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The Tyrants of Technology: How Apple Broke My Heart

by Amy Dron
13 April 2013 30 Comments

Attacking anyone who criticises them and coercing us into their new products, Apple have become tyrants of the technology world. It’s a new charger and another little heartbreak in my relationship with them...

My partner bought another Apple laptop recently. ‘Oh good’, I thought, we could do with another charger. But no, the charger for the new laptop is not compatible with previous models. And with that discovery another little piece of my love for Apple drifted away, along with a further portion of my loyalty to the brand.

There was once a time when Apple could do no wrong in my book. They were the chic underdogs, the hardware and software artists making good-quality, slick-looking machines for graphic designers and lovers of aesthetic technology. I remember the first time I used the operating system, how it felt like someone had stepped into my mind and written a program that was governed by common sense. I didn’t need lessons to master it; just a little trial and error would lead me to be able to perform the function I required. It was all so simple and elegant. I was converted.

The iPod was released, the iPod touch, the App store appeared and Apple stores were beautiful shrines full of like-minded people who wanted to help. The iPhone was announced, excitement! The iPhone was released and iTunes was propelled into the stratosphere of digital sales. No other manufacturer’s touch screen seemed able to compete with the usability, design or image of the iPhone.


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But nothing is forever. The gradual attrition of my anchoring to this brand is reaching a tipping point. It started with the aggressive tactics employed against newspapers and magazines that were finding their way into the digital space, testing the waters as they took their first steps into the inevitable future. Apple just seemed to want too big a slice of the pie and the wrangling was ugly.

Then it was iCloud. Sure, this is a logical progression for data management and access, but could there not have been a way of launching it that didn’t divorce a whole generation of laptops from their owners’ other devices? My not-so-old and fully functioning white MacBook still syncs with my email account but that’s about it.

The iTunes aspect is probably the straw that broke the camel’s back, though. Unless I purchase my music through Apple’s iTunes store, it will not be stored on The Cloud. Not cool, dude, not cool. Don’t impose my purchasing choices on me. You have taken away the option of paying for my .Mac account and replaced it with a free one, when I was perfectly happy with the old one, but the new one won’t actually store all my music purchases unless I buy them from your store. It’s dictatorial, not cricket and goes against the core of the company, if you’ll pardon the pun.

I hate being coerced, particularly by a corporation. Which is what you are now, Apple. Gone are the days when you were a funky, sandy-haired surfer from Silicon Valley, rolling through life, happy making great products for arty people who appreciated them. But distant memories are the happy times you pioneered less wasteful, minimalist packaging. Nope, today it feels like it’s just about the dollar.

Is it the passing away of Steve Jobs? Is it the catching-up of competitors like Samsung and their Galaxy or Microsoft’s Windows phone? Is it that the people currently in charge want to eek out as much profit from the business as possible so as to maximise their own pay packets before those competitors overtake them? Am I just naïve and not facing the fact that this is simply what happens when companies become behemoths?

I don’t know the answer. But I can’t help feeling that the shift really began when they turned into purveyors of digital music, publications and content as well as manufacturers. It was as if that whole market had to be cornered and the creators of the wares subdued and made to kowtow.

I’m no business expert but surely it would make more sense, be a better long-term business plan, to be a tad mellower? To retain customers’ affection and loyalty by letting them keep the music they buy from any source they want to on iCloud. By not changing the charger attachment regularly so people don’t have the bonus of a spare and there is more electrical waste on this planet. To not keep releasing another hardware upgrade months after the last one. To be cool, like Apple used to be.

I had an interesting chat with a lady who was sorting out a replacement part for my coffee machine the other day. I gave her my email address and, ‘Ooh, Macs, I love them, too’, she gushed. We started discussing Apple and she told me how she and her husband now have a Galaxy each and how great they are. I don’t want to leave Apple, I like their products – but I am seriously thinking about tasting another fruit at my next upgrade.


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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Roger 11:14 am, 12-Feb-2013

"Massive corporation is not really my friend and is actually a greedy money-grabbing bastard" shock...

Ash 2:07 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Not spotting this when they bought out the early gneration of iPods which could never sync with software of your own choice, but only apple specific software. Oops. I can honestly say I have never owned a single apple product and I don't feel as if I have missed out....

Amy 3:26 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Hi Roger, no, it's nothing new that big businesses are in it for the money, I'm just sad that Apple is going so far down this route these days as I felt they were a bit cooler than most in the past and lament the change going this far as I've always liked their stuff, but it's a step too far for me now. Thanks for reading.

Amy 3:29 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Hey Ash, good point, although I felt they'd have to at some point - mistakenly! As for the products, I've personally found them easier to operate and a better long-term investment as they are more durable than past alternatives. Thanks for reading.

