Monday, February 11, 2008

Surrender

I am not a fan of Apple. In fact, I find Apple quite irritating most of the time. It's due to my loathing of this once-bitten fruit company that I haven't used one of their products since I was playing games on my dad's Apple IIE. (Among others, it had a Star Trek game that absolutely frigg'n ruled.)

And it's not that my non-existent love of all things Microsoft prevents me from looking on Apple with anything but disdain. I could really care less about the "my OS is better than your OS" rigmarole. It's just the trademark the company has on arrogance that I find irritating as hell. Here's a top 5 list of things about Apple I don't like:

5. Their "I'm a cool Mac, You're an arrogant, incompetent PC" commercials. They're not cute, they're not funny and most importantly of all, they're almost never accurate. Unfortunately, they're also criminally effective.

4. Paying the Apple premium. Maybe I'm missing something, but I think Apple products are ridiculously overpriced. They just introduced a 32GB iTouch this week and instead of lowering prices on the existing iTouch line like any normal company would do, they set it a full $100 higher than the 16GB model's current price ($500 and $400, respectively). The MacBook Air? Yes, there's nothing I want more than to pay a premium for a laptop that can do, well, less, than a typical full-featured laptop. (Note: I'm including the cost of crucial MacBook Air accessories. See next.)

EDIT: "4b." Paying the Apple premium multiple times. If Apple's core products are merely overpriced, then I don't know what the appropriate adjective is for what it costs to buy accessories or get a repair. $100 a year for the .Mac experience? $100 for an external Macbook Air drive. $50 for a set of composite cables to connect to an iPod? Are you guys stoned? I'll tell you what, I'll just leave the money on the nightstand. I'm not even going to get into their love of non-user replaceable batteries.

3. Apple's "superior" quality. Easy to use products? Yes. Well designed products? Yes. Perfectly implemented products... uh, no. The number of people I've known with Apple products (iPods in particular) that failed within the first year is legion. (Note: You have to redefine "legion" to a number that can be counted on two hands. But, proportional to the number of people who will speak to me, the number's still huge!!!) If Microsoft releases an update that bricks some Xbox 360s, it's practically front page news around the globe. But if Apple does that with an update for the iPod it's all so very hush hush that, from what I've been reading, even Apple's tech support folks can't hear the users screaming.

2. The Apple mystique. Look, I'm all for combining art and creativity with technology. I'm a gamer after all. And Apple has both of these qualities in spades. They also buy too much into their own hype. And if there's no hype to buy, they'll import some from overseas. At some point whether you're using a Mac or using a Windows PC, you're still just using a goddamn computer. Apple, your Mac/PC commercials may own 95% of the commercial airwaves, but you're still about 5% of the overall PC market. It's all very much like that scene in Ratatouille when the "evil" critic arrives at Gusteau's and tells the waiter he'd like order up a nice heaping bowl of perspective.

1. Apple fanatics. Not the fans. The fanatics. This small, but ludicrously vocal subset of Apple fandom have bought into the Apple mystique hook, line and sinker, and Apple's encouragement, even cultivation, of these people has forever soured me on the Apple brand. To these lemmings Apple is the golden calf of our time. The mighty Apple can do no wrong! Give yourself over to the glory and wonder of the Apple! Worship at the altar of the Apple and be saved! What's that? You use a PC? Well, you know you're going to burn in hell for eternity, right?

Despite all that, there's a problem with my desire to slather Apple in carmel and devour it whole: As loathe as I am to admit it, most of their products are actually quite good. And this weekend I finally broke. I used some Best Buy GC's to fund my purchase of an iPod Classic (80GB) and, so far, I absolutely love the little bugger. Porting my music collection into iTunes has been a royal pain in the ass (long story; not all iTunes fault, I suppose), but the relationship between iTunes and the iPod is soooo much better than between Windows Media Player and any other MP3 player I've owned. The iPod UI is like mana from heaven. And having built-in iTunes support for Podcasts is a godsend. (Seriously, how does Media Player not have this yet?)

So to you, Apple, I can only say this: I surrender.

I still think you're bunch of overrated, overvalued, hypocrites. A wildly creative bunch of hypocrites, to be sure, but hypocrites nonetheless. But like a battered spouse I end up loving you anyway, despite your overinflated sense of self worth. So just let me know where the local cult meetings are and I'll attend. I just won't tell anyone I'm still going to hell for actually liking my Vista PC.

I leave you with this:



*To be fair, while wholly accurate, this video was made in the days of OS9.

5 comments:

Loren said...

Todd, buddy, you have 6 reasons up there and you use #3 twice...heh.

I've had 2 iPods (3rd generation when the battery problems were prevalent) and the 5th generation video iPod. That's about the only product I'll buy into with Apple.

I think everything they sell is overpriced on the computer side. You touched on the new Air one...$1800 for a computer that turns on when I open it. YES! ;)

todd brakke said...

Loren, don't confuse me with your fancy math. :) (Actually, I wrote that post in two sittings and must've gotten my lame self confused.)

Brandon said...

I have a 3rd generation iPod and it's not nearly as good as my Creative Zen Jukebox was. The battery life is abysmal and once you get used to being able to delete tracks from the player on the fly, as well as edit playlists, it's hard to lose it.

One thing I can tell you is that iTunes is fine for ripping music but sucks for transferring it. Go to Redchairsoftware.com and buy a copy of their Notmad explorer software (or whichever one is for the iPod). It integrates right into Windows Explorer so that you can drag and drop to and from the iPod. It also allows for running SQL queries if you want to go crazy with making playlists.

Personally, I think Mac's look cool, but the people who work there, the people in their commercials and the people who buy their stuff just seem like pretentious f*uckwads. I'm sorry that Bono can't figure out how to use two mouse buttons, but here on the smart side of the street, we're doing just fine.

todd brakke said...

Brandon, I've got a Creative Zen W and for video, I love the beast. Ultimately, though, it's just not nearly as portable as I'd like and the UI when working with a large music collection is just nightmarish. The podcasting support is also abysmal as the "Zencast" feature corrupts every podcast I throw into it. (And I *hate* Creative's software.)

Basically, I'm gonna use my iPod as a music repository and my Zen for long trips or other situations that involve a lot of waiting, where I can happily kick back and watch converted movie and TV DVDs.

About ripping: I rip my music using a specialized (and free) utility called Exact Audio Copy. My ears probably don't notice the difference, but it's supposed to be the best (ie - most accurate).

Also, I can't speak to other needs, but for syncing up an entire collection from PC to iPod, so far, I think iTunes works fabulously. Maybe it's not as good if you want finer-grained control over the sync process? Or maybe, if it's been awhile for you, Apple has improved the iTunes sync process?

Thanks for the tip about Notmad. I'll be sure to check it out!

Brandon said...

For some reason, at one point, iTunes stopped recognizing that I had certain songs on my iPod and every time I synched my iPod up, iTunes would keep putting duplicates on the blasted thing. Very annoying. Honestly, I just like being able to get stuff on my iPod without using an Apple product.

Take that Steve Jobs!

Oh, and the Creative software was always a nightmare, which is how I got turned on the Red Chair stuff in the first place.