Oh deep joy.
Apple has released another iPhone. Excuse me while I yawn.
And then please don’t send me to prison for the murderous thoughts I then bestow upon all the tedious devoted Appletian extremists who can’t wait to crap themselves stupid in their rush to thrust yet more cash into the hands of that benighted corporate greedmeister.
A long time ago that lovely Mr Charles Arthur (the only man, bizarrely, to have been named twice in this blog – there’s an honour) let me wonder publicly why on earth every household item seemed to have to be updated to include a port for an iPod.
And that was when I quite liked and admired Apple products.
More recently Apple has moved from being a company I actively dislike to one I actually despise.
And it’s bizarre! I mean, it is actually quite mental to have any kind of feelings at all for a faceless corporation. I do understand this.
I spend almost all my waking life bashing away on my Dell computer and I feel nothing for them. I lurve my Galaxy SII, and I also have a Samsung telly, but I could give two hoots about them. I own Bosch and Canon and Olympus and Acer and Motorola and Hotpoint and Zanussi and Sharp and Panasonic and LG products, and they all play quite active roles in my home and work life. But I could give a crap about their companies. I love my Kindle, and I like the Amazon website but when I think about them as a company? Nope, zip, nada, not a thing. *shrug*
So yes. I do realise that having such strong feelings about Apple is quite weird.
And yet, I’m not the only one am I? Apple apparently inspires quite strong feelings – often positive ones – in an awful lot of people.
I had a reasonably long chat with Mr Arthur via that fine medium of Twitter the other week about my hatred of Apple. It was quite odd. I think we both wound each other up slightly at first, but it all ended amicably.
It kicked off after I revealed my hatred of them to him when he posted a link to something he’d written about the Apple / Samsung suing saga. He then pointed me in the direction of a few features that he thought might help to explain my feelings for them.
They did not.
He never actually asked me why I hate them. Instead I threatened to blog about why, but having been ridiculously busy with actual paying work I never got around to it. But then they released this new phone and my Twitter timeline lit up with people banging on and on and on and on about it, and – surprise, surprise – falling over themselves to pre-order it, and, well, I’m a web hits whore so I thought I’d write about it to get some people clicking on my site. (Not many people ever do that.)
So I have been annoyed about Apple’s litigation against Samsung. “If someone copied your work, wouldn’t you be upset?” asked Mr Arthur. (I’m paraphrasing. Unfortunately I didn’t ‘favourite’ our Tweets and I don’t think my own timeline will let me go far enough back to find our conversation.)
Well, yes I would if they plagiarised me word for word. But if they used the gist of my words and re-jigged them to come up with their own reasonably unique feature then I wouldn’t really have much to complain about. Words and the way they are ordered are hard to argue ownership over. And the re-jigging of stories into another story is not uncommon.
I will admit that Apple does have some grounds for complaint, but I think their lawsuit is heavy handed and vindictive. I think it is about attempting to destroy the competition that got better than you by throwing bricks at them, rather than trying to be clever and destroy them in the marketplace through innovation. I think it’s lazy and spiteful and based on the umbrage they feel at not (temporarily) being the market leader in smartphones. And ultimately it’s all about money. They can do it because they got so fucking rich off of the suckers who rush out and upgrade every nine months even though their iPhones 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S all work just fine, and because they can’t bear to see anyone else profit from what they perceive to be their niche. In my humble opinion.
But the lawsuit is just what turned my active dislike into actual despising. I was already starting to hate them well before they began using their mighty fist to hammer their competitors.
Mr Arthur pointed me at a feature called ‘Why do some people really hate apple?’ in which he spoke with a guy called Don Norman who speculates on the reasons why people like me may feel the way I do.
Norman follows the physicists rule that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. He says that because Apple design products that people like to caress and cream their crackers over, that means there will be just as many people who think ‘hey, Apple fetishist, stop jizzing on your laptop and go and get a life.’ (I may be paraphrasing again there slightly.)
But he really does talk about the importance of touch in relation to the way people feel about their phone and that they are actually sort of stroking it. (Oops, I just realised me and Mr Arthur made the same physics comparison. I hope he doesn’t sue me!)
Anyway, Norman says that the strength of feeling people experience – either positive or negative – is because of the design of Apple products. That because they’re very stylised and striking, many people will fall in love with them, but just as many people are likely to hate them.
