Apple is a Corporation, NOT a Cause

A post by former MacWEEK editor, Rick LePage, really hits the nail on the head.

Yesterday, while having lunch in my hangar at Wickenburg, I checked ÜberTwitter to see what was going on in TwitterLand. Along the way, I followed a link shared by @BWJones to a blog post by Rick LePage.

Rick LePage was the editor-in-chief of MacWeek magazine, a weekly tabloid-sized publication that covered all things Macintosh. Back in the 1990s, not long after I began my writing career, I wrote occasionally for MacWEEK. Not only did the magazine pay well, but it was highly respected. Writing for MacWEEK likely helped my writing career get off the ground — although I never really pursued magazine writing, preferring to author books instead.

So there I was, munching a bacon cheese burger and tater tots while sitting on the back seat of my golf cart at the airport, reading Rick’s blog post on my BlackBerry Storm. One thing I hate about the Storm is its Web browser. I don’t surf on the Storm. I’d lose my mind. But this blog post really sucked me in. It explained what was going on at MacWEEK when Apple was in its “state of confusion” before Steve Jobs came back. It admitted that MacWEEK had gone beyond reporting and had been trying to push its own agenda to sway user opinion on what Apple was doing. (I can’t help but think about FoxNews and its political slant here.) I was so sucked in that I forgot I was reading microscopic print on a cell phone.

And then that cell phone rang. I was called into action doing something else. I put the phone away, cleaned up my lunch mess, and got back to work.

But I didn’t forget the blog post. It had impressed me that much. I figured I was only halfway finished with it and I wanted to read it to the end. I can’t tell you how seldom that happens these days.

So this morning, I looked it up and finished reading it. I discovered that I’d nearly finished. But the best was at the end, in the last paragraph. It started with these sentences that really hit home for me:

I don’t think Apple is a better or worse company than most others. I still love the stuff they turn out, and would much rather be pushing a Mac than a Windows box. But, for all of you who think that the Mac—or Apple, or the iPhone—is a Cause, and that somehow Apple cares about you, wake up.

It was as if Rick had written this based on what was in my mind.

I like most Apple products, and have bought many of them. I prefer a Mac over a Windows PC — to me, there’s no comparison worth making. I own numerous Mac computers, including a desktop Mac and three laptops.

But I’m not a blind follower to everything Apple. I’m not a member of the Apple cult. I make my product decisions based on design and functionality, not logo. I don’t hang on Apple rumors. I don’t push Apple products to my friends and family members. I don’t surf the Web looking for all things Apple. And I certainly don’t get into bullshit platform wars in forums and blog comments. Hell, I have a life beyond the computer I chose to get work done.

I don’t like all Apple products — I still can’t see the real point of an AppleTV and prefer my BlackBerry over an iPhone. (I don’t want to surf the Web and run countless pointless applications on my phone.) My days of buying in and adopting early ended not long after I bought a Newton.

I realized years ago — probably around the time iTunes made its debut — that Apple is not putting the customer first. As Rick points out in his piece, Apple is a company with the need to make a profit and stockholders (like me, I might add) who want to see it succeed. Apple has a huge cult-like following — there must be something hypnotic about Steve Jobs at a keynote intoning, “Isn’t this incredible?” — and it’s cashing in on it. More power to ’em!

The sentences I quoted above should be a reality check for everyone. Apple is not a cause. It’s a corporation. Its goal isn’t to make you feel good or solve all your problems. Its goal is to get you to buy its products so it can make a big, fat profit.

Wake up, folks. Look beyond the logo and pretty white packaging and think about what you’re buying. If you still want to evangelize the “Apple cause” — well, it’s your life.

And now lets see how many people completely misunderstand the point of this post and come to Apple’s rescue in Comments.

15 thoughts on “Apple is a Corporation, NOT a Cause

  1. I’m wearing my Apple thong as I type this.

    I see nothing wrong with feeling passionate for a company and it’s products, especially given Apple’s storied history, epic battles, and world changing devices. It’s Shakespeare on a corporate level.

    People feel the same reverence for sports, politics and golf carts in airport hangers……why not Apple?

    • Sean: Apple Thong? Egads!

      I don’t see anything WRONG with it. I’m just so tired of hearing from Apple cheerleaders who push every single thing Apple does as irreproachable. The company is out there to make money — not to make us all feel good — and they don’t do everything right for every user. We remember their world-changing devices (like iPod and iPhone) but forget their epic failures (like Newton and AppleTV and others that I really have forgotten). In many cases, we drink the Kool-Aid and believe what we’re told because we want this company to win against all odds. In the old days (circa 1984-1990, it was little Apple vs. Big Brother IBM. But Apple isn’t little anymore.

      Oh, and for the record, I don’t feel any reverence for my golf cart. It was a comfortable place to sit while having lunch. Just because I have or do something doesn’t mean I revere it. Sheesh.

