Wednesday, April 04, 2007

iPod, iTunes and Apple suck - The right to reply

Oh well, looks like I have to respond to the Mac freakoid that posted below. It seems my "iPod sucks" post on my blog upset the fan boy Apple lover so much he had to write a long, misunderstood and inaccurate response. Let's begin with his comments regarding what I said about P2P file sharing though. DK insists that,
Well, for those of us who regard theft as fundamentally fucking wrong, I would say that iTunes is on the side of the angels. I can't stand this fucking argument: look, you cocks, we all know that Napster, etc. didn't use DRM: but then, that was because they weren't selling anything. The P2P companies were quite simply facilitating the widescale distribution of music without people paying for it: when you take priced goods without paying for them, this is called theft. T. H. E. F. T. Theft. There you are, children: that's our word for the day.
This is the classic, all users of P2P are thief'. It's nonsense, it all depends on what files you actually share and download. There are many niche music markets that actively encouraged and positively engaged with the P2P industry in order to distribute their music freely.

This was particularly the case in the white label area where producers were more than happy for free distribution of their music because they knew that the people who took advantage of it were music lovers that would go to their local Indy stores and buy the stuff. To make the blanket theft statement is patently wrong. The same nonsense argument was used by the film industry against the introduction of the VCR.
OK, Diz; what you actually mean is not actually iTunes, but the iTunes Music Store (or just iTunes Store, these days)*.
In fairness I do actually think iTunes the application is evil too. Not because it doesn't use Ogg though, simply because it is a classic piece of corporate bloatware with an irritating interface. This is made all the more irritating by Apple's insistence that if you install Quicktime you MUST have iTunes as well. I don't want it. I control my drive, not Apple. I decide what I will and won't install on my system. My space is precious, leave your evil bloatedness at the door, it's bad enough dealing with Microsoft without having Apple do the same.
No, the return of Steve Jobs and the launch of the iMac were two of the things that saved Apple
Guess what. He's wrong. But then so was I (only sort of but we'll come to that). A few months after Steve Jobs returned to Apple their share price was trading at an all time low. What happened next? Enter Bill Gates and Microsoft with a fat bail-out deal linking cash to Microsoft Office for Mac development. Who financially saved Apple? The other cowboy of silicon valley, that's who.
What Steve Jobs also brought in was the proper exploitation of the G3 chip (by actually designing a new motherboard)
This is totally misleading. It wasn't Jobs and Apple, it was Motorola and a ton of other third party components stuck on a mobo which in the end didin't look much different to a PC mobo besides the internal architecture of the PPC RISC processor. And the G3 (even the funky looking blue ones) were stupidly expensive to boot.
To try to pretend that the iPod alone (and the component that links it to the iTunes Store especially) has "saved" a company as massive as Apple is so ludicrous as to demand examination of the asserter's mental state.
This is what I love about DK, never holding back. The problem of course is classic misrepresentation (fan boys always do that, I should know). The single biggest Mac selling product in the world is the iPod. The iMac (an expensive and much heavier Mac Classic) wasn't even that popular. And let's not talk about the disater of the Mac Mini.
IBM sold the license to DOS to Microsoft (and for a ridiculously low fee) which developed Windows. Intel didn't give two shits who bought its processors and was hardly in a position to dictate terms anyway.

Apple restricted sale of its hardware—who to? Not to consumers, anyone who wanted could buy one. But to other OS makers? Who? There were no widely used graphical interfaces at the time. And hardware wasn't like it is now: the memory restrictions were much tighter, for starters. The hardware configuration was intimately bundled in with the software configuration; cloning simply wasn't an option, at least not for the cutting edge things that Apple wanted to do. Put simply, much of Apple's hardware was designed specifically for the Apple OS because there was no other way for the hardware of the time to be able to run the OS.
I had to quote that bit in full for a reason, DK has misunderstood what I was referring too. A long time ago, IBM produced the first personal computer, they then licensed the architecture to anyone. So Toshibia, Compaq, Olivetti all sprung up and the phrase "IBM Compatible" was born.

Apple on the other hand decided they didn't want to do that. They had their OS and they had their architecture and they were holding on to it. The result was that Apples became expensive and IBM compatible architecture prices fell. By 1995 Apple had only about 7% of the entire world market. They then decided to try the license deal, it failed dismally because the price just couldn't compete with IBM architecture.

The end game of this came last year when Apple decided it was time to give in, throw RISC and PPC architecture away and join the fold of the x86 systems that IBM first designed. This is one of the main reasons that Apple have managed to bring their prices down, they've basically starting shipping PC's in pretty cases with a different Operating System on them.

Now DK reckons that iPod did not stop Apple from going into obscurity. It's true to say that simply repeating it does not make it true but take a look at the reality. Where were Apple when iPod was released? They were still locked into their PPC architecture meaning the sale of their systems was low, massively low. The people that bought Macs generally fell into four catgories:long time users, ex-Amiga/Acorn users who got the hots for RISC; anyone in graphics/desktop publishing; or people that said "doesn't it look pretty?" (sometime people will fall into both of the last two categories).

That's a pretty small market and the business wanted to diversify. iPod let them do just that. Did it save them? Certainly as a brand it did. It catapulted Apple's brand out its niche and into the mainstream consciousness. It brought about an increase in popularity of their machines and, when they switched their OS to OSX - which is actually Unix (birth, circa 1970) - they were able to start having a business model that appealed to the all the other people out there who prefer style over substance but aren't into computers in some sort of geeky/professional way (see previous four categories definitions).

