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Apple’s Gonna Rip You Off (2014 Edition)

New iDevices are upon us. Here are 3 signs that Apple cares more about their profit than your product experience:

1. 1GB RAM

The iPhone has 1GB RAM since the A6 was introduced in the iPhone 5 back in 2012. With the introduction of the 64-bit A7 CPU last year, 64-bit apps use up to 30% more memory which means less free memory for multitasking and gaming. Android devices require more memory due to higher OS overheads and flagships have 3GB. It’s time for Apple to go to 2GB so that these new devices have a longer lifespan beyond iOS 9.

(This RAM limitation is even worse on iPads due to larger memory requirements of a higher resolution display, and there are countless of users complaining that their shiny new 2013 iPad Airs and retina iPad minis cannot hold more than 1 or 2 Safari tabs in memory without reloading. Bad.)

2. +$100 for more storage

See my earlier post on Apple’s Storage Ripoff. If Apple keeps their storage increments to $100, it’s clear they want to continue milking us to feed their fat profit margins.

A few months ago, Apple made each storage increment (16GB to 32GB, 32GB to 64GB) of the iPod touch $50. They will not lose money because it merely costs $19 to go from 16GB to 64GB. Look at how much SD cards cost in retail, and there’s your benchmark.

3. 16GB model at last year’s price

16GB is hardly enough, as storage requirements increase due to:

  • Universal apps which contain assets and retina-sized images to support multiple screen sizes of the iPhones and iPads models out there
  • Larger apps compiled for the 64-bit A7 (and the upcoming A8) CPUs
  • Higher megapixel cameras and higher resolution video, requiring more storage
  • Users’ number of photos, music and videos increase over time

If the entry level model still remains at 16GB, it is clear that Apple wants to keep the cheapest model severely gimped to push users to the more expensive ones. The higher tiers are where the fat margins are, given that storage is the only difference and these NAND memory chips are dirt cheap, and even more so with Apple’s buying power.

A small concession is that the 32GB model is gone, and the only higher capacity models are 64GB & 128GB at the current prices of the 32GB & 64GB iPhone. But still, 16GB in 2014? Geez.

My bet is that Apple will fail the test on all three counts. I’d love to be proven wrong.

Tags: apple iphone ipad
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Yikes! Round Smart Watches

Look at the recently released Motorola 360 smart watch making the news in the review circuit. It’s round, very much like a classic mechanical watch driven by gears and a battery. The constraint of a mechanical watch is that the hands need to move around the clock face.

Digital devices do not have or need such constraints. In fact, rounding and lobbing off the squared edges of a tiny screen is an immense waste of useful screen space. Unless there’s something really beneficial to such a form factor that I’m obviously missing, an inventive company like Apple wouldn’t make a watch that’s totally round.

The form factor of a device should be true to itself, and is too constrained when it has to model its analog predecessors just because it’s fashionable to, or because of a penchant to keep with the past or keep things familiar. A MP3 player shaped and sized like a honking CD player is anachoristic, while one that is true to its form becomes iconic.

Can’t wait to see what Apple’s wearable looks like, and watch [pun intended] the copycats ape the general design and shape while later claiming it is what things would have naturally evolved to anyway when accused of copying.

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"I will be clear up-front that I do not hate Android. I only hate stuff that makes my life harder, or would if I hypothetically bought it. I do, however, hate people yelling “OPEN” and “CLOWWWD” every ten minutes as if they have some kind of Technological Tourette’s Syndrome."

— Fraser Speirs, On the Rapid End-Of-Lifing of Android Devices

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Prime exhibit for yesterday’s post: Would you just look at how many ridiculous permissions this app asks for before you can even download it on Android? On iOS, you have fine-grained control on what an app can or cannot do.

UPDATE: The author of that piece removed the Android screenshot showing the download prompt with the list of permissions being requested by the app. This has the effect of heightening the sensationalism of the article, making people think this applies to all platforms including iOS when it’s clearly an Android Play Store issue. What a douchebag move.

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Flagrant disregard of users’ privacy is the key reason why I refuse to use Android.

Wanna download this app? First agree to all the permissions required by the app to sniff everything on your phone. As a bonus, Google by default tracks your location and everything you do once you’re signed in to a Google account. No thanks.

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"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

— Maya Angelou

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Damning analysis. Power corrupts, absolutely.