  2. I have strong sympathy for your bashing Apple as a corporation, and it does seem that Apple often is focused on a Platonic ideal of perfection rather than catering to their customers. And yet, I much prefer the Apple store to the many fine local Mac stores in town, because of their convenient location, hours and stellar customer service. And, as I love my iPod Touch (precisely because it’s not a phone), I lust to get my greasy paws on the shiny expanse of the iPad. Apple makes great stuff and they’ve been on an amazing roll.

    Failure is highly underrated. The Newton and the the Cube were wonderfully ambitious, fabulous failures. As for Apple TV, meh. Great companies take risks and punctuate their successes with failure. Though I expect the iPad to be a smash hit, it would be more interesting, perhaps, if it turned out to be a flop.

  3. I am so sick of people making a big deal out of why some people make a big deal out of liking apple products. I like apple products. That doesn’t make me smug or a fanboy and it doesn’t mean I’ve drunk the koolaid. I don’t like apple products because they are cool or hip. I particularly find the most vile distaste for people who dis apple because they think apple fans are sheep following some “cool” “smug” fashion trend. I’ve used apple products for 20 years now and while there are a lot of things I don’t like about apple products they are still far superior to any other electronics that require you to read a manual because some dilbert engineer doesn’t get how people use something through TIME. Apple products give me TIME because apple understands how people use things through TIME. And if I wanna act cool or hip or smug because I have the TIME to do so then that is my business.

    • Jim and David: Congratulations. You BOTH missed the point. At nearly the same time.

      I did not dis or bash Apple. Read the words, not between them. And seriously — Apple does NOT need YOU to stick up for it.

      And David: as for the iPad, it should be interesting to see if it’s a hit. I don’t think it’ll dud. I’m looking forward to trying it out and possibly buying one. But frankly, hearing Steve Jobs rave about it at his introduction presentation made me kind of sick. Don’t tell us how great it is, Steve. Let US tell YOU if you got it right. All he’s doing is serving up the Kool-Aid. I’m just suggesting that we all stop drinking it just because we want Apple to win.

    • Steve: Seriously, I barely have enough time these days to read the few books and magazines I do read. I’m not prepared to slog through The Fountainhead again.

  4. Apple TV is NOT a failure… it’s in the eye of the beholder or user… but I love mine, and find more and more uses out of it as I continually keep digging into it…

    I’m not some major cheerleader for Apple, but for the most part, their products have ALWAYS worked better compared to any PC I have ever owned or built. Further more, the support has been better than any PC manufacture… and this is a statement coming from when I also was a tech for CompUSA and had direct lines to the service departments… there were only 2 of us Apple Mac techs, and 12 PC techs… I think that also says something, and not just percentages of users…

    I also question your comments sometimes… you call the AppleTV a failure yet I am almost certain you don’t own one… so how can you REALLY evaluate it and call it a failure? You can’t… the failure part is your opinion… It’s one thing to own and use a product and then call it out… I agree with that… as we’ve discussed before, I had 3 of those damn Blackberry Storms crash on me, bad keys etc etc… you’ve had fairly good success with yours… I use the Tour, but will probably be getting another iPhone 4G when they come out… they have apps that are useful MORE over than any of the Blackberry stuff… and we have all agreed that it is AT&T’s network that is the failure not the iPhone itself.

    • Markk: I don’t think ANY Apple product is a COMPLETE failure. There’s always an audience for any product — Apple or otherwise. Lots of people seem to like AppleTV; I’m not a big fan of television, so I don’t see the point. I don’t think it’s a commercial failure either; I just think it didn’t (and likely, won’t) sell as well as other Apple products. So when I use the word “failure,” I’m speaking comparatively.

      Again, I’m not bashing Apple. I’m just saying that it isn’t some cause we need to rally around. It’s a company. It makes products. You like them, I like them. I don’t like all of them and I don’t think you do, either. But I’m also sure that we both know plenty of people who buy Apple products BECAUSE they come from Apple — not because they’re the best products to meet their needs. Does every Apple product meet your needs? I certainly can’t say that.

      And yes, I blame AT&T more than Apple for my disappointment with the iPhone. Still, my BlackBerry (and my Treo before it) did things I need that the iPhone still doesn’t do without jailbreaking. And the whole idea of jailbreaking says a lot about Apple’s ability to put the customer first, too.

  5. Not sure about the new (younger generation) of Apple users – they may well be buying into the cool factor – if so, the Apple Marketing Genius once again proves its worth.

    For me tho, and I’m guessing a lot of early adopters, it’s also about being proven right. The early days were all about going against the WinFlow – high prices, fewer software choices, and the endless ‘Apple will be dead in a few years, stop wasting your time and money’ – but we persisted, things got better and cheaper and today everything Apple does is vindication of my early successful choices.

    This does not make me a rabid fanboi. I bought a Magic Mouse- pity its not a vacuum cleaner, then it could really ‘suck’ – yet another mouse where Apple doesn’t quite get it – better than the hockey puck, tho.

    The reliability of my MacBook Pro has sucked as well – every single component has been replaced in its AppleCare life – so from personal experience Apple quality is, like everything else these days, questionable. (Just ask Toyota)

    But I don’t care really – I’ll still buy a Mac over a PC any day and make sure to buy AppleCare for the three years!

