4 Big Reasons People Love to Hate Apple

| Particle Debris

Apple is a very visible and successful company. As a result, everyone who pays an attention to the company has an opinion about Apple. Emotional opinions. And basking in the glory of Apple with seething opinions is the Thing To Do. However, that doesn't relate to Apple's goals or insights into the company very well.

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Apple, Inc. just reported earnings (profits) of over US$13 billion dollars. Not revenue, profits. (The revenue was $54.5 billion in roughly 13 weeks.) Apple is doing something right, and CEO Cook told his employees exactly that in a town hall meeting recently. And yet, the Internet has provided ample opportunity for critics to express their dissatisfaction with Apple. In some instances, the reaction is to despise Apple. Why is that so?

Credit: Stastista

1. Apple is Impossible to Manipulate

When a CEO is insecure and his company is faltering, he/she may come to doubt his/her judgment. When criticism is thrown at him/her, the CEO may make a mistake, say something stupid. Apple executives, on the other hand, are technically competent and don't suffer much in the way of insecurities. So they go confidently on their way, developing great products they know their customers will love. And the customers do love them, according to the chart above.

Along the way, people not too deep in the practical realities of running the largest consumer electronics company on the planet want to throw their weight around, perhaps even bask in the glow of the company they criticize. So whether its a bitch about inadequate dividend payments, that Apple's products aren't green enough, or some agitation about the plight of Chinese workers, if Apple doesn't handle that problem in a fashion that suits them individually, they get angry.

Because Apple knows what it wants and where it's going, it can appear arrogant and insulated from those who try to influence the company in a kind of twisted love/hate relationship.

The more individuals try to manipulate Apple, for their own ends (or opinions), and the more they fail, the madder they get. In the social media era, that fuming gets vented. Big Time.

2. Apple Knows its Customers, Ignores Critics

Perhaps no company knows more about how its customers use its products than Apple via the built-in reporting mechanism. This is why Apple can judiciously drop some features, knowing that they can move forward confidently. Again, however, there are always a vocal few who are upset with changes Apple makes.

In the news and on the minds of people lately is Snow Leopard. This has many facets. As Jonny Evans points out, Apple builds great hardware and Macs have a long life. "This must be a huge problem for Apple's executive team: how do they encourage users to upgrade their kit more often without sacrificing their reputation for delivering high quality machines?" The solution is not to look backwards.

Next, there is a mindset that tends to focus on what's perceived as a personal best product. That's Snow Leopard for many because it was the apogee of the perfect UNIX OS with a great GUI. After Snow Leopard, the best elements of iOS and mobility thinking started to seep into OS X, elements that some users don't need or like. As a result, there is a kind of emotional (and in some cases, technical) attachment to Snow Leopard as a personal OS. But look at this chart referenced at The Mac Observer, based on a Computerworld story. (Mr. Evans did as well.)

Credit: Computertworld

One can look at this chart two ways. First, there's a whopping 30 percent of Apple's customers till using Snow Leopard. Those customers want Apple to protect and cater to them, much as Microsoft customers clung to Windows XP for so long (and still do.) The other way to look at the chart is to look at Mountain Lion (in purple) and conclude that ML is on the rise and SL is dying. For a company that moves relentlessly forward, there's only one course of action: continue moving forward. Look at the chart again. If you were Tim Cook, how would it affect your decisions?

Moving forward relentlessly brings about serendipity. If Apple hadn't made the technical decisions it did after Steve Jobs returned in the late 1990s, the company would still be a boutique UNIX computer company. Instead, all those agressive decisions we saw at WWDC each year that took our breath away eventually laid the groundwork for iOS, the iPhone and iPad -- now generating most of Apple's enormous revenues.

There's no looking back. Change or die. Get on board with Apple and enjoy the relentless drive into the future. But some people can't take it and hate Apple for not catering to them.

3. Apple Closes its Systems

There are technical users who have found a platform for themselves, perhaps a popular blog. They know their computer technology, and they want flexible, expandable, tinkerable systems. However, Apple knows that 99 percent of their customers just want to get on with their lives and their work. A Mac or iPad is a modern appliance, not a '81 Chevy that needs its spark plugs and oil filter changed every 10,000 miles.

