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Is Apple Turning Into the Next "Evil Empire"? 722

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-mouse-button-to-rule-them-all dept.
jira writes "'You may think you own your iPad or iPhone but in reality an invisible string links it back to Apple HQ' writes John Naughton. He adds: 'Umberto Eco once wrote a memorable essay arguing that the Apple Mac was a Catholic device, while the IBM PC was a Protestant one. His reasoning was that, like the Roman church, Apple offered a guaranteed route to salvation – the Apple Way – provided one stuck to it. PC users, on the other hand, had to take personal responsibility for working out their own routes to heaven.'"
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Is Apple Turning Into the Next "Evil Empire"?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:37AM (#35395588)

    The fact that this question is being asked is, in my opinion, a sign of the times. I never thought I'd see the day when Apple is considered an "evil empire", and Microsoft is kind of the underdog/good-guy. I think, however, that Apple is making the same mistakes now they made 30 years ago. They decided to tie their hardware and software together, forcing the end user to buy their hardware - at a drastically increased initial investment cost - in order to get their software. Microsoft came along and blew that concept out of the water, and now Apple is doing the same thing again with mobile devices and iOS. Then we have Google creating an open source operating system that's totally "untethered" from hardware (I've even seen Android running on iPhones).

    I think that we're going to see a repeat of the 90's here somewhat shortly with respect to mobile devices (aka "the next frontier"). Apple will insist on selling iPads and iPhones at $500 - $800 each, and Google will allow their OS to be placed on any device the consumer wants, decoupling the OS and hardware and ultimately "owning" the mobile marketspace, just like Microsoft beat Apple in terms of marketshare and continues to do so to this day.

  • A bite of the Apple? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Troll-Under-D'Bridge (1782952) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @07:01AM (#35395688) Journal

    The Apple logo is just the invitation to this sort of techno-moralism. For natural born atheists and non-Christians, the half-eaten apple is a representation of the Forbidden Fruit [wikipedia.org]. So, yes, Apple is "evil" in that "iconic" sense. You just have to have an iPhone but all you can afford is an Android? Confess your sin and say your prayers, son.

  • by jonwil (467024) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @07:30AM (#35395810)

    The difference here is that unlike the PC industry where there were no forces trying to keep the software stack closed or control what you ran, in the mobile space we have cell carriers (especially in the US) who want to control what mobile device users do with their device in the same way Ma Bell controlled what the devices that connected to the phone network were able to do in the past.

  • Re:What (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Targon (17348) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @08:21AM (#35396012)

    So not ALLOWING Flash, even when Adobe does all the work is being good? How about FORCING publishers to sell their content at a 30 percent loss on the App Store, that is being good?

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday March 06, 2011 @08:47AM (#35396098) Homepage Journal

    1.
    morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life.
    2.
    harmful; injurious: evil laws.
    3.
    characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous: to be fallen on evil days.
    4.
    due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character: an evil reputation.
    5.
    marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.: He is known for his evil disposition.

    Apple conforms to #2 and #4. Steve Jobs conforms to #5.

    Apple is Evil as per the dictionary. Thank you, please drive through.

  • by shoppa (464619) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:14AM (#35396234)
    Interestingly Eco's article was from 1994. And it was "Macintosh users vs MS-DOS users", not so much "Apple the company vs IBM".
    This is a link to an English translation of Eco's article [simongrant.org]
    Things were a little different back then, than I see it today. Today, definitely "Apple the company" is defining a selling their route to salvation as a full multi-media company. This did not describe Apple in 1994, which was to be honest struggling under the "Macintosh" brand, I don't think anyone in their wildest dreams would have imagined Apple ever become so broad back then. And today the "PC-clone" users (this is the obvious descendant from the "MS-DOS" religion) includes a multitude of religions that battle each other quite strongly (e.g. Linux vs Windows).
  • Uhm. Look again. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chas (5144) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:15AM (#35396254) Homepage Journal

    Google comes from an era where choice is the norm. While not completely open, they make fairly heroic nods in the direction of enabling user choice.

    Microsoft's record of enabling user choice is significantly poorer, though there have been exceptions.

    Apple never left the "bad old days" of the late 70's and early 80's where vendor lock-in was the norm.

  • by Gumbercules!! (1158841) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:28AM (#35396350)
    3. iOS has outsold Android. So your conclusion has yet to come to pass. But even if it ever does, you end up with the first point, how has that benefitted Google greater than iOS has benefitted Apple? Even if Android outsells iOS 5 to 1 (and it most certainly does not, and won't any time soon), how is that an example of Google beating Apple? Apple will still make far more from iOS than Google will be making from Android.

    How do you come by that? Android has a much larger market share than iOS, already: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Smartphone_share_current.png [wikipedia.org] - they're now the largest mobile OS out there. In a few years, it's relatively safe to assume that gap will be even larger, as Symbian tends towards 0.

