Apple engenders an almost fanatical level of loyalty from its consumers. ATT solidified its market position as a strong second in the US cell phone market by being the exclusive of the iPhone for years when it first came out. But now, nearly every cellular carrier, including MVNOs like Virgin Mobile and Ting can offer their customers the iPhone without the iron clad two year contract, albeit without a handset subsidy.
Since Apple is a vertically integrated company, meaning that they control the design and manufacturing of phones, the marketing of the handsets as well as vet any software on their devices, everything goes through Cupertino. So one pays a premium for an Apple device, the software tends to be more expensive (because it is programmed in house or needs to be customized for Apple). Nearly all computer peripherals needed come from Cupertino. Apple wants to care for its own products (with so called geniuses) with exclusive (and more costly) insurance and care programs. In addition, they wanted to corner the market on media, by forcing media purchases through I-Tunes which used to lock it with DRM. Now it just makes it extremely inconvenient to take it out of i-Tunes.
Apple is also currently engaged in an anti-trust trial for conspiring with five major publishers to raise the prices of e-books and undercut Amazon. For these reasons, I consider Apple ownership as people paying the stupid tax, however I appreciate that 18% of the cell phone market will willingly pay this premium for Apple's i-Phones because of the perception that "it just works" at practically any price.
This vertical integration allows Apple to have a uniform user experience. So the home screens on every i-Phone will be the same. Steve Jobs had animus against Adobe and refused to let Flash Video on Apple devices. There may have been principled reasons about battery life which inspired Job's vendetta, but Walter Issacson's biography of Steve Jobs intimates that Jobs had sour grapes about Adobe after Adobe favored Windows based video editing products. These design decisions may have ensured the walled garden stability of the i-Phone but this forced i-Phone users to either jail break their phones or forgo many websites that use embedded Flash video. Now the internet imbroglio is a Flash in the pan as the internet has moved away from Flash video.
Indubitably, Apple produces or popularizes innovative products. The GUI interface was iconic (sic) in inspiring other O/S's (such as Windows). Apple may not have invented the i-Pod, but it became widespread through their product. The i-Phone spread like wildfire amongst tech types because it was a stylish smartphone. The SIRI interface took consumers closer to having a cyber personal assistant. But other companies have caught up and offer more economical choices with more real world flexibility than Apple offers (like replacing batteries, adding SD memory, accessing internet sites, not being forced to buy into i-Tunes, etc..).
It is an interesting phenomenon that those in the Apple cult not only look down upon those who refuse to join the Apple cult but they also savagely turn on Apple enthusiasts who do not have the latest and "greatest" products.
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While the parody video is a reductio ad absurdum, it typifies the mindset of many in the Apple cult, who can not appreciate that what works for them may not be alright for others. This device devotion to the i-Phone despite better alternatives was satirized in certain scatalogical satirical videos.
Of course, the Occupy Movement activists in 2011 exhibited quite a rarified mindset as these grungry, unlawful protesters who identified with the 98% railing against capitalism sported shiny expensive new i-Pads and i-Phones.
Although Apple is a quintessentially liberal company, the powers that be in the District of Calamity (sic) gave unwarranted condemnation to Apple for legally minimized its taxes on non-US earnings by consolidating the funds in an Irish tax haven. It is a lamentable paradox that a taxpayer who is following the law is condemned by liberals enough, even though they were in legal compliance. While I choose not to pay the stupid tax by buying walled garden cellular or computing technology for a premium, I am troubled by attempts to pressure Cupertino with the power of government for not paying a stupid tax of an ambiguous "their fair share" by a Leviathan government led by showboating liberal Senate Democrats.
Even if we use Android, Blackberry or Windows products, it would serve well for consumers and citizens to "Think Different" and be the rebels against conforming to "Big Brother" as was intimated in the iconic Apple 1984 MacIntosh Superbowl ad.