The Macalope Daily: Hissy fit du jour


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[Editor’s Note: The Macalope Daily is an exclusive benefit for our Macworld Insider members, but is being made available to all Macworld readers for a limited time. To learn more about this and other features, visit our Macworld Insider information page.]

Another day, another way Apple has angered members of the technology punditrocracy with the company’s brazen something or other.

Ready thee thine fainting couch, because Salon’s Andrew Leonard is here to tell the harrowing tale of “Apple’s enormous insult” (tip o’ the antlers to Mathew Panzarino)!

Oooh, what could it be?! Is it offensively wealthy white, male executives? Poor working conditions in the factories of its Chinese suppliers? The cockfighting ring Eddie Cue runs behind the dumpsters outside of Caffe Macs?

No! Something far more insidious. Adaptergate.

A hotly contested presidential election hits the stretch run, a deadly foreign policy crisis breaks out in the Arab world, new census figures prove that the richest Americans are still gaining on everyone else… and yet one of the most alarming stories of the week (judging by my perhaps unbalanced Twitter feed) appears to be the news that Apple’s iPhone 5 will come with a brand new dock connector.

Is that a joke? Wait, it can’t be a joke, because it’s not funny.

Salon and Slate are often considered competing online magazines, but in their outrage at Apple’s “enormous insult” Leonard is in full agreement with Slate’s Farhad Manjoo.

Yes, Farhad, I agree, that is indeed “the definition of being unfriendly to your customers.”

Huh. When the Macalope opens his dictionary to “unfriendly to your customers” he sees a picture of Android and Windows Phone OEMs not providing operating system upgrades. He must have a different edition than Manjoo and Leonard.

Apple’s move is an insult on at least two levels: in these tough times, we can’t afford to add adapters to all our existing Apple chargers and related devices.

Let’s get this straight. Being asked to buy a $29 adapter is an “enormous insult” to someone who already has an iPhone 4S but wants to buy an iPhone 5 and use it with his third-party radio dock? You don’t see the obvious disconnect in that argument? “I am so privileged that I can buy a new phone every year but not so privileged that I can afford $29.”

Well, that is a unique situation.

Perhaps even more disappointingly, who among us isn’t affronted by the thought of an ugly adapter clashing with Apple’s sublime design aesthetic?

So, we’ve gone from “People have no money!” to “People are really concerned about aesthetics!” Is it time to just shut the country down because of a cognitive dissonance overload?

Apple executives argue that the new iPhone required a different dock connector for design reasons—the old dock connector was too big for the slimmed down iPhone 5, and the new dock connector will (eventually) allow for speedier data flow. See? More progress!

This is, what, sarcasm? It’s hard to tell when the primary argument is so overblown.

Most of the world’s phone manufacturers have finally coalesced around a single standard for docking connectors—micro USB.

Wait, which one is micro-USB? The tiny one the Macalope’s always putting in the wrong way or the teeny tiny one the Macalope’s always putting in the wrong way?

Aside from anything mandated by the physical design of the new iPhone…

Like the fact that making it so thin precludes using the existing dock connector and the fact that Lightning is simply better. The ability the put the plug in either way alone is worth at least $29 to the Macalope, anyway.

…controlling a unique interface for a hugely popular consumer device ensures a steady flow of profits.

The amount that Apple makes off licensing dock connector technology is a pittance compared to how much it makes just selling the phone. If the company thought people really wanted micro-USB connectors, it’d probably use them.

Leonard then drags out the tired old mule of an argument that is “open always wins”!

What’s so crazy here is that if you had suggested to anyone ten years ago that Apple would have the marketplace power to impose incompatible design changes on cellphones, you would have been thought at best an imbecile, at worst potentially homicidally insane.

Homicidal. Because of your views on technology. Look, pundits, just leave the hyperbole to the Macalope, OK? Because it’s apparent none of you know how to do it right.

Apple itself was widely seen as the best evidence for this fundamental truth! Personal computers running Microsoft Windows and powered by Intel processors were open to anyone, anywhere to tinker with and add or substract hardware, and they completely dominated the computing world. Meanwhile, Apple’s decision to maintain total control over its own hardware was seen as self-defeating, as limiting its market share to the most devout true believers.

Yeah, how’s that working out lately?

Apple is the most valuable company in history! It can do what it wants.

Until, some day, it can’t. Until users decide, hey, that new Samsung is just as good as the new iPhone and it is just so much less of a hassle to use it with my other devices, because, you know, it just works.

Apple has always done this, pushed itself and its customers to use the best technology when it made sense. And look where it is today.

[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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