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Apple >= Everybody Else

Time to discuss common strategies?


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Think for a second: imagine all your friends use Dell computers and you decide you're going to buy an HP - will your friends torch your house in the middle of the night? Will they refuse to talk to you any longer? Will they ring your place of work and try to get you sacked? Hardly. Watch out however if your friends use a brand known as 'Apple'.

Apple Terrorists

The England team deal with this all the time: there are a few bad apples who follow along to derbys and matches and create havoc, cause violence, and generally bring the side of eleven into disrepute. When the worst of these scandals erupt the news show lineup is full of interviews, coverage, and a general concern the situation is more out of hand than ever. Yet the hooligans continue, the scandals never cease.

It's much the same thing with Apple. Blame may be placed on Guy Kawasaki who turned computer use into a Branch Davidian exercise. Some blame can be placed on the graybeard constituency who've never used anything but a beige box, never touched another box - not a Windows PC not an IBM mainframe not a DEC mini not a Cray supercomputer - but in all probability they're both an endangered dwindling species and much too docile to start political wars over something so mundane.

The exact demographic of the Apple terrorists - aka the 'fanboys' - cannot be known but they're out there all the same. They attacked Brian Krebs for compiling a study of security alert response times which showed Apple weren't all that swift in their patching. They attacked him again when he reported on David Maynor's MacBook hack.

They established the 'Brian Krebs Watch' blog, vandalised the Krebs Wikipedia entry, harassed his employer the Washington Post, and conducted denial of service attacks against his online column.

They attacked Charlie Miller as 'over the top' and 'arrogant' for detailing a zero day exploit against Safari and the new iPhone.

Google programmer Mark Pilgrim announced year ago he'd be leaving the Apple platform. He explained why. And subsequently had to withstand a deluge of attacks against his person by the Apple terrorists.

Rixstep once tried to warn potential switchers of this danger - and the hooligans attacked Rixstep. This is tantamount to the terrorists objecting to the content of the movie True Lies, claiming it portrayed arabs as violence prone - and then going on to threaten any theatre that showed the movie with bombing.

Roughly Demented

Perhaps the most lucid study of this malaise is in the increasingly paranoiac ranting of Roughly Drafted's Daniel Eran Dilger. Dilger's got to the point where there's a worldwide conspiracy against him - and Apple. Almost all major media are involved - the Washington Post, the San Francisco Examiner, the San Jose Mercury News - thus soon we can expect the bad guys to pave the landing strips for the Martians. Applewhite, Jones, Dilger - they're nuts. Why they do things like this isn't known and this may be the first time this type of madness has progressed to the world of computing but it's not good in any way shape or form no matter where it appears.

>= Everybody Else

Using Apple products becomes a badge for these maniacs. A membership card. Steve Jobs has likened Apple products to BMW automobiles. Would that the simile held. A BMW is always going to be better than a Toyota but an Apple isn't always better than a product from another OEM. One year ago Apple had serious issues with hardware production.

Apple system security, based as it is on Unix, is supposed to be superior to Windows. But that only holds if the vendor maintaining the Unix system keep the 'Unix' in the system and keep patching as it's needed.

The terrorists love to gloat over being superior to Windows, love to read news articles about new attacks on the Windows platform - and yet when something bad happens to them it's considered in bad taste to mention it at all.

When an Apple user complained that his Panther install destroyed all his pictures of his newborn baby resident on an external drive he wasn't offered sympathy - he was attacked.

When Apple customers go to Apple's own discussion forums with their woes to see if anyone else is experiencing the same issues, Apple terrorists - within the Apple organisation - systematically delete their posts.

You can't read a bad word about Apple - not at the Apple forums. At least not for long. Apple customers interested in resolving their issues are forced to go to independent forums as Apple support policy is to pretend there are never any issues at all.

Obese iPodders

Apple VP Phil Schiller once responded to complaints about the iPod nano by accusing Apple customers of being obese.

[The issue with the iPod nano has since been corrected - no one needed to go on a diet after all.]

And so forth. Things would be a lot simpler if the terrorists were only outside the company. But they're not. And for those who look closer at this corporate behaviour it's obvious Apple don't really have their act together. If they did they'd respond in an intelligent fashion to quality and security alerts.

Apple terrorists will loudly boast how they're so much better than everybody else. The more they read about people on other platforms being in trouble the more they love it - the more they boast about it.

But the day someone shows Apple in some respect are no better than everybody else these same terrorists will shout even louder 'so what - look at the others - we're no worse than they are'.

This is a cute tack: pay more money, put up with the fanboys, boast you're better and that's why you're paying more and putting up with all this fanboy misery - but then the day you're no better than everybody else your satisfactory defence is you're no worse either.

The old saying says you can't keep your cake and eat it. Either you're better or you're not. If you're better and consistently better you can justify your higher admission fee. If you insist on persistently claiming you're better then you'd better be better. Saying you're no worse is feeble. It's the tack of a wuss.

Roughly Demented's response to Charlie Miller's exploit was to point out Microsoft's Internet Explorer has been attacked. It's namely OK to continually talk about how leaky IE is but when calamity hits the Cupertino Chicken Koop you're not allowed to say a word. Drink some more Kool-Aid instead.

Jettisoning

The England team are mostly powerless to prevent hooligan activities. They do try - naturally they don't want things like this to continue - but there's little else they can do. They are in no way encouraging this behaviour.

Almost the same with Apple. Apple are not helped by these maniacs - they're burdened by them. The Apple terrorists hurt Apple - they don't help Apple. And yet there is little Apple can do aside from scooting the censors out of the forums and implementing an honest support policy.

As many market observers have long noted, Apple would gain not lose from an honest approach to their customers. And indeed this is how the graybeards remember the company - and how Steve Jobs talks about the business even to this day. It wouldn't take much to turn things around - just a willingness to help people and an ability to scale to the increased customer base.

The Apple terrorists do not represent a significant market demographic. Apple are not in any way dependent on the custom of Apple terrorists. As always with crackpots it's a vociferous and very vocal minority making trouble for the overwhelming majority.

In almost all respects the management of Apple - with Steve Jobs in the lead - are in direct opposition to the 'sensitivities' of this pack. Almost everything Apple terrorists hold dear and are prepared to scramble into new kamikaze missions over represent things Apple management themselves either directly disapprove of or just don't give a shit about.

- Apple terrorists want creator codes and file types. Steve Jobs himself has said this is stupid.

- Apple terrorists want to equate Carbon with Cocoa. Apple have been trying to push Cocoa and kill Carbon for ten years.

- Apple are trying to conduct business. Apple terrorists, for lack of anything more productive to do, want to conduct school playground wars.

The England team need to jettison their maniac following. So do Apple. Perhaps once Apple decide they're really going to be more honest in their customer support the twain can get together and discuss strategies.

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