Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Why I don't like Apple's current media direction.

I do not like Apple, I respect the company's ability to use marketing to it's advantage and acknowledge that it has written some great software. The problem I have always had with Apple(well since I have had an opinion on the matter so since maybe '06) is in its control of media. Actually to be honest I think I just dislike Steve Jobs and his influence on the company which can be summed up in a story about the NEXT and the choice of case material but that is best described in another post.

I think it started with iTunes and iPods. I mean on the face of it iTunes is a perfectly usable piece of software but it demonstrates the starting of the current Apple media philosophy. To start with there is the way that it is written in OS X native libraries, but there exists no windows version. This is a bit odd as when it was released windows had a majority market share and today windows has a majority market share. iTunes has a huge userbase on windows yet they don't deserve a less bloated (80MB for a media player?? True it has a web store built-in but you could download firefox, VLC and media monkey to give a random selection of programs that encompass all that functionality separately for under half of that.) , smoother performing, less buggy bit of software? Second it is the only option for managing iPods, iPhones and iPads. This gives iTunes an effective monopoly over the iDevice userbase and funnels the users into its music, film and app stores. Then inside the app store it's contents are scrutinised so that no functionality is duplicated on an iDevice i.e. you cannot download a phone app on iOS as it would replace the original functionality.

To be honest my first two points can be put down to Apple just doing good business, it makes sense to make a rival platform look bad and funnel people into a store. The controlling of app sales I think just stifles creativity, just look at the jailbroken iPhone store. I don't think any of these things improves the end user experience.

Up till now I have been talking about the software side of Apple (there is more to talk about such as the consumerising of its professional media editing software, screwing over people that have invested money and time into the ecosystem) there have also been changes to hardware that I disagree with. The removal of internal disc drives, the addition of a proprietary chip to its hard drives to stop user replacement and the support of thunderbolt over usb 3.0.

The removal of disc drives was justified by saving that the disc format is dead. Apparently nobody uses cd/dvd/bluerays anymore and if they do its because they are to stupid to work out that they don't need to. This is just wrong, even if it was possible to get the same information stored on disc's from Apple sanctioned outlets this would still mean if people wanted to access their collection of music/films on their new mac they would have to fork out for a less than elegant external drive. I can imagine the less computer literate finding this a confusing task. Maybe if Apple hadn't ignored the rise of blueray as a format it could except that there is still some life in the technology, can they really argue that downloading a 30GB high-def movie is going to be a nice experience. I have a fast Internet connection roughly 3MB/s(or as ISP's would say 30Mb/s) and it would take about 2:50 at that speed, sure after a while you could maybe stream it but to be fair according to the last Ofcom report the average UK Internet speed is 5.2Mb/s so planning would be needed. Also there is the space requirement of moving to cloud(?) distribution for instance you can only download your film once from iTunes you would have to store everything locally on your hard disc. I doubt even a few terabytes would be enough for a film lover who enjoys a high-def experience. Also ever had a hard drive break? discs allow us to spread the risk of data loss and corruption. From this I can only be lead to believe that this is a move designed to funnel mac users into the iTunes ecosystem.

The change in hard drive replacement is odd, the average user will never replace a hard drive. The only people that are likely to replace a hard drive are the kind of people that will be more than a little annoyed that they now have to buy their drive through Apple rather than from their manufacturer, at extra expense and less variety.

And there support of thunderbolt over usb3.0? Sure thunderbolt blows usb3.0 out of the water from a shear speed perspective, dual 10Gb/s channels compared to usb's 5Gb/s single channel. But really that is just too fast for almost everyone, unless you have some really excessive SSD raid hard drive setup you computer can't even read the hard drive that fast. But you cry you can daisy-chain monitors, to which I reply who in the entire world has gone you know what I really need is to be able to connect one monitor to another with a £60 cable instead of connecting both to the computer with at most a £10 cable. That's right thunderbolt cables cost £60 or at least £59, for a CABLE! And mac user's don't have a choice it's thunderbolt or usb2.0.

So in conclusion I don't buy Apple because they don't even pretend to care and that makes their products worse.

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