Do you like fixing your own computer? Avoid Apple products. A series of recent moves, from Apple-only screws to proprietary hard drives, makes one thing clear. Apple doesn’t want people fixing their own computers.
There was a time, not so long ago, when Microsoft was the evil empire and Apple the scrappy upstart, using open source to fight back against the market leader. In the 90’s Microsoft faced anti-trust lawsuits for abusing their dominant market position. The crime – bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.
In retrospect this seems like a minor sin. The iPad and iPhone not only bundles software-like browsers but it gives Apple the ultimate say on which applications can and cannot run on your system. Apple takes a cut of every sale and blocks other vendors from selling anything on the platform. That arrangement makes Microsoft look like idealistic Linux hackers by comparison.
Apple is moving toward a similar arrangement on their line of computers. While the Mac App Store today is only one way to install software on your system, don’t be surprised if it someday becomes the only official way to do so (again, with Apple taking a cut of every purchase).
But forget about long-term software plans; it’s only speculation. There is a lot of hard evidence, right now, that Apple wants complete control over the computers they sell. Don’t believe me? Let’s explore a hypothetical situation. The hard drive on your MacBook Pro dies. You want to open the computer, replace the hard drive and re-install Lion. Sound simple? Think again.
1. Special Screws
Do you recognize this screw head?
If not, you don’t own a recent Apple product. In their wisdom Apple switched from the standard Philips (star) head to this special, Apple-only screw, a move iFixit called a “Diabolical Plan To Screw Your Phone”.
Only Apple products use this screw head, meaning you need to find a special Apple-only screwdriver to open modern Apple devices. That’s right: if you want to open your Apple product up and replace your hard drive, you first need to purchase a special screwdriver. To my knowledge Apple doesn’t sell it, so you’ll need to find it from a third party.
2. Special Hard Drives
Now that you’ve got inside your Mac it’s time to replace the drive. But don’t bother checking NewEgg or Amazon for a cheap replacement. If you bought that Mac in 2011, you won’t just need to spring for a special screwdriver to make the replacement. No, you’ll need to buy a special, Mac-only hard drive.
That’s right, standard hard drives do not work well in newer Mac models. Using one will result in your fan being on all the time, because the temperature in the drive won’t be regulated properly.
So you order your proprietary screwdriver and proprietary drive, and manage to get your new drive into your Mac. Now all you need to do is install your OS. Should be easy, right?
3. Lion: No Included Installation Disk
Think again. If you bought your Mac with Lion on it, you have no installation disk. Sure, there was a repair partition on your hard drive, but you just replaced that hard drive with an empty one. What do you do now?
Well, it’s possible to put Lion on a flash drive and install from there, but doing that requires you have access to a computer running Snow Leopard or Lion. If you don’t have that, you’ll need to head to the Apple Store and buy a $69.00 Lion Flash Drive. It’s that or use BitTorrent to download an operating system you already own.
This all points to one conclusion – Apple wants you to get your computers fixed by them. Better yet, they want you to forget about fixing your machine and to simply buy a new one.
I write this not as an Apple hater. Actually, I’m writing this on an Apple computer. But lately it seems like Apple is doing everything in their power to assert control over the products they sell. Sometime between now and becoming worth more than Microsoft, Apple lost their scrappy upstart ways and became the evil empire.
Naturally a lot of you will disagree, so feel free to comment below. I’d like to hear a variety of viewpoints, though, so don’t only comment if you’re angry!