I’ve been typing on an Apple-branded keyboard since I was 11 years old. For ten years I sang the praises of the technically superior Mac OS, the elegant hardware of the iMac, and the flawlessly user-centric iPod. I owned an iMac, iBook, and three iPods. I was an Apple fanboy.
The mind-opening experiment we call ‘going to college’ started to change all that. As a junior I had an internship at Kodak testing digital cameras, and one of my co-workers had a sister who worked for Apple. I was rather impressed (she was pretty cute too) and longed for a position at my beloved Apple. Yet this was when DRM was becoming the norm in the downloadable music industry, spearheaded by Apple’s agreement with the Big Five record companies to enable the iTunes Music Store. I mentioned my disapproval of all things DRM and her response was something like “well, yeah, but that’s the only way they could come to an agreement with the record companies.”
Sorry, but that doesn’t cut it. Four years ago I agreed, but there’s a lot more to it than that. How long did it take for the record companies to reneg on that previously unalterable agreement? Less than three years. Jobs still held the cards and could’ve bargained for the right to sell plain ol’ DRM-free MP3s in the first iteration of the iTunes Store. But now, Apple’s success has rendered it the single (successful) gatekeeper to legal downloadable music over the thousands of traditional record companies of yesteryear.
And how about the iPhone? Sweet device, yes. Remarkably marketed, yes. A digital Alcatraz? Oh, yes. The first iteration was glaringly lacking any sort of SDK for third-party applications developers to use. It was like Microsoft releasing a version of Windows that runs Office and nothing else. Sure, Apple has rectified that situation with its own SDK, but with loads of further restrictions unheard of on any other popular development platform.
What really kicked off this tirade, though, was viewing Apple’s latest TV ad. Is it just me, or has the company hired advertising executives directly from the Republican Party? It’s a classic smear, straight from the stagnant strategies of modern presidential politics. This has been going on for years, with most of the ads not even offering a shred of evidence concerning the actual features of the Macintosh.
Are we witnessing the rise of the next Microsoft?