Another bite in the apple

The following is a debate between DC student journalist Tiago de Oliveira and DC tech specialist Jim Ferr about the merits of Apple.

Jim Ferr, Technical Co-ordinator/Server Specialist at the School of Media, Art & Design at Durham College.
Jim Ferr, Technical Co-ordinator/Server Specialist at the School of Media, Art & Design at Durham College.

Dear Chronicle,

I’m responding to “Apple is rotten to the core,” from your last issue. Full disclosure: I worked for Apple from ’88 to ’01, when I began my position here.

I’m proud to be an ex-Apple employee. I feel Apple has changed the world, for the better.

Mr. de Oliveira: Yes, Apple costs more. It’s a premium product. You’re paying for superior engineering, design and software. Support costs on an Apple product are less. Is the Mac easier to use than a Windows machine? I believe it is. Apple’s operating system (OS X, now macOS) still has no viruses or worms in the wild, 10 years after it was released. Zero.

Yes, there is some malware but it is all of the Trojan Horse variety: It requires the user to do something inadvisable to have any effect. On Windows, viruses, worms and malware are a much larger problem.

“Apple is a company that is not innovative…” Really? If it weren’t for Apple, you’d probably be reading this on a green phosphor cathode ray tube on an IBM PC running MS-DOS.

Apple has led the way in UI (User Interface) design since the 80s. Apple didn’t invent the GUI (Graphic User Interface) but they brought it to the personal computer.

Windows would not be the product it is today without imitating Apple’s constant innovations through the years. Microsoft has a long history of borrowing Apple’s innovations, not to mention “predatory” business practices.

Remember Netscape? Look it up.

Yes, Apple had PR issues with FoxConn, but FoxConn is not Apple, and Apple isn’t their only customer. Apple has committed to Supplier Responsibility and does progress reports, site audits and shows constant improvement.

I don’t think anyone at Apple deserves to be called “Pretentious Liars.” The lack of legacy ports on the new MacBook Pro is annoying. But I believe a world without Apple would be a much smaller place.

“Apple has predatory business practices…” Sounds like you are describing Microsoft. See above.

“…posters of people like Gandhi, John Lennon, and Pablo Picasso hanging on the wall…” So? It’s called advertising. Apple wins awards for its advertising.

“They are not a charity…” Correct. Apple is a publicly traded company whose first loyalty is to its shareholders. But Apple does give to charity. In 2012, Apple gave 100 million dollars to charity. Apple recently gave $10 million to hurricane relief.

Apple is a leader in manufacturing of circuit boards devoid of toxic metals and chemicals, not to mention a leader in recycling, equal access and diversity.

Good journalism calls for research and a balanced approach.


Jim Ferr, Technical Coordinator / Server Specialist

School of Media, Art & Design

Tiago de Oliveira, second year broadcast journalist at Durham College and genuinely upset with Apple.
Tiago de Oliveira, second year broadcast journalist at Durham College and genuinely upset with Apple.

Dear Mr. Ferr,

This will be in defense of my piece; Apple is rotten to the core. I believe I followed my due diligence in researching Apple Corp. and communicating my opinion while not diving into a full-on slander article.

I’d like to state for the benefit of the reader that I, myself use a 2016 MacBook Pro as per the requirements of my program and remain mostly satisfied with its performance, unlike I am with its price.

My experience as an Apple customer is the foundation for my opinion and criticism of the tech giant. Apple’s prices are simply unfair, Jim Ferr. Apple not only “costs more” but rather it costs sometimes several times more than competing technology in the same performance areas.

For comparison, the Dell Inspiron 15″ Laptop is a computer in the same performance area as the new MacBook Pro 15″.

It retains legacy ports unlike the recent MacBooks, so you can use it to plug in a USB, an SD card, and an Ethernet cable.

This computer also has one terabyte of internal storage unlike the 256GB SSD storage you find on the lowest end of the new MacBooks.

The low end of the MacBook Pro has a 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, the Dell’s is a 2.4 GHz 7th Generation Intel Duel Core i3-7100U.

The price? Best Buy recently had a sale on the Dell for $549.98, with a reported saving of $250. The overall cost of this laptop would it be bought normally would be around $800 plus taxes. The cheapest MacBook Pro at 15″ is $2,449.00. Before taxes.

This price is over three times more than the competing computer, and looking at the specs, it is not three times the value. Also, the Dell laptop is only just over one pound heavier than the MacBook.

So, what do you mean when you say “premium product” and “superior engineering, design and software?” Are these not just buzzwords that confer no inherit value to Apple’s product?

Is the extra $2,000 for the additional two cores in the processor or the extra 8GB of RAM? Or are we paying into the idea of value while not having it demonstrated to us?

Apple makes money off its brand, not its product, that is the crux of this argument.

Speaking briefly to malware, yes Apple is famous for its computer security and antivirus policy. But the best antivirus software out there is actually free, it’s called common sense.

A computer owner without common sense will not have a clean and fully functional computer regardless of what OS they have and software they’re running.

I take issue with your proposition that without Apple the computer market would not have advanced past old school terminals running MS-DOS. Apple does not have a monopoly on innovation and it is useless to debate what could have been if Apple had not succeeded as a company.

However, when I said “Apple is a company that is not innovative,” I was not referring to Apple’s past accomplishments that they currently rely on to excuse they’re inflated prices.

I’m talking about the way they’ve designed their computers and phones in these last few years.

I see the removal of legacy ports in the most recent MacBook Pros as evidence of cutting corners to make the computer lighter and therefore more advanced.

They can say that they’re “brave” to be leading the tech movement away from compatibility but at the end of the day it’s the consumer who pays more money for buying the external adaptors to get their already expensive computer to take in a USB.

Apple’s relationship to FoxConn, their contracted electronic manufacturer, is only the tip of the iceberg.

You want to hear about “predatory business practices?” Apple only just admitted in 2017 that for years now they’ve been purposely slowing down older models of iPhones to provoke people into buying the new models once they’re released.

When a new phone comes out, Apple would send out an iOS update that would degrade the performance of their own machines. They are currently facing class-action lawsuits seeking millions in damages.

Does that not meet the definition of predatory?

It is because of behaviour like this I call Apple “pretentious liars,” as their continued self-association with famous humanitarians and artists in their advertising is disingenuous with their actions.

Now I’m glad Apple gave $10 million to hurricane relief recently, but this company also recently posted $52.6 billion in profits in its November 2017 quarter.

Doing the bare minimum in disaster relief and progressive policy does not excuse Apple’s business practices, including the issue of extreme labour conditions causing suicides in Chinese factories.

While as you noted, FoxConn is not Apple, Apple does in fact still use them for cheap manufacturing and workers still are not paid fair wages, having to rely on excessive overtime to afford a bare quality of life.

That isn’t even to mention Apple’s history in hiding profits offshore to ignore U.S. tax law. Apple recently announced in January they plan to pay $38 billion in deferred taxes as a result of President Trump’s new tax code giving them the opportunity to make some amends.

Good journalism does call for research and a balanced approach, thankfully I’ve got plenty of both and charm yet to spare.


Tiago de Oliveira, Student Journalist for The Chronicle

School of Media, Art & Design

Not a fan of Apple.