Original iMac

How Apple Forces New Technology to Improve the Future

Apple’s decisions on redesign of the technology of just about everything are an endless source of criticism, especially by those who have a right to tinker with their devices. History suggests Apple has the sense to choose the right technology for the future.

As GlennC777 said in a comment on my article on Apple Pay, “Apple Makes Old Security Business Lead to the Future,” Apple’s decisions have been both mistrusted and missjudged:

When the Mac was first introduced I was enough into computers to be a young reader of Byte magazine, and I remember the reader letters complaining that the too-simple “pointing” and “pictures” interface was a backwards step that would hobble “real” computer users. A real computer was operated by command line, and if you weren’t willing to go to the considerable trouble of learning how to use it then you probably weren’t worthy of the privilege. With binary blood running through my veins I was very much one of these people at the time, and very much wrong.

Let’s take a look at some history.

USB: The Universal Serial Bus was introduced in 1996. Intel quickly started doing everything it could to force the USB port onto the motherboard of PCs. Those ports sat there idle since most people could not figure out what to do with them. Then Steve Jobs came out with the original iMac. It did not just add USB; it eliminated all of the ports for mice, keyboards, printers, and everything else. In time, Windows PCs that came equipped with other ports were using nothing but USB.

Floppy drive: Back in the Apple ][ days, the Apple beat out some competitors PCs by replacing tapes with the floppy drive. Later, Apple replaced the 5.25 inch floppy with the 3 inch hard-covered floppy on the Macintosh and later Apple ][. But the iMac got rid of the floppy all together. The CD had already replaced the floppy for software distribution and, with relatively large (for the time) hard drives, the introduction of network storage, and USB thumb drives it eliminated the need for floppies. Eventually, Windows began to see the advantage of eliminating drives from laptops, though they lingered on desktops for a very long time.

CD/DVD: By 2011, Apple decided users didn’t need the CD/DVD drive on both the iMac and the MacBook. The network had replaced disks for software delivery, iTunes had replaced DVDs and CDs for video and music delivery, the cloud was there for storage. The desire to shrink the size of laptops led Windows devices to accept the no-drive design relatively quickly.

Wi-Fi: In the early 1990s, wireless networking was used mostly in industrial communication, but in 1998 Apple worked with Lucent (now Alcatel Lucent) to take advantage of the faster and less expensive wireless networking. It wasn’t even named Wi-Fi until 1999, but it gained popularity quickly.

Modems: Macs got internal modems in 1984 but they disappeared in 2008. The availability of the network in homes, offices, and hotels–Wi-Fi everywhere–has eliminated the need for a dial up connection. Modems hung on in many Windows computers for a long time, especially those intended for business use, but have now disappeared. A built in radio for wireless data on a phone network was never offered on the MacBook. It was widely offered as an option in commercial laptops, though it never became very popular.

Phone keyboard: The Palm Treo and the BlackBerry, the most successful early text and later internet content phones, depended on keyboards. The introduction of the screen-only iPhone in 2007 attracted a lot of criticism because of the decision to eliminate the hard button keyboard. The BlackBerry continued to dominate the market and the first Android phone featured a slide out keyboard. But it didn’t take long for the iPhone to nearly kill the BlackBerry and all but eliminate keyboard Android phones.

Interestingly, Apple’s success generally did not come on the invention of these components. Apple supported Firewire, which it designed with Texas Instruments, as an alternative to USB. But it was more complex and more expensive, and has lived on only as a super high speed connector. Even LG had brought out the touch keyboard Prada ahead of the iPhone. Wi-Fi technology was probably the only technology where Apple deserves credit for being the first and even here it is not responsible for the invention.

Apple’s actions leverage the company’s ability to see the consumers’ use of new technology before the competition and, almost as important, its willingness to get rid of technology as better becomes available. It has been a key to Apple’s success, with Apple Pay just the latest such innovation.

Published by

Steve Wildstrom

Steve Wildstrom is veteran technology reporter, writer, and analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area. He created and wrote BusinessWeek’s Technology & You column for 15 years. Since leaving BusinessWeek in the fall of 2009, he has written his own blog, Wildstrom on Tech and has contributed to corporate blogs, including those of Cisco and AMD and also consults for major technology companies.

60 thoughts on “How Apple Forces New Technology to Improve the Future”

  1. Accurate on the facts, a little too rosy on interpretation of the facts. IMO…
    Promotion by inclusion and elimination is not that big a deal. So what if a desktop had a modem? You can choose not to use it. Once broadband became widely available, people happily gave them the heave-ho.

    Ditto for the floppy drive. It’s not that it got removed so much, as it became unavailable. It’s removal is not impressive. In fact, people bought usb based floppy drives as an alternative. That’s as it should be. There’s something to be said for “I’ll move on when I’m ready”.