    One must assume Google gets more than a buck or two for each phone you buy with "with Google" written on the back, like mine does. Presumably, that adds up. Given Android's open nature, it has more companies developing for it, which means Google gets benefits without even trying (as hard) as iOS. So I would say Google is already doing damn nicely out of Android and will continue to do so. In business speak, that's a "win". It's not even too far removed from getting "something for nothing".

    Back in 97, when MS bought into Apple, Apple had around 7% of the PC market. In 2010, Apple had about 8% of the PC market - so in the last almost 15 years, they have basically made no inroads at all. Dell, on the other hand, have 15% market share. In fact, the top 5 PC sellers are HP, Dell, Acer, Lennova and Toshiba. All of them doing basically zero research into the OS. This is basically true for mobile phones too, with Nokia, Samsung, LG, Rim and Sony taking the top 5 seller by manufacturer positions, all of them now moving to Android (even RIM is now working to allow Android apps to work on Blackberrys).

    So I'd say that supports the parent argument pretty well - once again Apple's coupling of OS to hardware will guarantee that the market will move on past them, leaving them an important but none the less niche player, in regards to overall usage statistics. Once again, the market they can largely be credited with creating, will leave them behind. Google will be their new Microsoft. Whatever way you turn it, that's got to hurt at least a little.
  • Where Apple Is Going (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bostonidealist (2009964) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:07AM (#35396974) Journal
    Hi, everyone. Reading articles about Apple's Post-PC outlook (such as this one [engadget.com]), it's interesting to think about where Apple is headed, as it provides a good context for their recent announcements.

    First, it should be clear that Apple wants to extend their walled-garden approach to their entire line of products. This would allow them to provide a consistent user interface and good interoperability (something they'll continue to tout to sell consumers on their Post-PC products). It will also allow Apple to translate success in one area (e.g., strong iPad sales) into other markets (e.g., stronger Mac sales with Lion's interface echoing the iPad's). Finally, it will allow Apple to monetize other services (as they already have with 3rd party application and subscription sales).

    At the iPad 2 announcement, Jobs gleefully boasted that Apple has the largest number of registered user accounts with credit cards of any online vendor, and Apple's certainly interested in billing those accounts as much as possible.

    One obvious area where Apple could try to pull ahead is in data storage and synchronization. Apple is actually worse at this right now than many other vendors (e.g., using iTunes to get a Word document onto an iPad), as they've avoided implementing simple, consumer-centric solutions (e.g., WiFi syncing to iPhones, iPods, and iPads from Macs/PCs) so they could build the infrastructure necessary to implement an Apple-centric approach. The $1 billion data center [engadget.com] they're building in North Carolina is obviously for something bigger than just music streaming.

    It's likely that Apple will try to pull more customers into Ping and MobileMe. Whereas Google has to implement roundabout connectors to allow users to synchronize their calendars [google.com] and office documents [google.com], Apple actually controls the OS and APIs used on Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Apple could simply force all applications, including 3rd party applications on the iPad and iPhone, to use Apple's cloud data store by changing the SDKs and development agreements for their iOS devices.

    In iOS and in Mac OS 10.7 Lion, a multitasking application is supposed to gracefully "suspend" when a user switches to another application. If the application isn't used for a while, iOS/Lion actually can save its state and reallocate its resources for other applications to use. In Lion, this has even lead Apple to remove [engadget.com] the open application indicator lights from the dock. In Apple's new computing paradigm, applications merely have a "state," they're never "closed" or "opened."

    Now, imagine Apple extending this paradigm to applications running across devices. An end user could open a document for editing in Pages on her office Mac, then, without doing anything, could leave work, open Pages on her iPad on the train home, continue editing the same document, and so on. If data and application states are synchronized through the cloud, users don't have to worry about file versioning, backup, etc. The possibilities become even greater when multiple applications and file sharing with multiple users are involved.

    Apple is in the best position to make this sort of computing paradigm possible, since they already have such large markeshare across multiple devices.

    Having wireless carriers' cooperation in providing lots of cheap bandwidth to customers will be critical in enabling their vision. In this regard, Apple has recently moved from being at the mercy of a single carrier (AT&T) to having leverage over two carriers (AT&T and Verizon). The WiFi hotspot feature that Apple has just added to the
  • Re:monopolies (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Omestes (471991) <[omestes] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday March 06, 2011 @12:49PM (#35397796) Homepage Journal

    Apple has kept their overpriced ipods on top largely by providing consumers with the most physically attractive product. And physical attractiveness has also played a role in adoption of their laptop line as well, especially the Air. Yet, I doubt the iPhone will carry the day on looks.

    I own an iPod, and have owned an iPod since their second generation hit the shelves. Why? I got one for free (or with a deep discount) with the purchase of an iBook through college. It beat the crap out of my old flash based one in every-way. Why do I still buy them (I'm on number 3)? Because they still beat the competition on my needs, though just barely. When they came out the iPod-iTunes scheme was the best there was, I didn't have to sit around organizing my 10Gb of music, putting it in folders, moving it to a device, etc... I plug it in -- it syncs, no work on my behalf. Beautiful. This is why I still buy them, I don't have the time or desire to sit around playing with my growing music selection. And now that I've had one for awhile, I will continue buying them until Apple screws them up (which their coming close too, iTunes is 90% bloat now if you don't own other Apple devices, and they decided that people who like music isn't a target anymore, with their measly, overpriced flash players). I don't care if its Apple. I would buy any product, regardless of branding, that worked as well. It moved me from dreading planning what I might want to listen too tomorrow, to just grabbing a device and going... no more Winamp and directory hell.

