Keep it up, Apple, and I’m going back to Windows.
I was a Windows customer for many years. Despite running virus/malware protection and being pretty good at doing the right things security-wise, I had to completely rebuild Windows at least once a year — and it usually happened when I really didn’t have the time for it. It happened one too many times and said, “that’s it,” and I bought my first MacBook Pro. (The last Windows OS I ran on bare metal was Windows XP.)
I made the conversion to MacOS about 4+ years ago. During all this time, I have never — never — had to rebuild MacOS. When I get a new Mac, I just use Time Machine to move the OS, apps, and data to the new machine. When a new version of the OS comes out, I just push a button and it upgrades itself. I cannot say enough nice things about how much easier it is to have a Mac than a Windows box. (I just got an email today of a Windows user complaining about what he was told about transferring his apps and user data to his new Windows8 machine. He was told that it wasn’t possible.)
My first Mac was a used MacBook Pro for roughly $600, for which I promptly got more RAM and a bigger disk drive. I liked it. I soon bought a brand new MacBook Pro with a 500 GB SSD drive, making it cost much more than it would have otherwise. (In hindsight, I should’ve bought the cheapest one I could buy and then upgrade the things I didn’t like.) It wasn’t that long before I realized that I hadn’t put enough RAM in it, so I did. (I didn’t account for the amount of RAM that Parallels would take.)
My company’s second Mac was an iMac. After we started doing video editing on that, we decided to max out its RAM. Another MacBook Pro had more RAM installed in it because Lion wanted more than Snow Leopard, and on another MacBook Pro we replaced the built-in hard drive with an SSD unit and upgraded its RAM. We are still using that original MacBook Pro and it works fine — because we upgraded to more RAM and a better disk — because we could. It’s what people that know how to use computers do — they upgrade or repair the little parts in them to make them better.
The first expensive application we bought (besides Microsoft Office) was Final Cut Pro 7, and I bought it at Fry’s Electronics — an authorized reseller of Apple products. I somehow managed to pay $1000 for a piece of software that Apple was going to replace in just a few days with a completely different product. Not an upgrade, mind you, a complete ground-up rework of that product. Again, anyone who followed that world knows what’s coming next. I wish I had known at the time.
First, Apple ruins Final Cut Pro
For those who don’t follow the professional video editing space, Final Cut Pro was the industry standard for a long time. Other products eventually passed it up in functionality and speed, but a lot of people hung onto Final Cut Pro 7 anyway because (A) they knew it already and (B) it worked with all their existing and past project files. They waited for years for a 64-bit upgrade to Final Cut Pro 7.
Apple responded by coming out with Final Cut Pro X, a product that was closer in functionality to iMovie than Final Cut Pro — and couldn’t open Final Cut Pro 7 projects. (In case you missed that, the two reasons that people were holding onto Final Cut Pro 7 were gone. They didn’t know how to use the new product because it was night and day a different product, and it couldn’t open the old product’s projects.) FCP X was missing literally dozens of features that were important to the pro editing community. (They have since replaced a lot of those missing features, but not all of them.) And the day they started selling FCP X, they stopped selling FCP 7. Without going into the details, suffice it to say that there was a mass exodus and Adobe and Avid both had a very good year. (Both products offered, and may still be offering big discounts to FCP customers that wanted to jump ship.)
But what really killed me is what happened to me personally. I thought that while Apple was addressing the concerns that many had with FCP X, I’d continue using FCP 7. So I called them to pay for commercial support for FCP 7 so I could call and ask stupid questions — of which I had many — as I was learning to use the product. Their response was to say that support for FCP 7 was unavailable. I couldn’t pay them to take my calls on FCP 7. What?
So here I am with a piece of software that I just paid $1000 for and I can’t get any help from the company that just sold it to me. I can’t return it to Fry’s because it’s open software. I can’t return it to Apple because I bought it at Fry’s. I asked Apple to give me a free copy of FCP X to ease the pain and they told me they’d look into it and then slowly stopped returning my emails. Thanks a bunch, Apple. (Hey Apple: If you’re reading this, it’s never too late to make an apology & give me that free copy of FCP X.)
Apple ruins the MacBook Pro
Have you seen the new MBP? Cool, huh? Did you know that if you want the one with the Retina display, you’d be getting the least upgradeable, least repairable laptop in history? That’s what iFixit had to say after they tore down then 15″ and 13″ MBPs. You won’t be able to upgrade the RAM because it’s soldered to the motherboard. You’ll have to replace the entire top just to replace the screen — because Apple fused the two together.
