The Macalope Daily: Zombie Apple tropes

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Is there a bigger Apple trope than “Apple is a religion”? If so, the Macalope’s not aware of it. And no matter what weapons we use against it—wooden stake, silver bullet, logic—it keeps rising from the grave to lumber about and conduct its mission of carelessly destroying our discourse.

This week’s shambling, brain-eating monstrosity is Matthew Mallon’s Apple’s Dark Side: Five Reasons to Dislike the Iconic Brand (tip o’ the antlers to Neil Weinstock).

For all its branding as the rebellious, creative alternative to a world full of conformist PCs, Apple and their products have always been hierarchical, closed off and subject to oracular pronouncements from high priests.


Did you know that Apple “expands its obsessively cultish fan-base every day,” has a “heaven-scraping market capitalization of $331 billion,” and “Steve Jobs once sacrificed a live human on stage”? OK, the Macalope made up that last one, but you’d have a hard time telling from this banal piece.

Even the fact that Apple, more than any other technology manufacturer, takes real care in designing its products is somehow insidious.

But here’s the rub: all that tastefully rounded, minimal Dieter Rams-inspired work is starting to have a suffocating effect on the world of tech consumer products.


As designer Robert Brunner notes, “good work outside the Apple vernacular is routinely panned or criticized, especially if they are pushing the envelope and challenge. This creates a strange sort of conservatism. Companies are afraid to move too far beyond the ideal for fear of being trashed or not being accepted.”

Brunner did some good work while at Apple, but this is just a lot of excuse-making. Most work outside of Apple gets panned because it sucks. The company’s competitors usually just find it easier to say “Let’s do what Apple did and slap a bunch of logos on it” rather than actually design stuff. The Nokia N9, on the other hand, is a smart-looking phone that—and he means this—would look good with Windows Phone 7 on it.

Mallon doesn’t like Apple’s 30-percent cut of subscription sales or its content control.

It’s behavior like this that will cause the company and its online retail operations – no matter how slick, convenient and market dominating they seem at the moment – to lose disciples in a hurry when a more open-minded competitor gets its act together.

Which, at the rate we’re going, should be some time after squid make their way onto land and evolve into vicious arboreal predators.

He also apparently doesn’t like the fact that there are no porn apps on the App Store and that Apple licenses the dock connector. You know, it’s fine to complain about these things, but it’s expecting everyone else to share your pet peeves that’s ridiculous.

But can this last? Already, the rapid growth of Android (GOOG)– a relatively open operating system that promises users far more flexibility—challenges the company’s current Smartphone market domination.

What domination are we talking about here? Android’s been ahead in market share for a long while now. If we’re talking about profit, Apple’s way ahead and will continue to be ahead for the foreseeable future, because Android owns the low end of the market.

Reaction to its latest laptop releases – once core to the company’s very existence – was muted at best. The 2011 MacBook Pros, which feature a fancy high-speed Thunderport connection (that connects to future Apple-licensed products and as yet non-existent but sure-to-be-pricey Apple peripherals) but have no USB 3.0 ports, the new standard high-speed connection, highlight the one of the company’s major flaws: it wants to make you do what it says even if it hasn’t quite figured out what it’s saying yet.


As Pope Jobs steps down…


…and observers await signs of the new successor, let’s hope there’s some reform in the offing.

Apple makes terrific products that people love to use. The only thing in need of reform is the Holy Church of the Technology Industry Cliché.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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