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Monday, January 14, 2013

The Beginning of the End?

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 3:18 PM

My hate of Apple's products found hope in this bit of news:

Shares of Apple stayed down today following a drop that sent the stock down below $500 for the first time since February.
The stock ended the day at $501.75, down $18.55 or 3.57 percent.
The cause for the initial drop came from a pair of stories yesterday — one from Japan's Nikkei and another later in the day from The Wall Street Journal — claiming Apple cut its component orders for the iPhone by nearly half last month. The suggestion from both was that demand for Apple's iPhone 5 had declined, causing Apple to slow down on manufacturing orders for more devices.
To grasp the roots of my hate of Apple products, read the second point of the Repair Manifesto: Things Should Be Designed So They Can Be Repaired. As for that massively ugly yacht...

 

Comments (54) RSS

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dirac 54
Coming from the guy who doesn't want to cook his own food.
Posted by dirac on January 16, 2013 at 12:27 AM · Report this
CATSPAW666 53
I cannot believe Charles has ever repaired ANYTHING.
leaving computers completely aside- can you imagine he sews on a button, rewires a lamp, changes the oil in a car, or reputties a broken window?
Posted by CATSPAW666 on January 15, 2013 at 4:06 AM · Report this
52
Anyone who looks backward will see that leadership in cellphones goes in roughly five-year cycles. Apple's sun is setting, and Samsung's is rising. I think it's funny to see people forget that these things are nothing but machines.
Posted by Mister G on January 15, 2013 at 3:42 AM · Report this
51
@23: Right you are. I love my hardware iProducts, but Apple is insanely undercriticized for for some of its truly horrible software. The iTunes experience is miserable.
Posted by yuiop on January 14, 2013 at 11:42 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 50
@44 - The difference is that Microsoft fan boys (I remember them) looked down on people with less technical prowess, whereas the Apple fan boys look down on people with less taste.

(I know plenty of devs these days who look down on Windows fanboys for both. I don't know any Ruby developer running a Windows box. All Macbook Pros. )
Posted by Free Lunch on January 14, 2013 at 11:22 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 49
@ 44, I almost called Godwin's myself, because you posited a fucking ridiculous notion. But I stopped short because you weren't exactly calling anyone "Nazi."

Anyway, you must have forgotten the 90s if you don't remember Microsoft fanboys. Keep in mind that I've lived in places other than Seattle; I'm sure the fanboys were in greater concentration there, but supposing that they're only Microsoft employees is like living in San Jose and supposing Apple fanboys are just Apple employees.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 14, 2013 at 9:47 PM · Report this
zivilisierter Wurm 48
I'm not arguing that the environmental ramifications of consumer culture is the burden of Apple alone. But, like I said and an Apple repair-specialist has substantiated me here: their efforts to make production a closed system, focused on factory-side replacement/refurbishment over repair is enormously wasteful, detrimental to the environment, and rips off consumers. Look at the new MacBook: proprietary screws, battery pack glued in, RAM soldered on...

The whole reason there is a thriving market for 3rd party repair is because Apple charges so absurdly much for their Care "service" (which is to say: refurbishment and replacement). If people are content to spend their money that way, fine. But don't pretend that in supporting Apple, you aren't supporting a production process which is far more environmentally detrimental than necessary.
Posted by zivilisierter Wurm http://peregrinari.tumblr.com/ on January 14, 2013 at 9:36 PM · Report this
47
Form and function aren't so easily separated, and in Apple's design ethos, form is frequently a function in itself.

Look, there's a real question about electronics and environmental sustainability; but that is a broad question for the entirety of Western civilization, not one to be balance solely on the back of Apple.

As for Fan Boys, nobody in this thread is blindly pumping up Apple. The "fan boys" critique is tired. And, Godwin's law as appropriately called.
Posted by Timothy http://www.moreperfect.org on January 14, 2013 at 8:57 PM · Report this
zivilisierter Wurm 46
43: Apple are masters branding and aesthetics. But as an engineering principle, form over function infuriates me. As from an environmental perspective it's completely unsustainable.
Posted by zivilisierter Wurm http://peregrinari.tumblr.com/ on January 14, 2013 at 8:52 PM · Report this
seandr 45
@39: Microsoft fanboys
I don't think I've encountered any of those. Perhaps you are referring to Microsoft employees?
Posted by seandr on January 14, 2013 at 7:57 PM · Report this
seandr 44
@40: And it took only 3 more comments for someone to trot out the tired old mare of Godwin's Law.