Tags: microsoft
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PC makers just can’t stop the itch to mess with keyboard layouts. This Acer Aspire S7 has a tiny caps lock with the tilde key right beside it. How’s that for your muscle memory?

PC makers just can’t stop the itch to mess with keyboard layouts. This Acer Aspire S7 has a tiny caps lock with the tilde key right beside it. How’s that for your muscle memory?

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Once the iPhone with the sapphire screen comes out, the back of phones now become the most fragile part of these everyday devices. What will it take to get rid of cases?

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Almost every country is in on this charade. What’s worse are countries whose leaders benchmark and pay themselves against their GDP, and refuse to look at other measures.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

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You’re shortening your lifespan if you leave a light on while sleeping “just in case”. Use a torch and live longer.

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When a company gets rich too fast and starts drowning in profit, this ultimately happens. Don’t be evil, eh?

Behaving like scummy PayPal (sudden account lockdowns, money withheld, uncontactable, copy & paste responses) is the order of business it seems.

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Apple’s Storage Ripoff

Ben Lovejoy at 9to5Mac highlights Apple’s $100 pricing increase for doubling of memory on iOS devices:

There’s a certain marketing genius to Apple’s three-tier pricing for flash storage on its iPhones and iPads. Since customers can’t add storage via a microSD card later, they have to decide in advance how much storage they need, and many of us are going to err on the side of safety, bumping our purchase up to a higher price-band.

Take a look at SD card prices, and compare them to the price increments Apple charges:

  • $100 for an additional 16GB, to go from 16GB to 32GB
  • $100 for an additional 32GB, to go from 32GB to 64GB
  • $100 for an additional 64GB, to go from 64GB to 128GB

How does this even make sense when storage capacities everywhere else is at a pretty consistent dollar per GB? Simple: Apple has a huge enough profit to price this arbitrarily, making this a consumer positioning and marketing exercise. As long as you think $100 more for the “next higher capacity model” is acceptable, ka-ching! It costs an estimated $19 more to make a 64GB vs a 16GB iPhone 5s! How egregious is that?

The $100 pricing tiers started with the iPod, especially with the flash-based iPod nano, which was launched at a time when flash memory was still costly and Apple’s huge market advantage allowed them to secure flash chips at volume prices. With the earlier iPhones, the lowest capacity model at the $299 price point was bumped up. But after the iPhone 4s, Apple decided to freeze the 16GB models at $299, take the profits and rip us off.

Lowest capacity $299 iPhones by model:

  • iPhone (2008): 4GB
  • iPhone 3G (2009): 8GB
  • iPhone 4 (2010): 8GB
  • iPhone 4s (2011): 16GB
  • iPhone 5 (2012): 16GB
  • iPhone 5s/5c (2013): 16GB

The iPad situation is worse. Every year’s iPad from the first one in 2010 to the current iPad Air is priced at $499 for a measly 16GB. This on a device that’s supposed to usher in the “post-PC era”. Bleah.

Due to Apple’s expanding ecosystem of retina screens, Universal apps (supporting both iPhone & iPad) and multiple screen sizes, iOS app sizes are bloating up. Apple’s own iLife and iWork iOS apps take up from 200MB to 700MB.

This is the single most significant pricing trick that lets Apple rake in obscene profits year after year. Apple’s not going to cede this and give consumers a little more value, at least not until there’s some pressure otherwise. The 2014 launch of a new 8GB iPhone 5c SKU (instead of a price drop for the 16GB model) does not bode well for Apple giving consumers a little more storage at the same price.

My hope is that soon enough, consumers will realize that other device makers are charging just $20-50 more for the next step up in storage. (Still expensive compared to a SD card, but way more reasonable.) All it takes now is for the media to mention this in every review of new iPhones and iPads, increasing the visibility of Apple’s ripoff pricing, and turning consumer opinion against Apple.

I sure hope this happens sooner rather than later, because nothing else will wake Apple up as they continue to drown in their fat margins.

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Interesting to watch Xiaomi get fans as rabid as Apple’s while using a totally different social-first strategy compared to Apple’s glossed up, marketese-heavy approach.

Could it be that both companies have good products, and that being the underlying key driver of their respective fanatical user bases? Likely.

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The twats at Apple just can’t get their software right. Today’s exhibit: Installing a Safari software update twice.

The twats at Apple just can’t get their software right. Today’s exhibit: Installing a Safari software update twice.

Tags: apple osx