Apple: I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee

Apple my love, we’ve been together many years. You’ve brought a little magic back into my life and made me fall in love with design again, but with your new Lion dress on, I don’t recognize you any more. You are not the company I fell in love with.

It wasn’t love at first sight. When we were both young I was across the hall with my TRS-80 and you were over there with the Apple ][e. You had color, and a lid that just popped off so you could see the magic inside, while I was in drab black and white, with tamper evident screws to keep anyone from opening me without voiding the warranty.

But then we both grew older. In college I saw you again, this time as a Macintosh. What an amazing little machine, and I could put System 6, MacWrite, MacPaint and MacDraw on one 800K floppy disk with a little room left over for files. And that was good – because I couldn’t afford to buy you and needed to borrow you in the computer lab (although by this time, strangely, the PCs I did buy had color).

We parted ways for many years, but then at my local Linux Users Group you showed up again as a Powerbook. And you were running something called OS X. It was the Mac interface crossed with Unix, and what a lovely combination that made.

My business was doing well, so a bought a 12-inch Powerbook the day it was announced. I never looked back. OS X Jaguar was perfect – a great UI and UNIX under the covers. A wonderful marriage of proprietary and free. Through the fink project I could still play with all my old Linux friends but on a sweet piece of hardware. The upgrade to Panther was the easiest O/S upgrade I ever did.

Then you started to change. You brought out the iPod, which was amazing, but then your shifted your gaze away from computers and into mainstream consumer electronics and all the hype and fashion that entailed. Then came the iPhone – a revolution to be sure – but gone were the days when freedom and fashion could play together.

I stuck with you because you made things easy, but at what price? I found myself getting tied tighter and tighter to your world. I couldn’t replace the battery on my iPhone without a lot of hassle, but then you even made that more difficult by adding pentalobe screws. You had to double check and second guess everything. If I wanted to play outside of your sandbox I had to jailbreak my phone and potentially void my warranty. But I overlooked that since a phone is not a computer. I consume information on my phone – I create on my computer.

But you got too greedy. You moved the App Store onto OS X to position yourself to get a cut of every software sale for the platform. You want all music, movies, book and software to come through you, and only you, and you are even suing people for using the term “app store”. What, $76 billion isn’t enough? We all can see the writing on the wall. The lion is the king of the jungle – the top, the chief, the end. The next OS release for the Mac is going to look a whole lot more like iOS than OS X, because then your hegemony will be complete.

Don’t deny it – you’re even locking down the hardware by making it that much harder to do simple things like replace a disk drive. You are so focused on controlling the user experience that you’re stifling play, smothering wonder. Instead of a lust for learning you are replacing it with a lust for consuming. You use to be the outsider, the underdog, now people buy you just because you are cool and fashionable. They think that they can buy happiness, which is the worst part of consumerism.

Hey look – I know you have stockholders to please and if I was driven solely by money I’d be doing the same things you are. But that’s not the Apple I fell in love with. This isn’t the Apple that used to encourage people to look inside the box. You’re more beautiful than ever, but oh so cold.

I feel that if I don’t leave you now, I never will be able to – it’s hard enough already. I’ve grown used to things just working, and working well together, but if the price for that is my creative soul then it’s too high. Plus you have given those in free software a lofty target for which to aim, and several are coming close.

I don’t need you to share my memories. I don’t need you to read a good book. I don’t need you to enjoy a beautiful day outside. You forget that it’s our interactions with people that make memories, not our interactions with things. And you have forgotten that when you let people work together to make things, that’s where real magic happens.

So go play with the cool kids. I’m going in a different direction. I’ll always love you, but more for what you were than what you have become.

Oh, and here’s some dog poop for your shoes.

7 thoughts on “Apple: I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee

  1. There’s no Adobe Lightroom for Linux (that’s important to me, switching to Windows is _no_ solution). The Hardware is – at least the last time I compared – not overpriced and as you said, really nice. Never had such a well built Laptop before in my life. iWork is – for me – much better than Word or Powerpoint and there’s no OSS alternative at this point, especially not for Keynote..I’m sort of lost here 🙂
    I’m writing this on a Compaq/HP Netbook with Ubuntu 10.-something on it. Ubuntu is cool, but I just had to hardwire the wireless network because the avahi daemon could not negotiate an IP address from the wireless. It happened a few times in different networks, I assume it’s somewhere “in it” – I never had these issues with Mac OS. I know how to fix them, but what I really wanted was to read Mail, not to fiddle with ifconfig..whatever.
    So what will you buy? A Dell?

  2. I’m not sure yet. I think I have several years left on my Apple gear, so I’m in no hurry. Samsung has some nice new laptops on par with the Macbook Air.

    I too like Keynote, but then my thoughts are locked in a proprietary format, forever. Sure, you can output to Powerpoint format but the conversion is not 100% complete. Plus, do I really need the Ken Burns effect to get my point across.

    Keynote is one of the main reason I have to switch now. If I became a Keynote disciple it would be that much harder to leave. I spent a decade under the yoke of Microsoft and I refused to exchange that for another, prettier one.

    Note that I am not on a crusade here. This is my own personal journey and I am not calling for an Apple boycott, etc. I’ll still buy Apple gear for my team if they want it, but I am going to start looking for alternatives.

  3. Very well written, I enjoyed reading it! I’ll be curious as to the path you chose. i live in all worlds and always have, as i find no OS or computer has all the answers I need, but I also pride myself in being savvy at numerous OS’s because of it. Keep us posted I’m intrigued!

  4. Coincidence, I guess: but your “break” in “break with thee” reminds me of Apple’s 1984 commercial:

    And will there be a point in which many individuals saying “I break with thee” turn into a movement that says “I break thee”?

    Meanwhile — can I have all your no-longer-necessary Mac stuff? 🙂

  5. Seems like I’ve always been on the outside looking in on the shinies. Have been involved with Windows early on, from figuring out Trumpet WinSock and writing HowTo docs for Oregon State U, to running an entirely server-based Win95 office using Perl. Later (and still) it was interest in back-country exploring and map navigation where Windows was the only game in town for consumers that kept me away from Apple products. I finally brushed with greatness with an Ipod v5.5 off ebay, but immediately removed the hard drive, installed an adapter+CF card, and loaded it up with RockBox. When the HTC G1 first came out, I was all over it. I admire those fine, smooth pieces of art, but haven’t been able to fully commit.

Comments are closed.