Dear Apple: Thank you, goodbye


To: Apple Computer
From: BD

    re: Thanks, guys—it’s been a good run

Below is the text added to an error report sent to Apple regarding the uselessness of the iTunes application.

    I’ve been attempting nothing more than to make my iTunes actually work. Being a PPC Apple user, and unable to afford at this time an upgrade to an Intel system, I should only comment that Apple has rendered iTunes inaccessible to me. I cannot replace the software with any other version; old versions are, apparently, no longer available. New versions are for Intel computers. The system cannot write or maintain an iTunes library anymore. By Apple’s will, I can no longer be an iTunes user. Between this and the typical collapse (e.g., bricking) of OSX in general, I can assure you that when I can afford a new computer, it will be a Windows box that I can afford first. As there is no longer any performance advantage in using OSX, it would seem I have no reason to not switch to a Microsoft-based system. OSX was a good operating system. However, as Apple has made it clear that they no longer want people like me, who aren’t rich enough to buy a new computer every time they update the operating system, using their computers, I don’t see any need to trouble you by attempting to do so. It’s been a good ten years, guys. Thanks. But you don’t even want me playing music on my Apple power tower anymore, so, yeah. I get the message.

Let me make myself clear: Yeah, it stings. I’m just not cool enough for Apple, anymore. But, in the long run, I don’t think I’ll be bitter. After all, Windows machines are a lot less expensive—e.g., I can afford one that is reasonably up to date instead of chasing after the technology curve—and do little things like running Flash-based applications a whole lot better than Apple computers do.

But I’ll miss some things. Namely, those we often call “intangibles”. Sitting in front of an Apple display, looking at OSX was a lot more pleasant than it’s going to be to stare at a Windows display. I remember years ago, being so absolutely gobsmacked by the font-smoothing, and the idea that, for as much as I read, I didn’t have to strain my eyes picking through that nasty, rough Windows text. A friend snidely remarked, “Oh, Windows has that too.” I looked at his display and asked, “Why did you turn it off?” He shook his head and explained, “I never turned it on.” So I asked what it looked like when it was turned on and got a curious answer: “I don’t know. Never have.” Turns out, he just presumed the feature was in there somewhere, and had no idea where. And, you know, it probably is. I promise you, when I get my Windows box up and running, it’s one of the first things I’m going to do, because that’s still a really important thing to me. I read a lot, both online and off. And the eye strain of reading text on a Windows machine is just insane.

And the integration. I liked being able to do all I needed from the desktop without having to go out and download fifty different applications that all needed to be fine-tuned to work properly with one another. In that sense of, “Where’s my hovercar?” the Apple outlook on software integration was, more often than not, what one comes to expect. Of course, sometimes you went too far; iTunes went from a good music player to a bloated media center, and therein, I figure, we find the downfall. Presently, my iTunes—9.0.3—can’t even author its own XML library without collapsing. No, seriously, I’ve been at this for a few days. The outcome is pretty clear.

Of course, I haven’t exhausted all my aftermarket resources. I haven’t finished scouring the web for an earlier version. And by no means have I delved deeply into the possibility of aftermarket applications to replace iTunes. But here’s the thing: I shouldn’t have to. That is, if I’m going to spend all my time scrabbling for software, I might as well do it on a rich, deep platform like Windows.

There will be other upsides to switching away from Apple, too. When fellow writers send me .doc files to edit, they’ll be clean. I haven’t read a Windows-authored .doc file with Word for ages. I tell associates to send me a .pdf, instead.

And I can watch Flash video. I mean, sure, I can with an Apple, but its best if it’s not HD, and there’s nothing else running in the background. I’ve heard that the Intel-based computers are supposed to be better with it, but nobody I know who has one says anything positive on that count.

And, hey, when the whole system collapses, there won’t be that frustration that comes with the thought that, This shouldn’t happen! After all, it’s Microsoft, and instability is nearly a trademark. But, hey, if my web browsers (e.g., Safari, Firefox) are going to collapse randomly anyway, well?

A new MacBook Air starts at $999. Can Apple promise me that buying one of those will cure my software ills for all time? Or will that only last until the next upgrade, and then you’ll start bricking old technology again? So what would I get for my thousand dollars? Six months of stability? I can get a Dell for $399.

Mind you, though, I won’t stoop to Dell. My point is that it’s a ten-minute drive to any number of places where I can get a Windows-based computer for a fraction of the cost of its Apple equivalent. And as far as I can tell, I no longer have a reason to hold out for an Apple.

So to all of you on the Cupertino crew, thank you. Really, sincerely: Thank you for ten years of changing my outlook on how personal computers should work. It’s been fun. I’ve been through three computers in the time some of my friends have gone through five or more. Of course, they weren’t holding out to spend two to three times as much every time they wanted something newer and faster.

But, yes. Thank you, Apple. I wish we had a future together, but that just doesn’t seem to be part of your business plan.

-bd

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