they are loading up. Other than that it’s still a solid PC, Acer, surprisingly, and Asus are the other two great PC manufacturers although Windows 8 hasn’t been doing much justice for the PC lineup these days. Great article!