"Is Apple Losing Some Of Its Shine?" -LA Times Article

Welcome to our Community
Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.
Sign up

nobbie

New Member
Bronze
Jul 23, 2007
282
0
0
#1
Interesting read here.

Cut & Pasted Here For Your Enjoyment:

Is Apple losing some of its shine?



Jeremy Horwitz, shown with a selection of Apple devices, wrote a column titled "Customers Ask: Is Apple Going Rotten?" at iLounge, an online publication that covers Apple's digital media offerings.

Recent moves to impose control risk alienating loyalists.

By Michelle Quinn, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 8, 2007


SAN FRANCISCO — Why can't Apple Inc. stop ticking off the people who love it?

Some of the loyalists who have made Apple so successful lately have turned on the tech star. Even as Apple posts record financial results, they complain that the revolutionary company they supported has changed, showing signs of being wrong-headed, shortsighted, even greedy.

One week there's hue and cry over Apple's decision to slash the iPhone's price only two months after it went on sale. The next, it's sputtering anger over a software security update that wiped out programs iPhone owners installed so they could do such things as send instant messages or play games.

When they get really mad, they lob an M-bomb -- they say Apple is starting to remind them of historical rival Microsoft Corp., which in their world is the prototypical soulless, monopolistic machine.

"There is a rise in complaints about Apple's policies and strategic decisions this year, and it seems to be accelerating," said John Gruber, writer of the popular technology blog Daring Fireball.

Longtime Apple observers attribute the increased grousing to growing pains as Apple broadens its horizons. The company known until January as Apple Computer is now a major player in consumer electronics, digital music and cellphones.

That expansion has helped the Cupertino, Calif., company move into the top tier of technology companies.

Its shares gained $5.21 on Friday to a historic high of $161.45 for a market value of more than $140 billion.

It dominates in digital entertainment players with nearly 70% of the U.S. market. Its iTunes store has become the No. 3 U.S. music retailer. Macintosh computer sales are booming. And Apple has sold 1 million iPhones in less than three months.

But Apple's continued push into the mainstream market has come at the cost of goodwill from some of its biggest fans. The recent drumbeat of complaints has come from Apple supporters, the people who stood in line for hours the day in June when the iPhone debuted and paid up to $600 to be among the first to own one.

Apple elicits passion like no other company. Enthusiasts acknowledge that it can make them so angry only because they love it so much.

"When I think Apple has strayed, I come down really hard," said Wil Shipley, a software developer and blogger who says he has bought 19 iPhones. "It's like someone you are married to. You hold them to a higher standard of morality than a random stranger on the street."

The conflict between Apple and its fan base is mostly over control of new products' uses and features. The iPhone, Apple's first entry in the mobile phone market, has sparked the biggest complaints. An Apple spokeswoman declined to address many of the issues that have been topics of discussion among bloggers and customers.

Many Apple fans who coveted an iPhone fumed when Apple chose AT&T Inc. as the service provider, complaining that it dropped too many calls and offered a slow data network.

Others complained after Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs delayed the launch of the new Leopard operating system from last spring to this month, saying engineers were needed to finish the iPhone.

Many waited in line for hours June 29 to buy an iPhone, then lashed out when Jobs sliced $200 off its price only two months later. Apple defused the revolt by giving $100 store credit to many people who had paid full price.

But it didn't stop there.

The iTunes music store failed to complete downloads for some buyers the following week. The faithful again cried foul when iPod owners discovered they would have to repurchase their games to get them to work on Apple's refreshed line of the device.

Another line was crossed, some say, with Apple's new iPhone ring tone program. In early September, Apple started selling the right to use some songs from iTunes as ring tones for the iPhone at 99 cents a pop. In late September, iPhone customers who had created ring tones from other sources found they no longer worked. Nickel and diming, people cried.

Then, on Sept. 27, the wailing became a howl.

Apple's fan base is used to being able to load programs created by outside software developers onto their Mac computers. When Apple billed the iPhone as a mini-computer capable of surfing the Web and playing music and videos, enthusiasts and developers figured the same approach would apply.

But Apple made the iPhone more like an iPod than a Mac. It barred owners from downloading new programs onto the device, saying doing so could damage it and void the warranty.

"Unfortunately, the unlocking and unauthorized software causes damage that is not reparable," Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said Friday. "Apple strongly discourages unauthorized unlocking programs on their iPhones. We can't know all the unauthorized software out there."

Especially at risk, Apple said, were those who used software hacking techniques to uncouple the iPhone from AT&T's network. In addition to protecting the iPhone, Apple may have been trying to protect its profit. Analysts believe the company gets a cut of AT&T service fees.

