Apple has lost the magic

Tyler HurstBlog26 Comments

I turned on my first Apple computer in 1986. It took me ten minutes to figure out how to turn it off, and since then I’ve been hooked. I spent long hours in my dad’s print shop playing on every new Mac we’d get (Mac Plus, Mac SE, Mac II, Mac TV, to name a few). My familiarity in screwing with system settings got me a Teacher’s Assistantship in junior high and high school.

Think Different

Thanks to my interest in journalism and newspaper page design, I was never exposed to a Windows computer. There was never a PC in our home, and the very first computer I purchased in college was a Grape, slot-loading iMac. After that came the first white iBook at WSU, where I was the first person in my major to take a laptop to class, and have upgraded to various Powerbooks and now MacBook Pros throughout the years.

My first job in Arizona was at the Biltmore Apple Store, a position I secured by telling the previous story and threatening promising to hang out in the store until they hired me. Nearly every significant job or person I’ve met has extended from working there, and leaving was hard, but after iTunes for Windows and the switch to Intel processors, Apple became too concerned with sales and less concerned with service for me to enjoy the hours I spent teaching people there.

My appreciation extended to the iPod and iPhone, as I’ve owned every model except the U2 iPod, the new Classic iPod and the iPhone 3G, and I consider the iPhone 4 an integral part of my business.

I’m also a MobileMe subscriber and have been since iTools came out in 2001. In short, I’m a passionate Apple consumer and a fanboy, always able to accept the limitations that come with the products and/or finding a better/different way to do what I need to get done.

But in the past few months, something has felt…off. Maybe it started with the 3G and Apple’s almost insistence that everyone in the world own one, or possibly my trip to Cupertino that left me underwhelmed at the sparse offerings from a company store that I considered Mecca. Sure, my expectations may have been off and my passion may have blinded my common sense, but I felt a connection to the beautiful, functional products that have enabled me to become a better writer, connect with more people and be more productive than I ever thought possible. It was magic.

That magic is gone now. There is no more real cult of Mac lovers. Owning any Apple product used to be a badge of honor and an inclusion into a group of people that were willing to pay a little extra for what we considered an exceptional experience. The long-time Apple fans never hated PCs, they just preferred their Macs. There was no stupid war, or some dumb back and forth as to whose was better. Mac simply had a better user experience, Windows was more compatible.

It’s over. Apple used to release products when they wanted to. They didn’t upgrade their models every single year, nor did they bother with keeping to regular update schedules. As infuriating as it was, THEIR PRODUCTS AND SOFTWARE worked. But no more. In Apple’s rush to become more profitable, they have started to ignore their best and most loyal customers. The Mac line, which hasn’t always earned them the highest profit but is absolutely the backbone of everything they do, is being ignored. Their consumer products are being rushed out. Their CEO looks like a walking corpse. They’re blatantly lying to the public.

You used to think different, Apple. You used to be the rebels. You used to stand for greatness. You used to stand for creativity. You used to be a symbol for the creative class.

You are not, as a whole, any different than Google, Microsoft or any other product that people use on a daily basis.

You could have been more. You sold out. You’re special no longer.


One irrational, supportive and disappointed fan.

(After hearing Jobs’ press conference, where he compared the iPhone 4 to other phones that had similar problems and then offered free bumpers, I’m even more disheartened. Apple, it was good to know you when. We’ll always have the iMac.)

Tyler HurstApple has lost the magic

26 Comments on “Apple has lost the magic”

  1. Paul Sutton

    never been a Mac fan, but that was nicely articulated. It seems once your business model has achieved financial success, it's likely to change to maintain market position… in turn, making the market even more competitive when corners are cut.

  2. hardaway

    Such a bummer for an idealist like me. apple has lost it's mission. You have hit on a fundamental dilemma of capitalism. google = do no evil became the company spying on people thru street view. Same same.

  3. acydlord

    Surprisingly enough I actually used to like Apple. I always saw them as powerful machines, then the original iMac came along and possibly doubled the number of homes that had a computer. I had my first eye opener when OSX first came out, including software from the unix/linux community that was being used outside the scope of its license. Then the iPod came out, it played lower quality/bitrate music than most other players on the market and also lacked most of the functionality of other players on the market, and then Apple started the “if you don't use Apple hardware you're an idiotic nerd” campaign. They put profitability before everything, including usability. I'd like to see them get their head out of their ass so they can be remembered for the legacy of the Apple II, the Macintosh, PowerMacs, the workhorse computers of the newspaper and magazine industries, not the gleaming white fashion accessories of hipsters drinking starbucks while cruising on their fixies. /endrant

  4. Chris Lee

    Nice post, Tyler.

    I've been aspiring to achieve true Apple fanboy status for quite a while now. While I have a few peripheral products (iPhones, iPods, iPad, Mac Mini), I still felt that switching off the PC to a MacBook Pro is the big step needed. Don't get me wrong, I still want to do that but I also see the same things you indicated and it does dampen the excitement.