    Similarly for CD/DVD. I don’t defend the medium, I defend what the medium allowed, and which is now more restricted. It used to be you buy a cd or movie and it played on all cd and dvd players, not just those of a single brand. You could lend a disk, you could borrow a disk. The cloud, by itself is not an innovative answer. In fact, it’s anachronistic. First you end up on the losing side of “possession is 9/10ths of the law”, hence no borrowing/lending. Secondly, what sense does it make to have to re-download all media every time they are used. Finally, would we rely on hard disks that have cloud level reliability, control, and privacy?

    Lest you think I’m entirely anti-cloud, I’m for it in situations where the cloud is the peripheral to the PC. Adamantly opposed to it when the PC is peripheral to the cloud. That’s mainframe! Currently Onedrive strikes the best balance for me. Syncing, and as a secondary backup.

    Then there are what are IMO inexcusable snafu’s. Removal of Expresscard without a viable alternative left some of us MacBook users without fast external storage options. “Fast” defined as equaling or exceeding internal storage. This in the eSata and USB3 era. Apple trailed badly on one of the very technologies you give them credit for initially leading.

    I was just looking at some Mac mini’s and iMacs for purchase consideration. There’s not an iMac I would buy. If you want Apple as an IT department, and COMMIT to that, then you’ll be okay. If your expectations lie anywhere short of that, you may have issues.

    1. I think both you and Steve are equally correct. What Apple chose to do tended to be correct in the future and even pushed others to follow. However those decisions were by no means popular at the time they were made, even among Apple fans.

      What’s amazing about Apple is that they are not afraid of pissing off a significant segment of their current users and that they manage to get away with it. In the context of the Innovator’s Dillema, I think this is a valuable trait.

      1. “What’s amazing about Apple is that they are not afraid of pissing off a significant segment of their current users”

        When your have a small percentage of the total market and a relatively small user base, this is not a very risky move. When you are small you need to grow and you rarely grow solely by focusing on current customers.

        1. What you say is true, but I don’t think that that was Apple’s intention.

          For example, the elimination of serial ports, floppies, modems were not really necessary short term and there were not immediate benefits to the usability or prices of the devices. (This is in contrast to the elimination of optical drives which enable Apple to make much thinner devices.) What is clear to me is that Apple doesn’t necessarily eliminate features in order to make way for new and better ones; they eliminate them anyway. If the focus had been on gaining new users, I doubt that the elimination of these features would have made sense.

          I think that it actually is a result of Apple’s fetish for simplicity and elegance. And I think they strongly believe that simplicity is more important than feature completeness in the long term, and that killing legacy features at the earliest opportunity is a priority.

          1. “What is clear to me is that Apple doesn’t necessarily eliminate features in order to make way for new and better ones; they eliminate them anyway.”

            But I don’t think they eliminate something until there is a viable alternative, defining your “earliest opportunity” comment. For what the floppy and eventually CD could actually hold, most ISP speeds are more than sufficient for emailing or downloading files. And I can’t help but wonder where the USB thumb drive would be if these had not been eliminated.

            Today, there really isn’t any advantage to a DVD or BluRay for either storage space or video distribution with modern internet speeds and services like WeTransfer or DropBox.

            Further, considering the shelf life of optical media, their marginalization is not unfortunate.

            I bring this up a lot, but mostly because it is most visible with Apple. This is all right in line with Modern design philosophy and aesthetics. If someone wanted to understand the roots and impetus of Apple’s decisions, this is what they should study.

            Joe

          2. You have to go back to 1998 and remember what life was like then.

            Apple started eliminating the floppy drive in 1998 with the first iMac. At that time, the most common way to connect to the Internet was with the 56kbits/s modem. If you look at the first iMac commercials, you can even observe that they use that modem to connect to a regular phone line.

            Hence at that time, ISP speeds were NOT more than sufficient for emailing or downloading files. No way. And USB thumb drives hadn’t even been invented back then.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrE6M5dj8V0

            Eliminating the floppy drives itself wasn’t crazy. It’s important to note that even in 1998, the files that we used were not fitting into floppies anymore. We increasingly used Zip drives and MO drives (which are what NeXT used). If Apple had intended to provide a viable alternative, they could have used either of these. The crazy thing is that they didn’t. They left us with nothing.

            What was actually pretty common back then was to buy an external Zip or MO drive for each PC that you had in the office. The problem with the iMac was, USB 1.0 was much much slower than the legacy SCSI ports that we had used to connect these drives. It was significantly crippled in this regard as well.

