Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Don’t Be Poopy, Apple

I am an Apple fanboy, and I have been for almost 20 years. But even a fanboy has to take a break every once in a while. Recently there have been two examples that have me worried about worms in my beloved Apple.

Example 1: iPod Hi-Fi


There are lots of iPod speaker docks out there, but only one triggers a special setting on your iPod that changes the screen to display a beautiful “Now Playing” album art screen. Guess which one: The one that Apple makes.

Example 2: iPhone Stereo Headset


The earphones that come with the iPhone have an amazing feature: the little microphone bit doubles as a clicker. While playing music, click it once to pause, twice to skip to the next song. If the phone rings, click it once to answer, twice to ignore. But, of course, only Apple’s earbuds can do it.

I hate the way the Apple earbuds fit in my ears, so I picked up a pair of V-Moda Vibe Duo’s. They sound great and I prefer the way the buds fit in my ear. The Vibe Duo’s are designed for the iPhone (the fact that the iPhone doesn’t work with standard earphone mini-jacks is another example of Apple hubris), so the cord includes a microphone so you can use the phone. But no special clicker. I don’t know this for sure, but I bet Apple is again hoarding a cool feature for itself.

Both of these interface innovations are pure Apple, in the good way: simple, easy, and once you have them, you can’t imagine life without them. But they’re also Apple in the bad way: exclusionary, pricey, and arrogantly unavailable to competitors.

When Microsoft did stuff like this, the entire industry pitched a fit. Lawyers were involved. It went to the Supreme Court. And that was just for a media player that came bundled with the OS (something Apple does, too).

Apple is a beloved company that makes great products, but we shouldn’t let them off the hook so easily. They should be held to the same standards as their competitors. Higher, actually.

Come on, Apple. Don’t be poopy. Let other speakers tap into the cool Hi-Fi album art mode. Let other earbuds use the fantastic mic clicker. Compete on a level playing field. It’d be good for your customers, and good for you.

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.