Saturday, December 21, 2013

Why I hate Apple

Apple certainly meets all the criteria by which one would define a highly successful, 21st century company.  Highly profitable, Apple’s products have significant influence in American culture and the company enjoys a cult-like following by some.  One need not be a student of the culture to recognize the impact Apple has in our society.  From Apple retail stores in the mall to the company’s push to put an iPad in every school classroom in the country, Apple is in my view the most influential company in 21st century American consumerist culture—and that’s why I hate Apple.

'Apple' photo (c) 2006, Adrian - license: me it really goes back to the invention of the iPod, brilliant of course, yet the advent of the iPod would drastically change American culture at large and turn out to be a huge financial boon for the company.  Macs really only had a niche following until the iPod came out.  I’d see one at a friend’s house and stare at it like I was looking at alien technology.  But the iPod changed all that. Rocketing to popularity thanks to its functionality and ease of use, it quickly became the go-to music playing device, seemingly making those MP3 players seem out-of-date overnight.

The other side of the iPod was the impact it—and its music library iTunes—had on the music industry at large.  Remember record stores? They actually existed before the iPod and iTunes.  When’s the last time you actually listened to an entire album?  The impact of iTunes is that “singles” downloads are standard fare and the art of the entire album is lost. And of course, true to Apple, an iPod today is now simply a relic of the past, antiquated by the latest iPhone or iPad. 

Yes, the iPhone, revolutionary as it was—and still is—changed the game forever.  I remember one of the first iPhone commercials in which some guy (perhaps you remember) whined about how pre-iPhone, he had to carry around a phone, a camera, and some third item I can’t remember. But, now with the iPhone, his “burden” was reduced by two-thirds.  This sales gimmick of creating a problem for the consumer that didn’t actually exist then solving it has become a feature of Apple marketing since.

I could list other things about Apple which irritate me, like how a device can only be used with one iTunes account, how Apple purposefully leaves out features only to conveniently include them on the next device (4.0 vs. 4.1), or Apple’s needlessly changing features such as the charging outlet in the iPhone 5 so as to force consumers to go out and buy new accessories.  I could talk about how Apple takes the money it makes off American consumers and stashes it in other countries to avoid paying taxes—taxes which support the public infrastructure and civic society which has allowed companies like Apple to thrive.  I could also highlight the unscrupulous and immoral treatment of workers in overseas countries by Apple contracted manufacturers (and  other companies) like Foxconn.

'The Apple Store in Japan' photo (c) 2010, - license:
The temple of the cult
But when it comes right down to it, what I most hate about Apple is the way they promote a culture of mindless consuming, which encourages an unsustainable, ecologically irresponsible usage of earth’s resources, a financially reckless approach to spending, and an ideology that meaning is found not in purposeful actions or personal relationships but in acquiring the latest gizmos and gadgets. 

Perhaps what has made Apple so successful, and what causes my utter hatred, is that Apple represents the purest form of unbridled capitalism. Apple, like no other, has incorporated the tenets of a godless, laissez-faire capitalism; the pursuit of wealth regardless of the costs to others, the utter disregard for community or society, the view of the earth as a resource to be exploited, the exaltation of wealth as a god, and the insistence that meaning and purpose in life can be found by acquiring stuff.  So, in the end, my hatred of Apple is perhaps misguided—and I should rather direct my ire towards global capitalism.

If like me, you believe that meaning is not found in acquiring more stuff, that the earth is a treasure worth preserving, that humans are our sisters and brothers deserving of our care, that we’re all in this together, and that the rejection of wealth is the path to true enlightenment (as most religions teach) I invite us to unite in rejection of a godless, meaningless financial system and strive to live and act in a way that subverts the norms of capitalism.


  1. Could not agree more with your assessment.

  2. Not to mention all of the "Apple Care" insurance they cram down everyone's throat.