          3. I remember what life was like back in 1998. Let me define what I mean by “viable”. It may not be initially better than what is _available_, but it clearly has more of a future. Even in 1998, it was obvious internet speeds were getting faster. It wasn’t much later that cable modems hit the public. I’m pretty sure I got ours in 2000 or 2001 at the latest.

            It was also obvious that portable storage, whether floppies, Zip or Jaz drives (I had both) was getting more ridiculous and trouble laden as they progressed. The only thing those drives were doing was making things unnecessarily more complex. And the iMac did have an optical drive, so again, the floppy (and most Zip drives) became pretty much moot.

            I do agree that such decisions are not without pain. But such decisions still have options. It is not that Apple said we no longer need file transfers. It is just that Apple said “This is how we think file transfers are going to be best handled”. They easily could have been wrong.

            Joe

          4. OK. I think we have the same idea, but are using different meanings of words.

            I agree that it was rather obvious that Internet speeds were going to get faster and that at least Firewire was going to become standard.

            It did take a few years though.

            If you define “viable” as having to wait a few years, then I’m with you. That isn’t however how I would normally define it though.

            And, I don’t think any normal company would pull a feature, leaving poor customers with only inferior options for a couple of years. It’s something that Apple is unique in doing and also being able to pull off.

            And they still continue to do things like that as we can see with the iWork and Final Cut Pro revisions.

            Mind you, I’m not criticizing Apple for this. I actually think this is what helps Apple avoid the Innovator’s Dilemma.

          5. I think some of this goes to the potential iMac customer, however. For the typical iMac customer, this is a non-issue. I never bought an iMac (even today) or even an iBook because I need/ed those options that neither the iMac or iBook offered.

            I define “viable” as not just current ability, but also viability going forward. Serial ports (both Apple’s and PCs), analogue telephone modems, floppy, Zip, and Jaz drives were dead end technologies. They were not going to get better.

            Joe

          6. And let’s also remember, at 56k a 1.4 meg file would “only” take about 2-3 minutes to upload. That was blazing back in the day. It would take as long to copy the file to the floppy, sneaker-net it to where i needed it, and copy it to the next computer.

            Joe

          7. “they strongly believe that simplicity is more important than feature completeness in the long term, and that killing legacy features at the earliest opportunity is a priority.”

            Yes! This is why I buy Apple gear, I crave simplicity. All the nerds and tinkerers clamoring for complexity, features, open, whatever, get your greasy hands off my Apple, go futz with someone else’s technology and leave my experience alone.

          8. “the elimination of serial ports,…were not really necessary short term and there were not immediate benefits to the usability or prices of the devices.”

            Disagree. Those pre-Imac serial ports were proprietary. The chief benefit of the Imac was that it eliminated all the proprietary, non-standard interfaces that had kept the Mac as an ecosystem apart from the rest of computing, and traded them for industry standard USB. With the Imac, Apple got rid of one of the anchors that was weighing the mac down — the fact that you had to buy completely different printers, keyboards, mice, etc, etc, etc, to use with them, which meant that there were very very few 3rd party peripherals for the mac and those that did exist were far more expensive than their PC counterparts.

          9. I agree with your “industry standard USB” comment, but that was not an “immediate benefit” at all.

            Remember that at the iMac’s launch, USB devices were even rarer than Apple Desktop Bus devices. In fact, it was the popularity of the iMac that pushed peripheral makers to create USB compatible devices. They hardly existed before. That was why a lot of these devices were designed covered in translucent plastic; to make them match the Bondi Blue iMac.

            Apple replaced their proprietary, non-standard interface with a new, hardly used interface. The number of compatible devices did not increase at first. In fact, it decreased. Only after the iMac ignited interest in USB did the number of USB compatible devices increase.

            So I agree with you if you are talking about a year or so after the iMac release. If you are talking about immediately after the iMac release, then I think you’re wrong.

            Take a look at this old Macworld article;

            Apple has opted to replace these familiar connections with USB, a high-speed serial architecture that has suffered from slow adoption on the Wintel platform despite its technical advantages (see the sidebar “USB: Ready for Prime Time?”). Currently, no USB devices exist for the Mac.

            http://www.macworld.com/article/1133334/original_imac.html

            http://www.macworld.com/article/1133334/original_imac.html?page=2

          10. First, Apple was between a rock and a hard place at that time. Apple was losing a billion dollars a year. The mac was dying. The mac ecosystem was dying. Apple needed not just to reinvent themselves, they needed to bring new life to their ecosystem of 3rd party peripheral manufacturers. Radical emergency surgery was needed. For the peripheral ecosystem, The Imac’s elimination of proprietary ports was that surgery. It inflicted pain on mac users, but companies that were thinking about quitting the mac ecosystem suddenly had a reason to stay.