Which ought to be a law itself. Whenever anything related to Nazis is mentioned in an online discussion, with each subsequent post the probability of someone tediously and pointlessly citing Godwin's Law approaches 1.
Posted by seandr on January 14, 2013 at 7:54 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 43
@36 - That's incredible.

I'm wondering how the Apple techs themselves replace the batteries considering they're glued in. Apple will replace the battery for $199, I doubt they're throwing half the computer away.

I do think the internal design of Apple laptops is more about being as svelte as possible than it is about thwarting self-service. A user-replaceable battery requires space for a monolithic slab, whereas modern Macbooks have the battery split into multiple different cells of various sizes wired together throughout the chassis. Same with the RAM on some models.

At home I have the last aluminum Macbook with user replaceable battery and RAM, but it's at home because it's a tank to carry around. My 13" Air is as or more powerful, less than half the weight and thickness, and the battery life is triple. (Well, for now!)

Plus, it's drop-dead gorgeous. Apple is smart to play to people's vanity and sense of aesthetics. Form over function is a good tradeoff for them when form is a big part of their attraction. It's why the Apple store is full to the gills while the Microsoft Store is crickets: PC laptops are (mostly) fucking hideous. Hideous, but relatively serviceable.
Posted by Free Lunch on January 14, 2013 at 7:37 PM · Report this
42
Incidentally, i tall began with the pencil. Have you ever tried repairing a broken pencil?
Posted by RonK, Seattle on January 14, 2013 at 6:56 PM · Report this
41
"The Beginning of the End?" In Marxism, it seems, everything is the beginning of the end. And as we learn from this morsel of Mudedeist perspective ...
even before this whole trolling thing. it began with the design of ipod
... the Arrow of Time points backwards.
Posted by RonK, Seattle on January 14, 2013 at 6:53 PM · Report this
40
It took 37 comments but we finally got to Godwin's Law.
Posted by sarah70 on January 14, 2013 at 6:48 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 39
@ 23, neat.

@ 37, I'll take Apple fanboys over Microsoft fanboys any day of the week. At least Apple is being evil with superior products.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 14, 2013 at 6:39 PM · Report this
38
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
Posted by hairyson on January 14, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
seandr 37
The most annoying thing about Apple is all the fan boys. If Apple came out with a new product called iHolocaust, the fan boy reaction would be "Yeah, that's kind of annoying, but if you think about their business model and design philosophy, murdering 6 million Jews does have a certain logic to it." And that includes Jewish fan boys.

Apple needs to fix this problem. Perhaps a hologram of Steve Jobs berating the sycophants for drooling over his products, and telling them he'll no longer sell phones to people who behave themselves like obsessed, overly-attached girlfriends.
Posted by seandr on January 14, 2013 at 6:23 PM · Report this
zivilisierter Wurm 36
@29: see 33. Just because there are people who manage to do it doesn't mean that Apple hasn't tried their hardest to make it impossible.

Or read this:

http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook+P…

But yeah, guess I'm just a hipster anti-Apple douche-bag, talking out of my ass...
Posted by zivilisierter Wurm http://peregrinari.tumblr.com/ on January 14, 2013 at 6:06 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 35
@23

It's not hidden, it's on the internet. That's why it doesn't need to be on the iPod.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 14, 2013 at 6:06 PM · Report this
34
Can we all at least come together to assert that the yacht really is stupendously ugly?
Posted by Warren Terra on January 14, 2013 at 5:54 PM · Report this
chaseacross 33
This is a subject on which I have some expertise! I'm the manager at a small I device repair shop in Bellevue (shameless plug: http://www.jcdrepair.com/bellevue/WA). I've repaired thousands of iPhone, iPads, and iPods, and I can attest to the fact that they're designed to be essentially irreparable, BUT they're also built to be relatively easy to refurbish. That is to say they're not made to be fixed by the owner (and they easily could be, without having to compromise an iota of aesthetic or structural integrity), but they are made to be easy to be shippers back to China and refurbished, then sold to another user for full retail price. It's a brilliant way of doing business if you're only concern is acquisitive. Ethically and environmentally speaking it's definitely a wash.

Addressing a few points from experience: yes, it's totally possible to fix a water damaged iPhone -- drop it by our shop and give us three days; AppleCare is a joke, and not a very funny one -- our customers with AppleCare have routinely been asked to pay *hundreds of dollars* to get their devices fixed, fare below the cost of doing the repair (because Apple doesn't actually do repairs, they just hand you a refurbished one and ship yours back to China for refurb).
Posted by chaseacross on January 14, 2013 at 5:47 PM · Report this
32
@30…I prefer the Mercedes analogy over the BMW analogy, but no matter.