Anyway, I digress. DK then took me to task claiming that I have misleadingly said that users are locked into iTunes when they have an iPod. That is not however what I said at all. I said (and he even quotes me) that iTunes downloaded music was locked with DRM restricting where you could play it. That is what changes with EMI's announcement.

I don't think there is much more to say really other than iPod sucks. Apple sucks... and err.. DK sucks* The really question is when will Apple finely diversify into the sex toy market and acctually make the iBrator?

* he knows I love him really


David B. Wildgoose said...

You've BOTH misunderstood what happened in the early days of the PC, but never mind, I'm old enough to remember what really happened at the time.

First, IBM didn't "sell the DOS license to Microsoft". What actually happened is that IBM realised they had to get in to the microcomputer market as fast as they could. The only way they could do this was by purchasing off-the-shelf components. That's why they went with Intel - the original 8086 was a dog's breakfast that nobody else was interested in which meant they could buy large numbers, cheaply.

They also needed an OS, and went to Microsoft who provided the most popular Basic (language) that was available. He told them to go to Digital Research and get CP/M but Gary Kildall was away and his wife refused to sign the non-disclosure agreement that IBM insisted on before they said anything.

So they went back to Microsoft and Gates, seeing dollar signs, said he could provide an OS. He bought QDOS (Quick and Dirty OS) from a bunch of programmers who had fallen out and were looking for a quick sale.

Most importantly though, is that he refused to hand over all the rights to the OS over to IBM. This is because Microsoft had very nearly folded when the Altair did, because their business was Altair Basic and they had signed away their control. (Gates got it back after a personal appeal to the founder of Altair).

Thus. everything IBM used was off-the-shelf and available to purchase, *including* the OS. The only thing that wasn't was the BIOS which IBM wrote themselves.

Compaq reverse-engineered the BIOS, produced a spec, and had a second unrelated team of programmers write a BIOS to that spec. Now even the BIOS was available. Compaq started to make IBM clones sold more cheaply than IBM. Others joined in.

And that's how we ended up with a mass-market dog's breakfast of cheap and nasty components as a standard PC.

David B. Wildgoose said...

Not that Apple are covered in glory. When they produced the Macintosh (after the Lisa had failed) they found themselves with a successful GUI, but for their machines only.

A graphical interface was also created for other microcomputers in the form of GEM. Apple then did something incredibly stupid. They sued the creators of GEM in order to close them down. What they should have done is bought them out, and told everybody that GEM was an inferior version of the Mac and channeled everybody over.

Because with GEM out of the way, the only other options were Presentation Manager (IBM's OS/2) and Microsoft Windows. IBM couldn't market their way out of a paper bag which is why the best product, OS/2, failed. And Apple daren't sue Microsoft because Microsoft produced some of the the best-selling Mac software, e.g. Office.

It was thanks to a combination of IBM's ineptness and Apple's stupidity that Microsoft got the free run to their dominant position today. I was an OS/2 user and despaired of IBM, but I now have an Apple laptop to complement my Linux desktop simply because OS X is Unix. And I use Ogg Vorbis for my extensive (bought) music collection which is why I don't have an iPod.

Anonymous said...

This is fucking boring.

fido said...

DK getting off the main point onto DRM, lets face it the DRM systems suck to be fair about it.

When I go out and buy an album(showing my age there) I may want to play that on either of my pc's, my MP3 player, burn it to a disc whatever. I paid good money for it, rather than downloading from some bit torrent it or copying it off a mate down the pub.

After all should I not have the right to pop a copy of said music that I have paid for, in the car stereo?

As for the music stores on line I can understand them wanting DRM, I also want to play my music after say formatting the pc without having to go through a long re-registering process.

Till they can treat us as adults and actually trust us, well I for one shall strip out the DRM off of tracks if it has it on or buy music without DRM on it.

Oh and I wont even start on Sony being bastards with those bloody rootkits!

Surreptitious Evil said...

I don't supposed they are as "cute" as if Jonathan had designed them but you do have:


Can we go back to swearing at people now? Otherwise I may need to go for a lie-down in a darkened room.


(Who is currently listening to "Wintersmith" by Terry Pratchet, on his iPod, having read the book some time ago. And not thinking of Tiffany as a sex object. Or the Feegles. Honest!)

Peter Risdon said...

Another basic error of fact:

"A few months after Steve Jobs returned to Apple their share price was trading at an all time low. What happened next? Enter Bill Gates and Microsoft with a fat bail-out deal linking cash to Microsoft Office for Mac development. Who financially saved Apple? The other cowboy of silicon valley, that's who."

Apple had been bogged down in legal action against Microsoft for years - based on MS's use of Apple inventions in Windows 95. As a tactic, MS had stopped development of MS Office for the Mac.

One of Jobs' first pragmatic acts was to wind this up by dropping Apple's litigation in return for a cash payment from MS - in the form of an investment in Apple shares - and the resumption of Mac Office development.

Why on earth do otherwise critical people buy MS's press releases?

Oh yeah? So what has happened for the last ten years, exactly?

Over at the ASI, they are posting some of the winning entries of the Young Writers on Liberty. One does not want to put such keen minds off,...