Taking a bite out of Apple

Last week the Guardian published an article examining why Microsoft is selfishly refusing to launch an iPad-friendly version of its popular Office suite. According to their calculations, the decision is currently costing the company $2.5 billion dollars a year. What a bunch of money wasting idiots; it’s no wonder Bill Gates is so poor.

Not only has the decision ruffled the Guardian’s sensitive feathers, it’s also resulted in a lot of angry tutting from the Apple community. Fair to say, Microsoft is quaking in its boots. Can you imagine having both Apple fans and the Guardian after you?! They’d kick your head in …if only their Converses weren’t so soft.

Personally, I don’t understand how people can be angry about this decision. After all, Microsoft is only doing exactly what Apple would have done. When was the last time Apple decided to share their toys with the world? Never.

In the brief lulls between multiple patent lawsuits, Apple spends most of its time trying to work out how to make its technology the least compatible ever made. If you think installing Office on an iPad is difficult, try installing Final Cut Pro on a PC… or Time Machine on a PC… or iMovie on a PC… I could go on.

Even the iPhone refuses to relinquish the slightest morsel of control. It’s either forcing you to charge with a nonstandard charger, or insisting you install iTunes (its morbidly obese bastard lovechild). In short, iPhones are basically just spoiled children who always get what they want while simultaneously being told how pretty they look.

If anything, it’s nice to see a company using Apple’s own tactics against it. Lord knows Apple has been quick to adopt Microsoft’s winning strategies (building bundle monopolies and employing sweatshop labour). I mean, can you imagine if every technology provider treated Apple the way it treats them? Imagine if, when Apple banned Flash from the iPhone, Adobe banned Photoshop from the Mac? Half of the world’s creative professionals would ditch Apple in an instant.

I understand that by now I must look like a right Microsoft fanboy, but I’m genuinely not. I dislike pretty much any multinational leviathan that either steals data or stomps on its rivals (so that’s Google and Microsoft out then). Given the option however, I would still defend most brands over Apple – even if only because Apple has more than enough defenders already. I find it astonishing that while most multinationals are actively despised, Apple continues to be treated with reverence and adoration. It doesn’t matter if they’re relying on sweatshop labour, or outputting carcinogenic chemicals, people still won’t hear a bad word said about them. It’s like they’re a religion… well, the Catholic Church anyway.

I get that Apple makes great products, and I get that Steve Jobs was this visionary figure, but that doesn’t render the company immune to criticism. Steve Jobs built fantastic products which, for the first time ever, made technology sexy. Regardless of that fact, no amount of ‘walled garden’ bull crap can justify the fact that Apple’s products will never just work in the way people want them to.

Innovative or not, Apple doesn’t seem to understand that creativity can only be built atop the work of others. Building a barbed wire fence around your ideas isn’t helping innovation, it’s stifling it.

Alex Warren
Alex Warren
Miserablist, whiskey-drinker, and general tinpot shambles. Alex Warren has a weary pessimism for all things media, politics and tech.

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