            Second, you’ve been talking repeatedly in this thread about how eliminating SCSI and leaving only USB 1.1 was a bad move from the user’s POV, and you’ve used the example of how painful it was at your workplace in the late 90’s to use Imacs that had no fast file transfer method available. Except that SCSI was only eliminated from the Imac — the beige Powermac G3 still had SCSI. The Bondi Blue Powermac G3 eliminated SCSI but added Firewire support. In short, file transfers were painful *only* for people and businesses who bought Imacs (which were *explicitly* designed and marketed as purely consumer internet appliances, not as professional computers) for use as work machines. And that pain was eliminated just 18 months later when Apple brought Firewire to the Imac.

            Finally, there was (and is) no easy way to transition between old hardware and new hardware standards. If you just add the new stuff as an option, everyone will continue using the old ports, and the peripheral makers will continue to make hardware for the old ports, and nothing will change and the moribund ports continue to hang around zombie-like, for years (CF how incredibly long it took parallel ports to disappear from WIndows PC hardware). Apple followed the least painful path by making the new standard non-optional at first only on their consumer appliance line of machines.

          11. Yes. That is exactly what I was saying.

            I’m not saying that what Apple did was a bad move. I’m saying that it was probably brilliant especially in light of the Innovator’s Dillema.

            I’m trying to clarify that their move was very controversial, and that in the short term, users suffered. That is to say, there is a significant price that users pay for Apple’s fetish on simplicity, and it’s not just money but also often convenience or productivity. But it’s worth it in the longer term.

    2. ” I don’t defend the medium, I defend what the medium allowed, and which is now more restricted.”

      I don’t get this at all. Digital files are far more convenient and multiplatform than optical disks. Media stored on your hard drive can be synced to any device, played at a moment’s notice on any screen without having to juggle disks, and without having to suffer through interminable DVD menus, previews, and anti-piracy warnings.

      Playing devil’s advocate here, it doesn’t really matter all that much if the file on the hard disk has DRM as long as it’s allowed to play on any device you own (which is true of Apple’s Fairplay DRM). Whether you’ve bought it from Apple’s store or ripped it yourself, a file on your hard drive beats the pants off an optical disk any day.

      I also think you are reading far too much into Apple’s removal of optical disks from their macs. It’s not that they are trying to shove everyone to using the cloud for everything. They’ve simply read their customer surveys and decided that the problems created by having optical drives in their computers have started to outweigh the benefits customers get out of those optical drives.

      What are optical drives good for? Installing software sold on optical disk (pretty much dead at this point), playing media disks (better to just use your dedicated CD or DVD player), ripping media disks, and breaking down unexpectedly.

      If ripping media is all that you’re using your optical drive for, it makes very little sense to have it take up room and adding weight inside your laptop. Better to have an external drive that you can plug in when you need to rip a new disk and otherwise keep in a drawer. Then the laptop can be lighter, have a bigger battery, and cost less.

      As for why take optical drives out of desktops, again I think Apple’s rationale was simple. Keeping in mind that Apple makes its decisions based on pleasing their least technical customers, who, when something goes wrong with their mac, bring it to an apple store to be fixed rather than getting out the antistatic strap and the screwdriver kit.

      In that context, ditching internal optical drives from all Macs makes a lot of sense. You don’t actually need an optical drive to have a fully functional computer, and in
      fact you’re probably only going to be using it every so often. Also, optical drives break easily. And you’re going to find out that it’s broken on the one day when you *do* need it. Finally, optical drives are very cheap. So, far better to make all optical drives external, so that they can be instantly and affordably replaced by a nontechnical person without having to bring the computer in to a repair shop and without having to pay for repair labour. Best of all, the performance of optical drives is slow enough that having it plug in via USB does not slow it down all that much compared to an internal drive.

      So, leaving them out of all macs allows Apple to build computers that are more reliable, need servicing less often, and have a lower price. Apple saves a bit of money and their customers win all around.

      1. I appreciate your advocacy on Lucifer’s behalf.

        Media on your hard drive can indeed be synced to any drive. Whether they will play is another matter. You can look at it this way, the “DRM” on optical media is ubiquitous, on computers it’s platform dependent.

        I don’t blame Apple for drm, per se, but on their promotion of drm’ed media over more ubiquitous solutions. What if you choose not to stream? What if you decide to boycott drm’ed files? Killing optical is killing options.

        Being storage limited as most their devices are, only enhances the dependence on streaming, thus on drm, as well.

        “as long as it’s allowed to play on any device you own (which is true of Apple’s Fairplay DRM).”
        As long as that device isn’t Android, WP, or Metro based…
        And why not? You paid for that file.

        1. “Killing optical is killing options.”