A a result, Apple designs its Macs and iDevices for maximum ease of manufacture, minimum fuss, awesome appearance, best utility to the customer, and goodly profits. The OSes are designed for maximum ease of use and personal security, not fiddle factor. Tinkerers hate this, but they want the quality and sex appeal of Apple products. So they grouse when Apple doesn't give them low prices, high quality and maximum tinkerability. But those people are not Apple's customers. The tinkerers complain anyway and threaten to go over to Linux or Android.

Related to that is the desire for Apple to steadfastly hold on to the purity of the concept of the desktop and notebook. I admit, I am as eager as many to have an awesome Mac Pro. That's because I'm one of those Steve Jobs labelled truck drivers. I like fast, awesome desktops. (And my iPad mini too.)

Apple however, follows the money and the future. Look at this chart showing the relative sales of Macs (blue) and iPads (yellow).

Credit: Dan Frommer

It's far more likely that Apple, through technology development and serendipity, will let the tablet evolve rather than fixate on the classic Mac for business or tech geeks. That may mean that the iPad will evolve in fast, unexpected ways that will delight most customers but piss off the curmudgeons. It's another fun thing to hate Apple for.

4. Apple is All About the User Experience, Not Specs

Apple focuses on the exploitation of technology to make life better for its customers. It specializes in hardware/software integration for the best User Experience (UX). That means that if a particular hardware technology is immature, the User Experience -- in software -- will suffer. That's why Apple isn't always at the bleeding edge of every technology.

A good example is LTE and NFC. Samsung and others have made a big deal about these technologies in their advertising because they know they can gain some traction (against a giant competitor) by making it look like they're a technical leader -- and Apple is being a doofus. Never mind the fact that over a year ago, when Apple was planning the silicon, these technologies weren't ready for or anticipated to be ready for prime time.

Pundits who fall for that clever advertising strategy by Apple's competitors simply want to be able to brag about having something geek-cool. If Apple can't deliver the technology, even in an ill-formed state, then they ridicule Apple for not being the leader in tech.  Why? It's the geek way. Being supercilious and seemingly well informed gives one self-esteem. And something to write about for bucks.

Don't fall for it.

These are the significant reasons why people love to hate Apple. It's a very emotional, self-satisfying thing to do that perhaps garners some attention, pays the bills, and makes one look learned. None of that has anything to do with understanding Apple.

Tech News Debris -- next week

I've used up all my space for this preamble, so the normal technical news debris will have to wait until next week.

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Angry guy via Shutterstock.

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Comments

Ratnok

Wow. There are so many falsehoods in this commentary that it’s not worth bothering to refute.

If all this makes you feel better- enjoy!

(but you should have taken the BLUE pill)

sbdude

“Apple designs its Macs and iDevices for maximum ease of manufacture”.  I wish I could agree.  The iPhone 5 suffered major issues related to the extreme tolerances of its chassis design, and yields of the iMac have been extremely poor owing to several manufacturing factors (friction stir welding, laminated glass, etc).

If anything, Apple pushes the envelope of design to a fault.  Sure, it looks pretty, but what good is a pretty iPhone if you have to return it three times because it’s already scratched when it gets to your door (my own personal experience).

palenoue

Wow. Ratnok is so stupid it’s not worth bothering to list his moronic statements.

But hey, Ratnok, if being an idiot makes you happy - go for it!

(you really shouldn’t be allowed to post without adult supervision)

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Per point 3, there were NFL quarterbacks tweeting last week about how they looked forward to the new jailbreak. Hardly the tech nerd contingent.

Lee Dronick

“Per point 3, there were NFL quarterbacks tweeting last week about how they looked forward to the new jailbreak. Hardly the tech nerd contingent.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/second-graders-edit-nfl-tweets_n_2617043.html

smile

RonMacGuy

And yet the NFL quarterbacks continue to buy iPhones instead of android phones that don’t require jailbreaking, even though they can afford to buy whatever phone they please.  Interesting.  Explain that!!

Gareth Harris

I have built and used technical products and tools since the late 1940s.  If I am so damned advanced [or just plain old] and know so much, why don’t I go for “tinkerability,” as John calls it?

The answer is simple. That has already been done. I did enough of it.  It’s time to move on. Like John’s Chevy example, except for the F1 guys, most of us now use our cars as tools and don’t adjust the spark advance from the steering column as on my ‘23 Model T.

