I renounce Apple and all its works

I’ve had it in for Apple since the Ridley Scott “1984” commercial, which purports to show Apple as the champion of free-spirited individualism against the conformist world of IBM. Steve Jobs became a business legend by pitching to the Bobos, the bourgeois Bohemians in David Brooks’ canny phrase. Apple computers perform better in graphic arts applications, to be sure, but if better performance in a niche business was all the company had to offer, no-one would have heard of him.

All this bears on why I’m returning a new Iphone 6, after six hours of wasted time on the phone with Apple support staff. This particular instrument of the Devil came into my hands unsolicited, as a corporate phone (I carry a Samsung for personal use and have no complaints). I work for a Hong Kong firm, and require a company phone with a Hong Kong number.

To download apps onto the Iphone, one requires an Apple ID. In Apple’s totalitarian dystopia, one has to turn over personal data and credit card information in order to download free apps, without which the Iphone is useless. The instrument itself is mediocre, and always has been. When the first Iphone appeared in 2007, Blackberry sniffed at it: the operating system was unstable, sound quality was unreliable, and the handset was fragile.

At the time I had a European exchange student staying at my home in the United States, and he cadged one of the first Iphones from a relative who worked for Apple. Something straight out of a horror movie ensued: He spent hours locked in his room with this alien implant, watching videos and listening to music, coming out only occasionally for food. What Apple understood (and Blackberry did not) is the network effect of cheap entertainment. Apple is there to hook you on its content delivery platform. It has become the affordable luxury per excellence, a status symbol in China something like sneakers in American inner cities.

I dutifully entered my credit card information to create an Apple ID. The Iphone refused to accept it. I tried several credit cards. My company tech took the phone and tried to follow the instructions on the screen. He didn’t do any better. The first Apple support clone I spoke with couldn’t understand why there might be a problem. Neither could the second, or the third as the query escalated up the chain.

Several hours later a supervisor opined that the problem might be the incompatibility of a Hong Kong phone number and an American credit card. Absurd as it seems, Apple guards its revenues against credit card chicanery so tightly that it won’t let you pay for its Apple Store products from a Hong Kong phone with an American account. It won’t even let you set up an ID.

I had wasted four hours in order to find this out. Another Apple tech called to announce that there was a workaround: If I downloaded Itunes onto a PC and created an account there, I could do so without a credit card. An hour later that didn’t work, either. The Apple support clones were as courteous as they were ignorant, and had all the time in the world to chat. Sound quality on the Apple handset was so poor that it often was impossible to understand what the clones were saying, but that didn’t matter, because they didn’t know anything. After speaking to six of them, including two supervisors, I was advised to take the handset to an Apple Store and consult the clones there. I declined.

The Apple support people stand out for courtesy. That’s what makes them infuriating. They are like the fellow you dread meeting in a strange city who will give you wrong street directions because he is too polite to tell you that he hasn’t a clue about your destination. It’s all about the experience, just as it is (I am told) in the Apple Stores. Apple techs are trained to make you feel that you matter, in keeping with Apple’s corporate message: You are an individual! As the man said in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” I’m not, not, at least, where Apple is concerned.

I’m returning the Apple handset in favor of a Blackberry. I felt like the Edward G. Robinson character at the end of “Soylent Green:” The old man is about to be turned into a protein bar, but the soylent people make it a beautiful experience. I didn’t want to be schmoozed by the clones. I happily would have paid to get my ID and be about my business, but Apple had no way to take my money.

My query was a bit unusual, to be sure, but it points up the problems that arise from Apple’s insufferable rapacity: to do anything with its handset you have to turn yourself over to its marketing machine. That would be less humiliating if the sound quality weren’t so poor, the battery life so short, and the basic functionality so clumsy (Android and Blackberry navigation are far more flexible and intuitive).

Just for fun, I compared Apple’s Siri voice assistance and Google’s voice query function. A question about business class airfare from Hong Kong to New York took me to travel sites on Google, while Siri demanded, “What kind of business are you looking for?” So I asked Siri what percentage of her questions come from losers who don’t have anyone to talk to; this produced references, for some reason or another, to Social Security sites. Google gave me links to sites offering silly questions to ask Siri. When I asked Siri for the temperature in Hong Kong in Fahrenheit, it came back with Celsius, several times. Google answered the question correctly on the first try. Google beat Siri every time.

