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Apple: Just As Evil

·1115 words·6 mins
Articles assorted geekery rants tech

This may not sound very hip in these days of iTunes, iPod and the Mac Mini, but I really dislike Apple. I have always thought that Apple products as a whole were ridiculously over-hyped, and that their performance was not nearly outstanding enough to merit the rabid fan base they had developed. In addition, I feel that Apple’s image in the public sphere is deceptive on many levels.

I always hear people talking about how they are considering switching to Macs or how happy they are with their Mac, or how much safer it is than any PC.

“It never crashes, and it’s virus-free,” they tell me. This is not true.

Okay, maybe it won’t crash often on normal use if you are interested in just doing some word processing, listening to music or reading email, but let me tell you if you are intending to use it for anything other than what your grandmother had in mind it is a different story. I have worked on a large number of Macs in my time, primarily on friend’s computers or through top of the line Macs at school. I have managed to somehow freeze or crash them every time I have done any project that had significance to me, leaving me swearing in anger and frustration. Somehow, Apple managed to build their operating system on Unix (one of the most stable platforms ever developed) and still get it wrong. If you are really looking for an operating system that will almost never crash no matter what you do you should be looking for a distribution of Linux.

As far as virus infection goes, there is nothing inherently safer about using a Mac. Virus creation is a targeted practice, meaning that the people writing them have specific programs or operating systems in mind. The majority of the world is using Microsoft products right now, so that is the system that is being targeted. That is not to say that OS X is any safer. Take for example the recent exploit that was discovered allowing any web page to stealthily place a widget in the OS X dock. Now a widget can be made to do anything including execute malicious code. Even worse, because of the Mac’s so-called easy to use interface, the steps required to remove the malicious widget require a high degree of knowledge to remove because Mac obscures system functions to make the system “easy” to understand. Any user that feels that their choice of operating system is going to free them from viruses is dreaming. Even Linux users are at risk, although the security framework of that operating system helps minimize the potential damage.

And then we have the iPod, which I will admit started an amazing revolution in personal audio. However I have an issue with the iPod. The iPod is by far the most expensive of hard-drive MP3 players, yet it has the least number of features and weakest sound quality for your dollar than any of its competition. For example, take the iRiver H10, which for the same price or less, offers the same storage, built in FM receiver and voice recorder, color screen for photo viewing, file storage and a similar intuitive touch screen interface while maintaining the small size of an iPod. Plus, you can replace a dead battery yourself as opposed to the iPod where you had better hope that your Apple Care warranty is still good when that battery finally dies.

Okay, then we have iTunes. This program is marketed as a user-friendly way to keep track of your music and enjoy it on your computer, but iTunes does not have the consumer in mind at all. In a draconian measure, Apple has trapped their users as you have to use iTunes in order to use your iPod, and iTunes has bent over to the RIAA and has loaded iTunes with tons of DRM software. In fact, iTunes now will automatically convert non-DRM music files to their own proprietary AAC format with DRM.(Not necessarily with DRM, but auto conversion to their proprietary file format is enough. Users not paying attention may find themselves stuck with a ton of converting to do in order to use their collection with other non-Apple applications.)

There has been a lot of buzz about iTunes with its new support for podcatching. However, every podcast has to submit their podcast for review and Apple will approve or deny the request. Ostensibly, this is so Apple can verify that there is no copyright infringement present in podcasts that it hosts, but I have a concern with any corporation becoming the de facto authority monitoring podcasts. Who knows what other requirements Apple will utilize for selecting podcasts. Apple has not indicated what factors it uses in determining to include a podcast in iTunes, and you cannot even submit submit your podcast for consideration unless you use iTunes itself to submit your information.

Podcasting, like writing a blog, is supposed to be a free medium of expression without any Big Brother figure looking over your shoulder and either approving your work for presentation or refusing it. That is what the podcasting revolution is all about. That’s why sites like Podcast Alley and Podcast Pickle are so great. They provide a directory free of censorship or corporate driven initiatives.

What has kept Apple going throughout the years has been its highly involved fan base and its image as the happy go-lucky computing choice that was good to the user. However, during its research into DRM, Apple has taken classes from RIAA. Lesson one: sue their biggest fans.

This recent article on Wired.com details a lawsuit filed against online Apple communities who published rumors of the iPod shuffle and iTunes 4.9 before they were released.

I agree with the author that this reveals a lot about how Apple’s happy, shiny image is just a marketing tool. In a conversation I had with Daniel Patterson of the Creepy Sleepy Show podcast, he observed how with an image like Apple’s, you would expect them to follow the Google business model of “Don’t be evil,” but they instead have decided that the only way to meet their goals is to be as evil as Microsoft. The only difference, Apple expects you to be smiling about how great and kind they are afterwards. This is an insidious approach to take with the fans who have loyally supported their company for years, and while legal, I find it morally fraudulent.

In light of these recent realizations, I am personally boycotting Apple products. I will not buy, download or use any product produced by Apple. Anyone that wants to join me is welcome.