Apple vs Obama

A few people who read my letter to Apple assumed for some reason that I’m an Apple hater – or indeed that I had foresworn Apple products entirely.

They couldn’t be more wrong. I love Apple – always have and probably always will (though the affair is distinctly less romantic these days). As I made perfectly clear in my letter, I have had Apple products for years – since before it was particularly fashionable and people looked at you like you were a weirdo when you asked whether there was a Mac OS version of their software.

But the past few years have been disappointing, to say the least, and for the first time its rivals are able to offer products that are just as compelling, so it felt appropriate to have a separation – which is why I’ve ditched the iPhone in favour of a Samsung. Other parts of my technological life – perhaps even the Macbook I’m writing this on – could well follow suit.

Some have written in to thank me, to tell me that my letter has convinced them to make the move as well – as if they were trapped in a loveless marriage.

Others have abused me for, variously, my ignorance, self-obsession, poor writing, poor spelling and downright lunacy at abandoning Apple. Which is fine, though it might be worth clarifying that this is my personal blog (which I started up mainly to house my music mixes, which in the interest of politeness you should really check out), I don’t benefit from it monetarily at all, am not receiving any kind of kicks from any company, and am not in pursuit of web traffic (particularly since my ISP is threatening to charge me more because of the extra traffic recently).

On the basis of all the emails, tweets and comments, some people seem to have a tribal, almost binary approach to Apple – you’re in or you’re out. You love them or you hate them.

This is, to put it lightly, a bit odd.

It’s an attitude you frequently encounter when it comes to football teams or religion, but rarely to brands. People don’t curse, scream and abuse each other online because they like Pepsi rather than Coke. They might be a Mercedes or BMW fan but even when it comes to cars, all but a fringe element can take ‘em or leave ‘em.

This clearly isn’t the case with Apple: I’m willing to bet there are more people in the UK who categorise themselves as an Apple or Android person than who declare a confirmed political allegiance, be it Conservative, Labour or LibDem.

So why does writing anything about Apple seem to provoke such a furore?

I suspect there’s probably a whole combination of factors – although most of them probably come down to the fact that it is now one of the world’s biggest companies. Moreover, while part of its dominance undoubtedly derives from the fact that it makes better products than the majority of the competition, it also owes a significant amount to its mastery of marketing.

Like politicians, Apple has been selling us a dream for many years: that it can help enhance our lives, and make us cooler, through its products. And with some reason: many of its products have indeed been revolutionary. This has reinforced the cycle, and Apple has encouraged us, subtly, to consider it as something more than a mere computer company – Think Different, the keynotes and so on.

Apple Exceptionalism worked when the company was a phenomenon, but it’s far more difficult to pull off that kind of marketing when you’re the establishment incumbent. Ask Barack Obama. He was once a phenomenon: he promised America so much, he came to office on a wave of approval and then…

Like Apple, Obama campaigned for years as the alternative option, the plucky underdog, the slick, inspiring option towards whom we should make a leap of faith.

In both cases, the dream soured somewhat thereafter. Even the most passionate fans of both will, if they are being truly honest with themselves, admit that things haven’t gone all that swimmingly recently – whether you’re referring to Obama and the economy or Apple and the iOS6 fiasco.

Like Obama, Apple’s future depends to a large extent on how it reacts to this wave of disappointment. Does the company dust itself down, dive back onto the campaign trail and try to inspire us once again? Or does it continue to disappoint us?

Obama has shown it is possible to reignite that enthusiasm, even after past disappointments. I hope Apple follows the same path as I’d dearly love to stick with its products. But, for the time being at least, I’d rather be with someone else.


Incidentally, the Samsung is a pleasant change, but is far from perfect. I’ll blog a little bit about the transition soon.

7 thoughts on “Apple vs Obama”

  1. Apple and Obama fan here. Agree about Apple/iOS 6, but zero sourness about Obama. What does economy problem have to do with him, again? He did a damn grand job helping to smooth the landing and overseeing the takeoff. Building takes a lot longer than destroying; people forget that. So yeah, no matter how hard I look, I can’t see anything sour in my Obama relationship, so you’re wrong that all fans would admit that.

    1. You are right, orchestrating and building a new bubble takes longer than contracting from an old one. It takes days or weeks for people to realize that the papers they are holding are trash. It takes years to build up the con.

      Maybe the administration has been busy choosing malinvestments into which new commodity should be encouraged.

      Perhaps it should be the tulips again. The government should declare that if you invest in tulips, but your investment flops, the government will bail you out. Then, when the over-blown tulip investments burst and crash the markets, the government should provide a ‘soft landing’ by bailing out the tulip farmers and prolonging the resulting contraction from a month to another four years.

      Obama should learn from the Japanese. They have been in stagnation for three decades. Four years are like a butterfly’s dream to them.

  2. Very well written, and your logic is sound. I say this even although I knew how to interpret your previous letter.

    I am one of those (few) who feel exactly the same way as you. I think I’m more annoyed with Apple for not making their products more innovative year on year recently, than I am annoyed with their actual products, if you know what I mean. Their products are still perfectly adequate from a tech point of view, but their latter decisions and innovations are lacklustre, don’t break much new ground – although sometimes ‘break’ old ground (did someone say “maps”?), and also carry a faint whiff of them shifting focus from tech innovation, to capitalising on the laurels they’ve earned over the last decade. On the contrary, other companies (eg Samsung, Google, even Microsoft) have managed to start late, grow much more quickly, and have now ‘overtaken the master’ introducing the innovations that could have so easily been part of the iPhone repertoire.