When I mention this to Apple fans and employees, what I get is, “well it’s just like the iPad!” You’re right. The 15-inch MacBook Pro is a $2200 iPad. This means that they can do things like they do in the iPad where they charge you hundreds of dollars to go from a 16 GB SSD chip to a 64 GB SSD chip, although the actual difference in cost is a fraction of that. Except now we’re not talking hundreds of dollars — we’re talking thousands. This means that you’ll be forced to buy the most expensive one you can afford because if you do like I did and underestimate how much RAM you’ll need, you’ll be screwed. (It costs $200 more to go from an 8GB version to a 16GB version, despite the fact that buying that same RAM directly from Crucial will cost you $30 more — not $200.)
Apple’s response is also that they’ll let the market decide. You can have the MBP with the Retina Display and no possibility of upgrade or the MBP without the Retina Display and the ability to upgrade.
First, I want to say that that’s not a fair fight. Second, can you please show me on the Apple website where they show any difference between the two MBPs other than CPU speed and the display? Everyone is going to buy the cheaper laptop with the cooler display, validating Apple’s theory that you’ll buy whatever they tell you to buy. (Update: If you do order one of the Retina laptops, it does say in the memory and hard drive sections, “Please note that the memory is built into the computer, so if you think you may need more memory in the future, it is important to upgrade at the time of purchase.” But I don’t think the average schmo is going to know what that means.)
Apple Ruins the iMac
I just found out today that they did the same thing they did above, but with the iMac. And they did this to make the iMac thinner. My first question is why the heck did the iMac need to be thinner? There’s already a giant empty chunk of air behind my current iMac because it’s so stinking thin already. What exactly are they accomplishing by making it thinner?
One of the coolest things about the old iMac was how easy it was to upgrade the RAM. There was a special door on the bottom to add more RAM. Two screws and you’re in like Flynn. Now it’s almost as bad as the MacBook Pros, according to the folks over at iFix it. First, they removed the optical drive. Great, just like FCP. They made it better by removing features! Their tear down analysis includes sentences like the following:
- “To our dismay, we’re forced to break out our heat gun and guitar picks to get past the adhesive holding the display down.”
- “Repair faux pas alert! To save space and eliminate the gap between the glass and the pixels, Apple opted to fuse the front glass and the LCD. This means that if you want to replace one, you’ll have to replace both.”
- “Putting things back together will require peeling off and replacing all of the original adhesive, which will be a major pain for repairers.”
- “The speakers may look simple, but removing them is nerve-wracking. For seemingly no reason other than to push our buttons, Apple has added a barb to the bottom of the speaker assemblies that makes them harder-than-necessary to remove.”
- “Good news: The iMac’s RAM is “user-replaceable.” Bad news: You have to unglue your screen and remove the logic board in order to do so. This is just barely less-terrible than having soldered RAM that’s completely non-removable.”
It is obvious to me that Apple doesn’t care at all about upgradeability and repairabiity. Because otherwise they wouldn’t design a system that requires ungluing a display just to upgrade the RAM! How ridiculous is that? And they did all this to make something thinner that totally didn’t need to be thinner. This isn’t a laptop. There is absolutely no benefit to making it thinner. You should have left well enough alone.
Will they screw up the Mac Pro, too?
I have it on good authority that they are also doing a major redesign of the Mac Pro (the tower config). This is why we have waited to replace our iMac w/a Mac Pro, even though the video editing process could totally use the juice. But now I’m scared that they’ll come out with another non-repairable product.
Keep it up, Apple, and I’m gone
Mac OS may be better than Windows in some ways, but it also comes with a lot of downsides. I continually get sick of not being able to integrate my Office suite with many of today’s cool cloud applications, for example. I still have to run a copy of Windows in Parallels so I can use Visio and Dragon Naturally Speaking.
You are proving to me that you do not want intelligent people as your customers. You don’t want people that try to extend the life of their devices by adding a little more RAM or a faster disk drive. You want people that will go “ooh” and “ahh” when you release a thinner iMac, and never ask how you did that, or that don’t care that they now have to pay extra for a DVD drive that still isn’t Blu-Ray.
Like I said when I started this blog post. I like my Mac. I love my new iPad Mine, but I am really starting to hate Apple.
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Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technical Evangelist at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.