Apple-free: Step 12010-06-01
I have made the decision to go completely Apple-free.
This is a personal decision. I have no intention of trying to start a movement or get others to join me. Personally, though, I have enough problems with Apple and the way it conducts business that I’ve concluded that I simply don’t have to support these practices with a nickel of my money, nor do I need to show tacit support when I’m seen using an Apple product.
It shouldn’t be that difficult. I stopped using Apple computers a couple years ago after the hard drive failed in my PowerBook Pro. With only a couple days before I had to leave on a business trip, Apple refused to replace the hard drive and give me the failed drive so I could send it out for data recovery. The fine print, I was told, gave Apple possession of any hard drives they replace. In order to recover the data, I had to send the entire computer to an authorized data recovery service (anything else would void the warranty), have the computer returned to me, then bring the laptop in for a swap.
I didn’t have that kind of time to go without a laptop, so I left the Apple store and bought Sony VAIO. I’ve never looked back.
But I do own several other Apple products, including an iPod classic, an iPhone and an Airport Express.
I have no interest at all in an iPad; I’ll wait for a tablet that lets me view the content I want to view, not just that which Steve Jobs deems appropriate for me—that is, only content that doesn’t rely on Flash. The Flash audio player allows people to listen to my podcast, along with thousands of others. As a colleague pointed out to me yesterday, virtually every restaurant website relies on Flash. While I appreciate the issues with Flash, simply cutting off access is an unacceptable solution.
So the iPhone is the first piece of hardware I need to address—and address it I have. The good folks at Sprint sent me an HTC Evo, the new 4G Android phone that will be released to the public this coming Friday. After putting the phone through its paces over the last several days, I’m thrilled to report that it is a far superior device to the iPhone, even after reviewing the list of features that will comprise the next iPhone release. To top it off, HTC has announced that the Evo is among the phones that will receive the Android 2.2 (Froydo) update, the elements of which should be causing shockwaves at at Apple.
In case you missed the news, Android phones are outselling the iPhone in the U.S., and for good reason. Here’s a video look at the Evo which, so far, is the best smartphone I’ve ever seen:
Dropping the Airport Express is an academic issue. The Evo serves as a WiFi hotspot, so I’ll be able to get online via my laptop at a hotel using my phone instead of the Airport Express.
The iPod is another matter. Not only do I need to find an MP3 player that will hold all my music (I have the 160 GB iPod, and it’s packed to the gills), but I’ll need to find one that will give me the least grief transfering my existing music from iTunes to a different platform.
A request for information I put out through Twitter revealed that everybody who owns a Zune loves it. I’m leaning that way but still exploring.
As for my issues with Apple, the list is long. The highlights, in addition to the business-unfriendly approach to repairs and the staunch refusal to provide access to Flash content I mentioned above:
- The App store—Once I’ve bought a piece of hardware, it’s up to me what software I install on it. This is true even with an Apple computer. But a group of employees determine which apps will be cleared for use on the iPhone. When my podcast co-host, Neville Hobson, developed an app for FIR through an online service, it was initially rejected because somebody didn’t like one of the graphics. Pardon me, but the graphics we elect to use are nobody’s damn business but ours.
- Not only are apps rejected because someone didn’t like the graphics. Overt censorship is fairly routine, too. For example, Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Mark Fiore’s iPhone app was rejected because it violated that rule against ridiculing public figures. I was confounded by this. What part of “political cartoon” didn’t Apple understand? When an uproar ensued, Apple reversed course and approved the app, but as I understand it there are several other political cartoonists whose apps continue to be withheld. Censorship sucks and Apple seems to be one of its leading proponents. Once I buy a device (as I mentioned before), it’s up to me what software I put on it. Imagine buying a Sony TV and having the shows you watch restricted to those that Sony approves. You’d be outraged.
- Openness—Apple can choose to be as closed an organization as they like. But the cynicism underlying that choice was clear when the company launched a blog to keep customers informed of efforts to fix the MobileMe debacle. In the first post, the author noted that Steve Jobs had asked him to “write a posting every other day to let everyone know what’s happening with MobileMe, and I’m working directly with the MobileMe group to ensure that we keep you really up to date.” The blog ultimately contained exactly three posts before it went dark. There’s commitment to the customer for you.
- iPhone customers have been waiting on the edges of their seats for the exclusive deal with AT&T to end so they could at last get their beloved phone on a network which would allow them to make actual phone calls. In a display of contempt for its customers, Apple extended the exclusivity until at least early 2011.
- Apple’s legal department is busier stifling free speech than the ruling government in Iran. Badgering the San Mateo district attorney to seize Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s property while the guy wasn’t even home was a Gestapo-like tactic that left me wondering just how much power a company should have. Take a look at Apple PR shut down a TV news interview when the questions veered into territory the company didn’t want to address:
- While Apple lawyers aren’t breaking down doors, they’re filing lawsuits to inhibit competition, such as those lodged against HTC to try to keep the company’s Android phones from being sold in the U.S. You may believe Apple’s patents give them all the justification they need, but many of these patents are just downright silly. (Of course, the U.S. Patent Office deserves some blame here, too, for issuing such patents in the first place.)
- The developer agreement for the operating system that will power all of Apple’s mobile devices includes a clause that bans apps from transmitting data third-party ad networks would use to track the performance of their ads. In other words, if a company wants to advertise on an iPhone or iPad, you have no choice but to use Apple’s recently-announced proprietary ad network. Prefer to use Google’s Ad-Mob because you’re using it in advertising on other platforms? Tough.
- The lock-in to Google’s ad network is no different than its lock-in to the iPod. The iTunes store may be the best service for buying music, but if you don’t want to use an iPod, you’re out of luck. Imagine 10 years ago buying a CD at Tower Records only to find that it would only play on a Tower-branded CD player.
And the list goes on.
As a believer in an open environment, continuing to use Apple products, for me, would be endorsement of the most closed organization this side of Halliburton. Closed, anti-competitive, contemptuous of customers (like those who want to pay cash for an iPad)...it’s more than I can stand.
Yes, Apple makes cool products, but (contrary to what some would have you believe) there are competitive products that are as good, if not better. (Okay, maybe not for the iPad, but give it a couple more months.)
Again, I’m not trying to start a movement. I’m just stating my own belief and taking action to walk the talk.
The only question that remains for me is what to do with my iPod classic once I replace it. One suggestion: autograph it with a Sharpie and give it away in an FIR contest. What do you think?