Tuesday, February 1, 2011

After years of crying "no fair" Apple becomes the bully

Lets talk monopolies for a moment. There are two ways something becomes a monopoly. The first is through unfair business practices. The second is through offering a product noone else offers (or competitor's offerings do not satisfy consumer demand). Take Mac OS vs. Windows, for example. Consumers want computers. They want choices, and they want the content and software that they had on say, their Dell, to work when they upgraded to a Gateway (think before the internet and cloud computing).

On the one hand, Microsoft offered Microsoft Windows, which despite it's quirks, functioned nearly flawlessly on pretty much every machine out there. Why? Because they were all COMPATIBLE. on the other hand, Apple has the Apple OS, which works on ... well, an Apple computer. That's it. You couldn't install windows on a Mac, and you couldn't install Mac OS on a computer that was not built by Apple. Which one gives you the most value (read compatibility) for you money? Windows wins, hands down.

Now Apple uses Intel processors in their computers. You can now put windows on a Mac. However, you still can't install Apple's OS on any computer not manufactured by Apple. As a matter of fact, Apples End User License Agreement (your permission to use the software when you buy it) expressly forbids installing OS X on a computer not built by Apple. Now THIS is a strongarm, anticompetitive tactic if ever I had seen one. However, it only affects a very small proportion of computer users, so noone is crying foul.

HOWEVER, Apple is now turning into a content bully with the iPad. Apple is seeking to restrict all content purchases that do not go through their App Store. An app will not be able to be used to purchase digital content independently of the App Store. Apple recently told newspapers that they could not allow print subscribers to access a free iPad edition, but instead had to offer the iPad edition separately from the print subscription so that Apple would get their 30% commission for selling the content. Apple also rejected the Sony eReader app, because the app would allow readers to purchase ebooks from Sony without going through the Apple App Store, thus cheating Apple out of their 30% commission.

I bought a first edition Kindle. I loved the Kindle, and was quite torn between upgrading to the Kindle 3 or buying an iPad and getting the Kindle app. I finally decided on the latter instead of the former. I like the versatility of the iPad, and I get plenty of use out of it, but a large part of the function of iPad for me is its usefulness as an ereader.

Now at this point, I have to make a couple statements about Apple products. I own the following Apple products: iPhone 4, iPad, Mac Mini (generation 1, bought used). I bought the iPhone because I thought it was cool. I was already an AT&T subscriber, so that wasn't a big thing for me. I bought the mini because I wanted the ability to cut my own ringtones and have them compatible with the iPhone, and the easiest way to do that is with Apple's Garage Band. Sure there are other ways, but they all involve using various (and sometimes expensive) third party software, and importing into iTunes, and ... well, you get the idea. The iPad I bought out of the desire to upgrade my first generation Kindle.

I spent years hating Apple. I adamantly refused, for many years, to buy their products. Now that I owned a few, I was slowly starting to soften that stance. Apple makes great products. I like their products. I still hate their corporate culture and attitude. The corporate attitude of Apple is that THEY should control your consumer experience when you purchase one of their products. They think that since they make the best product (in their minds at least), they can charge what they want, and people will pay it because they want the best, and if you don't like paying the price or allowing them to control what you do with a piece of technology they sold to you, then you don't have to buy their product. The slavish devotion they inspire in people is more reminiscent of a cult instead of a company.

Amazon's Kindle app allows you to search Kindle books from within the App, but when you want to buy the book, it takes you out of the Kindle app, and launches Safari and takes you to the product page where you can complete your purchase with a few taps, then return to your Kindle app and start reading. Alternatively, you can go to your PC and make the purchase, and then read the book on your iPad. If Apple restricts the first method of buying a book, I will switch to the second method of buying a book. I refuse to have Apple control my purchasing experience, and I suspect that a good many other consumers will feel the same way. This is why I prefer the Kindle app to Apple's iBooks app. If Apple tries to restrict the second method of putting Kindle content on my iPad, I will just buy a new Kindle, and Apple can be assured that my iPad purchases will stop at the first generation. I will also join in any class action lawsuits that may arise from Apple's noncompetitive practices for which I may be a member of the class.

I don't like bullies. I was slowly overcoming a long-term hatred for Apple and was willing to give them a chance. Don't blow it Apple! You are the ugly stepsister I was finally starting to like...

1 comment:

  1. Starting to like? With all your apple gadgetry, I think you married her and then it's like that old song where she took off her wig, took out her teeth...*grins*

    PS Did you check out the blog? Drop me a line on Yahoo and let me know if you want in for sure.