    Doing away with the 17″ Macbook Pro was the last straw for me. That was a moronic decision. If it was purely a financial decision, they could have just charged a higher premium for it. The purists would have moaned, but it would be far better than it being withdrawn completely. I even thought they might bring in an 18.4 or 19″ version for the real pros one day. But no. Now Apple have decided that 15″ is large enough for me.

    Are Apple running out of ideas of how to make profit out of new items, that they have to ‘streamline’ and costcut to improve their margins? If so, that doesn’t sound like a very ‘creative’ company to me.

    This decision confirmed to me that they are only concerned with their net profits, and have lost sight of their aim to provide pro level tech any more – which is how they originally built their name in the first place. So they’ve changed. lost themselves, or perhaps they’ve lost their VISION. The vision of Steve Jobs that is. And now they’re just A.N.Other tech company that is nothing special, but think they are, as they are still surfing the wave built from Mr Job’s own energy. But once that has completely dissipated. The only thing that will be left is the name. Not the philosophy or the legend. That was Steve Jobs. Apple without him seems to be a very different creature. Perhaps they should change their name, lest they confuse people by leading them to expect the same philosophy towards tech than from Jobs’ era.

    Anyway, thanks for a great couple of articles. And I applaud you. I know it’s not a rant. It’s just an observation. And although some of the comments and replies your first letter received actually made some worthwhile and fair responses, there was also, as you say, somewhat of a ‘furore’. Perhaps you’re just a little ahead of your time. The way things are going of late, it may not be too much longer before Android and Windows continue their onslaught and overtake Apple who’s gotten a bit stuck in the mud, and then when the contrast is stark, perhaps your letter will be seen as prophetic.

    All the best.

    I shall now politely listen to some of your music mixes.

  3. ok, here goes, my wife has an i phone, as well all the folks i spend time with. lots of peer pressure to have an iphone, ( for social use its great) i had one and upgraded to the iphone 5, my purpose business only. here is what i did not like,
    email attachments at the bottom of the email having to scrool down to read them whereas i need them upfront, a storage device i can control the content on, not having to always go thru itunes for everything, file cabinets in the device where i can store documents received from an email – easy to store photos, videos, etc. but i found it difficult to just save a document, spread sheet, etc. i can go on and on, but i am a samsung GS3 user now, bottom line is i like control of the device and the ability to customize, iphone seems better for those who realy don’t want to do that, i find the tech folks move towards some other device than apple, facebook, twitter and social media types apple

  4. Nice words ED, my love affair with apple ends after buy one mac mini to using in my shows, HDMI poor quality give-me a lot of problems. I try contact apple support and they don’t give any feedback per 50 days, and in 55 days i receive one call from apple thats said: We know about this problem, we dont will doing nothing, sorry.
    Now i make contact with Brazilian Prosecutor of Consumers Right with bases in Consumer Coder, law 8.087 of September 11, 1990 where said my rights. IN oct 21,2012 i did this, in oct 23 of 2012 apple is notified by Prosecutor. Apple call me to said: YOU HAVE 2 CHOICES: give your money back or we give you other new mini mid2012. I told many times thats i need Video card ati or nvidia to my job with DDR5 memory no intel shared memory video card (don’t work with resolume vj software).
    They said we offer this, i said per art. 18 if your company change or not fix my product, i have right to choose other ok i want one brand new macbook pro retina with nvidia card. They said NO, or mini or money back.
    I think that Apple believes are unattainable by the laws, it reminds me of many bad Brazilian politicians, i lost a lot of money (ops its reminds again some bads Brazilians Politicians thats stolen public money), apple said we offer this if you like get if don’t, sorry (ops Brazilian bad politicians again!!!).
    I said apple is dead with jobs, they need find again apple felling, they lost style and respect with the consumer.
    sorry per my english, i’m a brazilian, my language is portuguese, Now apple will discovery like some bad brazilian politicians thats MP (PUBLIC PROSECUTORS) here makes law works and does not matter if you’re a famous politician and dishonest or the largest company in the world.

  5. Like you, my husband and i are both long time Mac users because we are in the design industry. Against my husband’s protest, i decided to try Lumia (a windows phone) instead of iPhone and really love the new WP os. now even my husband finds himself constantly want to use my phone instead of his iPhone.

    (I want to try iPhone alternative but just can’t get myself to like the Samsung aesthetic…)

  6. We’ve 3 mac books here in this hoose, we all used to have iphones (x4) and a few ipods here and there and an apple tv box (for streaming not for a buying movies more expensive than we can buy outright at the supermarket). But Apple is just product that does stuff and we have slowly moved to other products only two iphones left (kids) I’m on a win phone and Mrs has a 3G. When phone contracts come up do we really want to play 100% more (or 200% or more) for the same service that can get with another non apple phone.

    My apple mac book is over 4 years old and works well, so well its runs Win8 under vmware (need a dev env) I would upgrade but the price of a decent mac book is now about £1,500 this sticks just a bit.

    I like apple but if someone comes up some something better then…. I’ll take in a nano second; same as I would with Fridges,TVs and anything else.

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