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dear apple: don't be cruel (a letter of tough love)
baby, it's just you i'm thinking of
by reem al-omari (@Reemawi)

Dear Apple:

Like billions of people worldwide, I am a fan of your products, particularly of the mobile variety.

In the last decade, I've owned two iPod Nanos, one iPod Touch, and now an iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S is my first smart phone and I love it, probably just because it's a smart phone, but I can't deny it sweetens the deal that it also happens to be an iPhone--the original smart phone--in white.

I'm not the only one who loves your products in my family.

My brother and sister have owned every iPhone model since the beginning, and they're both getting ready to put in their iPhone 5 orders. For years I've been thinking about making the leap from a non-smart phone to a smart phone, and each time I've alluded to any name other than iPhone, my dear siblings have countered with a simple, “But it's not an iPhone.” They pretty much preceded your equally taunting slogan of obviousness, and with it, they also bullied my sister in law to make the same leap I made.

I'm not writing this just to give you kudos, which you get enough of in revenue alone, I'm sure, but I'm here to talk to you about the way you have been conducting yourself lately.

Apple, if I may speak frankly, the way you've been conducting yourself lately is nothing short of being that of a big fat bully.

Now, I've always thought the way you force your customers to adhere to your rigid rules for the use of your products was a little dictatorial, but I figured you have every right to limit your products the way you see fit. The problem now is that now you're branching out to limiting the entire smart phone industry, which I will echo the consequential critics by saying that this kind of behavior does nothing but kill your competitors in the short run (good for you), and perhaps stunt your innovative growth in the long run (also good for you? You can relax then, maybe?).

The latest victim of your brutal conduct was slapped with a very harsh verdict recently, won by what I think are abuses of patent law that sound like lunacy any way you look at them—you patented the availability of phones in white AND black, the zooming by pinching feature, and the most ridiculous of all patents, though black is a close second, the rectangular shape with the rounded corners.


I read a piece at Business Insider written by Henry Blodget after the verdict was reached, in which Blodget was sounding off on how ridiculous these patents were, and drawing from a New York Times piece written the weekend prior to the verdict, he likened it to patenting the shape of the steering wheel.


Now, I'm aware as much as anyone that you can do pretty much whatever you want and your products would still sell, particularly the iPhone, because as long as Apple fanatics exist who excuse every one of your shortcomings (nobody's perfect, I'm sorry), the image attached to the iPhone is one that is sought after by everyone, young and old.

John Malkovich and Zooey Deschanel grace your TV ads, making the young and old lust for this device, while at Christmas we practical folks can't help but worry about the future of humanity after reading the tweets of spoiled teenagers expressing their discontent for not finding an iPhone under the Christmas tree.

I'd like to remind you that your new model phones start at $199, but only if paired with a two-year contract. Without a contract, the price goes up considerably. It's mind boggling that even in this economy, just an hour after pre-orders began pouring in for the iPhone 5, you were sold out and had to move up the shipping dates of this long-awaited jewel. And people wouldn't even mind waiting another year for the promised iPhone 5, either. They're gonna sit there and wait with baited breath, and when they finally do get their hands on those phones, they're gonna be so hypnotized by them, they won't even remember life before the iPhone 5.

This is nothing short of amazing, and it speaks volumes that should provide you with assurances that your footing in the market is pretty solid, and you didn't have to do much.

And yet you continue to bully the other players. I don't see any other big name bent on destroying competitors without simple, honest hard work. Other outfits have been trying to fight you the honorable way, albeit by copying your best features (a form of flattery, if you ask me), by trying to build better products, and they might not have succeeded so far, but their conduct is enough to make me look in their direction and consider one of their phones once my iPhone 4S is ready to be retired, years from now, I hope.

You've gotten away with so much over the years, Apple, because you make good things that are easy to use, even for 80-year-old ladies (I know, because I managed to teach my aunt how to use her iPad in one evening), but you need to understand that without serious innovation that makes everyone stand frozen in awe and only recover long enough to utter an all-telling “WOW,” (which didn't happen with the iPhone 5), people will cease to be hypnotized by your products, and they will begin to see what lies beneath the shiny and serene surface of Apple—a brutal corporation that eliminated its competitors, perhaps for no other reason than it got scared as it ran out of truly new ideas.

Very Sincerely Yours,
Just Another Apple Lover


Reem lives and writes about it. She thinks that's what writers do, anyway. If it's not, then she also has a degree in journalism under her belt, along with the titles of reporter, editor (in chief, even) and, of course, opinion columnist.

more about reem al-omari


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