Apple Computing Bliss... Will It Last?

Yesterday, I made a pilgrimage to the local Apple Store to purchase a beautiful new Apple Aluminum Keyboard. The thing is absolutely beautiful. I'm typing on it now. I'll bet you're jealous (unless you already have one.)

But seriously, though, looking at other keyboards out there, this one wasn't a bad buy. It's not like it will run you back over $1,500 like an Optimus Maximus, and compared to a lot of other Windows oriented type keyboards, it was actually cheaper. Imagine that.

A Trip Back In Time, and a Slap In The Face

Anyway, I'm already derailing this conversation, getting a little excited. The trip to the mecca of all Mac lovers yesterday took me back to the grade school days (swirly time travel music fades in) when I was chastizing one of my close friends for being an Apple nerd. It really smacked me in the face, like some angry and scorned ex-lover, when I realized the glaring irony.

"Pfeh!" I said. "Look at what my PC can do, bet your Apple can't play this." I was, of course, referring to Ultima Underworld, one of my favorite games at the time. While he was still off getting dysentery, I was spelunking in the most advanced 3-D dungeon anyone had ever seen. I don't really remember what his response was, and it doesn't matter.

Because he's laughing now.

Laughing because as I sit here, typing on my Apple keyboard, looking at my shiny new Mac mini, typing a text message on my 4 GB iPhone, clicking on the submit button with my Mighty Mouse, working remotely with my MacBook, listening to music on my 30 GB iPod, and brandishing the Apple logo on my car, my old friend is saying: "I told you so."

The Core of the Issue

So why is this relevant? Why am I bringing this all up anyway? Is this just some other Apple loser's story of his wondrous journey from being a faceless slave to the BSoD to an enlightened pomme-hugging sprout-eating hippie? Am I merely setting the stage for a bunch of mindless Mac haters to flame me?

Actually, what I'm really afraid of is that this pure computing bliss isn't going to last, that's my real issue.

I've gradually surrounded myself with more and more Apple products, but I've seen a change, too. A change from a company that really seems to be passionate about innovation and releasing the best products they can, to a company who does all of those things but is much more concerned about making money. Apple is all the buzz right now, and investors are watching... closely.

Signs of Things to Come?

The bottom line is that Apple has to make money, and lots of it, even if it comes at the expense of its own customers. Take for example, the MacBook. There's no doubt in my mind that they skimped on the quality of the thing. Beautiful, yes, but check this out:

Problems with MacBook:

1. 3 trips to the Apple Store to fix fan "mooing"
2. 2 dead spots in my screen (not pixels, dead white space)
3. A bad battery, which required a whole new replacement
4. Sticky meter button on the new battery
5. Flickering screen problems, which haven't been investigated yet
6. Plastic hand rest staining. And no, I don't have dirty hands (Just a microfiber cloth and a bottle of iKlear Apple Polish, which I use religiously.)

Problems with iBook G3 800:

None. From last report, still works, and the person who bought it from the person I sold it to is still using it.

Now, I'm not going to make a broad judgment from a limited set of data here, I could have just had a lemon, but a lot of other folks have had similar problems. I think it's just one instance of Apple's declining attention to quality components in their products.

(That being said, all of my other Apple products have worked flawlessly, with no issues.)

DRM - Another Brick in the Wall

Another thing that just fries my biscuit is the iTMS. I hate DRM. I paid for your music, why must I jump through hoops just to listen to it? Didn't I buy a license to listen to the music... argh. And the latest data suggests that regardless of DRM, people are still buying huge amounts of music from the iTMS. What gives? Viva la revolucion! Let's stand up against music tyranny, eh? (Personally, I use eMusic, which I love and want to write about soon.)

Now, Apple has gone on record stating that they don't like DRM, but nevertheless, the almighty dollar (and krone, and yen, and deutschmark, and GBP, and, well you know) win out.

But the final insult is the iTMS button on my iPhone that I CAN'T DELETE! I can move it, but not delete it. This is very wrong. I will not be your mobile cash flow... that is, of course, unless the music is priced reasonably and without restrictions.

My Worst Fear Is...

This all leads, again, into my worst fear. That eventually, Apple will grow larger and larger, and be crushed under its own weight of greed and beauracracy. That its decisions will be ruled by taking advantage of customers by producing poor quality products just to get by. That users will be bound and gagged by endless amounts of DRM, verification tools, "Genuine Adantage" garbage, and other methods of copy protection and privacy infringement. That its innovation will be stifled by a bloated corporate infrastructure and an inability to move quickly. That it will become large enough to become attractive to purveyors of spyware, adware, malware, and other evil deeds, to make the computing experience of Apple equally as miserable as on any other platform.

It's almost like it would be better if they stayed the same size - no bigger, no smaller - to preserve the best equilibrium. I'm afraid that soon, the equation will become imbalanced, Apple will no longer be a niche product, and users will suffer. Popularity will rise, prices will fall, market share will increase, and the evil begins.

I sincerely hope that Apple will continue to make my computing experience a joy, and that I'm just paranoid. The reason I love the tech-fruit is because even with the wild success of the iPhone and iPod, you're still a member of an elite few, a special club for those who "think different," one of the approximately 6.6% of the desktop computing world who doesn't do things the way the "big boys" say you should.

Do you think Apple will become a spitting image of its arch-nemesis someday? Do you think it's a long way off, or that it won't happen at all, and Apple computing bliss will be preserved?

For now, I'm going to revel in it, enjoy the beautiful OS (and keyboard,) and hope that it never, ever changes.


You should have listened to me the first time, or even the second - NO IT WON'T LAST! 

I guess some people will never learn that Mac's are a problem.  And, yes, I'm still using my same PC laptop with minimal problems and NO further investment since I bought it.


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