Steve Jobs, genius extraordinaire, who co-founded Apple Inc. in 1976, back when I was too young to comprehend my participation in that revolution, passed away seven years ago on October 5, 2011 after an almost eight- year battle with a less aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.
When I heard the news, I was in my Upper East Side studio apartment, trying to meet my deadline with the help of the MacBook that I secured as a Christmas present to myself in December 2008. I remember being elated that I was finally able to afford my very first product from Apple, and I didn’t even care when I discovered a month later that my ambitious purchase was the last of its kind.
The iPhone came into my life via an ex-boyfriend who thought it a romantic idea to present me with a refurbished model that he proudly boasted didn’t cost him much.
So when it was confirmed that the ailing creator of my most prized possessions had succumbed to the symptoms of being a powerless human — I was ashamed to notice the pangs of worry that dominated my immediate thoughts — as I pondered the future of Steve Jobs’ exceptional legacy.
Fast forward to the present, and I can almost guarantee that he would be appalled at the state of affairs as it pertains to the quality of products that no longer match the attached price stickers — that have helped elevate the empire he built into the very first trillion-dollar US company.
As impressive as that is, what’s less impressive is how current CEO Tim Cook has seemingly failed to uphold the flawless standards of a corporation that was enviably ahead of its time, and literally the absolute shit just a decade ago.
Time has definitely not been kind to Apple Inc. and it’s not an exaggeration to boldly declare that what the company used to represent, died when Jobs took his last breath.
For me, the signs of disarray and dysfunction were apparent when I urgently purchased the iPhone 5 after my gem — the iPhone 4 crashed on the concrete covering of Equinox — and splattered into enough pieces to warrant an upgrade.
That fateful transaction initiated a slew of issues that began days after I was getting acquainted with a gadget that didn’t resemble the charming durability of its more savvy predecessors. After two and a half unremarkable years that was rife with a handful of malfunctions including battery tribulations and a melting aesthetic — it was time to trade my piece of shit for even shittier shit.
The iPhone 6 was a slight improvement, but it still featured similar setbacks that made the 5 unbearable, and as time piled up, it just got worse. There was so much to bitch about and the resentment that was brewing stemmed from the irritation that I was now the loser — who walked into the trap of spending the equivalent of a month’s rent on a gadget that didn’t warrant that investment.
How could I justify the payment plan for a device that kept freezing unexpectedly before finally blacking out, for reasons that didn’t exist. Or the supposed touchscreen ability that refused to respond on contact, and instead accumulated the sweat of my fingers, which I had to annoyingly wipe away with frequency. Or the camera that wouldn’t open on command, and by the time it complied the moments to capture had evaporated. Or the infuriating dilemma that forced me to rely on headphones for every damn call because the “speaker” died an early death. Or the updates that apparently tricked the phone into draining the battery and fucking up the barely functional — functionality.
I could go on, but why bore you with information that you’ve already experienced.
By 2015, four years after the loss of Steve Jobs, die-hard consumers, techies and industry experts, were beginning to suspect the worst, as mounting concerns about products that used to faithfully deliver excellence began to stack up into the guilty displeasure of unyielding returns.
Before sheepishly garnering the iPhone 7 earlier this summer, when the three-year-mark activated the deactivation of reasonable usage — I spent the prior months flirting with the idea of defecting.
Why was I stupidly surrendering to the punishment of extended contracts and never-ending installments, when I could make the abrupt decision to escape the madness — and sign up for a basic plan with a mobile phone that excelled in the art of stress-free communication.
But Apple brilliantly figured out the profitable advantage of synching, and how owning one product automatically grants the seamless addition of another in the blooming collection. Suddenly, you’ve created your own tribe. And the pricey membership never seems to prevent you from being seduced by the “new and improved” objects — that are objectified for the glam of a brand that’s rapidly losing its once dignified reputation.
At some point you have to admit defeat and embrace your weakened state as you cowardly watch the sales rep relishing their incoming bonus as they prepare yet another upgrade. You’ve pathetically initiated a higher bill that you have no business acquiring other than the fact that you’re righteous pussy.
