Wednesday, February 07, 2024

The Death of Apple

I'm a long haul Apple user. Not just iPhone. I'm talking about desktops and laptops. I've been a Mac guy for decades and for the most part, I've been very pleased. Overall, however, I grieve for a once great company.

One of the reasons I've always liked the Mac is that I seldom have had to rely on what Apple loosely terms "Customer Support." Originally, Apple Customer Service Representatives were highly motivated, knowledgeable, helpful and accessible. They could solve almost any problem by phone, cheerfully and authoritatively. For all I know, they may still be. But I don't know, because Apple does its best to shield customers from reaching them.

And that's where Apple's Great Decline begins, because customer service is where the first tiny corporate cracks appear.

In its revolutionary retail stores, Apple staffed it Genius Bars with kids who were anything but. Due to slave labor in China, most "repairs" became cheap enough to be "solved" by simple replacement. Nobody knew -- or had to know -- what went wrong with your machine, because Apple would have had to train people to know stuff like that. It was much more expedient and fiscally sensible to just grab a new widget off the shelf and be done with it. Any dummy can do that. And they did. Until Apple phased them out. Poof.

For a while, Apple system upgrades were generally worthwhile, too, with each new version offering simpler, improved systems that performed more tasks. For years, Apple and Mac really were brands that made creativity more achievable through technology.

Then Steve Jobs died and it all started sinking fast.

The first noticeable sign was Apple's name change from "Apple Computer" to "Apple, Inc.", signaling its expansion into ancillary endeavors like phones, movie studios and automobiles. As such, the Mac OS sacrificed making things for buying things. It didn't take too long for desktops and laptops to decay into larger, heavier versions of iPhones, whose systems predictably merged into platforms with the same looks and feel, dumbed down for people to whom "thinking different" is difficult, because simply thinking is out of their realm. They just want to buy things with a point and click.

These days, if you want to solve a problem, it's actually more difficult because Apple has buried everything under the hood, preventing users access to solving their issues on their own machines. Apple does its best to prevent you from calling them on the phone, suggesting instead that you "interact with others in "our Apple Support Communities" online. It's a great place, populated with more people with even more problems and almost no solutions. To make matters worse, if you utter anything that the lords of Apple find unfavorable, your comment is removed for "inappropriate content." Phrases as mild as "but nobody at Apple will respond" just burn up in the ethosphere, never to be seen again.

Currently, Apple is anything but its founder's vision of making life simpler, elegant and more powerful. It wasn't tough to see it coming. That's why I keep a machine with ancient system software on it: If I'd upgraded when dictated to do so, I would have lost access to thousands of dollars worth of software with which it was incompatible. Apple's whim would have forced me to buy new hardware and software. Completely unacceptable corporate hubris.

All of which is to say, unpopular as it may seem, that Apple's days are numbered. It's actually following the "three generations of wealth" axiom: The first generation creates it; the second generation spends it; the third generation loses it." If you disagree, just look at the history of General Motors, IBM, RCA and dozens of twentieth century brands that are either defunct or have disappeared. They were once the biggest companies in the world. Huge, hardy and undefeatable. Nobody ever expected their demise, either. That's because while fortunes are always won and lost, human nature remains constant.

In the end, incompetence and greed always destroy great societies and powerful brands from within. Apple has built its mammoth, circular offices in Silicon Valley as a monument to itself, never realizing that Egyptian pharaohs built their own mausoleums, too.


Post a Comment

<< Home