It didn’t used to be that way. Apple has charged more than competitors for a long time, but it used to provide better products, too.
I bought my first MacBook 12 years ago, back when macOS used to be called OS X. It was going to go with me to college, and after using a Windows desktop for 5 years prior, there was a bit of a learning curve, but after a few days I was up to speed. That MacBook lasted me 7 years! And it died because I spilled juice all over it. It had a few minor issues, like some of the plastic casing had started to crack, and the CPU would struggle with some videos, but it was basically fine. I know a guy still using one of those 2007 Apple MacBooks in 2019, if you can believe it. It’s half-dead now, but still kicking.
Back then, Apple wasn’t trying to control every aspect of your software either. You could download third party themes (which were sorely needed), and even things like MAC Address spoofers, in case you were really into your privacy.
Around the same time, any Windows laptops I owned, regardless of who they were made by, never made it far past the 2 year mark, so Apple’s premium made sense. It cost more, but it’d last longer.
But things were already changing, and they were changing before Steve Jobs died, I think.
Updates came out that restricted what software you could run on your Mac, even though it was YOUR Mac. That MAC Address spoofer was quietly banned. A later update banned third party themes, which Apple conveniently came in and replaced with a Dark theme. This is something Apple does more than it should: it notices a popular feature, bans third party implementations of it, and then gives you its own shitty version.
For the last 5 years, I haven’t seen a non-cosmetic update to macOS that was of any value to me. This last update, macOS Mojave, was basically just the Dark Theme, and they consider that to be a major update! From what I can see, Apple have dropped development of macOS, and give yearly updates just to make it seem like something’s still happening.
My 2nd MacBook had a tumultuous start: when I received it the hinge made a terrible creaking sound. I took it to an Apple store and it turned out it was internally bent out of shape in a way that should never have passed QC. This should have been a red flag for me of the dropping quality, but they replaced it since I was within my 14 days, and I went on with using Apple products.
A few years later, and my latest, 2 year-old MacBook Pro, is falling apart. It was falling apart within months of buying it. And it’s not just me, 2 entire years of this laptop are under recall for faulty keyboard, only Apple won’t fix the problem, they’ll just reinstall the same faulty keyboard that’ll break a few months later.
Here’s a small list of problems I’ve had with my MacBook Pro, which I should mention was the most expensive piece of electronics I’ve ever bought:
- Several keys on the keyboard do not work. Some are literally falling out. It’s almost impossible to work or even enter a password anymore. 35,000 people have signed a petition complaining about this, so it’s not just me
- When putting the computer to sleep and waking it up, the trackpad and keyboard won’t work half the time, requiring a hard restart, which can lead to data loss
- The sound stops working sometimes, requiring resetting things that a novice user would probably have to go to the Apple store for
- iCloud will go in an insane loop of syncing 200gb of files to the cloud, and then when done, will start again, even though the files haven’t changed. I had to remove all my files to stop the process and stop wasting bandwidth
- iCloud will hold onto mystery files that have been deleted and even Apple customer support (with escalation) won’t be able to find it, meanwhile you won’t be able to cancel your subscription because there’s 50gb of invisible files floating around
- Macs heat up so much during CPU intensive tasks that you can’t have it on your lap. All that “thin and light” comes at a cost
- The touch bar will stop working about 30% of the time, requiring cmd-tabbing into other applications to “reset” it
- Photos has over a dozen bugs, including some really dangerous ones where the photo it’s showing you is not the photo it’s actually deleting when you hit the delete key, I had to stop using Photos because of data loss concerns and general bugs
- iTunes will sync duplicate songs to my phone, requiring hours of manual deduplication, and you have to spend a while fine-tuning the settings to avoid that
- Dozens of miscellaneous other bugs, like the caps lock being off when the caps lock light is on (and vice versa), the microphone not working requiring restarts, bookmark sync between Mac and iPhone no longer working, password sync between Mac and iPhone no longer working, and others I can’t remember right now
- Apple deliberately make it very hard to export your data out of iCloud. For example, notes can only be exported one at a time. If you select more than one note, the export feature is grayed out. To make matters worse, exporting notes into PDF uses an unsupported font, so if you try to copy paste that PDF into a word document, you’ll get funky character encoding. It took me two days to get my hundreds of notes out. Oh, and of course, some notes that I’d permanently delete would mysteriously come back again, requiring several deletions. Likewise, if you want to export the full detail of your Photos (e.g. the moving portion of a live photo) you need to use a Mac, because the online version of iCloud Photos won’t let you download live photos. Exporting my passwords out of Keychain (which stores Safari passwords) actually required me to write a Bash script because if you try to export more than 1 password, it will prompt you for your login password EVERY TIME
- Some of the caches Apple products like iMovie create literally break cloud syncs because they’re, and I counted, 32 folders deep and exceed character limits on other operating systems. Thanks “.fpcache”
My wife was recently doing some stuff with my laptop and literally at every turn there was a software bug requiring me to jump through hoops to get things working. Apple charge $3,000 for this “product”, and I was dumb enough to spend that.
I won’t be that dumb again.
I’ve observed Apple’s hardware and software drop in quality so much that I can safely say, at least in my experience, they now produce the worst junk I’ve ever seen. And they somehow still have the gall to charge more than anyone else for it. My iPhone experience has also been pretty bad, but I won’t bore you with the details.
I wrote this article because people need to know. People need to know that behind all the marketing glitter and enormous advertising budgets is a rotten ecosystem that was literally, according to internal documents including Steve Jobs, designed to trap people and make it hard to leave, plagued by ever-worsening software and hardware and ever-rising prices.
So this is coming from a former advocate (though never a fanboy) of Apple products, and someone who’s used Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, and used products from Asus, Acer, Lenovo, Apple, Samsung, LG, and many others out there for almost 20 years: Don’t drink the Apple Kool-Aid. It’s poison to your wallet and to your peace of mind. Save yourself the massive headaches I went through and get something else.