by Mike Shea on 7 May 2007
PC World recently posted a controversial yet impotent article entitled Ten Things We Hate About Apple. The controversy involved an old time editor who left when the new lead editor, a veteran of MacWorld, claimed to censor the article because it might disturb advertisers. Whatever the controversy, the article itself barely touched on the things I personally don't like about Apple so I decided it was time for my own slashing straight razor of an article where my tens of readers can understand the true issues with Apple.
As a recent three-month Mac convert, Apple lives at the heart and fringes of my home digital next-generation media experiences (to coin a horrifying bit of marketing from the Vista advertisement pod people). I use my Macbook Pro as the center, with iTunes as my primary application for podcasts, video podcasts, audiobooks, music, movies, and TV shows. Video is routed to my Apple TV (in about an hour, my wife and I will partake in this week's Heroes, fresh from iTunes to my Apple TV). Audio is routed to my dated iPod Nano for use in the car and around the house.
So I love the Apple and, after three months, I'm a total horrifyingly pompous loud-mouthed convert. There are, however, some things about Apple that really piss me off. Here they are.
They don't mention the spinning-beach-ball-of-death in all of those fancy witty "Switch to Mac" ads. They don't show you how your system will periodically hang for no apparent reason when opening or closing a program, inserting an imperfect DVD, or when you wake up from sleep. There's also no good way to simply break out of whatever process you happen to be stuck in. Unlike Windows XP which lets you CTRL-ALT-DELETE to the task manager and break just about anything that hasn't completely screwed your system, the Mac just doesn't quite seem to let you break out of a cycle that might appear to be working but really isn't. If you can't switch to the Finder, if you can't OPTION-APPLE-ESCAPE, if you can't bring up the task bar, you're pretty hosed. Time to reboot, just like you did with Windows 95.
In fairness, it is likely my external hard drives or my external monitor that's dorking things up but it isn't exactly a crazy custom job to hook up a pair of external firewire drives. OSX needs to fail more gracefully.
The opensource community has much better support for XP than it does for OSX. Opensource programs for OSX often run slower or with less stability than we expect from opensource programs on XP. On XP I have Notetab Light, Irfanview, VLC, Firefox, Filezilla, and Open Office. On Mac I have Writeroom, Textmate, Pages, and Transmit. All of these Mac apps aren't opensource, they're shareware at best and usually run $30 to register. Granted these programs run a lot better, faster, and with a lot more elegance than the opensource stuff on XP but it was awfully nice to get a machine fully functional without paying for anything. I'd like to see better native opensource OSX applications than I do now. Handbrake is a great example of a powerful OSX program that doesn't cost a dime. I love it and I want more.
Buried inside the Apple hippy motif is a pure capitalist. It's no surprise to anyone, but Apple isn't Linux. Just because you're not Microsoft doesn't mean you're not evil. There's a lot of evil under the shiny white minimalist modern art exterior. Yes, Steve Jobs became a new hero of mine when he wrote that Digital Rights Management is broken and backed up his words by striking a deal with EMI to release DRM-free tracks on iTunes and offered the same deal to any music producer working with iTunes. Music was never the problem, though. It takes about 30 seconds and a 5 cent CD to legally bypass the DRM of iTunes and convert your music into any format you want.
Movies and TV shows are the bigger problem. There is no way to currently bypass the DRM on shows or movies purchased from iTunes. They aren't exactly cheap at $2 a show or $10 a movie; at least not cheap enough to consider them totally disposable. If something of mine is wrapped in DRM, I am confident that I will lose it in the next five years or so. It is as disposable as a VHS tape.
To focus so much attention on the DRM of music clearly misses the point that the real battle is for movies and TV shows. Apple continues to stand behind DRM as it relates to movies and TV shows.
I don't want an iPhone. It is missing a lot of features I want from a device like that including longer battery life, a larger drive, and a lower price. Not wanting a product doesn't matter very much until the company that produces it delays every other product I DO want to focus on the one magic device to rule them all.
Apple used to have the best product available for digital music. Now Apple lags behind three other competing music players including Sansa's X, Creative Labs's X, and Microsoft's Zune. All of these have widescreen displays, large hard drives, and bluetooth connections. Apple could kill these systems with an excellent high-capacity widescreen iPod but all of the technology that would create such a killer device went to the iPhone.
Apple pushed Leopard back for nearly six months because if the iPhone. Apple will likely hold back any announcement of a sixth generation iPod until after the iPhone. We're seeing no new iMacs, no new Macbooks, no new Mac Minis, and no new iPods so far this year. Everything is on hold because of the iPhone.
I don't want an iPhone, I want a new iPod. Apple is very close to making the same mistake Sony made with the Playstation 3. No one wants a universal next-generation home media experience, they want a game console. No one wants a pocket digital media communication internet device, they want an iPod.