… Is Apple intending to make all Apple devices “disposable”?
I have written about this trend of vertical integration by Apple before. Now OSX Mavericks is “free”. (UPDATE- it is now possible to create a bootable installer on a thumb drive capable of repair or clean install onto any capable MAC)
Those of us who weathered the darker days when it was surmised Apple was going under, remember (…and Michael Dell commenting about what he would do if he ran Apple. “They should dissolve the company and return the money to it’s shareholders.” – now he has egg on his face!)
A much more open and adventurous OS environment was coming (eventually called OSX). From the very first Mac, Apple intended to keep the “end user” out of the hardware “chassis” making it difficult to open without it’s own special tools. Pre-OSX operating systems weren’t much better.
Let’s face it, all we heavy duty Graphic Arts OS9 users knew we had to save every couple minutes in case the OS crashed, and we would lose all of our precious hard work. We now have a new Mac Pro. It’s a major departure in design, cylindrical shape unlike any other desktop computer. Small footprint but a powerful machine that rivals other commercial workstations and at a lower price.
When Jobs returned to Apple, his experiment with the NeXT operating system came with him, and some new business savvy as well. Hooray, we all thought. A new era in openness in computing was going to happen to he Apple ecosystem. Most of us looked up to Jobs as if he were a diety and in the computing world, I dare say that he was.
Jobs himself sold this to us at his first WWDC conference, following his return ” …a new open OS structure based on the Berkley Mach kernel of UNIX”, during his first Keynote after returning to Apple. He invited the Open Source community to contribute to the build with new development and applications. You remember the WWDC conference where he had Bill Gates teleconference with his ginger face filling the huge screen? The audience literally “booed” when Gates came on. However, Jobs said the long time era of friction between Microsoft and Apple was over.
Microsoft bought $100 million worth of (non-voting) Apple stock at probably less than market value, that probably did help to save the what was apparently a failing company. That was about $25 share at the time, which would be 4 million shares. If Microsoft kept that stock, it would be worth 2.2 billion today. I digress. Microsoft also agree to keep updating Microsoft Office for Mac for at least five years.
A new era of micro-computing was about to evolve with OSX and it sure has changed the face of things hasn’t it? Up until this last release of OSX called Mavericks. OSX is adopting many of the characteristics of IOS, which we all know is a COMPLETELY CLOSED OS ENVIRONMENT. The worst feature is the ability to actually “service the OS” much like the hardware they are building, disposable, non-repairable (at least by third parties), orphaned often after a few short years of release (the iPad 1). The automotive industry called it “Design Obsolescence” – look whathas happened to the auot industry in this country. Altjough we all know that Apple devices are all built in China. (Except the new Mac Pto. Now bring assembled in Texas)
Arguably, the iPhone turned Apple into a different kind of company. Soon after the first iPhone release, Apple Computer became just “Apple, Inc”. From that point until now, Apple has turned into a Industrial Juggernaut becoming the most valuable company in history. The original iPhone had no applications you could load. It was said that only WEB BASED applications were going to be “allowed”. Of course the developer backlash was strong and ultimately Apple came up with the tools for programmers to make software for the iPhone, more than a full year later.
What about the Apple experience? We all drank the Koolaid and just “love” our Apple devices.
I sold my iPad 4 last night, for a number of reasons. One was that I am “jones-ing” to get a hold of one of the new models, either an iPad Air or iPad Mini Retina. I also have an iPad One that someone gave me. I’m typing on it right now, and I cannot upgrade the OS any higher thatn IOS 5.1.2. Many of the software and features I like and have gotten used to on the iPad 4, are not available on the iPad One. Even though as a tablet it is still plenty useful. It’s just “not as good an experience” as an iPad 3 even.. So I thought, “I’d like to get the most money back from my iPad that I can”, and NOW was the time to maximize its sale.
Those of you are not familiar with the early days of Apple, don’t know that Apple users were often considered “hackers” and “pirates” and that Apple user groups were notorious places for it’s members to “share copyright software” violating many “laws”. I think Steve Wozniak still considers himself a “hacker”! GCMAC was very careful since its inception to NOT BE HACKERS CLUB, with anti copyright infringement language written into its mission statement.
I’ve also written about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that gave end users the right to copy, back up and use purchased music and software for personal use. Naturally software vendors, and yes our beloved Apple (quietly I might add) have been fighting a legal battle to get that act overturned. And they have had some success. Once ruled fair game to unlock a phone and use it on whatever wireless carrier we wanted. Now that has been made illegal, until the two year “contract” the carriers lure users into to get cheap hardware, expires. Whether Apple wants us to use their devices just the way they sell them or not, means I want to hack the environment just because I can.
Apple is opposed to JAILBREAKERS as well. These are the folks (and end users) who find “exploits” in IOS that enable us to add third party software, often superior and having more features, than what you can get through the Apple store. Its a “cat and mouse” game. Apple with it’s billions in cash and hundreds of security experts trying to close the loopholes, against a small group (less than 10 folks) working together to find the security holes and use them to “inject code” or “exploits”. These allow a “JAILBREAK to occur. The “Jailbreak” allows us to configure our iPhones to look and operate the way we want, rather than what Apple dictates. Apple would argue this violates it’s EULA (End User License Agreement) and also allows for the possibility that the operating system may become “compromised by nefarious code”, like a virus. Is it illegal? At this time, technically not. However as I mentioned above by law it’s not. Worst case scenario for now is that if Apple discovers you have a “hacked” IDevice, it voids the warranty. With every new IOS release, more of these exploits are closed. Eventually I imagine, Jailbreaking will become impossible.
This brings me back to the spirit of this article. Is Apple the new Microsoft, desperately trying to force the Apple experience into a vertical space, where they control the experience from top to bottom? To some degree, it has been their intent since the Mac was born in 1987, only they claim it gives the end user a unified customer experience, perfectly blending the software and hardware. For the average user, this is what happens, and I’d guess better than 96% of current Apple Mac and iDevice users are perfectly content with this experience. I am not arguing that it isn’t. I am arguing we should have the right to use and innovate as the following credo eludes to that is what Apple is all about.
In 1997, Apple released ad ad campaign called “Think Different” which featured the ad called “The Crazy Ones” developed by the ad agency Chiat-Day. It aired with the following narration by Richard Dreyfus. You can here the ad narrated by Steve Jobs himself here.
(I have switched to my Mac now, because of the limitation of IOS on an iPad One to embed a hyperlink – another point I will refine in a later article)
“Here’s To The Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who DO !”
So, Apple, what is going to be? Are we going to be able to change (the world) and adapt our computing environment? Or are you intent upon making all Apple devices “disposable” like all of the Pepsi bottles are today?