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Doug's Mailbag: Is the Apple Bruised?

Has Apple turned to the "dark side" after its handling of the Gizmodo situation? Here are some of your thoughts:

Up to some time ago, Apple looked customer friendly, nice to everyone and even their cute commercials of PC vs. Mac became popular.

Ever watched the TV series Supernatural? Where one of the guys at a certain point goes completely dark?

I'm wondering what is going on? It started with Apple asking editors to increase ebook prices (amazon priced them at $9.99...then Apple came and made them raise to $15.99). After that, the crusade against Adobe Flash, and finally the police and Apple raiding the Gizmodo editor's house.

But in the end, the real question is: Did apple change? Or has been like this all along?


Apple is a dangerous company run by a weirdo.

Geekdom has a large percentage of weirdos -- that's why they're geeks to begin with. Birds of a feather flock together, so they worship the Apple weirdo. When the weirdo passes away, Apple will fall like a deck of cards. Just like it did last time.

The term ‘sinister' is a little over the top.  Maybe heavy-handed is a better term for the case at hand.  Nevertheless, Apple is every bit as self-serving as Microsoft, or any other company out to make money for its shareholders.  Not cuddly at all!

Apple is as insistent on protecting its interests as any other successful company.  They are no more or less moral than any other corporate entity.  Such entities are amoral.  Only humans can actually be moral or immoral (ethical or unethical, if you prefer) in their actions. 

The real difference between Apple and any other company is in the genius of its marketing department.  Apple (mainly through its founder, Steve Jobs) makes people want products they don't need -- and they want them so badly that they will pay exorbitant prices from the IT equivalent of ‘scalpers' to be the first on their block to own them. 

Apple products are sexy in every conceivable respect -- to the point that you are willing to pay premium (some might say exorbitant) prices to own them. 

Is this bad?  Not necessarily.  Every company decides which customers they seek.  Mercedes-Benz is not fleecing people who buy their cars -- but they really are not all that interested in attracting the average Chevrolet owner -- and neither is Apple interested in attracting the average PC owner.  Apple wants to sell to people who will buy a premium product in the first place, and then go back to Apple to buy software -- be it applications, music or video content!

Most people compare Apple to Microsoft but they are really quite different.  Apple's customers are all consumers.  Apple makes very little effort to attract enterprise customers.  Instead, enterprise customers get the same 5  to 10 percent off their prices as any other volume buyer.  For this reason alone, Apple does not sell a lot of product to the enterprise.

Microsoft, on the other hand, markets to OEMs -- companies who sell computers or the enterprise which uses lots of computers -- and buy large numbers of licenses with little or no media changing hands.  Microsoft is not too interested in dealing with people who BUY computers because they buy software licenses, one at a time.  Microsoft OEMs are another story.  Companies like Dell offer enterprise customers 20 percent or more in discount pricing in order to sell and ship large numbers of systems all at once.  Microsoft takes a small profit on a very large number of licenses and the consumer/customers goes to the OEM for aftermarket support.

Whether you are buying from Apple or from Dell/Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz or Chevrolet, the rule is caveat emptor.  Know exactly what you are buying and why -- and don't blame the company that sold you their product because you didn't do your research. 

 Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on May 05, 2010