Apple's Fruitless Security

Mon, Apr 26, 2010 4-minute read

For 20+ years I have relied on Jeff for friendship and technical advice.  He is a solid nerd, rooted in things Oracle/Linux with more knowledge of hardware and operating systems than any ten people I know.  In other words, he is no moron.  Recently, his iTunes account was hacked and upwards of $300 worth of apps/movies purchased.   Apple’s response? Paraphrasing “You need to cancel your credit card and take up disputing the charges with them.  As for Apple, we’ll be keeping that money.  Oh, and once you get a new card, please remember to add it back to your disabled iTunes account.”  In other words, you just got ramrodded while we watched, did nothing, and profited by it.

Now, I am an Apple fan.  I have an iPhone; I have a G5 (PowerPC-based, old school baby) that I use every day.  I love Mac OSX, finding it superior to the Windows operating systems (although, Windows 7 is pretty damn good) and have been on the cusp of buying a MacBook for a few months now.  I bought my wife an iMac, and she loves it.  In other words, I am not a Windows nerd bashing Apple.  I was once a blind fanboy, encouraging everyone I knew to by a Mac and get an iPhone.  I would passionately debate why Apple products were superior to all comers, sometimes without the benefit of rational thought.

I am an Apple user, and this may be the last straw.

Once the honeymoon of my relationship with Apple products faded into history, I started noticing what Apple gives me as a proponent of their products.  They don’t trust me to change a battery or add storage.  They force me to use a singular application to activate and update my phone (iTunes).  Their products are outrageously more expensive when compared to the competition.  A few times a year they have a media circus to unveil new crazy expensive hardware while their king talks down to me like I am expected to embrace whatever floats to the top of his mock turtleneck, even when it’s underwhelming (copy/paste).  Apple wardens off their systems, keeping a who’s who list of frameworks and products that are allowed inside the velvet ropes (i.e., the striking omission of Flash on the iPhone)  They allow me to pay $99 for the right to develop for their mobile platform, but only if I use a language who’s base feature set would have been laughed out of most late-1970’s development shops.  Oh, and I can pay another $99/year to have a closed off online  e-mail/contacts/photo/file offering who’s initial shininess fades rapidly under the light of actual use.

All this, and now an approach to online fraud protection that only an evil dictator could appreciate.  Apple’s software was hacked, my friend was affected, and they basically asked him to suck on it and come back for more.  I have heard many a user/nerd pontificate on why Apple’s user base pays a premium to be treated like dirt.  I have wondered aloud why the governments of the UK and the US will drop the “Monopoly” moniker on Microsoft, but allow Apple to dominate and control the mobile market without a peep.  You have to hand it to Apple, they have created the perfect spot for themselves.

I want to have faith in the masses.  I want to hope for the day that the users revolt and demand Apple to stop gouging our wallets and closing off their systems.  I just don’t see it coming.  Talking to other die-hard Apple users, they say that Apple should be allowed to control what is allowed on their devices and operating systems.  These are the same people that would have held sit-ins to force Microsoft to allow more than one browser in Windows.  The double-standards are obvious and ubiquitous.

I’ve been told that I don’t have to buy Apple products.  I don’t have to subject myself to the whims of black turtlenecks.  This is true.  My hope is now shifting to Microsoft and Google.  Two other behemoths that want my money.  Here’s hoping that they realize that my business is their privilege, that my information is worth protecting, and that my choice is still mine.