It has been said that an amateur builds something for his own use, while a professional builds something for someone else to use. That is the line that Apple has finally crossed with the iPad. Those of us within the computer professional community are a different group from the iPad users or most PC users as well. Computing is becoming for the rest of, not us but, them. Time marches on ...

I do worry when my pro tools are made too much like the end user versions, though.

Kyle Braund

Good job, John! There are probably ‘dozens’ of other reasons, too smile, but who the heck cares….

mrmwebmax

+

John,

To all of your excellent arguments, I would like one simple observation about Apple, as seen through the lens of an undergraduate psychology course I took in the mid-1980s. In the course, emotion was described as follows:

Emotion = direction x intensity.

As the professor (an excellent one, IMHO) explained, this simple equation explained all sorts of things: Why is seemingly mundane humor so hilarious in horror movies? Because the horror has ratcheted up the intensity, and the direction of humor goes so much further as a result. Why do certain people like BDSM so much? Because the intensity of the pain/giving pain ratchets up whatever sexual feelings are going on, and the direction it goes.

Unlike any/every tech company on the planet, Apple operates at the crossroads of technology and the humanities. That brings an emotional connection to the company. And that means for better or worse, people either LOVE Apple or HATE Apple. Depending on the person, Apple can either do no right nor do no wrong: It’s an emotional thing. What other company, beleaguered and on its deathbed (think late 90s early 2000s) had so many websites dedicated to it from completely unaffiliated people: TMO, As the Apple Turns (AtAT), Crazy Apple Rumors Site (CARS), ThinkSecret, etc. Blackberry/RIM is now a former darling who is officially beleaguered: Where is Crazy Blackberry Rumors Site? As the Blackberry Turns? ThinkBlackBerry???

Despite the worldwide Crackberry addiction pre-Iphone, only Apple has that level of emotional connection, and that makes for a binary love/hate relationship with the company. Only Apple combines intensity times direction like that. That’s why Apple is viewed the way it is, and why, FWIW, we are still actively posting—for pro or for con—on this site so many years after its founding.

Hagen

Concerning OS share, one can see a nice rise in Mountain Lion from its ship date. Unfortunately there isn’t enough graph to compare it against the debut of any of the other OS versions, so we can’t tell if Mountain Lion is (was) really more popular.

Also, the chart includes newly made/purchased machines, which automatically include the new software. Older machines with the older OS versions are being set aside to make way for them as a matter of normal commerce. Add to that the increasing sales and market share of new Macs, and we should expect the Mountain Lion line to be increasing faster than previous versions. (Present quarter excepted, Apple is selling more Macs than ever before.)

If the OS Share for Mountain Lion isn’t steadily increasing at a decent pace, then there’s something seriously wrong.

Paul Goodwin

Absolutely agree with the tinkerability comments. We do get past the need to spend a lot of time tinkering. The only thing that we prior tinkerers fear is loss of the knobs. Hopefully the feedback mechanism is used by the customers. I see a lot of people complaining in various forums and in Apple’s Communities about loss of features. I’m not sure many of them know there’s a feedback link on Apple’s home page. I think a lot of them think that Apple actually tracks the Community forums.

The loss of multiple window capability in iTunes recently was a real pain to me. And there was page after page of irritated customers in the iTunes Community forum complaining about it. I pleaded with them to give Apple feedback, and posted the hyperlink. It was surprising how many people thanked me and didn’t know it was there. This issue with iTunes is a tough one for me. I use iTunes as a music management tool, lots of playlists etc. without multiple window capability, it’s a real step down in capability. It’s hard for me to understand why Apple would remove that capability. Multiple windows is a standard feature of virtually every good piece of application software. So Apple changed iTunes from a real app to something less. Hard for me to understand what review committee at Apple thought that was a good move, and what their thinking was. Did they not understand what a lot of people do with iTunes? Did they not want it to be that capable? Did they do it because they thought iTunes was used primarily by people who want only to buy the music and move it to their mobile devices and spend virtually no time in iTunes? That last question is what’s troublesome to me because it hints that Apple has somewhat changed their view on what the app is really good at and who their target audience is. If that happens with too many apps in OS X, it will be painful. And I’m not a big tinkerer. I would rather they make an iTunes Lite, and leave the real tool fully capable.