Back in the summer of 2016, when I traded in my trusted and much-loved 2008 silver MacBook, after almost seven years of stellar service, and the winning endurance that reminded me of my equally miraculous iPhone 4 — for the thinner and flimsier MacBook Air — there was the hope that my expectations would remain firmly intact.
I never intended to purchase the MacBook Air, but as writing became a full time gig that required the ease of transporting my tools to and fro — it was essential to work with a machine that would make my commute to various assignments less cumbersome.
And so I walked out of the Apple store in the Beverly Center with extra money in my pocket, and the lightness of a new friend that I prayed would have the guts to keep up with me.
Two years later, and I’m regretting the decision I made at the behest of the Apple employer who meant well, but ended up saddling me with the option that isn’t measuring up to the superiorness of the MacBook Pro — the wiser sibling of my aged MacBook.
Despite the glaring shortcomings of its mobile devices, there was always the understanding that the Mac collection was in a league of its own and would never suffer the fate of the inferior sidekicks. But in recent years, that long-standing assumption is slowly and tragically fading, as consumers log in a plethora of complaints after barely a year of ownership.
It took at least six years before my old MacBook began to signal signs of aging, and even then, there was no threat of the inevitable end, as I was able to keep it going, long enough to conveniently transfer to a newer model.
But that was a machine from a different time, an era when substantiality was the preferred currency, and those who dared, ventured into the territory of perfected longevity with the ask that we pay for what we will certainly get in return.
Apple Inc. has now joined the ranks of lazy manufacturers who rely on the thrill of rapid turnovers by betraying the trust of loyal customers.
The key is to confidently flood the marketplace with subpar products that are meant to disintegrate just in time for the hyped up unveiling.
There are monthly articles by those who are well-versed in the realm of technology, that eloquently assess the crimes of a flailing brand, that has mastered the art of defiantly fucking up with no apologies.
Apple seems to think that it’s okay to purposely allow phone batteries to feature a much shorter lifespan, due to the strain of frequent software updates. And when the damning evidence causes an uproar, there’s the promise of compensation for our woes that’s delivered with impersonal nonchalance that’s naggingly off-putting.
My MacBook Air is currently overheating for reasons that don’t make sense and there are blackout spells that are thankfully sporadic but still quite troubling. And then there’s the latest challenge that’s directly affecting my ability to do what I do best — WRITE.
When my keyboard began to weirdly misbehave, I did some research and discovered that this debilitating issue began sometime in 2015, and it was mainly restricted to the MacBook Pro. Once the complaints started pouring in, overwhelmed store reps profusely assured irritated costumers that major revisions to the keyboard were being implemented for corrective measures.
As luck would have it, my machine is a 2015 model, which means I’m screwed. I have to contend with the fact that I unknowingly spent a little over a grand on a defective MacBook that sports a keyboard with a handful of keys that don’t respond unless you keep pounding hard enough. And even then those keys repeat themselves twice or thrice. Or I could take it to the bloody Apple store and get charged for mandatory repairs.
Either way, I’m quite dissatisfied and frankly at my wits end when I consider the shallow stance of a company that used to stand for something based on the stoic principles of a proud visionary — whose untimely death has unleashed horrid consequences that he never could’ve predicted.
Steve Jobs was much more than a celebrated geek, who had the resources to bless us with meaningful interpretations of his futuristic prowess. He was also an optimist and true believer in the spirited pursuit of making what could be deemed impossible — very possible — with the etiquette of dutiful adherence to quality and the tradition of guaranteed customer satisfaction.
But more than anything, Jobs poured the love for his craft into the products that he etched with his signature homage to the beauty of that manifests when dreams come true — and the rewards are plentiful to inspire and entertain.
Apple products are now an empty shell of the past, and the future suggests that a lot more of us are going to join the list of formerly unhappy consumers who are now much happier with sensible alternatives — that don’t leave us broke and broken hearted.
The current climate is breeding the potency of quantity over quality with the royal “fuck you” to exceeding expectations for the pride of it — and it’s sad to see that signature bite being filled up with that systemic bullshit.
The only question now is how long it will take before we’ve had enough of the bullshit to do the honorable thing — on behalf of the man who would ask us to do the same.