Is Apple Evil? Part Two

SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 19:  Apple Store employee...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Yes.  Apple is evil.  That’s right I said it.  Despite its cult of worshipers, Apple is the new Microsoft, or better yet, the embodiment of the monopolistic enterprise their 1984 commercial mobilized us against.

It’s hard truth for me to come to grips with because Apple still makes great products. For the record, I’ve owned a MacBook for almost two years and used Macs since college.  Additionally, I own an iPod and finally secured an iPhone (see Part One).  Needless to say I like their product portfolio, but that doesn’t give them a pass for being evil.

Why is Apple evil?
Apple misrepresents its products and brand, mistreats its distributors and software developers, and it doesn’t act in its customers’ best interest.

Apple misrepresents itself – I can give a partial pass to Apple for the extent of their misrepresentation because the cult of Apple fans is partly to blame for spreading many of the misconception about Apple’s products.  These misconceptions and misrepresentations include:

  • Apple Computers Don’t Crash – This is not true.  This is one of my main beefs with Apple since it is simply not accurate at all.  My MacBook, while certainly more stable than most PCs crashes on a regular basis and other Mac owners I know have admitted to the same.  I’ve even used Macs in the Apple store and had them crash on me right in the store.
  • Apple is Virus Free – Also, not true.  Plus, with the way the applications we use are moving to an ASP (Application Service Provider) model, viruses and the things that kill your productivity are more vulnerable to attack within the browser.  Safari as a browser, despite it’s recent updates, has a lot of improvements to make before being considered a viable option for my web browser of choice.
  • Apple is Plug and Play – It would be exhausting for me to name all the peripherals I’ve tried to connect to my MacBook and either didn’t succeed or had to figure out what software/drivers to download and install for them to communicate with my computer.
  • iPhones 3GS is MMS Compatible – To bring my misrepresentation case home, Apple is being sued for heavily featuring the ability to send multimedia text messages with the iPhone 3GS in its massive advertising campaign.  This feature is one of the main reasons I waited so long to get an iPhone and to see that it still isn’t part of the iPhone I just purchased makes me feel extremely misled.  At least I now know why some of my MMS texts, weren’t being received by my iPhoning friends this Summer.

Apple mistreats their affiliates and software partners – If you are a distributor of the Apple iPhone, good luck making money off selling this piece of hardware.  Best Buy sells the iPhone (with service plan) and if the phone is returned, they lose a significant amount of money from the sale.   For Best Buy’s sake, I hope AT&Ts wireless coverage is good because if it isn’t, selling the iPhone would not be in their best interest.

Also, Apple doesn’t exactly make it easy for software developers to develop apps or software for their products.  This “open-minded” hip brand cracks down on apps that Apple doesn’t consider tasteful and plays “culture cop” for its iPhone applications.  Their mismanagement of the App Store has resulted in apps as innocuous as dictionaries being denied.  Uggh.

Apple doesn’t act in their customers’ best interest – First let me remind you what spawned this post I’ve been thinking about for some time now.  This past Friday, I took a trip to the Apple Store to buy an iPhone.  This trip tells the story of Apple’s overt inconsideration for customers by choosing to only service customers buying computers over those interested in iPhones.  This experience goes down in my annuls for examples of bad customer service.

That experience aside, more disturbing to me is Apple’s practice of limiting what its customers can do on their platforms.  The iTunes closed environments holds music you’ve purchased hostage from other platforms.  And Apple’s recent battles with Palm highlight this monopolistic practice even more.  The saying “There’s an App for that” should be “there’s an App for that if Apple thinks its stock-holders will benefit from allowing you to access it.”  Apple has blocked Google Voice and a slew of other apps that would benefit their customers – further exposing the degree to which they go against the forward-thinking brand image they still somehow enjoy.

Don’t be Evil
After this diatribe, it’s any wonder why I still buy or want Apple products.  The fact remains that Apple produces useful products; I just don’t care for their unjustified fanfare.  The evangelism doesn’t appear to fading anytime soon, but if Apple doesn’t start making itself more transparent and its platforms more open in our increasingly collaborative environment, they may require another bailout from Microsoft to stay afloat.  Jason Calanious, once an avid fan of Apple, sums up what’s wrong with Apple the best by saying:

Making great products does not absolve you from technology’s cardinal rule: Don’t be evil.

So Apple, are you up to the challenge?  Will you live up to your image of being an open, innovative forward-thinking company?  It’s your move and I for one am hoping you come back to the light side!

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