    I recently bought an HP laptop with Win 7 and I am VERY impressed with it – the Win interface is in some ways better than Snow Leopard and coming from me, a confirmed Windows disser, that is saying a lot.

    But in the end, I know that the key to Apple’s rising stock price lies in the fact that I don’t own any. Were I ever to purchase any, I am sure some disaster would befall Apple within hours of my purchase. So I’m doing my bit for Apple’s success – and I feel warm and tingly about that fact. Talk about the unsung hero!

    • Steve: You and I are on the same wavelength about this. Thanks so much for confirming my suspicion about the Magic Mouse! Unfortunately, I’ll have to acquire one before my next Mac OS X book revision so I can write about it.

      I’ve definitely seen a decline in overall quality and reliability in Apple products over the years. My Mac, bought in 1989, was bulletproof. That thing lasted forever. But starting with my Dual G5, every single Mac I’ve purchased has needed at least one major component replaced. I’m talking logic boards, hard disks, optical drives — that sort of thing. I wouldn’t dream of buying a new Mac without AppleCare. To me, it’s like buying that new component in advance at a discount. (Do you know what a logic board on a Dual G5 costs?) To be fair, I don’t necessarily blame Apple as much as the changes in industry standards and manufacturing. So while Apple’s quality and reliability have gone down, I think everyone else’s has, too. Planned obsolescence? Perhaps.

      I bought my Apple stock in the bad old days before Steve Jobs came back. It was $13 a share; I bought 50 shares and everyone said I was nuts. Stock split twice since then and we all know where it is now. Thanks for not buying any! ;-)

  6. maybe it was just the way I read it, and knowing your personality too at times… LOL. I kinda liked the Newton too when it first came out… in hind site it really wasn’t all that good… too big. In fact I think I still have a Newton 100 laying around somewhere… LOL.

    True, I don’t like everything Apple makes… but that number is decreasing as they seem to be honing in on just the good stuff… my .2 cents worth. I really think there will be a time when the iPhone will be available on other networks without the jailbreak… it will be then I’d like to see how well it performs…

    to Steve, sorry to hear about your MacBook woes. I have had 2 in the past 3 years, both have run flawlessly, in fact I just gifted my older 15 to my father, who is enjoying it immensely. I sometimes wonder if those people who are having issues are doing something differently than I am… whether it be software loaded and used or other things like running Boot Camp… I will say for the record, I have almost always used the Kensignton Trackball instead of any Apple mouse product… so ya got me there!

  7. I strongly identify with the image that Apple projects AND I tend to like many of its products. (Unlike Maria, I love the iPhone, but I agree that Apple TV is useless.) However, I realize that the company is what it is in order to make money. Neither Steve Jobs nor the shareholders care about me personally. As long as enough people use a Mac (or the other Apple products I like) in order for them to survive and be viable for mainstream use, I DON’T CARE what anyone else uses. If anyone wants to know, I’ll explain my choices and make my recommendations, but the products don’t define who I am. Apple doesn’t care about me — and that’s the way it should be.

    Guy Kawasaki reminded us of that a long time ago in one of his books. I’m pretty sure it was in “The Macintosh Way.” I don’t have the exact quote in front of me, but he made the point that Apple was in business to make money. He called the company “a Fortune 500 killing machine.” The company will make products that I like as long as there are enough of us who want them. I think THAT is what drove a lot of the evangelism from 10 or 15 years ago. We were afraid that if we didn’t convince our friends to use Macs, the company would go out of business. It’s not that way now, so I don’t much care. It’s nice to see others make the same choice I make, but the company is a profit-making enterprise, not a cause for me now. It’s nice to see someone such as Maria make the point so cogently.

  8. As a Mac user and consultant for many years, I have found the exuberance and fervor less so than it was in the ’90’s. In fact, I steer those individuals interested in a portable for solely email and Web access to buy a Netbook. Why buy a Mac if you’re not going to use it?

    With the advent of the iPod & iPhone, Apple products and the Apple Logo have become ubiquitous in the world of technology. Apple is selling “cool” and that moniker exists from their ads, product designs, packaging, placement in movies and tv shows, to the first time you enter a retail store. But it doesn’t stop there, with just the coolness factor. Sure, OS X is a solid user interface, both from a visual and pragmatic standpoint. What Apple does so well, is understand the importance of customer service to both the end user, as well as those in the consultant and support fields. In other words, Apple is not “too cool” for their own britches….. which in the past was probably the case. i.e. buy an Apple just because it’s an Apple.

    Sure, the “true believers” exist, but they are diluted by the sea of new users that want nothing more than a reliable product that is easy to use.

    Apple is no longer the alternative to “Big Brother” depicted in the 1984 commercial. The days of “Think Different” are gone, and that’s a good thing. What today’s customer is saying and wanting is this: Just give me a good bang for my buck……..a great product that’s reliable and easy to use. Oh yeah, and make it cool too!

What do you think?