On Twitter recently, Simon wrote:
I find it fascinating how whenever someone writes something about Apple products 100s of people comment, many saying how rubbish they are.
It’s amazing how 33% of the internet think Apple products are amazing, 33% rubbish and the other 33% couldn’t care less.
I don’t know of any other company that polarises opinion so much. It’s truly fascinating to watch!
This is a subject which I’ve been thinking about recently. I’m no fan of Apple, but I do have an iPod (it was the cheapest thing available which had the amount of storage space it did. Everything else was flash-memory based. I don’t use iTunes to sync it – I use Winamp and the iPod plugin).
So… what is it about Apple products that makes them so hated by some, and so loved by others? I know plenty of digital ink has been spilled on this already, but that’s absolutely no reason why I can’t weight in on it too. I am somewhat towards the “hate” side of the debate, by the way – I’ll say that upfront. But I do recognise some of the strengths of Apple products too, and I’m going to try and sum all that up here.
Why people like, and indeed, LOVE Apple products:
- They are exceptionally well-designed. For the most part. The software “just works”, the casing looks attractive, the UI is smooth – all these things are generally true. Apart from ‘Antennagate’ last year (I’ll come to that in a minute), as far as I know Apple products are generally well built.
- They give users an end-to-end experience. What I mean by that is they don’t just provide you with a piece of hardware, and maybe some crappy software which can sync it (badly) with your computer – when you buy an Apple device you’re buying into a whole ecosystem.
- As such, Apple have a great deal of control over that ecosystem. Now in some respects this is a good thing. They don’t need to worry about trying to make software run on loads of diverse hardware platforms. They can veto apps which aren’t of good enough quality. They can ensure everything meets their standards.
OK, so those are the main pros I can think of. Let’s look at the other side though, starting with what I think is the real reason people “hate” Apple.
- Apple products are hyped so much, you could be forgiven for thinking that the arrival of a new Apple product was akin to the rapture. The Register started calling the iPhone the “Jesus Phone” before it was released. It’s not that Apple products are bad – it’s just that, at the end of the day, they are in fact products and not a cure for cancer / fount of eternal youth.
- I think Apple devices are a bit of a fashion statement, somewhat deservedly – but a lot of people hate “fashion” passionately. That’s a whole other discussion though.
- Following on from the first point, I do kind of get the feeling that Steve Jobs creates a ‘reality distortion field’ (as The Register call it), in which nothing can be ever wrong with an Apple product. For example, with Antennagate last year, lots of people had to complain – pretty stridently – before Apple would even acknowledge there *might* be a problem.
- Steve Jobs is a visionary, but at the same time he’s … well, he’s not always the best person for dealing with people. My favourite example of his PR skills is this one. Now this isn’t really a reason to dislike Apple per se, but it doesn’t exactly endear the company to me.
- I also don’t like the way Apple treats developers, and the way they are creating a ‘Walled Garden’ with iTunes and their platform in general.
That last point – well, all of them really – could be expanded upon.
So, as you can see, I’m not really a fan of Apple, although I do recognise that they do some things well. Is that an acceptable position to have? I don’t rant about them, but at the same time I’m not indifferent.