Reviews of Haunted Empire


So, a post highlighting negative reviews of a book with a negative view of Apple. Treat lightly folks, lest the tide of opinion turns against ye.

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Yeah I was gonna say, seems highly defensive of Apple.

And as a consumer, who unfortunately can’t always pony up for 200 protection plans like most of the Editors of Boing Boing, I have been incredibly dissapointed with their customer service especially the changes that took place after their new CEO was hired.

Let alone the stores which are a complete clusterfuck filled with terrible employees.

Then theres the fact that their mobile OS looks like a god damn Lisa Frank sticker.

But yeah, keep fighting the fight, Apple definitely needs Boing Boing’s charity PR.

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( ::cue sarcastic “here come the iFanBoys” comment:: )

I have generally had a pretty positive experience with Apple. Your individual experiences may vary.

They replaced my iPhone 4S over a year after I got it, without a protection plan.

Their laptops are built to last, ifixit scores be damned.

iOS has gotten me actually paying for software for the first time since the early 90s.

They may have some blemishes (coughitunesmediasynccough), but I give them money because they make nice things (and a bit of platform lock-in). I don’t understand the anti-Apple “their tank has run out of magic ideas” argument. It seems a bit strawman to me, as I never expected magic. I just want nice things that work well. So far so good!


It is a strawman.

I’m not as enamoured of Apple as I once was, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the absence of Steve Jobs, I think it has all kinds of things to do with Underdog Apple vs. Dominant Apple. It was always a bit of a shitty corp that made good products and the occasional dud, and lagged the competition in online services (except arguably iTunes), now it’s a shitty world-dominating megacorp that makes good products and the occasional dud, and lags the competition in most online services (and I’ve personally come to really detest iTunes). More than ever, those products and services are aimed at the regular consumer and not the nerdy pro, which unsurprisingly alienates a certain segment of the past, present or potential user base.

But the whole “magic ideas” thing is bunk & bollocks. With and without Jobs, those supposedly “magic” ideas have had four things in common:

  1. They were not absolutely novel. All involved a rethinking and refinement of things that were already out there but either hideously expensive (the GUI-based computer), badly designed (the laptop), nerdy/overly complex/niche products (MP3 players, smartphones, small form factor desktop computers), or failed products (tablet computers). This is not magic, it’s just smart business. Recognize opportunity, identify flaws in existing products, build something better.

  2. They have never come at a furious pace. 1984 (Mac), 1987 (Newton, sans Jobs), 1991 (Powerbook, sans Jobs), 1998 (iMac), 2001 (iPod), 2007 (iPhone), 2010 (iPad). Average gap around three years.

  3. They were all poo-poohed by large numbers of pundits, competitors and even Apple fans upon announcement. Every single one of Apple’s successful products gets this treatment. Except maybe Powerbook, I don’t remember.

  4. They all started out relatively modest and earned most of their success through constant iteration, improvement and refinement. Next time you find yourself dismissing the iPhone 5s as just an incremental improvement over the 5, consider how the 5, 4s, 4, 3G were all just incremental improvements over their immediate predecessor. Then compare the 5s to the original iPhone. Arguably, the real genius of Apple is not in the big magical idea, but in the commitment to making a good product out of the gate and then improving it generation after generation.

My opinion: there’s no reason Apple can’t do it again. There’s no guarantee they will, but then again there never was. But it’s too soon to declare the beast dead. There’s just no solid evidence for it.


If Apple were to put as much effort into the ergonomics of the factories that build their machines as they put into the machines themselves, I’d think better of them.

As it is, the narratives about how innovation is always good, how what’s new is better, and how what’s old is worse, don’t help with the practicalities of what features are actually usable to different users with different needs. If Apple is full of usable systems, that’s more important to me than new ideas. It seems to be the ‘new’ thing to delete scrollbars, or to rely on touchpad tapping instead of buttons, but Apple apparently has menus to make it easy to restore proper scrollbars, unlike Canonical, and menus to disable touchpad tapping…

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If I could play the devil’s advocate here: how likely is it that the standard you mention above, that Apple throw lots of weight behind updating the factories that build their stuff, wouldn’t work for 90% of the factories or companies that comprise probably 90% of the stuff we buy?
To put it another way, how many farmers who grow apples sold in the US (and, @MarjaE, I’m assuming here that you live in the US or Western Europe, so I could easily be wrong on that point alone) treat their farmhands with the level of respect with which you would want Apple to treat the Foxconn workers? Or the ergonomics of the factory making our jeans, pencils, USB cables, etc, etc?
Apple took a lot of flak for their handling of the Foxconn suicides, but how many companies, other than Apple, use factories where the workers are treated like shit? I’d assume it’s quite a few, and while that doesn’t make it right and while working people deserve to work in a friendly and healthy environment, where’s the condemnation of those factories?

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