          They didn’t kill optical, they just made it optional. If you still have a use for optical, they will happily sell you an expensive USB dvd burner. Or you can buy any one of a zillion models from Amazon for peanuts.

          “Being storage limited as most their devices are,”

          Reaching a bit for that, aren’t you? Their laptops are limited because they’re SSD-only. And really there were only a handful of years before Apple switched to all-SSD laptops when you could get *any* laptop with more than a pittance of storage. Their desktops all come with at least 500gb hard drives, upgradable to 1tb or 3tb depending on the model. And Amazon again has many different kinds of external hard drives if 1tb is not enough.

          “Still, no Blu-Ray, internal or external.”

          And for good reason. Jobs in 2008: “You know, Blu-ray is a bag of hurt. I don’t mean from a consumer point of view—it’s great to watch movies—but the licensing is so complex. We’re waiting until things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace before we burden our customers with the cost of the licensing and the cost of the drives.”

          And as it turned out, blu-ray never really took off the way DVDs did. New movies come out on Blu-ray, true, but the studios aren’t putting their entire back catalogs on Blu-Ray the way they did on DVD. The reason is clear — they got too greedy, charging way more for HD than for DVD. THe result is that lots of people looked at the price of buying a new set top box and a new library of disks, and decided that DVDs looked good enough on their HDTVs. Plus they could always download HD versions of what they wanted to watch from Netflix or Hulu.

          If the studios had not decided to squeeze blood from the turnip just as the economy soured, things might have turned out differently, but as I see it, they killed the Blu-ray gosling before it had time to grow up, let alone lay any golden eggs.

          “Then where are the models that can do it all?”

          All of them. Just buy an external DVD or Blu-Ray burner and you’re done.

          1. I was actually referring more to iOS on the limited storage, but yes, if I can’t upgrade to a larger drive down the road the same applies.
            Let’s be clear on something. There is no native Blu-Ray at all on OSX. What passes for Blu-Ray right now is on the fly ripping of the disk, and requires an internet connection.

          2. Agree on Blu-Ray, it feels like a technology that will simply be skipped over on our way to all digital. We own a lot of movies, almost all DVDs, I see no reason to go Blu-Ray.

          3. I dread the thought of owning even more discs than the DVDs and CDs I own now. Storing LPs and VHS tapes was bad enough. I agree that the BluRay disc will end up being a passing note to all digital.

            Joe

          4. I really should get started on moving all my DVDs to digital, but I want something simple hooked up to my TV. Ideally an Apple TV with modular storage plugged into it. But perhaps a beefed up AirPlay is the future. I’m waiting a bit to see what’s coming. There are solutions now, but they all seem to require more work than I’d like to put in, as I said in another comment, I crave simplicity.

        2. “Killing optical is killing options.”
          “I was actually referring more to iOS on the limited storage”
          “And why not? You paid for that movie file.”

          Klahanas by now you should’ve understood this unfortunate reality that yours and Apple’s design philosophy are very very different. I really think you should accept this harsh fact and end this never ending battle once for all that neither you’re Apple’s target customer nor you should try to be one. Believe me after accepting this fact everyone ‘d be at peace.
          You seem to be an intelligent person but to me your biases has really diluted

          1. An article was written, some commentary was made within, and we made further commentary.

            And if your suggesting that I should just realize that Apple will do what they believe, how is that at all inconsistent with what I said?

            Or should the whole thing go un-rebutted and un-criticized?
            That would be fine too if it weren’t disproportionately praised.

          2. “if [Apple] weren’t disproportionately praised.”

            I disagree. Apple has been historically disproportionally berated and ridiculed. Any praise it receives now is well earned, especially in light of the constant barrage of “Apple is doing it wrong”, when, judging by their regular success, that just isn’t the case.

            Joe

          3. “That would be fine too if it weren’t disproportionately praised.”

            You’re way off here. Apple is not disproportionately praised, quite the opposite, going back decades. The real problem is Apple’s success, which it has earned, and that has angered the traditional tech crowd. Apple’s approach to technology wasn’t supposed to work at all, let alone be wildly successful. This causes a great deal of fear, anxiety, bias, etc.

            Your new line of criticism that Apple customers must COMMIT, ALL CAPS, is quite ridiculous.

          4. emphasis. not yelling.
            you speak of the tech crowd as not worthy of opinion. you, yourself, correctly stated that i am not an apple customer. it’s precisely because of my failure to commit.
            see, i can give you all lowercase, but i can’t give you “both ways”.

          5. The reason you aren’t an Apple customer has nothing to do with a failure to commit. The very idea that you must commit to Apple is ridiculous, a hysterical reaction, an invented narrative, it’s incredibly silly.

