12 Examples of Petulant, Petty and Annoying Behavior From Apple

12 Examples of Petulant, Petty and Annoying Behavior From Apple

Apple owes a great deal of its success and popularity to a carefully crafted “anti-corporate” image. Every commercial, keynote speech and product launch serves to reinforce that image and delight the customers who cherish it. In recent years, however, cracks have begun to appear in Apple’s anti-corporate facade. By locking out developers, harassing journalists and using shoddy product materials (among other things), Apple has begun to exhibit uncharacteristically petulant and petty behavior. Today, Digigasms explores 12 of the more prominent and telling examples of it.

Pulling Apps From The App Store

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Much has been made in recent weeks of Apple removing roughly 6,000 “sexy” apps from its app store. As CNN explains, the company purged nearly 4,000 apps in a single day, most of them featuring bikini-clad women and other images deemed by Apple to be “objectionable content.” Analysts speculate that the sudden expulsion of such apps was intended to sanitize Apple’s image in the days and weeks leading up to the iPad launch. Interestingly, while thousands of bikini-themed apps were removed, Playboy and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition were permitted to stay.

Unreasonably Long App Approval Times

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In his essay Apple’s Mistake, venture capitalist Paul Graham writes about how Apple is making life hell for iPhone app developers. Rather than allowing developers to submit software updates immediately, Apple instead forces them to let their code sit under “review” for as long as a month at a time before being dispatched to users. In an era when, as Graham writes, the successful software development mantra is “launch fast and iterate”, Apple’s stance is tantamount to stopping the evolution of technology. One developer Graham quoted said that he did not “intend to make any more iPhone applications unless absolutely necessary.”

Publicized Hate For Adobe Flash

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Apple has made no secret of its disdain for Adobe Flash. First, the iPhone was released without Flash capability, despite the fact that most simple Internet games – and many web layouts – are Flash-based. Then, in April, Jobs published a 1,700 word essay called Thoughts on Flash, criticizing what he believes to be its technological pitfalls. Among other things, Jobs lambasts Flash for being a proprietary platform, having poor security, being the number one cause of Mac crashes and draining battery life on mobile devices. Be that as it may, countless iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad owners would appreciate playing Flash-based games on their expensive devices, and it appears that they will not be able to anytime soon.

Punishing Reporters For Its Own Product Leaks

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In mid-April, an unreleased, next-generation iPhone 4G prototype (above left) was left at a bar by a negligent Apple employee. Unfortunately for Apple, the device was retrieved and sold for $5,000 to Gizmodo.com, who promptly published a full-length, photographed story about the mysterious new phone. According to the New York Times, a Gizmodo editor subsequently had computers seized from his home as part of an investigation into the phone’s disappearance. Worst of all, the seizure appears to have been conducted without a search warrant and while the editor himself was away from home.

Forcing Critics to Apologize Publicly

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One of Apple’s most petty behaviors of all was goading TV show host Ellen Degeneres into apologizing for a light-hearted iPhone critique. As CNET explains, Degeneres aired a spoof commercial which insinuated that the iPhone wasn’t so easy to use after all. Apple’s brass was none too amused, and promptly scolded Degeneres for her commercial. A flabbergasted and apologetic Degeneres immediately took back her remarks, stating on the air that “it’s [the iPhone] not hard to use…I love it. I love my iPad. I love my iPod. I love IHOP.”

Attacking HTC with Patent Lawsuits

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Some critics have accused Apple of attempting to take out the Android mobile phone platform by way of bogus patent lawsuits. BlueprintsBlog, for instance, points out that Apple’s lawsuit against HTC centers around absurdly vague patents for such things as “touch screen technology” and specific ways of minimizing windows. Engadget chimes in with a more thorough treatment of the patents at issue, which also includes “Unlocking a Device by Performing Gestures on an Unlock Image” and “System And Method For Managing Power Conditions Within A Digital Camera Device.”

Locking Down iPad Video

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SharkJumping.com exposes the draconian extent to which Apple is locking down video on its new iPad device. In addition to prohibiting Flash-based websites or apps, the iPad also lacks a USB port, cannot perform Bluetooth file transfers and cannot move video by any mechanism other than iTunes. The web browser, too, works only on HTML5-compatible websites, which eliminates “95% of the Flash-powered Internet” from iPad viewing. Pending the release of more permissive upgrades, SharkJumping concludes that “right now it feels like you’re just being locked like animals into the App Store “pen.””

Tying The iPhone to AT&T

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Apple has long been criticized for inking a deal that made AT&T the exclusive wireless provider for iPhones in the U.S. The move ensured that anyone who already had a contract with another service provider would be prohibited from using an iPhone or, alternatively, pay a hefty early termination charge to join AT&T instead. And while Verizon’s CEO has vowed that iPhones will work with Verizon “eventually”, such vague timetables are of little consolation to the many mobile phone users who are waiting to get their hands on the popular device without the hassle of switching providers.

Easily Scratched iPods

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Apple has also caught flack over the years for using shoddy materials on some of its flagship products. A classic example was the first-generation video iPod, whose easily scratchable plastic generated complaints from iPod users around the country. Even today’s iPhones are made with plastic backs that are similarly (though not quite as much as the early iPod video) easy to scratch. Fortunately, reports have surfaced that the next-generation iPhone 4G utilizes a glass back that will undoubtedly be more scratch resistant than plastic.

Firing the Engineer Who Gave Woz an iPad Preview

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Amazingly, Apple went so far as to fire an engineer who gave Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak a preview of the iPad the day before its official release. On April 25, BusinessInsider revealed that the engineer showed Woz the device on midnight of April 3 (the day of the launch) after obtaining permission to take an iPad home with him at that time. And despite Steve Jobs reportedly telling Woz that the seemingly harmless preview was “no big deal”, the engineer in question was subsequently fired. Ironically, Woz notes that he believes the engineer who left the next generation iPhone at a bar (and thereby led to its premature exposure to the entire world) was not fired!

Irreplaceable Batteries

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Another annoying choice of Apple’s was to build all of its iPods, iPhones and iPads with batteries that cannot be easily serviced or replaced by the user. Should a battery on one of these devices die or malfunction, the only option is to bring it into an Apple store for service or buy an entirely new device. While various tutorials now explain how to manually replace these batteries, one gets the feeling that Apple made this process deliberately hard in order to make customers return to the store.

Spreading FUD About iPhone Unlocking

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Since the iPhone’s release, programmers and other tech-savvy users have attempted to “jailbreak” their phones by unlocking new features and capabilities that Apple did not authorize. Video recording on pre-3GS phones is an example of such a feature. Jailbreaking also permits the installation of apps that are not in Apple’s approved app store. But in 2009, iPhoneHacks.com revealed that Apple petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office to declare jailbreaking an illegal violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Nevertheless, the general consensus is that harmless, for-personal-use jailbreaking (as opposed to selling jailbroken iPhones for profit) is not a violation of the law.