Failing software, poor materials, modern slavery issues, marketing hypocrisy: here’s why you’d better keep away from the widely overrated fruit
From the computers’ Paleolithic to 2009, I’ve always run on PC. For endless years, just like many of you, I’ve found myeslf swearing at Microsoft — at least once a day. Then, I decided to go Mac. My primary reason was that I started doing film editing on Final Cut Pro. Maybe in the back of my head I was also hoping that my computer’s performance would be slightly better with the change. I was proved wrong. And if anything worse than Windows could ever exist, that could very likely be called Apple. Here are the reasons:
1. Failing software:
To start with, my MacBook had, since the very first day I owned it, an inbuilt problem that was known by Apple (several forums had been talking about it for months, as I was to discover a few weeks later, when I found out about the problem) that was affecting its Mac OS X and causing a security breach in the system. If I remember right, this was caused by a failing security in the Air Port / Network controls. By the time I found out about this, a strange folder with Chinese characters was stuck inside the System folder, and there was no way to remove it. I even tried to reinstall my OS X, but I couldn’t get rid of it. It went away a few months later, probably through a software update, but who knows what could have happened in all those months with no protection and who could have used my computer to do hell knows what.
But that was not the only problem: on my MacBook, browsers (especially Apple’s Safari) have a tendency to freeze more often than anyone’s nerves could possibly tolerate, or run very slowly, sometimes even just when you’re online, with no other program or application open. Ok, I must admit that my small MacBook doesn’t have the power of a racing stallion, but still, it’s more powerful than other laptops I’ve had 5-10 years ago or more, and whose performance was proportionally better. As far as Safari, I used it for no more than a month or two, and then I trashed it forever and went back to Firefox.
2. (Very!) poor hardware:
The worst surprise I had with my MacBook was the MagSafe power adapter. The first cable started acting silly just about half a year after the purchase, and left me stranded, with no hope of recharging the battery (and as a matter of fact, use my computer) only weeks later. That’s when I had to almost get in a fight with an Apple Store salesperson in order to get my 6-month-old (!) adapter changed. The new cable lasted for only about a year, after which I was left with no choice but buying a new one, for a jaw-dropping 75 euros (about 100 US $). I already knew that dumb Apple had such ridiculous prices for even the most basic components, but hey, a hundred bucks?!? …For a power adapter? Give me a break! By the way, you can’t even buy another brand, as the MagSafe is the only adapter on the market that goes into MacBooks. In the meantime, I also found out that Apple had already shifted from the older T-shaped to the L-shaped MagSafe, precisely because of that: the cable on the older adapter frayed or “melted” easily, and there even had been reports about some adapters catching fire (!). So anyway, months went by, and my third adapter in three years started acting funny. At the end, I decided to open the d**n L-shape tube, extract what was left of the half worn-down connectors, and fix it all myself. But now I have to keep my MacBook on a flat surface, without moving it of an inch, whenever i’m using the power cable and/or charging the battery. My laptop has become a part-time one, and part-time desktop computer. Which is really non-sense.
And then, I’ve had a number of smaller issues due to the poor materials in my MacBook, such as the bottom rubber pad totally detaching from the laptop’s base, or a big piece of plastic breaking up – for no particular reason – from its side.
Finally, even though I’ve never had an iPhone – and most probably never will – I guess I should include in this “poor hardware” section the problems I’ve heard of, from friends or in the media, about some aspects of the iPhone 4 when it first came out (namely, the antenna and signal issues that some of you must have been familiar with).
3. Child labour and other modern slavery issues:
To make a (very) long story short, just a few data that speak for themselves: in 2010, 91 children under the age 16 were found working in the Chinese factories manufacturing Apple products.
Other reports have revealed in recent years that companies assembling Apple products make use of what we can modern slave labour. Many of you have probably heard about the scandal that broke out in 2010 after 14 workers from a Foxconn complex near Shenzhen, China (where the iPhones, iPads and iPods are assembled), committed suicide, many of them jumping from the very roof of the factory. Undercover journalists were witnesses to the very poor working conditions Foxconn’s employees were forced to, with shifts up to 36 hours and working weeks totalling as many as 60 hours or more. The workers spent most of the time left jammed in dorms that, as even videos have shown, looked worse and more crowded than our prisons. Not to mention the bars on the windows and the fences on the roof to prevent more suicides. Eventually, all the workers had to sign a legally binding paper promising that they won’t commit suicide(!, again), and that their descendants would not sue Foxconn in case they were to be found dead.
The quality in most Apple products – or, at least, in some of them – is simply not meeting the standards one would expect giving the brand’s prices and reputation. In addition to this, I think there is a great deal of hypocrisy in the “alternative”-ish message and the general idea of boundless creativity that Apple claims to convey and has been communicating with, especially in the past decades. And despite the gigantic awe that traveled all around the planet a few months back, at the announcement of the Great Guru’s departure, despite the general kneeling down by the media and the star-adoring masses, it should be reminded that Steve Jobs was not a god, nor the greatest genius of our time: he was, indeed, a man who had three or four brilliant ideas – especially business and marketing ones – but there is absolutely nothing alternative about Apple. Because Apple is the very core of the free-market/voracious-consumerist society we live in. There is absolutely nothing “cool”, and even less so original or revolutionary, in having a stupid apple glowing on a piece of plastic or steel on one’s lap or in one’s pocket.
NB: I’m not paid by Microsoft, by the way. As I said before, Microsoft is crap too, to many extents. But I was surprised to see that Apple can even be worse.