Sunday, December 23, 2007

Will Apple Repeat History?

Dave Winer is not someone you want dissing your product.  Dave has 9,000 people subscribed to his blog on Google Reader, and who knows how many other readers are out there.  Dave Winer is extremely influential, not only on his own, but he's great friends with Robert Scoble, Mike Arrington, and countless other "A" listers that will certainly vouch for him and spread his word.

Right now, he's really pissed at Apple, and rightfully so. 

Dave brought his Mac into the Apple store because the hard drive fried on him.  After the service was completed, when he asked for the old hard drive back, the Apple Store associate told him that he could not have it back, and that part of what he signed on the repair agreement was that Apple gets to keep his old hard drive.

On top of that, when he started reading the fine print, he noticed that the hard drive that they replaced on his machine, may or may not be refurbished.  It cost him $160 bucks.  $160 bucks for a possibly used 80GB 5400 RPM 2.5 hard drive.  Rip-off.

Also, what if Apple isn't careful with his old hard drive.  What if someone gets a hold of the drive, and grabs his online banking password, or some of his source code?

What I don't get is why Apple hasn't learned from their mistakes.  Why did PC's become popular over the Macs?  Because the OS and the and the hardware are tied together.  This just exacerbates this issue.  Apple should be doing whatever it takes to make sure that their customers don't walk away feeling like they are  wishing they'd got a PC. 

Most Apple customers go out of their way to move to the Mac OS to begin with.  They deal with incompatible file formats from the majority PC users, a browser that isn't supported as well by developers, and often an overly complicated process when switching from the PC.  Apple is lucky to have them in the first place.

I would not buy Apple stock right now.  I really think we're going to see a huge shift in the way people behave towards Apple.  And I think this snafu with Dave Winer will accelerate that if they leave him dissatisfied.  Dave's got a lot of reach, and could swing a huge number of people's perceptions of Apple in a much different direction (after all, I'm blogging about it right now, which means that a whopping 20 more people are going to hear about it).

And it all boils down to customers feeling like they did in the 90's, locked into expensive hardware with the OS that they liked.  No matter what, people will always abandon a product that doesn't give them choices, despite how beautiful it looks.


Lily and Jack said...

I don't know if Apple is legally obligate to return his parts.

I know in some states (like Michigan, where I am), there are laws specifically for automotive repair (what a coincidence it's Michigan) where the owner has the right to receive all the parts back if requested (unless it is too big or difficult and then the owner has the right to inspect the parts).

I don't think there are any such laws for computer equipment though.

It doesn't surprise me with Apple though. I never understood why people think Apple is so much 'better' than Microsoft. Obviously Microsoft is on top and every likes to take shots at the leader, but Apple's entire business model is predicated on closed and proprietary practices--far worse than anything Microsoft ever has done.

While we're on the subject of Apple bashing, a friend just got stuck with a $50 charge to get a jammed CD out of his Mac laptop. Apparently Macs are so "cool" that they think having the little manual eject hole (for a paperclip) would ruin the 'experience'.

I'd recommend that you keep files encrypted by using something like PGPDisk. Use Google Desktop to search for SSN, credit-card numbers. I did, and was surprised to see how many important documents (tax returns, credit-card statements) just sitting there unencrypted.

Here's a great article:

Lily and Jack said...

I forgot to mention that if you have Vista you can encrypt your entire filesystem with BitLocker.

We use it at my office for all our laptops and it (surprisingly) works very well. You need to have Vista Enterprise or Ultimate (there may be other versions, I can't keep track of all the Vista SKUs).

You also need a fairly new PC that has a TPM chip.