Why Apple can take things away and people find reasons to justify it

Operating System Tablet Strategy
Image by jeffalldridge via Flickr

Apple is unique in that when most companies add features to their products to gain customers, Apple takes them away and still seems to grow. Some examples.

  1. Lion Server OS – This has been getting terrible reviews from many Apple administrators. They bemoan lost features and the over iOS UI that it has.
  2. Laptops – I started with thinking about writing this post about why people like MacBook Airs, but it seemed that there was more that Apple takes away that people don’t mind. The removal of the optical drive, while not needed perhaps by urban Apple users, is certainly required by those with non-broadband or non Apple stores close by. This is another way of showing that Apple is a premium brand. I understand that people like lightness, but not at the expense of functionality. To me, the iPad goes too far across the line of functionality and portability. It loses way too much for me to ever consider buying one.
  3. iPod/MP3 players – Isn’t it odd that Apple pioneered DRM and then later charges to remove it? Many times Apple profits both ways in technology. They benefit from the insatiable desire of the early adopter, and of the late adopter. Take for example people who want to listen to music. Apple changes the default way of listening to MP3’s to another source, which coincidentally has DRM on it. In this case, people seem ok with loosing their freedom to listen and share their music in a way that previously could with tapes/CD’s. That isn’t a benefit to me, but a loss. Technology should be about eliminating barriers, not artificially creating them.
  4. The floppy drive – Seems silly to talk about this now doesn’t it? Unfortunately the sad fact is that many programs, both corporate and custom depend on a connected floppy disk or attached hardware dongle that Apple designs out of their products. Often these companies go out of business or no longer support those products without expensive contracts. So given that Apple doesn’t have historical adapters on their equipment and third-party is unreliable, how easily is it to justify an Apple to connect to a speciality piece of equipment. Why does Apple limit itself like this? Why can’t Apple product a legacy I/O port or hub with things like SCSI adapters, parallel ports, and everything that anyone might need to connect older devices to it. Apple removes things like Firewire 400, and people don’t magically throw out their old equipment just because Apple has changed its mind. This is a tremendous hidden cost of being an Apple customer.
  5. Rosetta – I get that compatibility interpreters and emulators can be tricky and not well supported. However why throw things out? For schools, educational institutions or non profits with limited funds, they can’t afford to always buy the latest software that is compatible. Too many times people have invested expensive training in employees and need to support some legacy systems. There is a tremendous cost of moving all the time to the latest “Apple Supported” technologies. What harm is there in letting people not be fully advanced in the latest options all the time? Yes, there will certainly be more problems, but it also means more financial opportunities for people to be able to afford Mac computers.

I could go on, but I think you see the point. Apple giveth and it taketh away. Apple does move the industry forward with making a clean break of the past, but sometimes that isn’t the most helpful path for anyone. A perfect Apple could make a sub company that does consulting and offer these products. Why is Apple so forceful about what it believes is the best technological path to take?