Roger 4:12 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Amy - thanks for the reply, realise in hindsight it looked a bit "trollish" so apologies for that. Just like Ash I'm not an Apple "adopter", although this came directly from ITunes being frankly atrocious in the early days of mp3 - to a heavy music consumer it's a complete mystery how it ever took off. I suspect their target market has and always will be the more casual users of such things and they've misjudged the tipping point when people forget to care about stuff like backwards-compatibility.

Amy 5:17 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Hey Roger, no offence taken. That's interesting to know. I definitely fall into the 'casual user' category - probably not for much longer, though! The Apple attitude has changed, it's leaving a bad taste in my mouth now, and competitors have caught up, to my needs anyway. Cheers, Amy

Steve Hancock 6:22 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Nice article. I think the thing with iTunes that grates with me most is the fact that they have the gall to charge the same price for a digital album with no manufacturing costs, at significantly less quality (listen to 128Kbps AACs on a decent system and tell me they sound as good as flac file), as you can buy a physical copy from at Amazon. With the bandwidth available these days, lossless audio should be the standard. Sorry, got lost in a rant there.

David W. 6:26 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Finally. An Apple lover with common sense. Too many proud and ignorant Apple loyalists around. I have an iPod and iPhone and too want a Mac. But I know what I'm going to be restricted to and sure Windows have gone downhill, but no piece of technology is perfect. When I purchase my mac, the first thing I'd like to do it kill iCloud. Seems utterly pointless to me when you can get a decent HDD for £50.

Paul 8:06 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Agreed! Never had an iphone/ipad for above reasons and more. I'm dreading the day when my G5 Mac Pro is no longer supported unless I buy all my software from the apple store.

Legal Wrangle 8:12 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Frustrating as it is (for me, too) you can't really blame them for not storing music you got through other stores or 'anywhere else'. For Windows users, iTunes is a disgrace and always has been. I had high hopes for the recent major overhaul, but no, it is still unresponsive.

Brian Catt 8:39 pm, 12-Feb-2013

I would say this is the ghost of Saint Steve operated by someone without the ability to turn on a sixpence when their arrogant but inspired god like insight turned to Sh 1 t, as Steve could. Apple have always been arrogant. On the basis that style and usabiliity conquers all and their demographic are rich enough to not care and will churn their product base, same as Microsoft keeps rolling out OS with yet another layer of complexity between you and the screen of death that adds no value, currently known as Windows 8 (XP was the last good one). But the premiums are now too high for what you get in a amss market and people won't stand for the licensing BS and lack of portability AKA LOCKIN. Sell Apple stock! Oh, they already did?

Brian Catt 8:57 pm, 12-Feb-2013

PS I am a Mac Desktop User since Apple 2 in 1970's and Mac OS 6.4.3 on. Best Desktop around - apart from iTunes and iPhoto which are just too meddling and over integrated. There are times when you want to do the thinking and Apple won't let you. Sod off Jobscode and leave my stuff alone. Thinks.... is the Mac really for people who want to own a computer but are too daft to use a PC, so a dumbed down Mac for those that can't handle a real PC is all there is? Ditto Android Phone and iPhone? OMGWTFLOL! I are one! Also have 4 PCs with 3 different OS - but no "smart"phone, small screen addiction is SO uncool, IMO

Pala 9:13 pm, 12-Feb-2013

If you were willing to pay for a .mac account why don't you get itunes match? its only about £20 per year. As for the charger, should I be pissed off because the spare tyre in my girlfriends car doesn't fit mine? They are both made by the same manufacturer

Adam R 9:39 pm, 12-Feb-2013

I love Apple products. My entire family and I own Macs and iPads, but lately they've fiddled with a perfectly good ecosystem a little too much. iTunes 11 is an abortion. iCloud pales against other cloud services. iTunes Match is good, but Google Play Music works better, and isn't so buggy. The clear trend is towards larger screens on phones, and all Apple did was stretch the iPhone 5 slightly so that it looks like a fish finger. Does anyone use Launchpad? Maps is terrible. I ended up trying a Nexus 4 this year and can honestly say it's streets ahead of the iPhone I used to love so much, and half the cost. Apple just seem to be about tweaking these days, not breaking ground with revolutionary new ideas. They don't make bad products, but they don't seem to have any fresh ideas at the moment. They paved the way, for sure, but they're being left in the dust. It's such a shame because I want them to be so much better. Lately, it just seems like they're becoming Microsoft 2.0

Simon 9:45 pm, 12-Feb-2013

While I have always been a fan of Apple products and the design approach and philosophy behind them, I have never been truly comfortable with their 'locked in' approach to user support which seems to have become more and more dictatorial as time has gone by. Like Amy, I think I have actually reached my personal tipping point with Apple. Certainly over the last 2 years they seem to have gone from a genuine innovator of exciting technology to releasing over priced and under specified products whilst suing the ass of anyone they think might be a challenge to them. I truly hope they can get back to doing what they do best, innovate and move on of not I fear there will be choppy waters ahead for this iconic brand.

