Apple – The New "Evil Empire"

First, in the interest of disclosure let me state right up front that I’m a “Microsoft fanboy”. Sue me. As a professional developer for the last 20 plus years, I think they make some really great stuff, and do a lot to get the word out to the developer community.

I say this because I really get tired of the gushing lately over how wonderful Apple is and how evil Microsoft is. Hmm, let’s contrast a moment, and I think the recent product announcements of the new Zunes makes a good place to do so.

For those who haven’t heard, Microsoft has just announced the release of some new Zunes, the Zune 80 (80 gig HD) and the Zune Flash series, which will have flash drives and come in 4 and 8 gig sizes. The original Zune will now be known as the Zune 30. There are a lot of cool new features in the interface, such as Podcasting, and the removal of the 3 day limit on listening to wi-fi shared songs, not to mention it just looks easier to use.

What’s really nice is all the early adopters of the original Zune 30’s won’t be left in the cold. There will be free upgrades so the older Zune 30’s will have all the same new software features as the newer Zunes.

Let’s contrast that with Apple and its iPhone and iTouch units. The iTouch, supposedly just a stripped down iPhone, yet there are many features such as e-mail that could be there, but are lacking for no apparent technical reason that anyone can explain.

Then there’s the iPhone itself, locked down worse than Fort Knox. For those who believe that when they plunk down 600 plus dollars for something it should be theirs to do with as they want, the very first upgrade rendered the iPhone into a brick. And once it’s bricked, expect no help from Apple.

Now, I wouldn’t expect them to try and restore everything, but the least they could do is a factory reset to brand new condition. I’d say that was very reasonable. But nope, you’re just stuck with a brick.

From everything I have been able to gather, there’s no real technical reason for the upgrade to force the phone to brick status. I could understand perhaps forcing a reset to “new” status, or that some apps would not work, but the complete paper weight scenario seems like nothing more than punishment on Apple’s part.

Before someone points out there are online sites with “debricking” software, my point is not about the phone, but about the attitude from the company that puts it out. Further, I also realize that ‘hacking’ the iPhone falls outside the terms of service. Cancel my account, make me reset to factory new condition, maybe charge me a twenty five or fifty dollar service fee to do the reset, OK those all sound reasonable. But bricking my expensive phone? Seems a little harsh don’t you think?

So let’s see here, on one hand we have a company that is rewarding it’s early adopter customers by making sure their devices will have all the latest greatest features at no extra charge.

On the other hand we have a company that requires you to use your phone with only they software they approve of. Fall outside that use, and your punishment: to have the sexiest, sleekest brick around.

Hmm, now who is sounding evil?


8 thoughts on “Apple – The New "Evil Empire"

  1. I feel that Apple is an evil for long time when look at their every product. That’s why I never consider to buy a Mac. iPhone is a contineous step, phone with specific provider and OS with own hardware. Uh?
    Don’t you think Google is also an evil?

  2. Finally! Someone else that wonders how a company that is notorious for closed proprietary systems can consistently be portrayed as “Good”, while another company known for open systems and easy of interoperability can be portrayed as “Evil”.

    Thanks for putting this thought out there!

    Bob Porter

  3. Oh Dear,

    Here is the problem. Microsoft is a platform company, they make money by promoting their platform. Enticing developers is a good thing, and an open (open as in development) platform only ensures them continued market dominance.

    Apple on the other hand is a content company, and they have to rely on their hardware to protect that revenue generating content. Take ring-tones for example. Apple charges $.99 for ring-tones on top of the price of a track. License-wise there is no reason I can’t use a track I already own as a ring-tone, and if Apple’s iPhone was more open I could do just that.

    Now, I’m sorry to attack your bricking argument. When bricking is mentioned for the 1.1.1 upgrade it usually means that the phone functionality has been rendered useless, and without an AT&T account you cannot activate your phone to use the iPod/internet features. Now the reason that this happened is because of the nature of the firmware modification to unlock the phone from AT&T. When the firmware is modified, a large portion of the firmware is deleted and some patches are made to the binary dump before re-flashing it to the phone. With this missing data the phone is in bad shape to take a normal update as the firmware is in an unknown state. I doubt that we should lay blame on Apple for not testing their patch with the many variations of the firmware hack that were out there. More aptly, we should blame the anxious people that upgraded to 1.1.1 before learning if this was a safe thing to do. As the owner of an unlocked 1.0.2 iPhone I am not looking to Apple to provide me any firmware updates, but I look to my new firmware supplier that I accepted when I unlocked my iPhone.

    Now for a bit of turn about. As a 13 year — and current — Microsoft platform developer veteran I have to admit that I feel a little betrayed with the release of Vista. I mean seriously, Flip3D, Lazy indexing and Aero? This is Microsoft’s next generation OS? Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE C# and .NET 3.0/3.5 and I love them daily on Windows XP. But as I sit here typing this on a MacBook Pro I wait with excitement for the release of Leopard (2.5 years after Tiger, not 5 years and 10000 employees). Core Animation alone is just amazing, but when you roll in Time Machine, Spaces, Spotlight, Expose you really get the feeling that the next step in computing happening.

    I feel like Microsoft’s base platforms are stagnating all around, both their flagship vista, and windows mobile. I obviously do not include .NET in this sweeping statement as it merely resides on top of this tepid wasteland, and as long as they have people like Scott Guthrie we shouldn’t have to worry.

    So in the end I would not put either company on a pedestal, I love Apple’s innovation in hardware and software, but I could not do my job every day without Microsoft’s platform. I will probably always be a .NET developer and it really perturbs me every time I use my iPhone that Apple will not support a native application 3rd party development community that have made all of these wonderful apps.

  4. Hmmm…

    I’d say the iPhone is as locked down as an…


    You’d think if you paid you $600.00 you’d be able to with it as you please.

    n-blue-learn how to spell.

  5. If there are stupid people who buy apple stuff… it will be even more evil, sadly.. people is vain enough to think the’re much better cos they buy an expensive madeinchina’n’korea computer also seen on most of Usa films.

    F.. apple

  6. My ipod 1G is my most important iPod, Personal digital assistant and more, and also has already been day that I found it. It continues to work on the most current iPod system software, and any iphone app I would need it to operate. I’m using it to post this comment at this moment. I’d point out it is really a lot more as compared with basically an “excellent hobbyist system” — it’s an good iPod

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