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The Myth of the Apple Fan Boy

 
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I have to say that I really hate the term "fan boy." It's usually used as a dismissive term to put down someone who speaks favorably of a product. It suggests that if you like a particular brand, it must mean that you blindly support everything that company does, and will come to its defense even when it's not warranted. The term is most often used with the word "Apple" in front of it, as in "oh, he's just an Apple Fan Boy."

If you speak positively about Apple products, it could be that they are often good, but it doesn't mean they're perfect. Nor does it mean you automatically defend every action of the corporation behind the brand. I use Apple products. I've got an iPhone, a Mac Book Pro and several iPods. I buy them because they are mostly well designed, they work very well and they look great. Yes, they're expensive, but in my 20 years of working with computers and gadgets, I would gladly pay for what I perceive as quality. That doesn't make me a "fan boy." It makes me a smart and reasoned consumer.

Definitely Not Flawless

All that said, it doesn't mean I don't go after Apple in this space when they deserve it because regular readers know that I do. I remember when I bought iPod Mini, having never used an iPod before, I sat there frustrated trying to figure out how to use it. Once I understood the elegance of the scroll wheel, I was hooked, but it was not apparent how to use it out of the box.

As someone who just performed a RAM upgrade on my Mac Book Pro, I would like to talk to the Apple engineers and ask them what they were thinking using five of the smallest screws I've ever seen to hold down a protective case over the RAM. I think two would have done it or maybe a thumb screw would have been nice. Instead, I had to use a Jeweler's screw driver to get the screws out. This was certainly not the most user-friendly approach I've ever seen.

That Famous Apple Arrogance

Let us not forget the famous Apple arrogance or the strange cult of personality that surrounds Apple Grand Poobah, Steve Jobs. Apple doesn't always plan right for obvious demand as happened with the release of iPhone 2.0. That they insist on giving AT&T exclusive rights to sell the iPhone remains baffling to me. They have taken away features users obviously still wanted like fire wire, and they have taken petty steps like blocking iTunes syncing on the Palm Pre. They have even sent out their lawyers to harass a small business.

But They Make Good Stuff

When it comes down to it though, I buy Apple products because they make good stuff most of the time. I couldn't care less if they are fashionable or cool. It doesn't mean Apple's a perfect company, far from it. It only means that what they do right, they do very, very well. There's no shame in reporting that, but it doesn't mean I'm going give to them a free pass for their foibles and screw-ups, nor does it mean I'm a mindless "fan boy," who doesn't consider all of the facts before making a purchase decision.

 
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The attempts that Apple makes at complete lock in scare and baffle me. iTunes installing random unused bloatware on Windoze, refusing to support flash on the iPhone, and the lack of OGG support in any of their products are just a few examples.

Until they learn to play with others and realize that not everyone wants to have perfect synchronization between their products at the cost of freedom, I won't be supporting them.

 
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As far as blocking iTunes to the Pre;

Apple has invested billions into building out an infrastructure - some might even call it an ecosystem - around their music business. That ecosystem is what has propelled the iPod/iPhone to the top of the music industry.

For someone to just step in, without the massive investment, and claim their right to use that infrastructure for free, is absurd.

If you don't believe that, then I have a job for you - I'd love to get a bunch of people working on things, and not have to pay them for any of their time or effort.

 
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Interesting article. Just to clarify a few terms:
Apple's Arrogance = Apple's (I wouldn't have done it that way) Arrogance (ironic huh?)
Apple Fanboy = (I've actually used an) Apple Fanboy

In my book the blind zealots are those who've clung onto their platform waiting for a new OS for 8 years because (clearly) the first attempt tried to force them to buy new PCs. Yet it's us who're being had!

As for locked in products, the real problem technophiles have with it is that Apple's integration prevents them from doing their own and works better than any home-grown attempt anyway. Is Apple perfect? Not until you start comparing it with others

It's pretty simple Apple products are pre-designed for consumers, other products are non-designed so technophiles can play & sound knowledgeable. Simple question, which one are you?

McDave

 
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With regards to blocking the Palm Pre from syncing with iTunes, Apple makes the bulk of their money from selling iPods. I'd wager that the iTunes Store does a bit better than break even but its real purpose is to drive more iPod sales. As far as media lock-in is concerned, I've got a Sony radio/MP3 player in my car which can play the non-DRM protected tracks from iTunes which comprise the bulk of my collection. There are options if you care to do a bit of investigation.

The complaint about the iPhone's AT&T exclusivity is interesting as well. I've heard that Apple has a very sweet deal with AT&T, actually getting a cut of the monthly fees which is rare among handset manufacturers. People who want the iPhone will make the switch or make do with a less satisfying handset from their provider.

Most of the complaints I see are about things which increase Apple's revenue and thus make their shareholders happy. Shouldn't that be at least part of Apple's motivation? It's a fine line to walk between maximizing profits and maintaining customer satisfaction. I'd propose that quite a few of Apple's customers are very happy (myself included). Check out the customer satisfaction surveys. Is it a perfect company? Probably not but I can't think of a company whose products I'm as happy with.

- Rod

 
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The point is that while Apple does produce very good products, they are preceived as arrogant due to the fact they do not want compatiblity to the available products. Foolish. They have greater support if they drop the 'can only use'.

 
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Opening up iTunes or Snow Leopard to work with other hardware strikes me as a poor business decision. In addition to the question of how to derive sufficient income from that arrangement, the issue of hardware compatibility comes into play.

When the user's third party MP3 player or computer doesn't work with Apple's software, who do they complain to? Most likely it will be to Apple because their name is on the software the user is trying to use. That's probably why Microsoft requires device driver testing. Otherwise they end up getting blamed for someone else's flaky hardware. Customers don't like to hear that their hardware might be bad. It sounds too much like finger pointing.

I don't see much upside in supporting other vendor's hardware for Apple and the possibility of having their reputation sullied because company XYZ's poorly designed or less than fully compatible device doesn't work well with Apple's software is a huge drawback.

- Rod

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