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.

Advertising? Slick design? Who needs it?

About a week ago, I was at my sister’s house in upstate New York visiting, and she told me about this wonderful thing called X10. It’s a company that develops “home automation systems,” allowing you to control your lighting, doors, appliances, and everything remotely, or set up schedules for turning things on or off or doing other crazy things. Her example was using a TV remote to control the lighting in her home theater, which, actually, was really neat. I mean, she had those light cables they string down the aisles at the movie theater, and she could dim them so it looked like Regal Cinemas…you just have to trust me on this one. It was cool.

But then she showed me their website, because, well, it’s not what you expect.

For a contrast, let’s take a brief look at the Apple website. (I’ll move past the special splash page about Steve Jobs–not to belittle him, but simply because that’s not the regular design.) Slick, eh? It’s pretty, clean, and, if you’re a Firefly fan like me, deserving of the descriptor “shiny.” It’s like everything else with Apple–very pretty packaging.

Now back to X10. Now back to Apple. Back to X10. I think you can see the difference.

My sister said she thought that X10 was originally scam of some sort, with all of this “Buy this! Sale now! Speaker Palooza!” malarkey. Yet, it apparently worked, since my sister and her husband have already bought some of their products and, I think, they’re looking to buy some more. Another thing they told me is that you won’t see their ads on TV, or around the Internet, either–I’m not exactly sure how they found out about it, but it looks like our winner is “word of mouth” (followed by a ding! ding! ding! noise.) Of course, I’m helping it along too. I know that. Really.

So, basically, these guys have a really cool product, which they are apparently making a good deal of money off of (enough to sell their own $200 Android tablet, which I’m sure would also have their apps for controlling your garage door from work), and they don’t spend a great deal of money on either web design or advertising. I would really like to see their profit margin–I don’t do stocks, but if I did, I might invest in these guys. Oh, and better still, they offer a way to kill their ads if they appear on your machine. A company offering to take out their own ads for you? Holy moly! Finally, someone who understands the average American! (Yes, I’m sure there’s a catch of some sort, but still, the intention is quite noble and refreshing.)

And here I was, thinking we needed all that extra stuff, needed to take extra special time to think about how I would write something or design the presentation. Apparently, not so much.

Personally, if I got a house, I would get their intercom system and make the kids call me Captain Kirk:

Child: Bridge to Captain Kirk.

Me: Kirk here.

Child: Captain, we’ve just run out of toilet paper, and sensors have detected more Klingons coming from Uranus.

Me: Go to Red Alert and take evasive action. I’m on my way.

God, I would be so annoying.