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Jan 24 2013

Mr. Cook, Tear Down Those Walls! – an open letter to Apple

Published by at 10:04 pm under history of computers,Openness

Dear Mr. Cook,

I’m sure that Apple is going through a lot of turmoil with the release of your recent results and 10% drop in share price.  I used to be a very enthusiastic Apple customer, feeling that I was getting value for my money, even with the higher prices I paid for your products.

However, this has changed in the past few years.  I’m not getting quality, I’m getting fleeced.  Where I used to feel that Apple was opening me to a new realm of creativity and innovation, now I feel that you are trying to lock me up inside the walls of your walled garden.

I used to trust you as a partner in my activities, thinking that the future would get better as your engineers improved you software and products.  Now, I cringe when I see new software announced, wondering what capabilities you are going to be taking away from me, and what intrusive software you will be shoving down my throat.

Companies are supposed to give value to their customers in exchange for their purchases.  Apple has somehow forgotten that basic business premise.  Instead you have been taking things away from us.  Here are just a sample of the things you have taken away: (I won’t even mention Google Maps):

  1. I used to be able to take time lapse photos, import them into Quicktime 7, and produce a movie.  I could do “quick and dirty” editing of the movie and pass it on quickly and easily.  You took away this capability in the current Quicktime,  so now I have to keep two versions around.
  2. I moved to Apple in 2006 after extreme frustration using Windows to do video editing.  I made a huge investment in Apple’s Final Cut Pro, buying the hardware and software to run it, as well as learning how to edit movies.  My local Apple store was a huge help with this, giving me hands-on training in Final Cut Pro with a really talented editor/Apple trainer.  However, when you moved to Final Cut Pro X, you made all of my prior work obsolete. I have spent hundreds of hours sorting my family movies into FCP bins and sequences that are simply not compatible with FCP X.
  3. I have been using a Mac Pro desktop machine for my editing, based on Snow Leopard.  I had been holding off installing Lion, waiting to see if I wanted to move to Mountain Lion.  The day you announced Mountain Lion, you dropped the availability of Lion.  I am now caught in a catch 22 situation of incompatible hardware, software, and hours of video editing.

I’ve decided to move away from Apple products because of this continuing stream of customer-hostile actions you have forcing on me.  I don’t want to buy a separate printer to print from IOS devices, nor do I want to be locked into iCloud or iTunes for information exchange.

I don’t want to be locked in to your walled garden, and your disappointing sales report proves that others feel like me.  The same social networking effect that drove IOS upwards can drive it downwards, as customers flee from your oppressive and arrogant tactics.

I would hope that Apple can recover by returning to basic competitive principles of delivering value for money.   Customers need to look forward to new products as introducing new value, not just part of a shrinking  platform of planned obsolescence.

Here’s hoping.  But in the meantime, I’m moving away from Apple products…

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