15 June 2012

Pretty Beads

Have you been paying attention to the new-ish Apple computers? They've become disposable cell phones; nothing is replaceable or upgradeable. These devices go for nearly $3,000, and can, I gather, only be repaired by Apple. This became clear with the Retina Display Mac Book Pro as can be seen here. All the bits are either Apple only connections/forms or soldered in. For those with long memories, the original Compaq machines would only accept Compaq pieces.

When I was a kid, Vance Packard was already well known and widely published. I knew of his writings from yellowed paperbacks. His most famous is likely "The Hidden Persuaders", but he also dealt with the process of planned obsolescence with "The Waste Makers". In the 1960's, and certainly 1970's, American auto makers were pilloried, and warned, that their obsession with churning their product base was dangerous and market threatening. And so it came to be. If one looks at a current American auto, most of the engineering and design of that car originated in either Europe (where engineers know what they're doing) or Japan (ditto).

Europeans and Japanese understand what engineering means: make the most of the least. Until the 1973 Oil Embargo, American design and engineering was about profligacy; who could implement it most thoroughly. Not so much, now.

Apple is behaving like the Big Three Autos. The difference is that Apple, emboldened by a totally hosed patent system, has been able to constrict competition. Jobs fancied himself a Buddhist. I wonder what his bhikkhu would think?

Sounds a bit like what happened with Manhattan, which was ceded for some pretty beads. Apple wants your soul and freedom for about the same.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is interesting from a political-stereotype perspective. What are the "anti-big corporation, everything should be free" types with their iPhones and Macbooks who worship all things Apple saying about this? Do they prefer not to peek behind the curtain? Or are those just the posers? Are the real anti-big corporation activists the ones that have replaced the software on their Android phones with open source firmware/OS?