    Attractiveness didn't play a roll, and continues not to.

    As for my old iBook, I didn't get it because it was pretty. I got it because I was sick of PCs. When I got it, I recently had a PSU fry my computer which I just spent around $500 upgrading. I could either go through the whole mess again, or get a Mac. I got a Mac. I was in college, I had better things to do than sit around maintaining my computer. I loved that iBook. Later I bought a MacMini, and it was a mistake. And Apple started growing a bit nasty (IMO). But at the time I saw my freinds with Macs not spending a couple hours a week maintaining their computers, and saw that it was running Unix... Later I was sold on OS Xs conventions and strategy. Looks didn't play a roll. And once I realized that I was trading power for ease of use, I switched back to homemade Windows/Linux boxes. This was after college, so time spent maintaining it became less important, this played a roll too.

    I'm not a fan boy of anything in particular. I'm typing this from an old laptop running Kubuntu. My general purpose computer is home-built and running Win7 and OpenSuse. My HTPC occasionally runs various flavors of Linux (installed to see if they can actually work as a media center yet). I still have an iPod though and will until something beats them. I do have an old MacMini sitting around in the kitchen serving internet, music, and recipes, though.

    Claiming that Apple products owe all their success to fashion is wrong. It might play a small roll in some consumers, but I doubt that group is large enough to allow Apple to have the share it does. iPhones were the first smart-phones to break the "executive" stereotype, and appear to be usable for normal people. Once this market was opened they got beat quickly by Android. Tablet computers might go the same way, if there ever will be a decent competitor. Looking at that market, there is only a SINGLE product that even comes close to an iPad (Samsung Galaxy Tablet), and everything else is a cheap piece of quickly thrown together crap. If someone else hops in with a better product, at a better price, they will probably win.

    Right now, though, if I was in the market for a tablet (I'm not, I don't see the point), I would probably get an iPad. Not for Apple loyalty, but because nothing else is quite as good, yet.

  • Re:Yes and no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by metamatic (202216) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @01:03PM (#35397902) Homepage Journal

    It depends on what you mean by evil. I've been a Mac user since what feels like forever and I can definitly see that something have changed over the passed few years starting about the same time Apple started to become really popular.

    I blame Steve Jobs. He always wanted the Mac to be a closed proprietary appliance, but the Mac wasn't his project at the start, and he was kicked out of Apple before his vision could dominate.

    I've been a Mac user for 20+ years, but I absolutely refuse to give my financial support to iOS. It is the absolute antithesis of everything the Mac stands for. Closed, proprietary, non-interoperable, with a cryptic and non-discoverable UI. I want to see it die in a fire.

    I still fear that Apple will start to boil the OS X frog. They have code signing and an app store in place. They have a warning dialog if you try to run software downloaded from anywhere else. They're clearly repositioning OS X server versus the regular version in Lion. My fear is that the regular version of Lion (or perhaps the version after it) will have lock-in, and you'll have to buy a $500 pro version with the server stuff in order to get an open Mac. If that happens, I'll shed a tear and jump ship to Linux.

  • Re:monopolies (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2011 @02:13PM (#35398512)

    Apple has been successful in their ventures for precisely one reason. It's not that they make great products, and it's not that they make attractive products.

    It's that they're the best marketers in the entire world.

    Even though everyone in the world already has an iPod, Apple somehow simultaneously gets people to believe that having one will make you cool and unique AND that not having one will make you an outsider.

    Seriously, 50 years from now when Apple is long gone, the main thing people will remember them as is master marketers.

  • by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @02:24PM (#35398610)

    First of all, let's lay down our definitions of "evil" here. For me, Microsoft is evil due of *illegal* practices of abusing monopoly status, such as:
    1) deals with OEM which includes clauses of avoiding of offering competition products;
    2) bribing local politicians and using money for PR companies to curve public opinion about alternatives to Microsoft software;
    3) encouraging lock-in in their products, indentionally or unidentionally, trough poor product quality;
    4) etc.

    Apple maybe is guilty of several things, but those are not coming even close to this definition. Yeah, they always preferred controlled enviroment - therefore it is not legal to buy & use OS X for your home-made Intel, there is no easy way to access iPad/iPhone/IPod Touch from other OSes than Windows or OS X, etc. But still choice is there.

    So are they annoying and controlling? Yes. Are they evil? Not even close. I don't use their products - because I can't afford them and because I value my freedom too much. But still they don't lie about it when they sell or advertise it. They don't promise freedom, they promise certain ease of using their products.

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