This is a difficult post to write. I’m not afraid of what people will think of me. I’m not worried that it goes against the last seven years of my life. Actually, it’s difficult to write this because I believe people need to know the truth about Apple, and I have to figure out how to get them to listen. I don’t think the Apple Watch is stupid, or that Apple is going downhill. I don’t think they’ll ever make a car, but they’ll definitely improve our driving experience. I’m not writing this to hurt my favorite fruit company. I’m the opposite of a naysayer. I only wish good things for Apple, because no one does it better. Even after the last few years of missteps, I’d say that no other computer company in the world could best Apple. That still doesn’t mean they’re doing it right.
Wall Street seems to think they’re doing everything right lately. Besides the typical rise and fall of Apple event hype, Apple’s stock has been rising steadily over last year. If I had financial interest in Apple’s success, I’d be a very happy shareholder. Apple has done almost everything the market wants over the last few years. Therein lies my problem. It’s as if they’re afraid to contradict the popular vote. Throughout this post, I’ll explain my disappointment in Apple’s unrelenting desire to satisfy the market. This isn’t necessarily a different Apple than we’ve seen in years past, but I will say that they need to stop listening to the mainstream and stop pandering to their investors.
Let’s start with software. A few years ago, Apple decided they needed to completely change their software strategy. It started with Steve Jobs telling everyone they were moving to a yearly update schedule for Mac OS. That was an unreasonable request then; it’s even more so now. The market always demands new features. If Apple doesn’t put out something “revolutionary,” the mainstream media says they’re doomed. They’ll say that even if Apple has a record-breaking quarter… sigh. Unfortunately, the market’s demands forced Apple into an unrealistic development cycle. They simply cannot write enough revolutionary, stable software in a year’s time. Instead of making the right choice and slowing down the pace of development, they’re releasing unfinished software. Granted, most of the bugs only affect a minority of their extremely large user base, but crippling problems still make their way out the door with every single release. Dear Apple, please stop listening to your investors and take some extra development time.
Let’s move on to hardware. In the last few years, Apple announced an obsession with thinness. Again, this happened before Steve Jobs died. These problems have nothing to do with his death. Maybe Apple brainwashed the market into thinking thin is cool, or maybe the market demanded thinner products. Either way, I’m tired of it and wish it would stop. iPhones are so thin they bend in your pocket. MacBooks are so thin that the screen cracks in your backpack. iPads are so thin they had to laminate the glass to the screen. Laminated glass means repairs that are more expensive. iPhone, iPad, MacBook — they’re all more expensive to repair now than they ever were previously. Why? They just had to be thinner. Dear Apple, please stop listening to your investors and make things a little less breakable.
Let’s talk about performance. Apple hasn’t actually increased the performance of any Mac in their lineup in almost two years. Some people are quick to point fingers at Intel for that problem, but it’s more than that. It’s not just a processor problem. If you look at the Mac mini, iMac, and MacBook product lines, Apple recently made all of them worse than their predecessors. Apple cut costs with substandard hardware to make the base models cheaper and “more affordable.” Unfortunately, these base models can’t run Apple’s shoddy software. Thanks to their unrealistic development cycle, Apple’s latest release of Mac OS cannot function unless it’s running on a solid-state drive. The base model Mac mini and iMac both ship with terribly slow 5400 RPM hard drives. Welcome to the beach. Have fun with that beach ball. The new MacBook could be in the same boat: the processor is extremely underpowered. It has an SSD, so it may be usable… we’ll have to wait for the benchmarks to find out for sure. Dear Apple, please stop listening to your investors and sell products you’d actually use.
Apple wants us to believe that they care about making the world a better place. They spent 15 minutes on Monday explaining Research Kit, a new open-source tool for medical researchers to connect with massive numbers of people. They brought in a marathon runner to talk about the Apple Watch and her charity work. They also spend lots of money on civil rights campaigns. All those things give Apple a great public image, but their corporate greed stands to tarnish that image.
When you’re a publicly traded company, you can’t ignore the shareholders. Wall Street and the shareholders fabricate ridiculous rumors and influence the mainstream media. That’s when your parents hear about the Apple car. Lately, if your parents hear about it, Apple pulls the trigger… even if it’s not good for their customers. Their software is buggier than ever. Their products are more breakable than ever. Their hardware is cheaper than ever. When does it stop? At this point, I’m not sure it will. All these things mean more money for Apple and its shareholders. They’re still doing the right thing from a financial perspective.
Maybe Apple is truly trying to become a luxury brand with a complete lack of empathy for anyone on a budget. The $10,000 Apple Watch Edition certainly adds to that theory. I’ve had to share a very sad realization with many of my friends: “If you can’t afford to replace it, you shouldn’t buy an Apple device.” Unfortunately, that warning came a little too late for some people. They couldn’t afford to fix the iPad they just bought their kids for Christmas. To me, that’s heartbreaking.
That’s the Apple I’ve come to know. They’re doing right by their investors but not by the people who spend years hoping to own a magical Apple product. Go ahead and call me naive or unrealistic, but I don’t believe in the magic of Apple any more.