Friday, March 13, 2009

Apple's Starting to Piss Me Off

I've been a fan of Apple products for awhile. Not one of those drink-the-KoolAid, Steve Jobs-can-do-no-wrong kind of fanboys, but I appreciate the style and functionality of their products more than I do, say, Dell and Microsoft. By a wide margin.

It took me a little while to get used to the draconian DRM that came with my first iPod, the old click-wheel 80 GB clunker that seems positively Middle Ages now.

The proprietary media format, restrictions on copying to devices, and the scourge of trying to back up your iTunes library are but a few of the annoyances that I endured in order to have this cool, new toy.

I then bought an iPod Touch when I decided to move from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution, and soon after, I ditched my Nokia Clumsy-Scroller 2000 for an iPhone 2G soon after they were released.

That's when I discovered the whole "damn, my headphones don't fit" realization with thousands of other users, and was faced with the choice of buying new ones that were "iPhone compatible", or buying one of those little adapter thingies. I went with the adapter. Two of them. One I keep on my favorite set of phones, and the other I keep in my bag so if I lose my headphones, I can pick up a cheap set at the airport and be able to listen to tunes on the plane without needing to pray that the airport shop has the adapter on sale for less than $40.

So when I read about the new iPod Dinky ( believe the actual name is Shuffle 3rd Generation), and how the controls are all located on the earbug cord, I thought, "Cool!", followed by, "Ooooooo, that's not good."

Turns out there's an "authentication" chip in these newfangled buds, which means you either need to buy the official Apple phones, or Apple-certified models that contain this chip, which does nothing to improve the quality or listening experience.

What it does is allow Apple to control the peripherals that will work with the new Shuffle, and I'm guessing that it will also add some coins to the price of "authentication-chipped" devices.
That sucks.

Imagine if Microsoft decided to do the same thing, installing some sort of component that would require Microsoft certification in order to work with genuine Windows products. Or if Chrysler decided to something similar, forcing me to use more expensive, authenticated parts for my Jeep. Not only would I be pissed about that, but think of how parts suppliers would react if they were similarly held over the barrel.

Apple, I dig your stuff. Not your computers so much - I'm a Linux guy - plus Safari really blows as a browser in so many ways. But the rest of your products make me happy.

You're messing that up. Stop it. Sooner or later, Android and everything else will close the gap, you won't own the innovation market anymore, and you'll need product differentiation.

If you keep implementing components to ensure vendor lock-in, I'll be on the other side of the door, locked out, on principle.

Don't mess with me, Apple. You know how I can get.

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