Once upon a time, criticizing Apple was something I enjoyed doing. I believe I stopped that sometime in the last century.
So please excuse the “Macs Suck” in the art you see here. I don’t think Macs suck at all, even though I’m a strident Windows guy. I’ve used Macs. I own Macs. Macs are just fine, thanks; they merely aren’t my taste.
Apple, the company, on the other hand, is not my favorite. Their business practices have always ticked me off and this week they set a new record. Have you seen the new Homepod speaker? It’s a GREAT speaker.
Please don’t buy one.
Reviews of the Homepod are popping up all over the Internet. Like this one, they pretty much all say that the Homepod is the best-sounding SmartSpeaker around. From there, they’re all pretty much universally bad. Homepods cost too much. It will it cost a fortune to repair a fell-on-the-floor-or-had-its cord-yanked-out Homepod.
And THEN the Homepod story gets ugly.
Let’s remember what the Homepod is. Like an Amazon Echo or a Google Home, the Homepod is both a speaker and a way to talk through Alexa/Google/Siri to make things happen. And if you can get Alexa or Google running through the Apple ecosystem you can use a competing digital assistant with a Homepod.
But you can’t use a competing music streaming service. Want your Homepod to actually do what it’s designed for? You have to subscribe to Apple Music. Think that’s a good enough reason for criticizing Apple?
This “walled garden” approach has always been my argument against iPhones. Apple tells you how you can use the things you buy. To a point, I can get behind that with the iPhone, since maintaining stability is important. But Apple’s backed off their position over the years even there, so why is the Homepod locked to Apple Music?
You know the answer, of course. Apple wants more subscription revenue. It’s not enough that they’re getting a ton of your money for a Homepod; Apple wants your money every month.
It’s a position only an Apple Fanboy could love. I didn’t much care whether it actually did when I wrote iTunes Must Die nearly seven years ago—and I use that software to this day. But Apple’s removed copy protection from iTunes … yet now has entire-platform protection on the Homepod. You bet I’m criticizing Apple.
Walled gardens were never really a great idea and are only becoming harder to defend. Go ahead; ask Neil Young how custom hardware treated him. Or if you can find anyone who bought a Pono ask how they feel about that investment in nothing.
Go to an Apple Store. Listen to a Homepod. Look at how pretty it is. And then … go home.
Having trouble figuring out the real story behind the things business throws at you? End those troubles right here.