          6. Just a few days ago you had the opinion that I’m wasting money by being my own IT department, and that I should allow Apple to fulfill that role.

            Doing that requires me to COMMIT to having Apple as my IT department.

            Having non-user serviceable devices requires me to COMMIT to that policy
            Having only a single store for Apps and other media on iOS requires me to COMMIT.
            Having curation of that single store requires me to COMMIT more.
            Not having sd cards requires me to COMMIT to streaming on iOS.
            Using technologies on Apple’s timeframe requires me to COMMIT.

            You can debate the merits of each of those points individually, what you can’t deny is the commitment.

          7. The reality that you continue to miss is that ‘commitment’ doesn’t stop you from getting things done, it doesn’t hinder productivity and real work, in fact it helps you get more real work done. The commitment exists only as an ideal in your mind. In practical use it is meaningless.

            Now, if the specific tools that Apple provides actually do hinder your work in some way, then of course don’t buy from Apple. I can’t imagine there are very many of those scenarios, but there must be some.

            You must understand that the tools Apple provides are an enormous benefit to many people in their life and their work. You seek to destroy that benefit, driven by your own selfish desires. That’s not cool.

            Your ‘commitment’ narrative is just silly, incredibly so. I don’t feel any sort of commitment because I am not restrained in any way from what I need or want to do. You might as well argue there’s no such thing as freedom. Sure, that’s technically correct, but it is not a practical reality.

          8. You know what’s silly? That my External Superdrive doesn’t work on all my computers, that even includes some Macbooks! This was done by design in the drive’s firmware. Who would it harm if it just worked, as every other similar device.? Please tell who’s purpose does that serve? Should I really need to be that paranoid to check my expectations at that level? COMMIT!

            I also think your being a little bit too protective of your experience. No one is trying to deprive you of your cherished experience, they might want to modify their own though. I suppose you just as adamantly wish the command line were eliminated based on your position. Don’t like it? Don’t use it.

          9. Everything can’t work with everything, there are trade offs and compromises in every design decision. And you can’t always add and simply hide complexity without a negative impact. It’s a nice ideal, but it isn’t practical.

            Here’s the nut of the problem. Apple seeks to destroy complexity, the end goal really is no IT department at all. Your ego/identity is wrapped up in the complexity of technology, “being my own IT department”, you’re quite proud of that. As Apple pushes forward and reduces complexity it is only natural for you to have a strong negative reaction to that progress. But your reaction isn’t based in sound reasoning and logic, it is an emotional ego-driven reaction. This makes much of what you say entirely predictable, and honestly, boring.

            The drive/progress towards simplicity is obvious, it is the future. And yet you spend most of your time railing against this future.

          10. There is zero, none, nada, zilch good reason that the Superdrive needed to be that way other than to serve an agenda. If anything, making it the way they have added complexity for them and the user.

          11. I passed over your “commit” line the first time around, but it’s been bothering me. Allow me to retort.

            If you want a computer that can “do it all,” you can have that, but you have to COMMIT to living with hardware made by companies that have inferior customer support and software with inferior usability. You have to COMMIT to buying hardware that loses nearly all of its value after a few years*, and you have to COMMIT to a choice between OS software made by hobbyists in their spare time (with all that implies for inferior screening for security bugs and inferior UI), or by a company for which 99% of all malware is targeted, and which seems congenitally unable to deliver good UI.

            As for your complaints about Apple’s corporate evils (IIRC, centered on its censorship of the IOS app store) — corporations are sociopaths by their nature as profit-oriented entities. Unless you commit (there’s that word again) to living a 19th century lifestyle in the woods, you have to live with dealing with corporations and their evils. In the mobile realm, you have a choice of either a company that maintains a strictly curated (and thus somewhat restrictive and censored) app store, or a company that wants to suck up all your private personal data and sell you to the highest advertising bidder. The choices in the PC realm are equally grim. (yes, open source, linux, debian, cyanogenmod all exist — see above re made by hobbyists in their spare time).

            * vis a vis retention of hardware value, when I mentioned the resale value of Macs to you a few weeks back I forgot to give specific numbers. Last fall I bought an early 2009 mac mini for $300 (core 2 duo 2ghz, 320gb hard drive, 4gb ram — originally retail for this config was I think $800). Six months later I decided I wanted a faster processor. I bought a late 2009 mini (same specs, same retail but 2.5ghz) for $350. Then I sold the slower mini for $350, more than I paid for it.

