Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Why I lost the apple love

So Apple's veep of hipsterness Phil Schiller has apparently taken a pop at the Great unwashed who hold on to hardware for more than 2 years. Well of course he would. He's a marketing type; he needs to sell stuff. And the market for iPads is in sharp decline. He needs to rally the disciples and get them to lay down cash for an update.

The comment trail in the link above is very telling. Lots of people boasting about 5+ year old macs that are still working fine. The whole point is: that's the problem.  Apple used to build good products. We have a Mac mini and MacBook in the family, both at least 4 years old, both still going strong.  At least, the hardware is.

The software: not so much. OSX has stagnated. It used to be a great desktop; clean, efficient, and everything just worked. Software developers are a fickle bunch, and we migrated to macs in droves. It was a great, integrated environment that just worked. A refreshing change from the bloatware-ridden Windows ecosystem.

That was then. OSX is very obviously a legacy in Apple's eyes now; iOS is the new cool. IOS is tied to devices, Apple can limit the number of upgrades the user can apply, hey presto built in obsolescence. Ching Ching.

Apple has been dis-investing in OSX for years. We get 'new' features like the Photos app, billed as an enhancement but really just an attempt to cut costs by offering the same thing across iOS and OSX. And it's a dog of a thing. iPhoto might have had limitations, but it was a paragon of functional elegance by comparison. Then there's iTunes. An unholy mess of inscrutable navigation. Or Finder. State of the art file management. Circa 1990. And then there's the inexorable, insidious attempt to lock down the platform to an iOS-style walled garden ecosystem.

It's sad and insulting in equal measure.  Apple still builds good hardware. Great hardware in fact. But the I bought a new laptop recently and, for the first time in 10 years, it's not a MacBook. It runs ElementaryOS - a beautiful, fast, functional Linux desktop.  Built by people passionate about creating a great desktop experience.  Happily, it also runs flawlessly on macs. And it's much faster than OSX, which means I can also breathe new life into our aging macs.

And there lies the crux of the matter for Apple.  By disinvesting in their product, they lost a sale and the goodwill of a long term customer. Ironically, in doing so, they extended the life of a couple of aging macs.

So, Mr Schiller, here's a tip. If you want to change the trend in your sales numbers, stop trying to ridicule people. Invest in your software instead: give people a reason to upgrade, not motivation to leave.