My future with Apple products

Despite having been given the “Mac Guy” appellation by Mario Marathon viewers, I am not an Apple fanboy.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like my current and previous Mac Book Pros.  The hardware has been solid (as a few encounters with gravity can attest to) and OS X is a great mix of power, reliability, and ease of use.  There’s no doubt that Apple turns out quality products, I don’t have an issues with their offerings.  It is a philosophical problem that I have.  As an advocate of openness, can I continue to support a company like Apple?

Apple has shown a willingness to support open source software on some occasions (as one would expect, those occasions are the ones where it suits Apple’s interests to be supportive), but at times the Apple model stands in opposition to the ideals of freedom that open source (and open standards) movements are based on.  The most recent example was reported by Wired earlier this week saying that the next minor release of Snow Leopard would “break” some “Hackintoshed” machines, specifically those using Intel’s Atom processor.  I get it, Apple is foremost a hardware company.  The software exists to promote the sales of the hardware, so allowing the software to be used on non-Apple hardware doesn’t serve Apple’s interests.

I don’t deny that Apple has the right to do what they’re doing, although if they had a larger market share, the Department of Justice might start taking notice.  No, to me, it’s not about whether or not they can do this, but whether or not they should.  The interests of Apple’s shareholders say “no”, the interests of the Apple community say “yes.”  Apple certainly has no legal obligation to do what’s in the best interests of users, but if they want to differentiate themselves from Microsoft, then perhaps they should.

What it really comes down to, then, is the question of “how closed can Apple (or any other company) become before I am no longer willing to give them my business?”  Or should it even matter?  If I give up Apple, should I also give up Skype, Flash, video drivers, and many other things that restrict my ability to use a product how I see fit?  These are not easy questions to answer, and the answer is different for each person.  For myself, I will wait and let my thoughts on the matter evolve for a while.  Hopefully by the time I’m ready to replace my current Mac Book Pro, I’ll have figured it out.

5 thoughts on “My future with Apple products

  1. I’m right there with you. I love the hardware powering my current MBP, but the question of, “How much of this do I really need?” Due to the fact that 90% of the time I’m on a computer is spent in a web browser, I’m beginning to think that having access to nifty programs, like the ones included in the iLife bundle, is just a novelty that I wouldn’t miss all too much.

    This is what I see happening in ~2.5 years (when I should probably replace my Late 2007 MBP): I will purchase a desktop Macintosh for my home office (dual booting with Windows) to satisfy my niche needs (using applications that require processor power). As for a portable computer, I anticipate that Google’s Chrome OS will answer my prayers when it comes to installing the perfect Linux OS on a netbook.

    It’s going to be interesting to see what’s available when replacement of my MBP becomes a necessity.

  2. Oh, dang.

    (I love the hardware powering my current MBP, but the question of, “How much of this do I really need?”)

    Guess I forgot the rest of that sentence. Append “…comes to mind from time to time” or something of the like. Sense-make!

  3. Personally, I dislike different things with different hardware/OSs. I will come to the defense of different OSs for different purposes, and bitch about them for others.

    So… one of the things that *is* closed source, and that costs much more than you can generally shake a stick at, is the design. For all intents and purposes, it’s even a hidden cost, because one doesn’t conciously come across it so much as subconsciously.
    If you look at their entire empire from a design perspective, it starts to make more sense.

    If you look at vehicles, the analogy becomes cleaner- A hyundai accent takes you just as far as a beamer, or a ferrari. What is it that you’re paying for? Certainly not the actual bits, which have equivalents in both vehicles…

    But apple has done some serious innovation- 64-bit OS to market, intuitive administration of (home/single) machines, great OS GUI… and their stuff gets ripped off by others all the time. IMO, OSX is what linux distros should have been at a long time ago. Instead, I find myself needing to get out of my linux partition and fire up windows to do some stuff that should be intuitive.

    just something to think about. we can discuss this at next osmactalk, perhaps.

  4. (Apologies for the late replies)

    @Zach — I agree. With more of many people’s daily tasks being browser-based, the OS is becoming increasingly less important.

    @OSG — the design is a big part of the Apple experience, and I don’t blame them for wanting to make money. I don’t even blame them for not releasing the source, I’m not RMS. What bothers me is the anti-consumer positions the company takes. For some people, this isn’t an issue. I’m not even sure it’s that big an issue for me, but it does bother me. With the exception of a few games (most of which have worked with Wine), I can’t think of anything that I’ve wanted to do with my computer that hasn’t been fairly easily done with Fedora. But that’s just me.

  5. you may think the design is such a small part of their success but when you think about it most people prefer wearing good quality clothes even though they cost more than something that just works.

    even if Apple had nothing else to offer its users, their business concept has been very successful. sometimes when I think of the pre-iPhone era and how ridiculous this idea seemed to me I can’t believe they actually reinvented the concept of a mobile phone against such competitors as Nokia, Blackberry and Motorola.

    you disagree with their idea to close their platforms so tight but just like a lot of other people you appreciate whatever it is they can offer.

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