I don’t play computer games and I don’t download music, so I can’t speak to the bliss associated with having my pocket picked by the Itunes store.  Apple has wasted enough of my time.

Categories: AT Top Writers, David P. Goldman, Spengler

Tags: , , ,

  • Steve Lieblich

    this is not a worthy topic for Spengler… he should stick with his brilliant, incisive analyses of the broad sweep of human history, and leave the anecdotal technobabble to the geeks…

  • Maria

    @ david p goldman, so, in other words, YOU have NO counter to Bhadrakumar’s critisizm of your inaccurate analysis ( http://atimes.com/2015/07/mk-bhadrakumar-responds-to-david-goldman/ ), and you therefore come up with an irrelevant article about Apple, hoping that nobody will notice?

  • d.g.summers

    Good post.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    Holy crap are you technologically ignorant. You sound like an 80 year old who is bewildered by a digital calculator. Unlike you, my two year old special needs son figured out how to work an iPhone in minutes. It’s not rocket science. Only the poor and drug dealers use Blackberries anymore. You’re making me question your other opinions (like demographics) when you are this ignorant of such basic matters.

    Also, you do not need to supply a credit card to get an iTunes account. Since you couldn’t be bothered to do a simple search (again, for my grandparents this is difficult, I get it):

    Last but not least, Google is the most egregious e-privacy violator of all possible mobile OS vendors. So to spite your inability to create an Apple ID, you’re basically handing over all of your personal data to Google, including using Android which is where 95%+ of all malware is located. Hey, at least using something as pitiful as a Blackberry is more secure in the sense that since no one uses it, it’s not worth hacking.


  • SuperMatt

    I’m with Hans. You do NOT need a credit card to create an Apple ID. 700 million people have figured out their iPhones with little to no trouble. Are you trying for the dumbest person alive award or something?

  • JP

    One should take care when calling others ignorant. Only sheep who are ignorant or trust the NSA still use Apple/Google.

  • JP

    You just need to sign over access to Apple/NSA. Seems fair right?

  • pjs_boston

    The author is a troll. No credit card is required to set up an Apple ID or to download free apps from the App Store.

  • pjs_boston

    Except it is factually incorrect. No credit card is required to set up an Apple ID or to download free apps from the App Store…

  • You do realize that the iPhone has more recognized vulnerabilities than the other 3 platforms combined. Including Android who dominates worldwide marketshare.
    And yes children and the elderly do very well on iPhones, it’s click icon, play game, click home button. People who wish to actually utilize smartphone functions are the one’s frustrated by iPhone. I wonder why you are so offended? The fact that people are beginning to realize the truth behind the iPhone?

  • Let’s make this clear Hans, confirmed and recorded vulnerabilities listed from the National Vulnerability Database, since 2007
    BlackBerry across all it’s services: 15
    Windows Phone: 1 (Microsoft Entirety 3869)
    Google Android OS only: 54 (Google entirety 796)
    iOS: 518 (Apple entirety 2682)

    I guess you couldn’t be bothered to do a simple search to find that the iPhone is the least secure phone.

    Oh, and by the way, all G7 governments use BlackBerry. Not really the poor and drug dealers. So I think that much higher level hackers are trying to get in, than someone trying to pull your Facebook login.

    If you’re going to call someone ignorant, you should at least research the facts yourself. Or else you show that you are the one that is in fact ignorant.

    I fully expect the retort to this to be ‘we sell more’… again proving the above point.

  • Dave Matthews

    I see that you can only target one piece of info in the article, the CC issue. The fact that 5 or so “Geniuses” couldn’t fix it either, or help him get around the problem seems unimportant, right? Or the fact that the iPhone is USELESS without additional apps, not important is it? Or the fact that the radio/voice quality is worse than others? People still make voice calls, right? Or that Siri performed worse than competitors, doesn’t matter does it?
    iOS is the oldest and weakest phone OS. Wake up, take your Jobs blinders off and look around. There are MUCH better options out there.