Amy 10:40 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Hi, thanks to all for your time. Specifically on the charger point, Pala, it's an issue of waste for me, as well as not having a spare charger. Apple used to be all about reducing waste in it's packaging and products: it's not very environmentally friendly to make the old chargers redundant.

Howard 10:44 pm, 12-Feb-2013

iPhone 5 was a pointless "improvement" eg why change the charger when you've spent the last ten years filling your house with products designed for the old one (car charger, stereo dock, multiple chargers because the battery is gash etc etc). Samsung are doing this better now.

Amy 12:23 am, 13-Feb-2013

Sing it, Howard!

Howard 10:56 am, 13-Feb-2013

And moving the fucking headphone jack to the bottom - WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR, WHY?? Now the car cradle does not work. Sigh.

Amy 11:37 am, 13-Feb-2013

They did what?! Sigh, indeed...

Johnny Drama 5:37 pm, 13-Feb-2013

Itunes match. £20 a year and you can put what you want in there - and they give you better versions of your pirated stuff. ;) And as for iCloud - it's free! Sure there's a few little gripes with Apple stuff sometimes, but would you really want to switch to Windows?

Amy 9:34 pm, 13-Feb-2013

To be honest, Johnny, not really! There are just so many little 'issues' with Apple now on the attitude and sustainability front I feel the company has tainted itself, see Howard's charger issues as prime examples. Maybe I'm too principled, but I don't think so as it's issues of principle that are driving from my preferred tech provider. Thanks for reading.

Lesley Grantham 5:59 pm, 13-Apr-2013

Interesting read. Completely agree with the article. As a convert in the early noughties I thought Apple could do no wrong and promptly bought a full spectrum of devices. Then slowly over time, I got the sense of being rinsed mercilessly if I wanted to keep up with the pace. iTunes is terrible, and changing jacks on a phone, or chargers on the laptop, when millions of customers would love them more if they'd kept it compatible is a cynical move. They were a brand with good-looking and intuitive products. Along the way they turned into the new, old Microsoft.

Eric 8:31 pm, 13-Jun-2013

I was a great fan of Apple. I invested a lot in apple products and was many years happy. But what is going on since a few years is not serious anymore. The SW quality, in all respects is just a mess. No new inventions anymore ... just playing with bits and bytes, changing some templates to give the impression that you get new functions ! ... But NO new functions ! .... but many new bugs !!! Regarding the overall performance, speed, etc. we better not speak. I learned that in life you should never repeat the same mistake ! Maybe it would be good for the Apple top management and their main shareholder to read the "Biography of Steve Jobs" ..... that could help to avoid the complete catastroph !!! A real disappointed apple user Eric

Gavin 2:34 pm, 13-Aug-2013

@Eric - In the last 12 years Apple have given us the iPod, iPhone, iPad and incredibly thin retina display laptops. They have also changed the way we buy content to fill these devices. Each time they have set the standard and left other companies playing catch up. You say they haven't released a groundbreaking product for ages, (iPad 2010) I say show me another company that has released so many groundbreaking products in such a short space of time.

Amy 5:17 pm, 15-May-2014

I just upgraded and went for... an iPhone 5C. Totally bottled it. Largely due to the familiarity of the operating system , although guess what - upon getting it home, I can't put any of my songs from iTunes onto it as my laptop can't download anywhere near the required latest version of 11 in order to sync. Only the songs purchased through iTunes are available. Damn it! Any suggestions????

Dirk 8:27 pm, 7-Jul-2014

How could anyone be mugged into thinking that Apple, or any other company and their products are 'cool'? They just want your money..

Amy 9:45 am, 9-Jul-2014

Hi Dirk, they were the first to release touch screen technology which I did find pretty cool at the time! Generally, though, to me anyway, they seemed to have a better philosophy than the alternatives: minimal packaging, user-friendly software, more robust hardware. Or maybe they were just better at disguising their avarice historically :) Thanks, Amy

James 2:02 pm, 20-Sep-2014

Thanks for article. Dirk's right, they all just want your money and Apple do create products that are not compatible with any other system or products so you just have to say Goodbye to them and start again. BUT the after care service is good, you don't have to buy the cover to get help. I find Google is pretty good at sabotaging Apple though, so Apple can be vulnerable, they don't admit it though. The two are a bit like Scotland and England; have to work together but they don't like it! Google have broken my Safari. I have to delete and reload in the Apple Shop, if anyone else has the same problem. And yes, forced to buy only Apple music makes my ipod collection minimal, so I just don't use it.

Amy 9:29 pm, 23-Sep-2014

Hey James, I increasingly feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. I need/want/love/use technology but all the major players seem to be, inevitably I suppose, racing to the top to see who can become the most frightening, big-brotheresque, user-blood-sucking, autocratic monopoly. I recently started using duckduckgo for my searches as it does not track you - this other problem is proving trickier… Thanks, Amy

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