I understand completely moving beyond Snow Leopard (I was very reluctant, but am not sorry). There’s been some nice features added. I’m still fairly confident that Apple will not dumb down OS X too far, and take the knobs out. Hopefully when they stumble (like in iTunes window capability) they’ll get enough complaints to make it right again. But I don’t know how many people these days actually would take the time to send Apple feedback. They would more likely grouse about it in a forum, then move on.

AdamC

There will always be people who hate and sad to say I am one of them.

It’s true that I am just being emotional rather than rational. Hence I seldom use anything MS.

Nevertheless a good read, keep it up.

One more thing I really admire people like you because you receive all kinds of rants, brickbats and yet you steadfastly coming out with a new write or two every week.

iJack

Lee ~ Don’t feed the trolls, please.

wab95

John:

Very thoughtful and insightful piece.

mrmwebmax: many thanks for sharing those insights on emotion, direction and intensity.

The four points you cite, John, I believe nail the basic rationale for people taking issue with Apple, even if that issue does not rise to the level of hate. Underneath those four points, I believe, lie two very human dispositions that feed into them, and tend to fuel that angst.

One is a lack of control. This has a particular bearing on points 1 and 2. Many of these pundits, critics, armchair analysts and self-appointed Apple advisors want an objective indicator that they are being listened to, a validation, if you will, of their influence, power and stature. Being ignored and having Apple confirm that they believe, better than do the critics, that they understand the needs and interests of their client base is taken by many of these critics as a public repudiation of that stature and influence. Some take it personally. In most cases, it’s not personal. It’s just Apple doing that Apple thing, and staying on task - developing best in class user experience, a task that is increasingly data-driven in real time, as you point out above.

The other is that many of us feel threatened by change. We like to think of ourselves as progressive, open-minded and cutting edge. For many of us, however, this is defined on our terms and relative to our comfort zones. We resent being pushed beyond them, or being challenged to think and work different, finding new solutions. For many, suddenly finding oneself in the ranks of the reactionary and rearguard is simply resolved by redefining the situation as ‘I’m still bleeding edge; those buggers are just off-course’. For the puritans amongst us, Apple have deviated from the straight path, the virtuous road.

As a species, we have always found it a challenge, at the individual level, to take a broader view than what lies beyond our life’s experience, let alone our lifespan. For movements that, in the moment, do not conform to our expectations, or harmonise with our life experience in our time frame, our most common response is opposition, even vilification. If we live long enough to appreciate that that was where humanity was headed, we too often revise our personal history to retrospectively put ourselves on the progressive side - we were always supporters of said movement, even if we didn’t say so.

As for Apple, they should continue to be imperviously focussed. Tim Cook should not be scouring the newspapers and blogosphere for a barometric reading of how well he is doing. And as a leadership team, Apple’s senior management should continue to place primary emphasis on how their customers use their products and services, as well as on their (Apple’s) internal business plan, rather than on the competition. After all, this is formula that brought them to their present place of prominence, and is the hallmark of true industry leadership.

Looking forward to next week’s debris.

Paul Goodwin

HAHAHAHAHA Lee

Wilfred Hildonen

As a comment somewhat aside, regarding the second point and upgrading, I have come to realise something; a lot of newcomers to Macs seem to be at a complete loss as to what upgrading is about! Too many among my FB-friends have made comments about receiving confusing messages that “something is too old on their Macs” and that they need to upgrade and their machine is only from 2008 or 2009 they say. Is it really too old already, they wonder?

No, I tell them soothingly, your hardware is OK, but you should upgrade to a newer version of the OS. Oh, is that so, they wonder, and what is this?

I think that coming from Windowsland, people just bought a cheap plastic laptop with whatever version of Windows which came on it, like XP. When it fell to pieces, it was time to buy a new, probably with Vista on it, and so on. Besides, to buy Windows has always been a costly affair, so no one with a family to feed considered it. The geeky ones got hold of a pirated copy, but the rest…?

So, these people love their “Apples”, but maybe they, too, come to hate it when they think that their MacBook is already too old and they need to buy a new one - expensive as it is, compared to the cheap plastic ones they were used to.

Maybe Apple need to take this into consideration, too?

MuppetGate

@Paul Goodwin.

I get that the loss multiple windows is an annoyance for you:

“The loss of multiple window capability in iTunes recently was a real pain to me. And there was page after page of irritated customers in the iTunes Community forum complaining about it…it’s a real step down in capability. It’s hard for me to understand why Apple would remove that capability.”

