Thoughts on Apple

I’d like to reflect upon the last two weeks media buzz around the iPhone4 reception problem. I’ve heard some jokes and seen quite a lot of funny pictures concerning the antenna problem, but… is it really genuine problem or are we just happy to see how one of the big one fails, even not considering the magnitude of the failure. Also I have a number of thoughts on Apple in general terms.
In the end of June Apple released their “latest and greatest” product, namely, iPhone4. I am not the biggest fan of Apple and think I prefer Android phones, but I’ve got to admit that the new iPhone is pretty hot. The features are almost like from a Sci-Fi movie for the near future that I’ve watched five years ago, but I don’t have to tell anybody about that =). However, the problem with the antenna emerged shortly after the release, and a lot of websites published the news. On the following day Youtube also had footage of the problem, and on the next day, pictures about how Apple “suck” and other jokes addressing the issue.
Three weeks after the outburst of ridicule, I watched Apple’s presentation concerning the problem and giving their opinion on it. The main idea was that “Smartphones aren’t perfect” and a lot of emphasize was put on the statement “We (Apple) aren’t perfect”. The presentation gave some figures and numbers, and it turned out that quite a smaller number of people reported being unhappy with the phone, than one might think. Despite the information, I really did not like the tone of Steve Jobs, because every time he had a chance he tried to stress how they’re not perfect. At a certain point he made me feel like he was begging the users to understand him and his company, when it’s not that big of a deal, or at least that’s what I think.
It would be a lie if I said that I wasn’t even a little happy with the fact that “the giant” could also make a mistake. I had one more argument about Apple’s phone if it happened to discuss it with a passionate Apple fan. After that, however, I considered a defense against this, at first thought strong argument, and it went like this: “With all the features, possibilities and nice looks that the iPhone provides, do I even have to be worried about calling?” And I didn’t have a comeback, because everything else works fine, and not only works, but is superior to the other phones for now. So is the issue big? I think not. We can just move our fingers one centimeter away. It’s true that there are people who really use the phone feature a lot and the multitude of apps is not the most important think, but then again, why bother buy an iPhone just for the phone? ( My presumption is based on the idea that if a person needs a phone mainly to manage his calls, he/she wouldn’t hurry to buy one which fortes are entertainment and web experience. It looks more and more that the “phone” begins to be just one, in the plethora of many features in modern cell phones, and the iPhone is not an exception. )
Personally, I think the case with a big number of the people is like it is with me: they are just happy to see that even the strongest can fail. And that’s pretty much it. The iPhone4 sells at such a rate, that one can’t say that there is something wrong with it unless following the news. And those who mock Apple will still buy the device, because it’s an outstanding product with a problem, which one may hardly care about.
Nevertheless, I don’t think people are completely on the wrong. I myself was a fan of Apple until 2008, but after that some cogs in my head turned and I gradually started to dislike them. This was due to the fact that at every conference that was held by them, half of the information was the kind of “Isn’t it beautiful?” , that is to say, praising themselves excessively. It’s true that they produce eye-candy products and also pretty innovative ones, but isn’t the mouth of the user where the praise is expected to come from?
The main reason I started disliking Apple is not only the fact that they (at least I think they do) consider their company’s products superior to others, companies like Google, HTC, RIM, Palm, etc. The fact that they want to control every aspect of the user’s experience and not giving the freedom of choice to users is the thing that makes me dislike them. When presenting the new iPhone, Steve Jobs tried to make it very clear that Apple is nothing of the sort. Again he presented tons of statistics and figures, addressing the open nature of the company, and their cordial feeling towards users. I must say that the figures were pretty convincing, but still I find things missing in the whole picture.
Firstly, the explanation Steve Jobs gave for the absence of Adobe Flash. He spoke of Flash as an unstable technology, and also pointed to the fact that new web-standards like HTML5 try to make the use of plug-ins like Flash unnecessary. It was pointed out how many video sharing websites have support of protocols for video without the need of Flash. And finally came the moment that strengthened my belief that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark. Steve Jobs spoke of Flash games, and admitted that there is no technology that substitutes Adobe’s product, but said that there is no reason that people would want to play flash games, assuming that they have the outstanding AppStore. Here’s what I don’t like about the explanation: it’s true that Flash may crash occasionally and also that new web standards emerge, but what about websites build entirely with Flash, like those of talented digital artists, are even for regular websites with Flash-based menus? I personally like visiting such visually creative sites and admire their creators for having the creativity, but with the lack Flash support goes my contemplating on other people’s genius. As for the Flash-based games, it’s true that some may not be comfortable to play on the iPhone, but it’s the choice that matters. If they are so bad, people simply won’t play them. But I really don’t like this statement, from Steve Jobs’ letter addressing Flash: “Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free. There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world.” When I was listening to Steve Jobs, I couldn’t but interpret his words in one sentence: “We know that we can’t provide this, but the things we’ve done so far are enough to keep you happy and your mouth shut.”
Secondly, I’m interested in the statement of openness and the support of HTML5, CSS and Javascript. All open standards. All only for the web. In “Thoughts on Flash”, Steve Jobs says that Apple not only supports open standards, but also develops, one such being WebKit, which is used in the browsers of major companies like Google (used in the Android browser), Nokia, Palm, etc. I’m not familiar with WebKit so I won’t make blind suggestions. After a while I asked myself “Why does he boast that his company provides open standard web experience?” Name a modern major browser that doesn’t support CSS, Javascript and at least HTML 4.01. Android provides the same web experience, but they don’t restrict the user. Other finger pointed at Flash was its proprietary nature. As far as I’m concerned, people who do not develop content don’t need to buy Adobe Flash in order to view content on the Flash player.
Please don’t get me wrong; Apple is an excellent company offering some of the most innovative pieces of technology, but having taken steps that are clearly not in biggest interest of the consumer, and most of all, trying to prove that their gratest wish is for everyone to be happy, when it isn’t, irritates me.