Dear Apple: You’re Blowing It
For as long as I can remember, my technological life has revolved around Apple operating systems. Even though I was a late-bloomer to the smartphone revolution (I probably didn’t get my first smartphone until 2012), Apple’s ubiquitous iPhone was all I knew. It was the only option in my mind.
I remember how fascinated I was with those colorful little first-gen iMacs when they showed up at my elementary school. I remember how easy it was to use the computer. I remember how fun it was. I remember getting my first Macbook Pro, just before heading off to college, and using that thing as a portal to discover and express my unbounded creativity and connect with a rapidly changing new world. I remember the excitement of building my home studio around a brand new Mid-2011 model iMac. In all of my 29 years of life on planet Earth, Apple’s technology has been my first and only choice. I was hooked on Apple and had no reason to turn my sights elsewhere. Until now.
Let me be clear, I’m not some tech-crazed computer science major that understands how all of those 1’s and 0’s turn into .mp3’s and family photos. But I’d say that I know more about it than your average joe. I’m a filmmaker by trade, Post-Production to be specific, so there is a certain amount of expertise that comes with the job. My computer is my tool and my weapon. The thing that I loved most about Apple was that they made it easy for me to make sense of it all- their products “just worked”. And I’m sure you’ve heard that before.
Apple’s rise to the top was fun to be a part of. From the “legend” of Steve Jobs and his quirky team of garage-tech rebels to the innovative, world-changing products that came from inside the Apple laboratories; they were more than a brand- they were the future. They were unstoppable. Companies around the world were stealing their ideas and re-branding them as their own. And they continued, steadfast in their mission to give consumers products that they didn’t yet know they needed.
And then we lost Steve. And for the first time I began to wonder what the future looked like for Apple.
Following his death, Apple didn’t release any new products for nearly five years. They carried on with their beloved iPhone, carefully upgrading hardware and software every couple of years to ensure their audience had at least something to look forward to. We, their humble patrons, understood that it had to have been hard to lose such a brilliant leader, so we gave them time. Certainly, they would regroup and resurge to command the same attention they had in the past. I wasn’t worried.
And then, finally, after years of quiet, APPLE WAS ANNOUNCING THE PRODUCT THAT WOULD MARK THEIR COMEBACK! IT WAS… a watch.
It was a watch. A damn wristwatch. That did all the same shit my phone did. In the year 2015, when hundreds of millions of people have computers in their pockets, Apple decided to create a watch.
The Apple apathy came on slowly, like my family’s old Macintosh. I found myself becoming less excited and less impressed with each “new” Apple announcement.
That watch- stupid. That new operating system- looks cool, a few new interesting features, but mainly, meh. New iPhone upgrades? Sure, but you’re not really going to notice any difference. And two of their legacy products (iPad, iPod) I either didn’t use anymore, never used in the first place, or had no interest in using. Apple TV? Never needed it, I already have an XBOX… And it all compounded on my previous frustration at the abandonment of Final Cut Pro and their transition into the shit show that was FCPX. (That’s a whole other story.)
To make matters worse, Apple has become notorious for manipulating the inputs/outputs and their devices and forcing the consumer to buy proprietary accessories. You wanted to keep those Firewire ports on your laptop so you could still use your old hard drives? Too bad, buy this adapter. You want an ethernet port? Why would you want that? Guess what, it’s been a year- that charger doesn’t work anymore! I understand that it’s being done in the name of “progress”, but that doesn’t really make it any easier for me as a consumer and as a professional who relies on Apple’s products. It really just ends up feeling like a bit of a slap in the face- a blatant cash grab at the expense of their customers. I mean, I guess it’s good capitalism. But their assumption that we will all just lay back and take it like the good little consumers we are finally brought me to my breaking point.
In late 2016 I did something that I never thought I would have any reason to do in my life- I bought a product that ran an operating system that wasn’t Apple. I bought a Google Pixel.
It was actually a last minute decision- I had gone to the Verizon store to upgrade to the iPhone 7 and I overheard some other customers looking at the Pixel. I didn’t really know too much about it, and why would I have cared? There certainly wasn’t another phone that would compare to the iPhone.
But as I sat there in the Verizon store on the Third Street Promenade listening to the salesman spit his pitch, my frustration with Apple crept up on me. My curiosity took over. Google made a phone? Is it tight? Google is pretty rad… Their software definitely works well, and I use it all the time…Maybe I’ll just look at it.
So I did, and I was convinced in less than 10 minutes that there are options out there that are just as good as the iPhone, if not better. And that I no longer had to be a slave to Apple. And that I could let them know how I feel about them with my dollar. So I bought the Pixel. And what I love the most about this phone so far is that it’s not an iPhone.
So what does the future hold for the once King-of-innovation? If they’ve lost me, then they’ve surely lost countless others. Will they re-evaluate their priorities in the midst of falling sales and stale product lines? Will they ever be able to once again ignite that spark that we had when we were introduced to the iPod?
I’m optimistic that a multi-billion dollar empire like Apple can figure out a way to turn their sinking ship around, but I suppose only time will tell. For now, I’m gonna keep looking at my options. Maybe Apple just needs to go spend some time in the mountains.