The first thing is that while it may be a great loss to you, we don’t know if it was a great loss to the rest of Apple’s customers. I can say it wasn’t a loss to me because I just use it to play music. I have about six playlists and don’t usually feel the need to move tracks between them.
Secondly, the number of pages in an Apple discussion topic doesn’t really indicate the number of people affected. I have seen discussions that have reached fifty pages (and hundreds of messages) – with only about fifteen people taking part. That’s not a huge number.
Having said that, they if enough people have complained then you can bet they’ll put multiple windows back in the next version, without saying a word.

 

MuppetGate

@wab95

I think you’ve hit the nail squarely on the noggin.

Do you remember when Apple announced they were dumping the PowerPC and heading for Intel? 

Hooo boy.

Steve Nagel

Certainly Wall Street hates autonomy; it prefers Wall Streetwalkers that rely on the kindness of strangers. Think Amazon. If unions today wanted to mess with the management of companies the way stockholders do, we would scream bloody murder and probably wreck them. Hmm. We did that.

John Martellaro

wab95:

  Many of these pundits, critics, armchair analysts and self-appointed Apple advisors want an objective indicator that they are being listened to, a validation, if you will, of their influence, power and stature. Being ignored and having Apple confirm that they believe, better than do the critics, that they understand the needs and interests of their client base is taken by many of these critics as a public repudiation of that stature and influence.

Beautifully said.  Having worked for Apple, I know that that is *exactly* how Apple works and how the pundits feel.

sflocal

Wow, truth hurts enough to bring out a few trolls and has-beens.

The reality is that the tech-heads constantly - to an almost maniacal intensity - believe that they know what’s best for the majority of consumers.  They want to feel like their opinion has more value because they sit in front of a computer all day.

Apple does a fantastic job of figuring out what the consumer will want next.  Had they listened to some of the armchair-CEO’s here, the iPhone would have been a distant memory and we’d still be in the age of Blackberry clones and a half-baked OS.

Speaking of half-baked, still waiting for Flash to take over the mobile arena as one ardent-believe of that joke kept preaching to us.

bp

The one thing that baffles me so much is why people love to hate on Apple. So you don’t like them for whatever reason. So what. I do and most people I know do. I have tried other products and always come back to Apple. To me it’s the best operating system and best smartphone/tablet experience you can have. There products are generally top notch but most importantly OSx and iOS are just excellent. When they fail to be anymore then I will move on.

I just don’t get the Apple haters. They go out of there way to bash anything about Apple.

RonMacGuy

sflocal, I love your terminology - “trolls and has-beens”.  Very accurate.  And I very much appreciate your Flash reference!!  Ah, the good times on TMO!!

bp, very good points as well.  If only we could understand why they do what they do.  Personally, I think they are looking for arguments and attention, for they are lonely creatures in a lot of cases.

RCC

Good lord, this comment section is like an Apple fanboy orgy. “Me like Apple. Android & PC suck. Grunt grunt grunt”. It’s almost vomit inducing. Actually, I’ve got nothing against Apple products, I just can’t stand their arrogant, sanctimonious fanboys.

RCC

And, really, SFlocal. If a person doesn’t use Apple, they’re a “has-been”? That’s the typical “douchebag” attitude that makes people hate Apple & their fanboys.

And, RonMacGuy, you might just be a bigger Apple douche than sflocal. But, I guess I’m just, as you say, “looking for an argument”. Actually, no. I realized long ago that arguing with an Apple fanboy is pointless, It’s like arguing with a 3 year old.

Jill Marie Young

I like HP because I just had my computer hardwhere replaced this past week and only 6 months old. So it was not the softwhere which I thought it was. On my last HP laptop, lasted 2 years; but no warranty that cost extra. We learned on my 2nd HP laptop, that We will pay $100 a year to cover everything. I like Best Buy, because it is a local store and they fix all electronics with the Geek Squad and are super friendly staff. I have an ipod shuffle I got from Apple aka for Christmas in 2013 and I love it. It was only $50! I plan on maybe getting AppleTV for $100. I would never buy a Mac from Apple, because no one has $1200 to spend! My laptop was only $400 + tax and warranty so like close to $600 for everything. That was freaking cheap. IT came with ethernet cable port and CD/DVD drive. Macs don’t have those options.

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