  • Aimee Sahlsteen

    He didn’t say the magic word, ‘activate’. Yes, for activating your phone you will need your billing information. This can be done between fifteen minutes to six hours, they even say so. Especially when trying to register a Hong Kong phone number and pay for it with a US credit card:


    Also, didn’t we get done saying we didn’t want to play games or download music? Why is reading comprehension and interpretation so thin? I’m getting the hook why the target market for SIRI sees no problems with its limitations….’>……

  • Hans Van Dijk

    Well I’d have to evaluate the value prop – how much data? What types? What frequency? For how long? etc…

    Care to cite your proof that Apple is assisting the NSA. Because US govt agencies are asking Apple for backdoors in their encryption and they’re refusing.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    This is a joke right? None of those vulnerabilities are for software installed via the App Store on a non-jailbroken phone. Even Hacker Group needed physical contact with an iPhone secretly jailbreak it to get their rootkit installed. It’s not like you download malware right from the App Store like you can Google Play. The wall garden Apple chooses to curate their software ensures malware isn’t just released to the public without warning.

    Lastly, a vulnerability is not a threat. Very few of the vulnerabilities in Apple are exploitable due to the nature of the app installation process. If it had open installation a la Google or Windows you might have a point, but they don’t. Not to mention Google and Microsoft jumped into bed with the NSA straight away according to Snowden’s docs since spying on you is what those companies do now.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    Siri seems to be hit or miss for people. When I use her I love her and she’s very accurate. If Spengler was hellbent on using a Hong Kong phone number, he should have signed up in the Chinese/Hong Kong app store and skipped the credit card step. Easy peasy.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    and yet the author uses Blackberry, not exactly the gold standard in security anymore while citing his use of Google Search, which logs every single key you type.

    Still waiting on a cite for Apple opening up its devices to the NSA.

  • Dave Matthews

    It’s not the apps that are in question here Hans, it’s the OS itself. And no… it’s not a joke. The right person with the right software can remotely turn on your microphone and camera on iOS. Stop defending the indefensible.

  • Not a joke at all. These are vulnerabilities within the product itself. We’ll documented. Not malware. Malware needs vulnerabilities to exploit. Get it? Jailbroke iPhones cannot be included in this, although the vulnerability that allows the iPhone to be jailbroke can. That vulnerability which Apple didn’t fix the last update, and which the update was jailbroke within hours is perfect proof of Apple’s failings when they can’t even keep the boot rom locked for a day.

    Have you heard of the XARA exploit, in which the researchers uploaded several malware to app store to test their theory, which Apple took 6 months and still did not fix? Hacker Team was big news, look at the smaller headlines which iPhone users like yourself tend to ignore, because apparently ignorence is bliss. Since the iPhone 5, each iteration of iPhone has been a joke in terms of security, quality, and glitches with OS updates, yet people such as yourself, choose to attack those that speak the truth rather than come to the realization that like a mark at the county fair, you’ve been had.

  • Dave Matthews

    “She”… as if it were a human! Bwahahahahaha!!!
    That is Hans down ridiculous! It’s a phone Hans, not your GF/wife.
    Oh wait…

  • They’re stating they’re refusing. You’ll just believe anything they tell you won’t you? Check out Drop Out Jeep. Oh that’s right, that’s the one that started all this ruckus, that Apple still denies, yet only the iGnorant believe.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    DROPOUTJEEP requires physical access to the iPhone – it’s not a remote install. With physical access to an iPhone I could root it myself – this is not rocket science. Like Google, information is the NSA’s stock in trade. Apple relies on producing hardware that people want to buy – it’s not clear how violating user privacy helps advance that mission.

    Meanwhile this very site you’re posting on has 11 separate trackers (I block them all, including the massive amount of ads) collecting data on you.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    No they can’t, and unless you can provide a source for that claim I’m going to take it as the usual anti-Apple FUD.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    Xara primarily affects OS X, not iOS. The only iOS vulnerability is x-app communication and it still requires you to download malware. Now I grant you that the lag time on removing malware (when discovered) is concerning, it still requires action on the part of the end user. My iPhone sitting in my pocket is not vulnerable, unlike any Android device.

    If you have proof otherwise, I’m all ears.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    I love how ad hominem is the only thing you people have. Meanwhile I’m over here with logic and data (unlike my man Spengler who can’t work the easiest mobile OS on the planet).

