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Why I’m not an Apple Fanboy…

With the looming keynote tomorrow where the new Apple CEO will have a phone related announcement (either a 4s or 5 from the chatter) I thought it fitting to briefly articulate why I’m not a fanboy.

Master of the Upsell

This is really the core of my issue with apple. Yes they are the most valuable company in the world for the time being, yet their user base is relatively small compared with the others at the top of that list. They sit in the top ten with companies like Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell (top 25 list) who sell to hundreds of millions of people every month whereas has sold far less. The biggest change that Steve Jobs brought to Apple, in my opinion, was the ability to create loyalty and then resell the daylights out of those individuals.

In my opinion this was the whole purpose of iTunes and the App store, it was to draw more funds from their user base. Apple has not successfully built a walled garden that far to many are content to play in. A garden where apple controls everything, and gets a piece of every sale. As I understand it even apple accessories must pay a royalty to apple. It isn’t that isn’t bad business (it does make a lot of money after all), but it has changed the technology game from being a more open, free, democratic process (where a great idea can take hold and change lives) to a more locked down regulated one where Apple has become a gatekeeper to success. Even the whole application craze fits into this notion by wooing individuals into a smaller environment without the openness and freedom of the web.

Weaker Hardware

Not going to spend a lot of time here, but their consumer level devices (phones, tablets, and MacBooks) have failed to keep up with the technological progression that well. The specs are just lack luster. The plus side is that since apple doesn’t license their OS (like windows does) they optimise for these weaker specs and generally get comparable results… but I just wonder why they wouldn’t put in better hardware and have superior machines.

Cradle to Grave Mentality

Instead of mastering a product like a phone (thing HTC) or a product category (like Samsung, LG, Toshiba, Dell, Microsoft) apple has built their company to control every aspect of their product from production through its entire life cycle – from purchasing in their own stores, to selling you applications and music through their app store. It isn’t that this convenience is undesirable (in fact many have been calling for it and attempting to replicate), it is that they do not allow competition on their devices (Android and Windows desktop do in contrast). It used to be that you could buy hardware and it was yours to do with as you pleased, this mentality has worn away at that reality. After all why would you create a device that if tampered with could make the device non-functioning (a bricked iPhone for example).

Disclosure
I do own a 15″ MacBook Pro (2.5 GHz) along with an iPad2.
I have also owned a 12 Powerbook G4, and a G4 Mirror Door tower.

3 thoughts on “Why I’m not an Apple Fanboy…”

  1. I agree with most of the above points. The weaker hardware in general allows them to have better battery life, so that’s just a tradeoff in my opinion. There are a few other things that really get me though. First, Apple will trivialize any feature they don’t have yet. Remember when you’d never want a camera on an MP3 Player/tablet? Then when they have one it’s “revolutionary” or “magical”. Why would you want local applications on a phone? Webapps are the future (circa iPhone 3G). The list goes on.

    Apple has a very simple marketing message: Exactly what we have is perfect. Anything old or less is worthless, and anything more is pointless.

    The fans (who like to be told what to think) buy in and that’s why the simple app drawer of the iPhone is hailed as the best/smoothest phone UI. They completely ignore the fact that the app drawer is a part of both the Windows Phone 7 and Android UIs, and both of those actually let you customize your phone.

    Apple will even go so far as to make older products worse to get you to buy the new one. iOS 4 on the iPhone 3G made it unusable. I’ve heard Apple fans tell me that was “to teach us not to use 2 year old phones.” Pfft.

    The only Apple product that has tempted me in the last few years was the recent Macbook Air due to the promise of both Sandybridge and Thunderbolt. Then, guess what? They cut their implementation of Thunderbolt down to two channels. Why you may ask? I’m going to say so that next time they release the Macbook air they will have “magically” doubled the throughput of their thunderbolt ports.

    I think that Apple’s stock is significantly overvalued for the reasons you stated. Since Jobs is gone now and eventually the market will realize the market/sales size, I expect the stock to correct in the next few years.

  2. Many Developers like the flexibility of Droid, since the “we control all” extends to software developers who work with Apple as well. HTML 5 will be a big game changer and those manufacturers that adopt that standard will find software companies lining up to provide services to those phones. What developer wants to develop support for multiple platforms? Wonder if that walled garden full of Apples has anything to do with Apple having shown resistance to a mobile development standard?

    Droid’s model of being extended to multiple handsets is a killer strategy. Make a great OS, offer it to all the big players & make the OS available to all the developers. According to TechCrunch, twice as many Droid phones were sold than Apple in the last 3 months. The divide is getting bigger, but the Apple Fashionistas do not want to acknowledge reality.

    Apple has always had a hardcore niche following. I respect that. I do not respect every-day joe’s who think they know more about the big-picture tech-strategy (you know, the ones that buy into “the magic!”).

    Apple can continue to play their “look at dorky-pc guy” commercials while the alien from a completely different world spawn in their space. The Apple Fashionista skinny jeans are the new dorky sweater.

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