Let me first issue the following disclaimer: I am not an Apple user. I used to have an old Apple SE 30 many years ago, but since then I have never owned any apple products. I don’t own an IPhone. I don’t own an IPod. I have never purchased music from the ITunes music store. You get the picture.
Despite all that, I have a great deal of respect for Apple as a creator of innovative and reliable technology. I don’t personally use their products (because I’m too cheap) but I do pay close attention when they release a new product… And I like to watch the odd Steve Jobs presentation or demo video from their website.
What I take issue with is quite simple — their arrogance. Apple is able to get away with business practices that would easily be considered abusive or monopolistic if they were attempted by any other company, like say, Microsoft. For example, their ridiculous network contracts, how they secretly steal private data off your IPhone, how they block your IPod from playing music from any other music store, how they close the IPhone platform, and so on. How they can believe it’s possible to engage in such anti-competitive business practices with no serious negative repercussions (“blow back”) is beyond me.
Apple is really pushing it. In my opinion, Steve Jobs is repeating the same mistake he made all those years ago when he attempted to monopolize the PC market. Apple had a lead and the best technology, but they refused to license any of their ideas. Investors are not stupid. They aren’t going to ignore a massively profitable new business opportunity because of some ridiculous attempt by Steve Jobs to bully them out of the industry. If there is money to be made, people will find a way to make it. They will create their own products. Maybe they won’t be as good initially, but eventually they will catch up — and I can pretty much guarantee they will always be cheaper.
Ultimately, Apple will either be forced to accept Microsoft software and Intel CPUs (cough) or dive right back into oblivion. Meaning, they will eventually be forced to open all their platforms to more competition. The only question is whether they will wake up and accept reality before they lose all their market share, again.
Given the incredible run their stock has had recently, Apple is a popular investment among non-technical people. As an engineer, I wouldn’t touch it.
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