As for being a douchebag, we've now crossed over 50% of American households that own at least 1 apple product. So, that's a pretty broad brush you're painting with. ;-)

The real annoyance anymore seems to be hipsters who have knee-jerk anti-Apple screeds for reasons that aren't well argued or well thought. The "I hate it because it's popular" trend is alive and well.
Posted by Timothy http://www.moreperfect.org on January 14, 2013 at 5:38 PM · Report this
31
By the way, the reason your iPod doesn't come apart in an obvious way is the same reason your car's fenders aren't held on with large, obviously visible bolts. It would make repairs way easier, but it interferes with most people's sense of style. (Those of you driving VW Things or Ford Model Ts, never mind; your fenders *are* held on with big obvious bolts.)
Posted by Orv on January 14, 2013 at 5:35 PM · Report this
30
I've had Mac Pros apart many times. It wasn't particularly more difficult than other laptops. It's true that Apple doesn't give you disassembly instructions, but they're not hard to come by online. The only company I'm aware of that provides disassembly instructions for their laptops was IBM, which put the technical service manuals up for download. (I don't know if that practice continued after Lenovo bought their laptop business.)

Apples are the BMWs of computers. Like BMWs, they're well built, stylish, and good performers; and also like BMWs, they can't quite shake the reputation that people who own them are douchebags. ;)
Posted by Orv on January 14, 2013 at 5:30 PM · Report this
29
@24, you're simply wrong. There are many, many 3rd party repair shops for Apple products. Just google and you'll get a plethora of them.

Re: changing the ram in a macbook? You're wrong again, insofar as you're taking about the Pro. Ram is user replaceable on the mac book pro. On the Macbook Air, which I own, it is not upgradeable. But, this is my favorite computer I've ever owned, and there are design reasons that provide me design benefits for Apple to manufacture their products to ever tighter standards.

Apple, increasingly, are creating computing appliances, and I'm increasingly ok with that. I've tinkered with plenty of computers over the past 20 years, changing and upgrading when needed.

The rest of your screed is simply that. It's unhinged insofar as your complaints are industry wide, not just with Apple. Call me a fanboy all you like. I've never felt let down by a single product that I've bought from Apple.
Posted by Timothy http://www.moreperfect.org on January 14, 2013 at 5:23 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 28
@26 Yes, that's annoying, but it's their business model. It's something that allows them to have a competitive entry level price point, but a high price for consumers that want a bit more. The memory absolutely doesn't cost them an extra $100 (or whatever), but they know those with a bit more money will pay it.

In theory, this benefits the price-sensitive consumers. If they added a memory card slot they'd have to either raise the cost of the entry level phone or drop the quality of the components.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 14, 2013 at 5:22 PM · Report this
27
@24: That's true, but that happens with pretty much any electronic device these days. Nobody else repairs cell phones either; if returned, they either get thrown out, or re-shrink-wrapped and sold to some other sucker. I don't see how Apple is particularly worse. I suspect people who say so mostly just hate the people who *buy* Apple products, which is a different issue. ;)

The only real knock I've seen on the new iPhones is they lack a replaceable battery. I understand why that'd be a concern, but I gotta say, over the last decade of owning cell phones, I have *never* had a battery go bad before the phone itself either failed or became hopelessly obsolete.

@8: There's a tradeoff there; while setting the timing on some modern cars is much harder, most of them don't require setting the spark timing at all; it's automatically derived from the crankshaft position. At most you have to set the valve timing when you replace the timing belt, usually once every 100,000 miles. On my Volkswagen Bus I used to have to adjust the timing ever few months as the points wore out.

Cars used to be designed for very easy serviceability because they had to be serviced ALL THE TIME. This made sense in an era when labor was cheap and technology was expensive; it made sense to, say, use solid valve lifters that someone had to adjust every 6,000 miles than to pay extra for self-adjusting hydraulic lifters. Nowadays technology is cheap and labor is expensive, so the balance has shifted; we end up with cars that can go 100,000 miles with little more than occasional fluid changes, but they're necessarily more complex.

As for fuel economy...I gotta say, while I loved how easy my '88 VW Cabriolet Automatic was to work on, it got 22 mpg and my '94 Honda Del Sol gets 30, despite delivering more horsepower and weighing more.
More...
Posted by Orv on January 14, 2013 at 5:20 PM · Report this
26
One of the big problems with apple's stuff, at least with the pods 'n pads, is the lack of an SD slot. It allows them to charge way too much for storage.
Posted by Mister G on January 14, 2013 at 5:04 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 25
@14 nope. Fuel efficiency has gone up and down over the years.