    It's very disappointing as I like having those shining examples of excellence to admire.

  5. Wayne Turner

    Well put, though I am ambivalent about the message.

    I guess I feel that if fanboys were not so emotionally attached to a COMPANY then most of this would be no big deal. I'm an engineer by training, and so I will use whatever works best for my particular needs are at the time that is also at a reasonable price. Style plays a part as well, but functionality is by far more important to me. No one says you can't have both, but sometimes what gets sacrificed is that “reasonable price” part of the decision; I shoot for a balance.

    While I may be emotionally attached to a technology FUNCTION (DVR, cellphone, laptop, camera, MP3 player, etc which I have had all of for years), I have no qualms about deciding all over again which is best when it is time for a new one. Fanboys, on the other hand, attach themselves to a single company's product line and so get all emotional (as in the post I am commenting on) when things go bad. I would certainly be sad if somehow the whole concept of a DVR disappeared and I could no longer find one, but if TiVo started screwing up I would have no qualms about getting one somewhere else and I certainly wouldn't be all weepy about it. (FYI, I bought a TiVo the first day they were available back in 1999, from Circuit City no less!).

    Maybe if some of the fanboys out there were able to define their identity by who they are as opposed to whose products they buy then they would not be so disappointed when the big boys like Apple trip up a little bit. It happens to ALL companies. The most unfortunate thing here is that even Apple was convinced (along with their fans) that it COULDN'T happen to them and so when it did, they had no idea how to be honest and just speak the truth. The ridiculous “incorrect bar calculation” company line, the “you're holding it wrong” purported comments from Jobs, etc made the eventual owning up a much bigger deal than it needed to be.

    Embrace technology, not just one technology company, no matter how stylish and trendy they may be.

  6. tdhurst

    While I certainly am guilty of having an unhealthy attachment to Apple products, my reasons go far beyond their products, making me less guilty of fanboyism and simply delusional.

    I don't do this for any other type of product, and I'm glad of that. What really infuriated me was their reaction.

    Admit the problem, solve it and move on.

  7. Matt

    you may think differently if you owned stock or REALLY cared about Apple instead of being one of those types that decided to jump on the “It's cool to bash apple cause they're so big now” bandwagon. Apple still continues to set new standards and open markets not even thought of a few years ago. True, they've had a stumble or two, but whom among us has not tripped up occasionally. we can't be perfect every single moment. Your comments are a kin to a good friend bad mouthing you behind your back just cause they want to sound cool. hang your head, bud.

  8. tdhurst

    I've been an Apple customer, zealot, fanboy, employee and ambassador at different times for 24 years.

    WTF are you talking about me jumping on anything? This isn't about stock price for me, it's about idealism. I believed in them in the 80s when they were great, believed in them in the 90s when they sucked and never wavered throughout the past 10 years.

    Did you even read my post?

  9. Wayne Turner

    So you are “aspiring to achieve true Apple fanboy status”? How tough is that? Just buy every product that they put out even if it means you can't make your rent this month, suspend your ability to accurately analyze the pros and cons of a given product (and nearly ALL products have BOTH) and when someone does try to get you to have a realistic view of the world just put your fingers in your ears and hum loudly to yourself.

    As for excellence, even I would say that Apple makes some excellent products though I just feel they are often overpriced (except for MP3 players). What is NOT excellent is their arrogant attitude when something goes wrong rather than just fessing up, fixing it and moving on. Even now, Jobs' attitude is “move along folks, nothing to see here!” Grow up, Steve.

  10. Wayne Turner

    I know I am replying to my own post, but I wrote that before seeing the press conference. I mistakenly assumed that Steve was going to come out and admit the issues and explain what they would do about it, hence my comment about how “the eventual owning up to it” made it a much bigger deal.

    I stand corrected, because they DIDN'T own up to it, which just floors me.

    Arrogance, whether in a person, a company, or a CEO, is rarely if ever an admirable quality. Get off the high horse, Steve. How sad.

  11. Wayne Turner

    I'm not sure about Tyler, but the problem to me is not that Apple makes mistakes just like EVERY OTHER PERSON AND COMPANY IN THE WORLD (yes, all caps so you get the message). It is the way they handle it which is grating, which is to say either:

    1. Not at all, or
    2. With extreme arrogance and disdain for their own customers.

    Which part of the press conference impressed YOU?

  12. tdhurst

    I felt worse after the press conference, but I do get $30 because I bought a bumper that I wanted to anyway.

    So I have that going for me.

  13. Chris Lee

    Twas tongue in cheek. I just want a MacBook Pro.

    As far as your comment on their excellence, Jobs has always been arrogant but this mis-step seems out of character. Poorly played.

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  17. Antoon

    I agree, I have the same feeling the last few moths.
    The magic is gone, and it hurts a bit. Hopefully there will be a change, but I doubt it.

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