Living the Apple ecosystem without giving money to Apple

; Date: Sun Jun 02 2019

Tags: Apple

For years I've only owned Apple equipment. This started around 2000, I knew the Mac OS X Public Beta was around the corner so I bought a Powerbook and lived with OS 9 for a few months until the OS X Public Beta came out. Apple promised Unix with a Pretty Face, that also supported Java, and that hit enough buttons for me that I wanted in. Since then I've owned Powerbooks, Mac Mini's, and MacBook Pro's, plus a couple iPads and iPods, and I'm on my third iPhone. But it's been five years or more since I bought anything direct from Apple, and I doubt I ever will buy anything again direct from Apple. I buy good quality equipment originally made by Apple, I use Apple's operating systems and software, all at a fraction of what Apple charges because I am not paying the Apple Premium.

The last device I bought direct from Apple was an iPhone 6, purchased 5 years or so ago. Since I shoot pictures semi-professionally, I needed a better portable camera, and my iPhone 4 just didn't seem good enough. So I paid full price for an iPhone 6 when they were brand new. I used it for many years until about 2 months ago. It was still in excellent condition, since it had stayed in a case it's whole life, and I just sold it on eBay after buying an iPhone 6s.

The iPhone 6s was a big upgrade in the innards and rumor has it that it'll be a couple years before Apple EOL's the 6s while the 6 might have been on the chopping block. This 128GB storage 6s was bought used/refurbished for a touch under $200, and the iPhone 6 sold for $118, meaning my out of pocket cost to upgrade was $60.

The laptop on which I'm writing this? A 2012 MacBook Pro with Core i7 CPU, 16GB memory, a 500GB SSD and a 750 GB secondary drive. It's a very potent, and I do some heavy duty software development on it. I bought the MBP used off eBay a couple years ago and have been happy with it.

Also on my desk is an iPad 3 - bought direct from Apple brand new. It still runs fine, though because Apple has EOL'd it there's a lot of software the iPad 3 no longer runs. Some day I might spring for a used iPad Pro 9 inch, but I'm much more interested in a modern Chromebook.

Apple is the problem

Apple makes beautiful machines and software, which is why we all bought into this ecosystem. But that beauty comes at a price. It's both an economic price, because Apple charges a pretty penny for this equipment, and a usability price, because Apple makes certain backwards decisions about what these computers should do.

Years ago I dreamed for a laptop where the display folds back to become a drawing surface. Does Apple make such a thing? No. To get anything like that in the Apple ecosystem means buying an expensive iPad Pro with its expensive Pencil and expensive keyboard and living in an operating environment that makes it overly difficult to get work done. Over in the Windows and ChromeOS ecosystems, this is extremely available from multiple vendors. Such as the Microsoft Surface Pro, or the Samsung Pro chromebook (forget the brand name).

Apple doesn't supply this because Apple decided for us that we do not need a laptop where we can draw on the screen. Clearly lots of other manufacturers believe that is needed, and obviously there are lots of people who've grown accustomed to laptops where you can touch the screen and even draw on the screen.

That's just one issue. I've talked about the overall issue plenty of times already on TechSparx.

  • Apple charges a premium for memory and disk capacity above a certain threshold
  • Apple's iOS devices have strange limitations in the usability of storing files, and getting files in and out of the devices
  • Apple is making it harder and harder to DIY repair or DIY upgrade their devices

About the Author(s)

( David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.