Apple made good on its threat Sept. 27, when it issued a security update that made some iPhones freeze up and wiped out some programs that customers had put on their devices, such as games and voice-recording software. Some customers said they didn't load any unauthorized software but their iPhones broke down anyway.

Apple "went out of their way to make useful applications like ours not work," said Mexens Technology Inc. Chief Executive Cyril Houri, whose company's navigation software was downloaded by 100,000 iPhone users. "People say Steve Jobs is always right. He has been right many times, that's true. But I think he made a big mistake."

Enjoying a tremendous run of success after struggling mightily in the mid-1990s, Apple is fighting battles on several fronts. It's haggling with music labels and TV networks over iTunes pricing, it's fending off new music competitors including Amazon.com Inc. and it's trying to stave off antitrust investigations by the European Commission.

But the recent squabbles with its core supporters are more of a family affair.

"We were there when Apple was hurting, we stuck with it, we nursed her back to health," Shipley, the Apple fan, wrote on his Call Me Fishmeal blog. "It's our money she has now, and she's turning on us now that she's rich."

Such sentiments might puzzle new Apple customers, who didn't think they were signing up for a cause when they bought an iPod or iPhone.

And of course, not all Apple faithful feel the same way. Whenever someone gripes about Apple, others jump to the company's defense, accusing detractors of being naive about technology or harboring a misguided sense of entitlement.

"Apple has to be the guy in charge of the platform to protect it for millions of customers," said Steve Chazin, who writes the MarketingApple.com blog and worked in marketing at Apple for nearly 10 years until he left in 1999. "You are watching the transformation in real time."

Jeremy Horwitz, editor in chief of iLounge, an online publication that covers Apple's digital media products, said the company's recent decisions had created a trust problem with its fans. The title of one of his recent columns: "Customers Ask: Is Apple Going Rotten?"

He called the recent iPhone upgrade and resulting disabling of non-Apple software a sign that the company was "looking at people who tamper with their products as hackers, not coders."

"Apple wants to exert more control over the end user and its products, for better or worse," he said.

But Shipley said customers needed to understand that the iPhone was new and urged them to give Apple time to work out technical issues.

Still, he said he hoped -- no, he expected -- the company to open the iPhone more to developers. The Apple spokeswoman said the company wouldn't discuss future plans.

"I love the company with my soul," Shipley said. "You get mad at someone for not doing what is best for them."
 

akophone

New Member
Bronze
Aug 1, 2007
300
0
0
#4
This article seems to echo my thoughts as well. Although I still have faith that Apple will see the light much sooner than the big 3M (Microsoft's Monopolistic Machine). But then again, money is the root of all evil...
 

x999x

New Member
Gold
Aug 6, 2007
1,656
0
0
#5
We just got through the weeks of whining, and now it seems it's trickled into the mainstream with those that have the highest hilltops to scream from.

What this story echoes is nothing we haven't felt or heard here, but in this case it comes under the guise of a professional written article. I mean look at it for what it really is, more whining on 3rd party applications with a bunch of fluff up top to give us the impression of actually reading an "editorial."

I hate to say it but we knowingly bought locked devices, and thats the end of the story.

Don't like it?

Don't update.

Unfair?

I know.

Sucks to be you?

Pretty much.
 

akophone

New Member
Bronze
Aug 1, 2007
300
0
0
#6
I was patient and fortunate enough not to take the plunge to 1.1.1 world. Nevertheless, I still agree, for the most part, with the article.
 

Tinman

Evangelist
Gold
Jul 16, 2007
4,334
183
63
Aridzona
#7
I agree with the article. But I think it will take some time for Apple to be effected. Time will tell, but some day they will again need the people they are now angering.



--
Mike
 

Youngbinks

Zealot
Gold
Jun 4, 2007
7,617
3
38
30
Atlanta, Georgia
#8
We just got through the weeks of whining, and now it seems it's trickled into the mainstream with those that have the highest hilltops to scream from.

What this story echoes is nothing we haven't felt or heard here, but in this case it comes under the guise of a professional written article. I mean look at it for what it really is, more whining on 3rd party applications with a bunch of fluff up top to give us the impression of actually reading an "editorial."

I hate to say it but we knowingly bought locked devices, and thats the end of the story.

Don't like it?

Don't update.

Unfair?

I know.

Sucks to be you?

Pretty much.

Finally someone that shares me opinions. If you're going to unlock your LOCKED phone then you need to be prepared to face the consequences. Was it wrong for Apple to sell it locked? Possibly, but they did, and then you bought it and now it's time to complain.

