Mike Schramm over at TUAW (who we usually love to tease about being unapologetic Apple fanbois) posted a great article pointing out how Apple has enraged a large part of its once loyal fanbase with its recent actions.  Originally inspired by another (usually pro-Apple Macworld) article, TUAW calls for Apple to stop its current path.  Although it has made attempts to heal the wounds, Apple’s offerings have been measly:

  1. Apple lowers the price of DRM free music.  TUAW points out that this has probably more to do with competeing with up-and-comer Amazon in the online music sales biz.
  2. Apple has unlocked the iPhone.  Albeit in France (woohoo!).  Albeit because they have to because of France’s consumer protection laws.  Albeit they will charge an absurd amount for it negating the benefit of taking it to a more convenient carrier…and helping the black market importers (terrorists?!  ha) from the US.  Oh BTW, bring more iPhones over to Europe.  Don’t worry about unlocking – we got it covered.
  3. SDK for the iPhone.  In February of next year.  Apple will be the distributer and decider of what goes out and what doesn’t.  So basically they get help from 3rd parties pushing iPhone apps.  Otherwise hit the Web 2.0 "SDK".
  4. Charging for ringtones (itoner is working again woot!) Which is a blatent FU to Apple’s customers over its Music Biz partners who are reselling the same song to the consumer twice.  Of course this was not Apple’s choice so it isn’t entirely fair to blame them.
  5. Bricking unlocked iPhones – can now be unbricked thanks to some 3rd party work.  Again – not entirely Apple – probably some AT&T thrown in there.

Hard to argue Apple’s side on this – which Schramm rightfully points out.   He then points an appeal to Apple to wise up but doesn’t say how…don’t worry TUAW and Macworld, 9to5Mac is not about problems, it is about solutions….

Think about this scenario:  Apple buys itself out of its carrier agreements (because is Apple adding value to the voice or data connection?- why should they get a piece?).  Much the same as when it bought itself out of the clone biz oh about 10 years ago. 

Apple then sells the iPhone unlocked in every GSM market for a price which it decides is fair.  They would then sell their ten million iPhones by Christmas.  It is a revolutionary device – just about everybody wants one.    Sell it just like the iPod.  Sell it with VOIP.  Sell a Skype client for $50.  Vonage, SIP – Sure.

Apple would now also  have a bigger market to sell music and video content all over the world.  Heck, people can even buy ringtones if THEY CHOOSE to.  MO MoneyEveryone would be happy…Huge market share, Mind Share. Everything.  Everyone wins including those who are looking after the currently plummeting Apple brand.

The reason why Apple fans like us are upset is because we buy Apple products for what they bring to us on a holistic level.  We happily pay $129 for an operating sytem upgrade because it has better features.  It is a fair give and take.  There is no lock in..we are free to do what we decide.    We don’t have to deal with CALs.  We don’t want DRM.  We don’t have viruses, spyware or malware.  We don’t like Genuine Advantage checking up on us every 10 minutes to see if we’re behaving.  We have a trusting relationship with our devices and the vendor (Apple).

The iPod was the same.  We can put our MP3s and old CDs on there.  We can put iTunes stuff on there.  Even Windows users are invited to the party – and Linux – sort of.  It is the customer’s decision.   We could even throw Linux on the iPod if we pleased.  No bricky bricky from Apple.

Along comes the iPhone/Touch and the game totally changes.  We can use only one ISP (carrier).  The iPod touch doesn’t have 1/2 of the Apps that it should (Offline email, notes, editable calendar maps etc.).  When people figured out how to put the iPhone on their carrier, Apple bricked their devices.  

We realize that most iPhone users won’t ever want to put games, their own ringtones or 3rd party apps on their devices.  They are happy with the awesome music and web browsing experience alone.  We also realize it is human nature to argue an issue to your point of view – therefore a lot of people within AT&T’s coverage range are content with Apple’s  software offering and are naturally taking up Apple’s side on 1 ISP and closed development choices. 

If they could see out of their fishbowl, they’d realize that it is a bigger issue.  If Apple only offered their devices to Europeans on a single network, these same people would be the ones most enraged.  We all know this by now.  The term Stockholm Syndrome is thrown about to describe their defending the lock-in….but we need to get back to the point here…

Computing devices are very important.  We technologists deserve the best.  It’s like the mattress salesmen says:  You can justify spending a lot more for a bed because you spend 1/3 of your life using it.  Computing devices are the same.  We fortunately or unfortunately spend a lot of time on our Apple devices and have a strong relationship with them.  Apple knows this.  That is why most of their consumer products are "i"This and "i"That.  It is about identifying the relationship.

Apple has started to taint the personal relationship in a  big way.  We (9to5mac, TUAW-Schramm, MacWorld/Dan Moren, Brian Lam/Gizmodo, the rest of the Technology Media) are asking Apple to please reverse your course.  It isn’t too late and can be much more lucrative in the long run.  We know you’ve been working with communications and recording industry monopolists for a few years now and their business models are tempting.  But..

It just isn’t who you are, Apple.  Not to us anyway.

Whatever short-term financial gains can be made by partnering with/becoming monopolists at the expense of disenfranchising a big chunk of your customers, in the long term will do far more to tarnish Apple’s most important asset, the Apple brand.

 

Oh BTW, because some of the more absurd comment fights that have been happening recently on 9to5mac, we’ve had to start administering comments.  If you don’t have anything to bring to the conversation and just want to diss us or another commenter – or use derogatory terms – don’t bother it won’t make it to the page.  We can handle criticism but you better bring some sort of evidence/relevant data to the table.  Otherwise, you are just wasting everyone’s time.  At some point we’ll have an automated comments rating system like Digg….

Don’t like that?  Welcome to OUR closed Ecosystem – we’ve modeled it on the iPhone :D

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