            I’ve continued to keep an eye on Mini prices because once I can persuade myself to spend the money I want a 2011 I5 mini with radeon graphics. 2010 and 2011 minis continue to cost around $400 to $500, more for the server config. On the other end of the scale, 2006-7 minis (core duo or core 2 duo 1.8ghz, puny hard drives, max 2gb RAM) tend to go for $100-200, depending on the CPU and what upgrades it’s been given. Some people appear to make a profitable hobby out of buying core solo minis and upgrading them to core 2 duo minis, dropping in a modern hard drive and 2gb RAM, and then reselling them.

          12. I always value your input. And you’re absolutely right that on any purchase you have to COMMIT. This is true of Wintel, Linux, or OSX. No disagreement.
            Commitment needs to line up with expectations as well. I think you would agree, and you just described, that it depends on your temperament and expectations. The commitment to Apple is different from the commitment to anyone else. Both have their upsides and downsides. (They aren’t mutually exclusive, but as you said, corporations are sociopaths).

            So if you have more traditional expectations of, you know, control of your device, you possibly will choose Linux or Windows. If you want to delegate (abdicate?) that responsibility, then Apple is for you. The narrower choice (for better or worse) is Apple. That commitment, for me, takes a special meaning. It’s kind of like getting a vasectomy. You need to think hard about it, they might be reversible if you regret it, it will be painful to reverse. 😉

          13. ” I really think you should accept this harsh fact and end this never ending battle once for all that neither you’re Apple’s target customer nor you should try to be one. Believe me after accepting this fact everyone ‘d be at peace.”

            I would normally agree with you and have said as much myself. However, this is one of the few articles (the first?) I’ve read here that his opinions on this are actually, mostly, relevant, no logical gymnastics necessary. So I say, finally, “Flail away!”

            Joe

        3. “Killing optical is killing options.”

          I think killing optical is killing more moving parts, both physically and operationally Optical and DRM are not interchangeable.

          DRM is a copyright issue, not a technological one. Until you wrap your head around that, most of what you opine about DRM files is pretty moot. Not that I don’t agree with you or think DRM is good. But until you understand the issue is the media industry and _their_ desire to control, less so Apple’s, you won’t get where your frustration should be directed.

          Joe

          1. I agree with you, and I did temper my position with “I don’t blame Apple for DRM, per se…”. They are however a willing accomplice, and like I said, they are eliminating paths to “drm-non-participation”.
            Sorry Your Honor, I didn’t rob the bank, I just drove the car… 🙂

          2. “Willing accomplice”. Your capacity for mischaracterization and specious analogy knows no bounds. If Apple is going to sell digital files they have to satisfy the copyright holder’s requirements or they don’t get to sell. No one is being robbed.

            “they are eliminating paths to ‘drm-non-participation’.”

            Hardly. As soon as the copyright holders give them the green light to change things (such as with music files and Disney’s video files) they do. Jobs publicly dissented the industry’s requirement for DRM. But they aren’t given a choice. Apple really does not gain anything by promoting DRM media files.

            Joe

          3. That’s the result of not being willing to play by the copyright holder’s rules. Perfect example of what I am talking about. You either play or you don’t. I know, it is hard to believe that someone is worse at “Our way or the highway” than Apple. but here we are.

            Joe

          4. And here’s the meat of the matter. It’s the USER that should be making that decision. Whether they will abide by the copyright holders requirements and buy that disk. Apple’s job is to be the provider of the means to play it.

            Like I said…COMMIT to doing it Apple’s way.

          5. Providing a Bluray option is, obviously, not as simple as providing a CD/DVD drive.

            Just like ditching the floppy and the optical drive, there are options still plenty available. And you can make that decision. No choice is taken away from you. You have the same choices everyone else has.

            And as I have constantly countered, ANYTIME you buy ANYONE”S product, you COMMIT to “their way”.

            Joe

          6. “And as I have constantly countered, ANYTIME you buy ANYONE”S product, you COMMIT to “their way”.”

            Obviously, some more than others…
            Removing any sinister intent (for now), one company can’t do it all. Being insular, as they have chosen to be, and being as controlling over the platform as they are, they have (perhaps inadvertently) become a proxy for decisions and choices over the user.

            Like I said…COMMIT. Not wishy washy commit as with any WIntel manufacturer.

            To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy:
            “See that dead deer on the side of the road? They were partially committed”.

          7. “one company can’t do it all.”

            Yet you keep asking where Apple offers the “all”:

            “where are the models that can do it all?”

            As i’ve said before, Apple makes no pretense about being able to “do it all”. They’ve never promised that. They choose what they feel they can do the best with what they can offer.

            Joe

          8. No sir, they don’t make any pretense of doing it all. They make the pretense that “we know best”. That if they don’t have it, it’s not worth having.
            Like I said…COMMIT.
            (I edited as you replied, did you see the Foxwothy quote)

          9. They certainly know best what they can best offer. Whether that is “pretense” I guess is open to interpretation. I disagree that it is.