On a side note, I do think that the article raises some very valid points and if Apple is going to continue in the manner that they've done businesss in for years, they might want to reconsider where they're headed.
 

bsharp

New Member
Bronze
Jun 21, 2007
351
0
0
Atlanta, GA
#9
What a moronic article.

I read the above bit of tripe just after reading the following article online:

=============

Kass: iPhone Makes Me an Apple Believer

By Doug Kass
RealMoney Silver Contributor
10/8/2007 11:24 AM EDT
Click here for more stories by Doug Kass

This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Oct. 8 at 8:31 a.m. EDT.

I have owned various versions of the Treo for about three years (the latest the Treo 750). I have enjoyed most functionalities of it, with the exception of the Web browsing, which was slow and cumbersome.
I am not a typical first adopter, but I was unabashedly influenced by the buzz surrounding iPhone and purchased it on the opening weekend of its introduction.

To sum it up: iPhone is a game changer, and I finally get what Apple bulls have been on to for awhile. That said, with the shares up dramatically both absolutely and relatively, I am late to the party for Apple as a short-term consideration.

Currently, the stock is being driven by other products -- namely iPods and more importantly, Macs. The company is gaining considerable market share in these products.

In the market correction I envision, Apple will likely be a buy candidate based on what I know now.

But enough about the stock; let's talk about the iPhone.

Positives

The iPhone's display is exquisite, and its minimalist design sleek. The colors are brilliant, its graphics are sharp. The fluid navigation ability and intuitive process produces a human interface that responds beautifully to grand gestures such as one- and two-finger sweeps to scroll content and the ability to zoom out and in, respectively. The resolution is photorealistic.

Its trio of sensors (proximity, light and orientation) lead to a great audio and visual experience.

The phone's audio capability is acceptable; the keyboard took a few weeks to get accustomed to. The word completion option and integrated correction software helps the process, although you need to use two hands. It is particularly easy to navigate the contact lists. Visual voicemail creates a browsable inbox, which is very cool because it shows the sender's information, time and date.

The Safari Web browser, operating on WiFi, is excellent and is the phone's best feature. The display runs true to Web form and provides convenient zoom-in, zoom-out functions.

The world's coolest iPod is part of the iPhone: Display, interface and video and audio quality is unreal. The landscape mode (tilting horizontally), with album artwork, is especially remarkable and makes me feel like I am physically looking through my record collection. Media integration is terrific -- for example, text messages pop up during the iPod's play.

YouTube and other functions -- including the clock, camera, weather, stocks, Google (GOOG - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) Maps, etc. (featured on the "home page") -- flow seamlessly into each other. The calendar is very useful, particularly because the screen on the iPhone is so large. The camera's photo quality is excellent, with rich colors and distinct outlines of the subject.

The iPhone syncs well with my computer.

The battery life is long: Engadget calls it "Herculean -- to do a little simple math, you could watch two hours of video, listen to eight straight hours of music and still have only drained off less than half your device's capacity." According to CNET, the iPhone "has a rated battery life of eight hours talk time, 24 hours of music playback, seven hours of video playback and six hours on Internet use.... The promised standby is 10.4 days."

Negatives

While the keypad is large and easily usable, it's near impossible to use with one hand. (I would have preferred the styli capability I had on my Treo.) The speaker strength of the phone is not that strong, and sometimes there's a slight hiss. Although the vibration function is quieter than with my old Treo, the iPhone lacks voice dialing or commands.

The frequent use of the keyboard on the face of the iPhone leads to a lot of smudging. The keyboard can't be displayed horizontally -- only vertically -- and the punctuation marks are in a secondary keyboard, which is a hassle.

The Edge network system is painfully slow (but still better than the Treo), and the neat Safari interface is sometimes forgotten. (Safari does not support Flash or Java.)

The weakest functionalities on the iPhone are the email applications: Most important, as a frequent emailer, the email deletion function is seriously flawed. The edit-minus-button-delete system is very tedious; I get hundreds of emails a day. On my Treo, I can delete multiple emails at the same time; on the iPhone, I can only delete one at a time. Moreover, there is no BCC, no "mark all/selected" as read, no empty trash option, no spell check, messages on IMAP cannot be marked as read, and there is no "retrieve all" messages option.

The camera has no video-recording ability.

There is no removable battery.

