Thursday, 1 September 2011

Apple Mac - a few complaints?

I wouldn't normally write a post about computer related problems as I'm actually more interested by music and other issues. However, after spending a whole evening on a bug in the computer I thought about writing this little 'open letter' to Apple Macintosh which I've often thought could be a great company, but somehow isn't, even thought they invented the iPhone, iPods etc.  

I'm rather interested with the announcement by Steve Jobs of his retirement from Apple. Will anything change in this rather closed community? Even though I'm one of the Mac owners (in April 2011 Mac had 5% of the market share - PC 92%) I can't say much for the company except that I enjoy using it's operating system. Apart from that there's not much that really makes Mac any better than Microsoft. 

The other night I had a small (still unresolved) problem with my Safari (4.1.3) browser which won't keep it's cookies, causing me to constantly sign in to all pages such as Twitter, Hotmail, Blogs etc. I was reminded exactly how user 'unfriendly' Apple is when it comes to their clients. One of the first things I noticed when becoming a member of the Apple clan is their pretence at being a comunity, but with no real leader - Steve Jobs is just 'Mr Inventive', he doesn't care about what the average  Mac users 'user experience' really is, a little like a politician and a citizen - they're both out of touch with reality! If you have a problem then you're on your own, there is no support, rather strange when you think of how much you pay for your computers operating system. In fact there's very little in the way of feedback from the company itself, it's impossible to contact them and have any real dialogue. Will Tim Cook make a change in the way Apple carries itself as an arrogant company with no transparency and who refuse to address their clients questions and problems? I expect not, but who knows.

Some of the issues that I feel strongly about are actually quite simple things that could be easily remedied. I also feel that by addressing these issues Apple Macintosh would be a much stronger competitor on the market. Some questions (or examples) of a more market/user friendly policy could be as such :

a) Why does Mac insist on trying to sell 'Apple Care' at an extremely expensive price? Would it not be more logical to include this in all purchases of their products? Some people working at Apple mentioned that they don't sell very many Apple Care products, due to it's ridiculous pricing. My thoughts on the matter are that if one included it - all computers at Mac would be guaranteed for 3 years - it would be an excellent selling point. After all don't Mac believe in their own products enough to put their money where their mouths are?

b) What's all the pricing about? How comes different products are priced differently depending on the continent? I find it rather strange and most un-ethical that (as an example) a Macbook Pro costs :
 - In the USA :1199$ (832€ - on the day I converted the $)
 - In Europe : 1199€
 - In the UK : £999 (1130€ - on the day I converted the £)

Notice the difference of 332€ between the Dollar and the Euro, how come Apple has to charge the difference (at a higher level) to European users, do we deserve it? The UK price is a little more difficult to understand due to the fluctuation of the pound. But I find the fact that the Euro price and Dollar price are exactly the same, creepy almost. Are Apple so lazy they just thinks of a figure, and then place a dollar sign or Euro after it?  Just from the €/$ figures above there's a difference of 44%(*), how can it be justified? I should also add that you CANNOT buy you Apple products over the net from the USA to Europe although I suspect this may also be a international thing, however I imagine Apple doesn't want this either.

c) How can a company exist without real online support? After all Macintosh do make computers, don't they? I find it interesting that there is NOWHERE to actually contact Apple (directly) about their products such as Logic, Garage Band, Safari, iPods, iTunes etc. You are 'advised' to go to the Apple discussions forums on their site to solve any problems you may have! Isn't this a little sloppy for something that you pay for? Imagine feeling ill and being told by your doctor to go and find the problem on a chat-room somewhere! Or that the car you bought isn't working, or the phone no longer functions, your electricity is off .. and then being told to "look it up on the web". To me it's simply unacceptable,  I can't understand why European law doesn't oblige them to have a service, and that doesn't mean taking your computer into a shop (and leaving it with them for weeks, and pay to have someone look at it).

d) Why won't Apple tell us what's coming and when, why the secrecy? Can't they interact with their customers on the development of their products? This way we as the consumer can plan our purchases a little more correctly, and that means less waste in this so called eco-friendly age. As an example - recently (well a few years ago) Apple did away with firewire without telling anyone beforehand. What did that mean? Well, Mac had been pushing Firewire products for years - useful for back-up media, film and music software (among others) - and many people had spent much money on these products only to find from one day to the next that it had disappeared, with no explanation - Apple decided that they didn't owe answers to anybody. They have continued it but in a rather modified version on certain computers.

e) In the chat-room forum on Apple's own site NO negative comments or criticisms of Mac and  it's policies, products, updates and changes,  are allowed - they're deleted by an administrator almost immediately! Rather odd I find for a so called 'alternative' company that is meant to be used by alternative thinking people, the so called hippy generation. Why can't Apple accept negative criticism and use it in a positive way to develop their products - hopefully to suit our needs and not their pockets.

f) etc, etc .......... I'm sure if you use a Mac you can add quite a few of you're own complaints.

It will be interesting to see if Macintosh can keep a hold on their market in the next few years. I suspect that they will have a hard time unless they're prepared to compromise, and even now it maybe too late. Other people are starting to make 'Apple' products, but cheaper and better. The iPhone market is up in the air, and Apple wish to keep hold of it, can they? The Hackintosh is already creaping into the market, and of course Apple Macintosh wish to stop it. What is a Hackintosh you may ask? Well, PC's are basically computers that run with Microsoft  Windows  or Linux  (a freeware operating system). They are cheaper because there are dozens of different makes on the market that all have Microsoft system licences, and of course have to compete between each other for a slice of the market. This doesn't always mean quality, but it does keep the prices down. Hackintosh is basically the same, why not have other computers running OS X it would be more competitive and would maybe help Apple to become more transparent?

For the moment I'll carry on using my Mac until it breaks down (it already has problems), but after that I have to start wondering is it worth it, will Apple start listening, or do I follow the Hacks and get on with my own agenda?

Interesting Hackintosh links :

How Hackintosh a Dell Mini 9 into an OS X Netbook.
Install OS X onto your Hackintosh PC 

(*) Maths is not my strong point, so the percentage is my rough calculation.


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