            I seem to be missing the Foxworthy quote. But then Disqus has been misbehaving for me lately.

            Joe

          10. To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy:
            “See that dead deer on the side of the road? They were partially committed”.

          11. Klahanas if you remember my first comment to you in other thread was about understanding free market. I said then and now I say again you don’t understand free market.

            “It’s the USER that should be making that decision.”

            Your above comment sufficiently explain this. For a successful barter there should be two parties involved and they both be willing to complete the transaction. Consumer(Users) and Supplier(let’s say Apple) both have their own terms and conditions and when these T&C come on same page a successful transaction happens. So it CANNOT be just USER who’d be calling the shots.

          12. Each user most definitely can call their own shots. They can choose not to abide and not buy. My comments are nothing more than my own perspective of the value proposition of the products. My personal side of the bartering, if you will.

            You may agree, you may disagree, but there’s nothing anti-capitalistic over what I’m doing.

          13. Also your problem with Apple is that what you seek they don’t offer. Now let me give you an example how you can make your argument against Apple.

            ”I prefer company A over company B because company A gives option 1,2,3,4,5(subjective) whereas company B gives me option 1,2,6. Because option 4,5 and 6 are so crucial to me that’s why I take company A’s product.”

            Now this would be perfectly fine stance from you but instead of it you come up with such ridiculous things for example

            ”It’s a shame Apple doesn’t have a modular product. That’s all.”

            -Klahanas

            Now it’s like saying shame on Gap(or some other brand) because they don’t make stuff like Gucci(or some other brand).

            As I said earlier you’ve to overcome your biases against Apple.

          14. You’re right, generically. There are however time honored expectations on goods. I wouldn’t buy a BMW that didn’t allow me in certain areas, for instance.

            In computers, the same is true. And when change is imposed, as was the thrust of the article, and policies over device use are imposed, that’s subject to debate.

          15. You’re free to choose whatever you want to purchase but than it’d be same for others. I’d like to ask you something. Please try to be objective as you can. Now in your opinion what are the factors behind recent success of Apple. I mean iPod iPhone iPad and recent Mac lines.

          16. Apple excels at design. No one has ever heard me say otherwise. They are really good at making things easy to use. Couple that with the fact that the majority of the market is only interested in email, web, and writing an occasional letter, and couldn’t tell you the difference between a monitor and a computer, then that is a legitimate recipe for success. In that regard, their success is well earned.

            My issues come in when, like I say, they become your IT department. There is a tendency to impose that cookie cutter approach to everyone. And a lot of it has been self-serving. They generally don’t play well with others, and they openly lock you in.

            I also treat them with the venom deserving of all censors. The only censorship I tolerate is one’s right to self censorship. They too are allowed to self-sensor their store, but their store is the only one allowed. I bet MS is kicking themselves for not doing that in the early ’90’s…

    3. “If you want Apple as an IT department, and COMMIT to that, then you’ll be okay.”

      You regard this as a bad thing, but I think you tend to forget that for the vast majority of people, including a significant number of technical professionals who just want to get their work done without having to think about such things, letting Apple do the IT work for us is a good thing.

      1. I do personally regard it as a bad thing as an only option. If I were to use an IT person other than myself, they would be doing what I want them to do.

        Still, I think I stated it objectively, leaving room that many (most) could actually prefer that. I see no reason to warrant changing that statement. IF you’re okay with that (that would include prefer) you must understand that you must COMMIT. If you’re at all hedging on commitment, then there could be issues.

      2. Although that may be the case for some things, that definitely wasn’t true for me when Apple ditched serial ports in favor of USB. In this case, COMMITing meant buying a new printer. It was much more complicated to get a USB-serial dongle and get that to work, so unless you were technically savvy, your only choice was to pay several hundreds of dollars. And remember, when the iMac was introduced, there weren’t even many USB peripherals.

        Apple was pissing off every home Mac user who had a printer. Not a small minority.

        Of course in the long run, USB was so much better, plug-and-play and trouble free compared to the serial port. My point is, Apple often screws even the majority short term.

  2. its willingness to get rid of technology as better becomes available.

    I think it goes even deeper than that. Apple is willing to get rid of technology even when the new one is still an infant and is far from ready. Apple prioritizes killing the old.

    In 1998, Apple killed SCSI in favor of the super slow USB 1.0 on the iMac and PowerBooks. At that time, FireWire wasn’t even ready. They killed SCSI before the alternatives had grown up, and Apple certainly didn’t provide any. Anybody who took backups seriously was hurt.

    Of course even Apple would prefer that a viable alternative is available now. Sometimes however, they will kill nonetheless.

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