Right now we're in a fuel efficiency + power kick, but we were in an insane power - efficiency craze for quite a while there.

interesting observations, @19, but the problem is all but one Droid manufacturer still can't make reliable profits from the phones, whereas Apple always makes out like gangbusters profit-wise.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on January 14, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
zivilisierter Wurm 24
To all the deluded Apple fanboys/girls: Apple has for the last 10 or so years dedicated themselves to making their production a "closed" system. Preventing 3rd-party repair is ABSOLUTELY a design goal, which protects the engineered obsolescence of their products and forces consumers to rely on replacement from within the supply chain. This is why you can't remove the back from an Ipod without destroying it. This is why you can't replace the screen on the new mac-book - you can't even replace the RAM for fuck's sake! When your screen cracks and you take it in to that gleaming, aseptic hell called The Apple Store, you know what happens to it? It gets thrown away, and ends up in some smoldering West African trash heap, to be melted down while five-year-olds scramble around to collect the gold and copper slag. This is the fucking antithesis of replaceable parts, and it's terrible for the environment.

I don't hate Apple because they sell boutique consumer electronics. I hate Apple because they sell boutique, disposable consumer electronics.
Posted by zivilisierter Wurm http://peregrinari.tumblr.com/ on January 14, 2013 at 4:45 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 23
@, actually 18, i have made this point for years. even before this whole trolling thing. it began with the design of ipod (i bought my first one in 2003), which purposely hid how it could be opened. i have also hated itunes from the beginning, for so many reasons--anyone i work with can attest to that. and please, do not act like the pc was less friendly to repair than the macbook.
Posted by Charles Mudede on January 14, 2013 at 4:43 PM · Report this
22
why don't you try removing your head from your ass and just use the electronics that work? ( hint, those would not be the ms ones)
Posted by BERNARDIO on January 14, 2013 at 4:39 PM · Report this
21
@15 you're correct about the battery, but it is in fact quite simple to remove a SIM card from an iPhone. All it takes is a paperclip.
Posted by mge on January 14, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
20
@15 - if you didn't update the apps, don't they still do what they originally did? Isn't that like saying that an Atari 5200 was designed with built-in obsolescence because it only had Pong (or whatever) and can't run WoW? Which is to say that current apps take advantage of current hardware. The old hardware/apps works just as well as they did when you first got it. (This may, or may not, be true if they have to work with other devices.)
Posted by randoma on January 14, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Eric Arrr 19
iPhones are not exactly service-friendly (I've dissected a couple in my day, with mixed results) but there is a thriving mess of independent iPhone repair specialists on Craigslist, touting their services for thirty bucks or so.

The reduced iPhone production numbers are due to two primary causes:

#1, the end of carrier-subsidized iPhones. Carriers historically have made more money on android phones because they don't have to pay add much for the phone, and their sales people have been heavily pressured to lead new customers towards cheaper phones, contributing to...

#2, Android surpassing iOS as the market-leading mobile OS.
Posted by Eric Arrr on January 14, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 18
@ 2, it's Charles' way of trolling. And it's not a bad way; picking a specific target, especially one that's popular, is going to get a lot more people commenting. I guarantee that if he simply posted about planned obsolescence, which wasn't pioneered by Apple, and left them out of it, he would have gotten a maximum of two comments.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 14, 2013 at 4:28 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 17
@15 How many Windows 8 programs work on Windows 7?

I do think it would be a good idea to hide apps that aren't backward compatible from you, but it shouldn't be surprising that software isn't often backwards compatible. The apps that you have on your phone still work, and always will. You just can't get many new apps or likely update the ones you have.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 14, 2013 at 4:27 PM · Report this
16
They last long enough. Technology moves so fast that you need to upgrade every couple years anyways.The fact that they aren't repairable becomes a little less important.
Posted by Conrad McMasters on January 14, 2013 at 4:19 PM · Report this
15
I think what he was trying to get at is that Apple purposely don't let you fix anything that goes wrong. I only found out yesterday that you can't easily take the sim card out of an i-phone, or the battery. That's a bit shitty - but their customer service is excellent so that's kinda moot.

What I find a indefensible is that these things are designed to become obsolete. We have an I phone 3 and all the apps are beginning to fail but can't be updated because the new apps aren't backwards compatible. Now that's probably the app designers "fault" but still, doesn't it seem like that obsolescence is a little bit arbitrary?

Posted by Foonken2 on January 14, 2013 at 4:17 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 14
@8: That engine probably created about 100x as much pollution as a modern engine. Some things should be scrapped instead of repaired.
Posted by kk in seattle on January 14, 2013 at 4:09 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 13
I'm a big proponent of fixing things rather than throwing them away. I recently paid $150 to fix a mid-century modern chair, which is more than I originally paid for it. I also dropped considerable cash on reupholstering my Danish modern couch, enough money to buy me a new couch of the same size.

