My hostility towards Apple (the company and its poxy little products) is a well-known fact of this blog. It dates back to when I first used an Apple IIe — I was the very first person at the Great Big Research Company to own a personal computer, back in the early 1980s — and discovered that while the Apple was a fun toy, it clearly lacked the serious horsepower to perform any complex or large data management/manipulation. And that situation never changed.
Along the way, though, Apple developed into a cult: first of personality, through its founder/tinpot dictator Steve Jobs, and then its ethos, through its “cool” design and cutesy, “user-friendly” operation.
The writing was on the wall, though. For such a cool company, Apple was always remarkably totalitarian — closed operating systems, inflexible programs, antagonistic towards non-corporate developers and hostility to DIY improvement and maintenance by its users — witness the “unlocking” commotion when the iPhone originally mandated AT&T phone service with its product. Without the logo and corporate blessing, it seemed, everything was pretty much streng verboten — but implicit with all this, as with so many totalitarian systems, was the promise of “Trust Apple”.
So much for trust. It appears that Apple has been caught with its grubby little fingers in some pretty shameful corporate skulduggery, slowing down the operating system of its older iPhones to “persuade” users to upgrade to newer (and, of course, more expensive and more profitable) models:
Apple has long inspired an almost religious devotion among customers and tech aficionados — but it just seriously undermined its fans’ faith and loyalty.
The company on Wednesday acknowledged what some people have long suspected: that it has been secretly stifling the performance of older iPhones.
Critics have accused the company in the past, based on anecdotal evidence, of purposely slowing phones to compel users to upgrade to the latest model.
While Apple admitted to the practice on Wednesday, it sought to underscore that it had done so for a purely altruistic reason: to prevent older phones from shutting down unexpectedly.
Yeah, of course you only had good intentions, you bastards. That’s like telling the judge you raped the woman not for your own benefit, but so that she could have an orgasm.
And this is not the usual weasel “some rogue employees done it” bullshit: this was corporate policy. Management had a meeting, and decided on this action.
There are two lessons to be learned from this little bit of malfeasance. The first is for Apple users: your little idol has not only feet of clay, but claws under the velvet glove. (Non-Apple users like me have known this for some time, but all we got was abuse from Apple acolytes and groupies.) Enjoy your pain and disillusionment.
The second lesson is a broader one for all of us: Never trust a corporation, no matter how altruistic they may sound, even when — and maybe especially when — their corporate mantra is “Don’t be evil”. Your benefit is not their primary concern; their primary concern is either market share or profit, or both.
I’m not saying that this is a Bad Thing, necessarily; profit is the sole purpose of a corporation, after all. Just don’t let them fool you into thinking that your benefit won’t get compromised if it interferes with their ultimate goal (see: Microsoft, elimination of Outlook Express, MS Paint, etc., to name just one other example).
And cultists are always easiest to fool because all religious adherents are easier to fool, by whatever deity they follow, be it companies like Apple, charities like the United Way, or Big Government.
Don’t be gullible, don’t be fooled by the marketing and the PR, don’t follow the herd, don’t be loyal. Trust no one, and especially do not trust institutions created by men for motives of profit or power, because ultimately, you too will get “throttled”.