Apple And Our Culture, Ctd

A reader writes:

You disappoint me with your praise for Apple's design. If anything, it's design and marketing seek to brainwash. Let's start with the design of the stores which you refer to as a secular church. This is absurd. Churches are designed to bring a sense of warmth and spirituality and mysticism; Apple stores are sterile and smug. They look like a room out of the Death Star more than a church or a place I would want to buy something.

What galls me the most about them is their slogan - Think Different. This is as Orwellian as it gets, considering that customization is the enemy of all things Apple.

They want complete control over all their products at all times. If you need a new part, you can only get it from Apple. Not to mention that their design is pretty exclusively uniform - bright, clean whites, blacks, and the occasional grays. Much like stormtrooper uniforms. I come back to the evil empire again because it truly is what Apple designs most resemble.

What's worse about the slogan is that I've never encountered such groupthink as I do with Apple users. Everything Apple makes is the best, easiest-to-use product. No questions asked. When you suggest there might be some issues such as the iPhone not being able to make calls, you are completely shot down. Criticism is not allowed in the house of Apple (as proven by its recent attempts to censor any and all critics).

Finally, we get to the worst of it: Apple users tend to think that the company cares about them. They think of Apple as their friend, far more than just a company that wants their money.

Another seems to prove that point:

I despise spam offers from companies as much as the next person.  But when I get an unsolicited offer from Apple, I don’t feel the slightest bit angry.  I feel almost honored that they thought of me and considered me worthy of their latest offering.  Ridiculous, of course, but that’s how I feel.

Another writes:

I didn't want to be That Damn Geek, but this issue has been bugging me this week so I guess I'm fated to do it: I don't understand how you can speak your fear of technological destruction in one breath and then praise Apple in the next. I don't mean to imply that Apple will bring about the downfall of tech yadda yadda, but their approach to technology strikes many geeks as being inherently anti-innovation and backwards-looking. Cory Doctorow has an excellent essay that puts it better than I can, but let's give it a shot.

I think that by denying access to native code, by making it ridiculously difficult and possibly illegal to tweak their hardware, by rigidly controlling the apps and OSes that a user can have on an iDevice, Apple retards progress. Closed systems inevitably stagnate. If you can't take something apart and put it back together better than it was before, you can't improve on it. And if you can't improve on something, in a rapidly-evolving world, it's going to fall behind and die.

Sure, not every user is a tinkerer/engineer/programmer/geek. So what? That doesn't make it necessary to remove that capability entirely. I can't program; I only have a rudimentary knowledge of my laptop's innards. But the potential is there; every user is a potential creator. That's the beauty of modding and hacking. Apple does its goddamn best to take that away from us, to pry control out of the hands of the user, to stop the common user from making things BETTER and perhaps sharing that invention with the rest of the world. I don't see how that can be anything but terrible.

Another points to a new Gizmodo post by Kyle VanHemert, who writes:

When the iPhone 4 launched, the dock connector was flanked by standard Philips #00 screws. You probably have something in your house right now that could unscrew 'em just fine. But people who have taken their iPhone 4s into Apple Stores for repair have apparently been noticing something a little bit different when they got it back: The screws were no longer Philips but some bizarre new flower-shaped ones referred to as a "pentalobe security screws." And you almost certainly do not have a screwdriver that will fit them. In fact, no one does, except Apple.