The problem I have with Apple is that everything they do, they do for profit. Not the consumer, not the industry, just their profit. Yes, their hardware is top class (iPhone 4 notwithstanding), but there’s just too many little things about using Apple products that keep ramming the point home.
1. Pods, Phones and Pads all use proprietary power interfaces. Mini, or even Micro USB is pretty much the industry standard now, but if you want to conveniently charge your iDevice at more than one place, get ready to buy lots of extra proprietary cables.
2. iTunes. Until January 2009, “Fairplay” (riiiight) DRM added to all purchased tracks restricted how you could play your music. In a nutshell, the main restriction was that you had to use Apple iPods to play it. In January 2009, Apple announced that music bought from iTunes would now be DRM-free and allowed you to remove the DRM from all your previously bought tracks, BUT then went on to charge you for the privilege, despite the fact that any tracks you bought thereafter would have no such DRM applied to them. So much for rewarding customer loyalty. Amazon MP3 customers had a good chuckle. Movies and TV shows still have Fairplay on them today.
3. If you want to put some music/video on your Pod or Pad, you have to use iTunes. Not only does this mean that you have to install this Apple abomination on your Windows/Mac PC (no linux support, sorry), but it also nudges you towards using iTunes for future purchases. Subtle. Well, not really. If there’s a way to get your music on to your Pod or Pad that doesn’t involve iTunes, I’ve not yet found it (beyond using Linux and something like Rhythmbox or Banshee).
4. Crippled first generation devices. The iPad is an astonishing example of this. The “magical and revolutionary” device went on sale on April 4th without a front facing camera. No big deal – they sold by the million. Then on June 24th, just 11 weeks later, the iPhone4 is released to much fanfare. What’s this? Why, it’s a front facing camera and a high-profile announcement of Facetime, allowing you to make video calls to other iOS devices. Except, you know, the iPad that you just bought a few weeks ago. But it’s a great sales ploy, because despite this insulting omission, the iPad did sell well and next year, all these rich first generation iPad owners will throw their money at Apple for an iPad with a front facing camera so that they can Facetime away to their heart’s content.
There are other niggles, examples of where Apple’s drive for profit won’t let them admit the real world exists. They force you to use AAC instead of MP3 (a legacy of Fairplay). They ship their OSX devices that can’t play any video out of the box except iTunes video unless you add third party codec plug-in Perian (which takes some searching).
But they know how to market and by god do they sell. And why not? Only techies care about this stuff and possibly only half of it at that. Some techies will even extol the virtues of AAC over MP3, how Flash (and perhaps Disneyland) was overrated anyway and why they’d quite happily fall on a big technical sword for their lord and saviour, Steven P Jobs. Good luck to them.
Not for me though. I prefer to think different.