Breaking Up With Apple After Living Together For 32 Years

I thought we would grow old and die together.
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Tim Cook

Apple Computer

Boxing Day 2016

Dear Mr. Cook,

First, happy happy holidays to you and your partner, and to your extended family: both in your personal life and at Apple.

Let me introduce myself. I have been a Mac user (perhaps better described as “addict”) since 1985. I have used your products to write 11 books, hundreds of articles, to publish on many syndicated blog sites (like this one), to create online courses, professional trainings, endless edited pictures and videos, and to publish to YouTube and Vimeo. I use the computer professionally, as in “Pro.” We have a long history.

Originally, I owned an Apple II. When the basic Macintosh came out (you remember, the gray box with a screen in it?) I bought it. It was my primary business expenditure for the year back then. I bought the Mac plus, the SE, and then kept upgrading. I have owned almost every model you have manufactured: a total of 45 different computers over the last 32 years. I have owned Mac Pros, iMacs, and iPads. When you first released your first laptop, in 1992, I bought one on the first day that it came out. I have never owned any computer, tablet or smartphone manufactured by any other company since personal computers first arrived in our lives. I have been monogamous.

Normally I always update my primary computer (a MacBook Pro) within three years, so as to keep it within AppleCare. My last purchase of a new computer was in February 2012. When the motherboard finally gave up (acceptable considering that I use it at least 10 hours a day) I bought a used computer, because I had such high hopes of the new release of the MacBook Pro. I have been waiting for this to come out for more than a year. I expected it to “wow” me as much as every previous release has done.

Now, unfortunately, for the first time in my adult computing life I am considering buying a Surface book or the forthcoming Dell. I work with a group of associates around the world, who altogether number several hundred. Most are not my employees, but my colleagues. We have a shared culture together of working on Macs. We exchange documents created in Pages, and Numbers, and Keynote. We make sardonic jokes about Word and Excel and PowerPoint. I have been defending your company at dinner parties in the endless PC/Apple zealots war for three decades. And being a slick talker, I usually win the debate. They have been converting to our side, not the other way around. Till now.

In my case, it would take a high level of frustration and disappointment to bring me to the point of considering changing my platform, and then recommending all of my associates to do the same.

I very much doubt that my small voice will influence you. In fact, the chances of you reading this are probably less than winning the California lottery. But somebody has to win the lottery, don’t they? So I throw my luck to the winds.

Here is why I will not be buying the new MacBook Pro, but why I ***will*** be investing in a new computer soon that better meets my needs:

1. You seem to have taken a long time to release an update to this computer, with the primary achievement of making it thinner and lighter. These two factors make little or no difference to me. I have been quite happy carrying my 15 inch MacBook Pro in my backpack as I travel around the world. It is never felt too heavy, and it is never felt too thick. As far as I am concerned, you are focusing on the wrong factors. Exactly how many complaints have you had from users that the computer is too thick and too heavy?

2. I travel several months every year, as a writer and teacher. Of course, most of my computer use is very undemanding on the machine: email, writing books, creating spreadsheets, a little image cropping etc. But, when I teach at the front of the room, someone usually shoots video. They often do not have a computer with them suitable to edit the video for immediate use. So they always use my laptop. It has been, up to now, very convenient to have a portable machine with the power and memory to use Final Cut Pro. Fortunately, I purchased a machine that still allowed me to release the screws on the back, and to expand the memory.

Your decision to sell computers with memory soldered in is a great deterrent in my case. The new model you have just released would be better branded “Macbook Starter,” than “Macbook Pro.” It is not a computer for professional users.

What is that rumbling sound? It must be Steve Jobs turning in his grave.

3. Because I travel on international flights a great deal, I have had to rely upon the airline to provide me with plug in power. I was pleased to hear that you have been working on extending the battery life of the machine. However, it seems that the prioritization of thinner and lighter has compromised the priority that is more important to me, which is stable and reliable long battery life. I would be happy with a machine that weighs 10 pounds and an inch thick, if you can guarantee that I ***really*** get 10 to 12 hours of battery life, verified by independent testers.

4. I have never taken much interest in the relative benefits of different ports. When you produced a machine that required Ethernet, I bought Ethernet cables. When you went SCSI, I followed you. When you favored FireWire 400, I bought the drives. You upgraded to FireWire 800 [a different connector?!! come on guys, make it a little easy for me] I either bought new hard drives, or bought cables to adapt the old ones. When you came out with Thunderbolt, and then upgraded it, I spent tens of thousands of dollars on hard drives and your large screen with Thunderbolt capability. When you provided a slot for an HDSD card, I made sure I had devices that use them. I have been flexible and loyal in following your lead. Co-dependent even. But now it starts to feel that I am being adaptable to someone with severe ADD and borderline Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In other words, someone so fascinated with their own design concerns and ability to innovate, that they overlook my needs and convenience as the user. At this point, if I were to buy another machine from you I’m going to have to also buy [and TRAVEL WITH] either: all new hard drives and other devices which are compatible with USB-C, or: a confusing and inconvenient array of dongles. My choice now is either to make this further accommodation to your company changing its mind, [AGAIN…] or to switch my loyalty to another company which can remain more consistent and not require its customers to continuously purchase new peripherals and new devices.

5. Besides being thinner (irrelevant to me) and having longer battery life (not verified by independent testers) your computer now supports a new “Touch Bar.” and Touch ID. When you introduced the iPhone, this was innovation. You educated me about something that I did not know I needed, but you skillfully taught me that I did. You pulled off the same brilliant move with the iPad, as indeed you had with the mouse and the icon-based desktop and the laptop. Having now tried it out, I am absolutely certain that your Touch Bar will add nothing of value to my computing experience. It is a gizmo, a thrill, something to fascinate your design and innovation team, but about 1000% less relevant to me than higher computing speed, expandable memory, and longer battery life.

Touch ID is cute on a phone, if you want to encourage people to buy music on iTunes as an impulse purchase. But on a professional computer, tagged as a “Pro?” In what scenario do you imagine that the “Pro”s you built this machine for are spending their days making frequent purchases on iTunes or watching reruns of Seinfeld??

It appears that your company’s unhealthy obsession with secrecy is an industrial anachronism. Successful companies today maintain open channels of communication through social media, so as to be ***curious*** about what their loyal customers actually need and want. You can’t have that kind of interactive and sensitive communication behind world-class firewalls and locked-down gag orders with your employees.

In a similar vein, I have never bought any other phone than an iPhone. But… I don’t like Bluetooth. I am one of those people who prefers the cabled headset, to reduce electromagnetic frequencies. I aim to keep electronics a safe distance from my body. So, with the removal of the 3.5mm jack, looks like I need to check out OnePlus, or indeed any other manufacturer who will honor my need to use traditional headphones. iPad? I may not need one if my new computer from Microsoft or Dell comes with a touch screen and a removable keyboard. Both of which DO strike me as good ideas.

I never thought that the day would come that I would break up with Apple. I really thought we were married for life. Together we’ve had so many children… past counting. We’ve written 11 books together. We created multiple on-line courses. We founded a coaching school, and together we imported and edited hundreds of hours of video to train coaches on-line. We must have created millions of documents. I thought we would grow old and die together. But in order for any relationship to work, we have to be sensitive to each other’s needs. I have tried to adapt at each and every turn in the journey to your new ideas and excitement. I am disappointed that you have not been interested in mine.

Thanks for the dance, Apple. I will treasure the memories we have created.

With sadness in my heart,

Arjuna Ardagh

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