Breakin Ankles

Friday, September 07, 2007

Long time

This post has been a long time coming. The anti-apple crowd has gotten too ridiculous and absurd and a response must be made. And as luck would have it, an article I came across today provides the perfect stepping off point to address a number of issues that have surrounded Apple as of late. The article in question attempts to lay out a case explaining how Apple has become the new Microsoft as it pertains to monopolistic actions and matter-o-fact bullying. So without further adieu, I will paste snippets of the article followed by my response. Enjoy.

"The core complaint about Microsoft in the 1990s was that its Windows market share gave it monopoly power, which it abused in multiple ways. Attorneys General and others zeroed in on the "bundling" of the Internet Explorer Web browser, which they claimed was forced on users because Microsoft offered it as part of Windows. People love iPods. But iPods come bundled with iTunes. Want to buy music from Apple? Guess what? You must install iTunes. Want an Apple cell phone from AT&T? Yep! ITunes is required even if you want only to make phone calls. Want to buy ringtones for your Apple phone? ITunes. Apple not only "bundles" iTunes with multiple products, it forces you to use it. At least with Internet Explorer, you could always just download a competitor and ignore IE."

Where do I even begin?! The problem with Internet Explorer, back in the day, is that Microsoft was trying to force it on consumers in the hopes that it would become the dominant browser. And given the fact that 95% of computers used Windows allowed Microsoft to inextricably tie the browser to the operating system. There were floods of complaints alleging that throwing out Internet Explorer would cause damage to the operating system as a whole. Moreover, Microsoft took numerous steps to ensure that Internet Explorer would come as the default browser on PCs. Now let's take a look at Apple. Apple makes a music player called Itunes. If you want to buy music from Apple, you must buy it through Itunes. SCANDAL!! Jesus, I don't know what the big deal is about this. If you don't want to download music from apple or use itunes, then just don't. It's that simple. Apple has created the ipod and is it so wrong for Apple to say: "Look, we've created this piece of hardware, and in order for it to run the way we want it to run, you have to use it in conjunction with our software." I don't see the problem here. The very reason the ipod has been so successful is precisely because Apple has been able to control all aspects of the user experience. If that doesn't float your boat, then just don't use itunes. Hell, don't even use an ipod. People forget that there are a number of other avenues out there where people can purchase music. Why not take it old school and even go and buy a CD? People are not tied to the Apple in the way that users were and are tied to Microsoft Windows. Microsoft tried to leverage their OS dominance as to ensure that people were forced to use their browser. Apple attained music player dominance because they gave consumers a choice to enter their gated community of itunes/ipod. If you don't want to enter, you don't have to. Itunes is the means by which apple is able to keep things uniform and ensure that consumers have an easy way to access and manipulate their digital libraries and eventually access them on their apple devices. If that doesn't work for you, then no big deal. People are not tied to itunes the way they are to Windows.

"And iTunes for Windows' popularity isn't driven by software product quality. ITunes is the slowest, clunkiest, most nonintuitive application on my system. But I need it because I love my iPods."

I use a mac so I can't attest to this, but I've heard this complaint many a time. One, get a mac. Two, the ipod is an apple product and Apple thinks itunes is the best way for the ipod to interact with digital files and so that's the route it's chosen. Is it surprising that Apple software runs better on Apple hardware? Of course not. Yet this author seemingly thinks that having third party software syncing up with Apple hardware will make life easier. Apple has no responsibility to ensure that the ipod can sync up with other media players. For all we know, other media players would only sully the ipod experience. By creating a streamlined and closed environment by which users interact with their music, Apple is helping the consumer by maintaining complete control over the experience. And again, that's exactly why Apple came to dominate the portable media player market in the first place.

"At least with Windows, you could reformat your PC and install Linux or any number of other PC-compatible operating systems. Can I reformat my iPod and install something else? Can I uninstall iTunes but keep using the iTunes store and my iPods?"

This reeks of typical Windows obliviousness. What average computer user even knows how to reformat their PC and install Linux? Does your average computer user even know what Linux is? And as for uninstalling itunes but keep using the iTunes store? Well, you've lost me. I don't even know what that means. Why would you want to use the iTunes store if you're so anti-iTunes? And if you want to use the iTunes store but use a different media player, then simply download the non-drm versions of songs that are now available on iTunes. Hell, you can even put them on a non-ipod device if it suits your fancy. That hardly sounds monopolistic to me.

This post is already long enough as is so I won't be able to respond to every paragraph written. But one point I must address is the authors contention that Apple has become the copycat that everyone used to accuse Microsoft of being. Microsoft essentially copied the Mac OS -- quite shittily I might add. It didn't really build on anything that the Mac did, and it didn't really push computing forward (dare i say it pushed it backwards) in any tangible way. Basically, it put out a shoddy copied version of the Mac OS. And as for Apple and the technologies it uses in it's products -- well no one claims that they are all Apple inventions. But Apple doesn't just copy ideas, it finds ways to integrate ideas into products in ingenius ways. No one ever claimed that Apple introduced touch technology but it was the first company that was able to make that technology readily accessible to the public. No one claims, as the author insinuates, that Apple was the first company to have a wifi enabled device. But they (prediction) will be the first that makes it actually a worthy add on. The Zune has had wifi for a while but who cares? Who cares about a technology if you can't derive any functionality from it. It's as if Apple invented the car and people look down at apple because they didn't invent the wheel. Apple, in releasing its products, finds new ways to use existing technologies in ways people had never before imagined possible. That's not copying, that's ingenuity. Microsoft dominated the market with technologies other companies developed first simply because it was Microsoft. Apple has dominated the handheld media player market because it has the best player on the market hands down. All in all, the article attempts to paint apple as a monopoly, a copycat, and a bully. Is the ipod a monopoly? Yes, in the sense that it dominates the media player market. But is it really a monopoly when there are so many other ways to access media content? I could easily amass an impressive music and video collection without even using an ipod or itunes. Is Apple a copycat? Umm.. why, because they didn't invent touch technology or wi-fi? I don't follow that logic. Anywhoo, this post has droned on long enough so I'll stop here. My normal and boring posts will resume any day now.


Blogger Val said...

So this has nothing to do with Honey Crisps, huh?

3:53 PM

Blogger Alex said...

Nerd Alert! Nerd Alert!

11:15 AM


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