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.
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.