But it's ridiculous to assert that Apple products are significantly less reparable than most other electronics, and that electronics ought to be reparable by fixing the broken part rather than replacing it.
Posted by keshmeshi on January 14, 2013 at 4:09 PM · Report this
fletc3her 12
It's a phone! When was the last time you repaired a phone?

Hatred of Apple is so tired. At times their computers have been crazy easy to field strip. Anyone remember the Mac Iici and what a joy it was to work on? The XServes were also quite nice.

The miniaturized iBooks, iPads, iPods, and iPhones are all packed so tight it requires some work to get in there. I have replaced a few iPod batteries, but that's about the only internal component which doesn't require soldering.
Posted by fletc3her on January 14, 2013 at 4:06 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 11
I've replaced the back of my iPhone twice. It's $8 for a new one online (hey, look, $6.49 with free shipping). If you mean for me to put my broken glass in a kiln until it melts back into one piece, I could have done that too. But it would have been more than $8.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 14, 2013 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 10

You can get a $79 tablet on Price Angels.

ASUS is trying to catch up with a $179 mini ultrabook.

The new normal is cheap, light, devices...ones you can afford to leave on a plane, or drop while riding your bike.

The Global Middle Class, who will number 5 billion by 2030, demand this things.

http://qz.com/43411/the-worlds-middle-cl…

The world’s middle class will swell from 2 billion to almost 5 billion by 2030, with most of that growth coming from developing countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The world population in 2030 is expected to be about 8 billion.

The OECD defines “middle class” as making $10 to $100 a day, adjusted for the purchasing power of each currency. Today, people in developing countries make up almost 30% of the world’s consumer spending, up from 18% a decade ago as they become middle class.

This change, what the US National Intelligence Council called a ”tectonic shift,” is one the most important trends for the next several decades.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on January 14, 2013 at 3:58 PM · Report this
seandr 9
@7: Or Marxism.

Ladies and gentleman, we have a winner!
Posted by seandr on January 14, 2013 at 3:54 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 8
@2 actually, most cars nowadays are not easily repaired by their owners either.

I miss the days of swapping out pistons on an engine, and tapping them in. Now just getting the timing needs an electronic device.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on January 14, 2013 at 3:53 PM · Report this
7
Things should be designed so they can be repaired? Go ahead and try to repair burned out lightbulb. Or your microwave. Or Marxism.
Posted by ultrasuedecushion on January 14, 2013 at 3:50 PM · Report this
6
Actually, having spent a lot of time repairing laptops and cell phones and other related devices, Apple devices are much easier to repair than a lot of their competitors. Are most modern day electronics designed for the average consumer to repair? No, but then neither is your car, or your house, or anything else you use. Can all of these things be repaired with the proper skillset, tools and materials? Yes.

Don't blame your own shortcomings on the manufacturer, Charles.
Posted by randoma on January 14, 2013 at 3:50 PM · Report this
seandr 5
Things Should be Designed So They Can Be Repaired

Sure, if possible, but this isn't 1893. Having opened up my iPhone 4S after jumping into a saltwater pool while it was in my pocket, I don't think you can make an easily repairable iPhone and still have it be an iPhone.

What you really need, Charles, is Apple Care, which we can hook you up with for the low price of ...
Posted by seandr on January 14, 2013 at 3:50 PM · Report this
4 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 3
"Repair is not throwing away the broken bit"

Somebody doesn't like interchangeable parts. Which brand of computer to you buy, Charles, where you repair it without throwing away the broken bit?

This is like a Portlandia sketch where some trust fund baby carves one of a kind smartphones out of bamboo.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 14, 2013 at 3:41 PM · Report this
2
Are there ANY cell phones that are DIY repair capable?

My guess is no. In fact, I doubt there's few if any computer mouse, computer screen, computer hard drive, am radio, stereo turntable, iron, microwave oven, car, etc. that can be repaired by the average consumer.

I'm not arguing against the manifesto, per se, but to single out Apple in this instance seems to put you on shaky ground. Most products in the electronics industry are non-repairable by the consumer.
Posted by Timothy http://www.moreperfect.org on January 14, 2013 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 1
Actually, most of this is caused by the widespread adoption of tablets and the lack of growth in PCs.

Demand for the iPhone5 itself, which is highly profitable, is only off ecstatic projections by a small amount. Some people incorrectly assumed it would be better than their wildest dreams, instead of just highly profitable.

The other drag is the chipset switch. That's part of the ongoing Patent Wars.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on January 14, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this

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