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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Thinking different’ no longer an Apple priority

    Apple’s latest line of commercials portrays itself as unique, youthful, and edgy in a world of stale, curmudgeonly conformists. But is this an accurate description?

    As recently as 2000, buying an Apple computer was a powerful way of sending a message to the PC industry. By opting for a Macintosh, you could take a stand against attempts to corner the market by cramming everything but the kitchen sink into the bloated Windows operating system.

    In effect, you could “”think different”” by supporting the underdog and refusing to conform, and the feeling of smug well-being that came with such a purchase was at least somewhat legitimate.

    To this day, owning a Mac is the quickest, easiest way to gain indie cred with your peers. After all, every dollar that goes to a customer-friendly, counterculture company with an emphasis on the consumer experience is a dollar that doesn’t go to supporting “”the machine,”” so to speak. But does this truly describe Apple? Or are indie kids the world over simply products of an exceedingly elaborate marketing campaign?

    Search for “”1984″” on www.YouTube.com and you’ll find the “”revolutionary”” ad that started it all. Since then, Apple’s marketing execs have only gotten smarter, presenting the company as truly concerned with individual users, diametrically opposed to the other, “”faceless”” alternatives. Elitism ahoy!

    Consumers have bought this myth hook, line and sinker. Check the Wikipedia page – quickly, now, before someone edits it! – and you can see this kind of preening behavior firsthand, complete with references to Apple’s “”avant-garde”” user base, their challenging of “”traditional”” business notions, and the infamous “”think different”” motto.

    The problem is that this reputation is either deserved or warranted. Apple is a business first and foremost, and its behavior in the past few years makes this fact more and more obvious.

    The first few iPod generations were shoddy, and their irreplaceable batteries had much shorter lifespans than advertised. Digital rights management technology used on iTunes, masquerading under the pretense of protecting artist rights, actually serves no purpose other than to further Apple’s domination of the mp3 player market. And Apple recently unveiled their new “”iPhone,”” even though that trademark has been owned by Cisco since 2000.

    These are just the tip of the iceberg. Run a search for “”Apple”” on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website and cringe at the endless cascade of similar cases. The cold, hard truth is that Apple’s business practices are anything but symptomatic of a desire to “”think different.”” Behind the clean, white electronic exteriors and the friendly posturing beats the heart of a soulless business machine that wants your dollar just as badly as anyone else.

    If this means infringing on someone else’s trademark, they’ll do it, as long as they can get away with it. If this means developing a near-monopoly on the mp3 player market, so be it. If this means releasing a sub-par product, that’s not beneath them – though, to Apple’s credit, iPods have generally improved in quality with each generation.

    Of course, this isn’t merely vitriol directed against Apple. Questionable practices are par for the course for successful businesses. Most importantly, Apple is still deserving of your money – but they should be judged by the same standards as everyone else.

    If you favor the Mac interface to its Windows equivalent, buy a Mac. If you think iPods look nifty, snag one for yourself, and maybe get an iPhone to match. If you’re yet another insane Apple loyalist, then buy their products because, in the end, having no reason at all is better than having a bad reason.

    Supporting Apple solely for the sake of being nonconformist, or for the sake of upholding business ideals which aren’t put into practice, is a bad reason. Apple deserves credit for revolutionizing marketing, but the evidence is there to suggest that they, too, have their eyes on the prize – your wallet – and not on their commitment to counterculture or individualism.

    Don’t make the mistake of jumping aboard the indie bandwagon (oh, the irony!). True nonconformity might require that you learn Linux, which actually requires a modicum of intelligence to use. In the meantime, know that, despite the propaganda, owning Apple products is not an indicator of your ability to “”think different.””

    Taylor Kessinger is a sophomore majoring in physics, mathematics and philosophy. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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