Including the two-year AT&T (T - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) contract, the iPhone total came to $1,975 (at the time of my purchase), so it is an expensive proposition. (This is acceptable to me as I will write it off as a businesss expense on my taxes.)
Summary

The iPhone is a new product so it is full of contradictions. But in the main, the iPhone blends and integrates a number of experiences quite successfuly. To me, it is only acceptable as a messaging device, but it boasts a great interface and design, is a tremendous portable media player, has a vivid screen and a Safari brower that hits the sweet spot for those consumers who can afford the device (already lowered from the price I paid).

After the first week, I wanted to return the product. As I grew accustomed to it over the first month, I decided to keep it, preferring to deal with some of its inadequacies, particularly in the email arena.

There will likely be a number of iterations of the iPhone product. But one can clearly see where the product is heading: It will become (as Cody Willard has suggested) an iMiniMacBookPro for the pocket -- sooner than later.

P.S. Even in a recession, this stock could still make you money!
Cramer believes this stock is undervalued, recession-proof and poised to deliver +30% in the next year, regardless of the state of the economy.

================


Admit this much, please.
1) The iPhone is a radical advancement in technology. Nothing else holds a candle to it.
2) Most of the aches and pains that are mentioned on this forum were caused by the users who chose to modify/enhance/screw up their phones.
3) Apple's stock hit an all-time high again today.
4) Obviously, Apple isn't resting on past successes. Look at the iPod Touch, the laptops (iBook and MacBook Pro), and read the rumors about new Newtons, pad computers and Pro computers.

Everyone is trying to predict the demise of Apple Computer. Michael Dell has been doing it for ten years. But in the long run, the nay-sayers just fade away, and Apple keeps plowing along, releasing insanely great products. And that's why I've been an Apple fan since the first Mac in 1984.
 

Tinman

Evangelist
Gold
Jul 16, 2007
4,334
183
63
Aridzona
#10
What a moronic article.

I read the above bit of tripe just after reading the following article online:
What in the world was the point in posting yet another cookie-cutter iPhone review in a thread that is clearly not about that subject?

There are those who, apparently, take it personally any time Apple is critiqued.

Why not explain exactly what you don't agree with in the article that this thread is about?



--
Mike



--
Mike
 

geordisjd

Zealot
Bronze
Jul 1, 2007
2,442
12
38
#11
Well said.

Apple is losing its shine only in the eyes of EverythingiPhone.com's frustrated modding iPhone users.
My iPhone is still all shiny physically and figuratively.
 

bsharp

New Member
Bronze
Jun 21, 2007
351
0
0
Atlanta, GA
#12
What in the world was the point in posting yet another cookie-cutter iPhone review in a thread that is clearly not about that subject?

There are those who, apparently, take it personally any time Apple is critiqued.

Why not explain exactly what you don't agree with in the article that this thread is about?



--
Mike


--
Mike
Bullshit.

The article I posted is indirect contrast with the bitching and moaning from Jeremy Horwitz's article. So, who do you believe? Is Horwitz right that Apple is losing it's shine or is Kass right that the iPhone is a game changer and that Apple is doing fine, thank you. That's my point.
 

Tinman

Evangelist
Gold
Jul 16, 2007
4,334
183
63
Aridzona
#13
Bullshit.

The article I posted is indirect contrast with the bitching and moaning from Jeremy Horwitz's article. So, who do you believe? Is Horwitz right that Apple is losing it's shine or is Kass right that the iPhone is a game changer and that Apple is doing fine, thank you. That's my point.
Sorry, you just seem bitter to me (frothing, almost).

Apparently you don't even want to say exactly what you have a problem with. Fine by me, but don't expect me to agree with you. I agree with both articles, BTW. Believe it or not the world is not just black and white.



--
Mike
 

akophone

New Member
Bronze
Aug 1, 2007
300
0
0
#16
For a moment, I thought I got transported to the iPhone Apple Discussions forum.... and that this thread is about to get deleted by their Gustapo. LOL!
 
Jul 23, 2007
18
0
0
#17
Very good article, which details exactly what frustrated consumers have been feeling as of late. Apple needs to step it up a bit.
 

nyc_rock

Member
Bronze
Jul 6, 2007
340
0
16
#18
the bottom line is that after the novelty of flicking through your contacts wears off, after you have tilted the iPhone a million times, after you have plotted your favorite pizza place till the cows come home you need a phone that offers functionality. the ability to do all the things that smartphones do. It has been four months and Apple has offered its customers nothing more than what came in the box. People bought a locked phone yes, but with that came an expectation that additional applications will come. If Apple wont do it, there are legions of programs to fill the void. Apple, a company that has always embraced inovation is now stiffling it. A complete about face. The stock price is irrelevant.