Well, maybe that’s true for some people, but it’s not true for me. So, I am not a lover of labels. I think fashion is money for nothing. I dislike being used as an advertising hoarding, and I do not follow the crowd. Ever. I just don’t do labels. And Apple is a label. And because of that apparently they think – like all fashion brands – that because of this they can charge you well over the odds for buying into their little coven. But you would have to be a fool not to appreciate their design. For a very long time their computers have been sleek, stylish and desirable. Their gadgets are useful and clever, and whoever designed the clickwheel is a fricking genius. You have to admire them. You have to. Hell, an iPad is probably top of my current gadget wishlist.
So why is it then? What on earth is it about this company that has inspired such strength of feeling?
Well, there’s lots of things. I dislike what I perceive to be their arrogance. Yes, their products are extremely usable (though I would argue that whilst the phone / PC interface of the Galaxy is immensely flawed compared to the iPhone, that the phone itself is more user friendly) but only on their terms. Not only are their phones sealed units that won’t permit you to change a battery or add memory, so their operating system is similarly sealed, permitting access to only those it deems worthy – and are prepared to pay. So your website uses Flash? Well screw you because we don’t think we’ll bother letting any of our users see your site. You’re not worthy.
And of course there are other examples.
Their arrogance I imagine is modelled on their founder. God always creates in his own image.
And I do find the godlike worship of Steve Jobs (and Apple) to be quite disturbing. I don’t understand it, and that Apple actively encourage it is equally troubling. If not completely understandable since creating these levels of veneration has made them the richest company in the US.
But, you know, lighting candles outside your local Apple shop when Jobs died? That is seriously weird. On so many levels.
And I don’t even get why people love him so much. They call him an ‘innovator’ but although he ruled the company (and obsessed over minute design issues) with an iron hand, so far as I can work out he didn’t actually design any of their remarkable features. He controlled their immensely successful marketing campaigns, and was therefore directly responsible for how the company and its products are viewed by the populace, but did he create anything? Other than an enormous, monstering, power-hungry corporate monolith? And is that really something to revere?
Truth be told Jobs sounds like he became a pretty unpleasant guy. There are numerous quotes attributed to him that reveal him to be aggressive, controlling, bullying, inordinately egotistical, vindictive and selfish.
People say he and his products ‘changed the world’, well no, actually they’ve only slightly improved the lives of the maybe, what, 10% of the global population that can afford them? And seriously, let’s not have the talk about computer magnates changing the world, because while Jobs was busy squirreling away billions of dollars of the money he claimed not to care for, there is one former PC innovator who actually is putting his money where his mouth is in that respect.
Jobs famously advised young people to ‘stay hungry’, well guess what, many thousands of Americans are experiencing that for real right now, but it’s only since Jobs’ death that Apple is finally making charitable contributions that are actually noteworthy.
But in the end, perhaps the main reason I have come to hate Apple is because they are hypocrites. Now, I don’t often call anyone a hypocrite for the simple reason that we are all hypocrites in the end. No one is free from blame in that regard. Everyone says they’ll do one thing and then does another. I’m no different.
But with Apple I think it’s plain bare-faced lying.
The company is founded largely on Jobs’ post 60s revolutionary, drop-out, counter-culture, turn on / tune in ethos of doing things differently, being of and for the people, of going against the grain and revelling in it. They’ve marketed themselves in exactly this framework and two of their most famous TV campaigns are based on it. It’s precisely why they chime with the wealthy baby boomers and the privileged youth who buy and enjoy their products. Because they think it’s edgy and it speaks for them; it says something about their personality.
But it’s a status thing. The people pre-ordering their iPhone 5s aren’t doing it because they want to stuff it to the man. They’re doing it so they can be the first person at the pub or at work to slap it on the table and brag about it, and to reveal its inner-workings on Twitter and generally hope to induce envy in others.
And Apple need these people to keep believing. They want them to be filmed camping outside the Apple shop for two weeks before the phone comes out. They work the deifying of Jobs and of Apple as an entity because it keeps the corporation rich and the bucks pouring in and the next generation of youngsters indoctrinated in the hype. They are really not of or for the people, but only for their money, they are not counter-culture, they ARE the man. They are not going against the grain or encouraging anyone to go against the grain because that would mean not buying Apple. And yet they perpetuate the myth. And the people keep blindly sucking it up and reproducing the mythology in exactly the same way as any religion. And I deeply mistrust all religions. Because they too are ultimately self-serving and are not ‘for’ the people they purport to serve or assist.
So there we go. In 2,000 words. These are my completely rational arguments for my irrational hatred of Apple.
And to my dear friends who love Apple and have pre-ordered their 5s, please don’t think I think any the less of you. Like all good prejudices, it doesn’t apply to the people I actually know. 😉