Is this the beginning of the end for Apple? The tech giant’s inexorable growth has been a given for most of the 21st century but, on Wednesday, Apple reported its first decline in quarterly sales for 13 years: a 13% fall, down to $50bn (£34bn). That’s still enough to reduce the UK’s budget deficit by half, but, in Apple’s reckoning, it’s a catastrophe. Apple’s share price fell by 8% yesterday, wiping more than $40bn off its value in a few hours. Is the world falling out of love with the Croesus of Cupertino? Even Siri was sounding like an exhausted spin doctor when we asked it for answers.
Siri, is this the beginning of the end for Apple?
Siri, what’s wrong with Apple?
“I can’t say.”
Do you actually like Apple?
“Well, perhaps I’m biased, but I prefer all things Apple.”
“I don’t know. Frankly, I’ve wondered that myself.”
What are the most common complaints about Apple?
“Let me check on that …”
Actually, save your circuits, Siri. We can tell you exactly why the world is falling out of love with Apple. We’ve been storing up these complaints for years. So, why don’t you just shut your British/American/Australian, male/female speech unit and listen?
1 The passwords
Signing into the iTunes store: Apple ID? Password? User password? Password for this Mac? System admin password? Password for password manager? Forgot? Given up? Gone to get a sledgehammer?
2 The product launches
Ramping up every product launch into a TED talk by Cirque du Soleil based on the Sermon on the Mount, even if it’s just plugging a marginally different phone.
The new iPhone: “It’s bigger!”
The new iPhone: “It’s smaller!”
The new iPhone: “It’s just the right size!”
The new iPhone: “It’s the size of an ironing board, but so what? Buy it! It’s new!”
3 The endless hardware upgrades
Thanks to those product launches, we now have cupboards full of obsolete iPhones, iPods, iPads, MacBooks, chargers and cables, plus 30 pairs of white headphones because we always feel like we’re missing out on something HUGE.
4 The Green Eggs and Ham approach to software updates
Install now? Turn on automatic software updates? Remind me later? Try in an hour? Try tonight? Would you update them in a box? Would you update them with a fox? You do not like software updates, so you say? Try them, try them and you may!
5 The U2 album
The only music Apple ever gave away for free was the album absolutely nobody wanted or asked for.
6 The price
The cheapest iPhone is still way beyond the reach of people in poorer parts of the world – places whose phone networks are likely to be expensive or unreliable, if they exist at all. Even in the UK, you can buy a basic mobile phone for as little as £10; the cheapest iPhone is currently £359. Way to bring the world together.
7 They’re too cool for tills
Instead of a tried-and-trusted checkout where we can quietly queue with some decorum, Apple stores force us to seek out that smug, snotty-nosed blueshirt who’s lingering somewhere on the shopfloor with an iPad.
8 The ubiquitous ringtone
The chime of “Old Phone” now triggers a Pavlovian response, causing everyone within earshot to imagine it’s a call for them. Even when you could have sworn you switched your phone to silent.
9 iPhone repairs
No matter what’s wrong with your iPhone, or how tiny, it costs at least £200 to fix. Dodgy home button? £200. Won’t restart? £200. Cracked screen? A bargain at £100.
10 The rip-off accessories
Need a new power adapter because that magnetic bit on the end broke when it got bent back too much? How much, Apple Store? £65! Plain black phone bumper that you could get down the market for a fiver? £25!
11 The constant iTunes revamping
Every upgrade of iTunes becomes a game of hide and seek. How do you make a playlist now? Where’s “recently added”? No, I don’t want to start a sodding three-month free trial of Apple Music.
12 The utopian demos
Our photos and videos never feature people with happy dogs surfing around the world and going hiking with kites on beautiful mountains, like they do in all your “take the tour” demos. Couldn’t you give us a slideshow of babies crying, and piles of washing up?
13 The Apple Watch
It sucks and Apple won’t admit it. It won’t even release sales figures for it, lumping it in with Apple TV, iPod and accessory sales – which were one-tenth of those of iPhones.
14 Apple TV
“The future of television?” Also known as “Another expensive box that does nothing all your other expensive boxes can’t do already, but has an Apple logo on it.”
15 Mac lag
Our old MacBook takes longer to wake up every morning than we do.
16 It is more controlling than Prince was
We know we’ve paid for the entire Prince back catalogue at some stage, but iTunes won’t let us listen to it without negotiating an assault course of synching protocols, passwords, user settings, menus, helpdesk chatbots and, finally, Googled explainers.
17 Wet fingers
Having to wait for 20 minutes after coming out of the shower before our iPhone fingerprint scanner recognises us. Like the clean you isn’t the real you.
18 They have turned into The Man
Apple has marketed itself as the alternative choice ever since Ridley Scott’s 1984-themed Super Bowl ad 30 years ago, but, in the meantime, it has basically become Big Brother
19 Their hatred of ports
Apple’s eradication of USB ports from iPads just rendered all your accessories obsolete (lightning-to-USB adapter: another £15 down the drain). Just like their sealing up of the DVD/CD slot rendered your collections of both obsolete (so you have to buy them again from iTunes). It is now easier to hack the US defence system than get a DVD on to an iPad.
20 The ‘Smart Battery Case’
Which converts your elegant, slender, hopelessly underpowered iPhone 6 into an ugly, clunky monstrosity of a phone. Because that’s what “Smart” looks like.
21 Their format dictatorship
You take a picture with your iPhone. You import it to iPhotos. Now you try to attach it to an email. Ha! You can’t! Instead, you have to find the photo, save a copy on to your desktop, then attach THAT version. The only way to do it easily is through Apple’s own Mail application, otherwise known as BlackMail.
22 Their wealth
Apple has cash reserves greater than the GDP of most countries, accrued in part by depriving those countries of taxes, and exploiting their mineral resources.
23 Their contempt for humanity
Bill Gates uses his fortune to cure malaria, Apple uses its fortune to … make bigger fortunes.
24 Error 53
How many corporations possess and wield the power to criminally damage their products – your products – after they’ve sold them to you? Apple’s notorious “Error 53” punished users for the offence of going to “unauthorised” repairers by effectively shutting down their iPhone 6 handsets – a practice known as “bricking”. When a class-action lawsuit threatened, Apple got scared and backed down – a practice known as “bricking it”.
25 They’ve taken over the music industry
iTunes paved the way for the low-priced digital music revolution, where artists get a minuscule share of the profits and Apple gets a much larger cut. It wiped out high-street record shops, crippled the music industry, then extracted a ransom from artists to put their music in its virtual shop window. Then it stole Taylor Swift and locked her up in Apple Music, just to rub it in.
26 Their business model is The Circle
Dave Eggers’ dystopian novel details a utopian-sounding tech corporation whose ambitions extend to every aspect of people’s lives, anticipating, fulfilling and creating their every desire, to the extent that people never need to step outside the closed loop of control. Then find they can’t even if they want to. Apple has done its best to dispel such comparisons by building a massive new headquarters – in the shape of a circle.