  • veeru789

    iOS is POS. What’s a smartphone that needs apps to do everything. I prefer native functionality over apps. That’s why I prefer BB10 Passport.

  • That’s not correct. Both were affected. The malware was uploaded with ease to App Store and Apple didn’t catch it until they were told about it, which defeats your earlier argument. The issue is that the vulnerability was not fixed, so others would have no issue uploading other malware and attacking users. The researchers were not a threat, but who knows how many others exploited the same vulnerability that Apple did nothing about?

  • You are ignoring data and spewing excuses.

  • And it’s still a hack. In the same breath you say it’s secure you state that you can root it. Do you not see an issue here? The contradiction? Below you say that BlackBerry is not the gold standard in security, and yet you cannot root it. There is a reason presidents and prime ministers use BlackBerry.

  • Dave Matthews

    Yes they can Hans. It’s called Dropoutjeep. https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2014/02/dropoutjeep_nsa.html


    It’s not FUD Hans, it’s the truth. More than likely you are going to choose to ignore it, to disbelieve it. I hope not, because the more people that wake up to the truth the better off we all are.

  • Dave Matthews

    You really should (everybody should) watch this whole video. It’s worth the hour invested. But the Apple back door Dropoutjeep is at about 44:40 in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vILAlhwUgIU

  • Hans Van Dijk

    You can root anything if you have physical access, including Blackberry, a failed company on its way out. I’m not worried about hacking my phone if someone gets it – that’s a risk just like someone getting physical access to your safety deposit box. I’m far more concerned with vulnerabilities that can be exploited remotely – ie, basically the entire Android ecosystem.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    That’s the original video – again, requires physical access. No one is denying that any phone can be rooted with physical access.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    DROPOUT JEEP requires physical access – read the article. Unlike Android, iOS has no remote vulnerabilities baked in since Apple, unlike Google, is not in the premeditated violation of privacy business. No one can turn on my microphone unless I either A) installed malware (good luck on that) or B) lost physical access of my phone to a hacker.

    As for malware on the App Store, you still need to download it. It’s not like popular apps from reputable companies are being used a malware Trojan horses. And unlike Android, when it’s found it’s removed.

    The good news is in the mobile OS market we all have a plethora of choices. For my needs, iOS remains the easiest to use, easiest to write software for, the most secure/private, and the platform that makes the most $$$. Your needs may be different.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    When you produce data and not FUD ad hominem I’ll respond. Let me know when you can hack my phone in my pocket – don’t worry I’ll wait.

  • Again you’re showing your ignorance. No, you cannot root a BlackBerry. The Playbook was rooted once, and that vulnerability was fixed in an update, and has not been rooted since. The hacker Justin Case, known for hacking android and iOS, very publicly stated he would hack BlackBerry and went an purchased phones to do so. He still hasn’t been able to do it.

    Fact of the matter is, most exploits are taken advantage of once the user downloads malware. It’s just easier that way. But let’s not forget iOS is also vulnerable to attack just by plugging it in to a charger. Lol. Too funny

  • BlackBerry has never been rooted. IOS 8.4 was rooted within hours. You continue to justify the security fails by adding rules to it and simply making things up. I bring us back to what I originally said, iPhone has more vulnerabilities than the other three mobile platforms combined. Add to the the worst record for fixing these, oftentimes simply not fixing them and blaming the user. Yet those like yourself accept this and justify it. As a consumer that pays such exorbitant prices for a product which is truly behind in terms of technology, you should demand proper customer service. If you don’t, you can just expect to continue getting the low quality, fragile, vulnerability riddled products you have now.

  • First of all, it’s not FUD when it can be backed up by well documented facts. Calling it that is the equivalent of burying your head in the sand, which you seem to be doing. And Apple does remove malware when found, however they have just been shown that they aren’t doing a good job finding it with the apps that the XARA researchers uploaded to app world with no issues. And let’s not forget, there have been several popular apps in Google Playy that were proven to have malware. You really think Apple doesn’t? Get your head out of the sand Hans. You’re starting to look ridiculous.

  • You’re welcome to research everything I’ve posted. Aside from your ignorance, everything else is well documented and factual.

  • Dave Matthews

    The “initial release” of Dropoutjeep clearly states that it requires “close access” to implement, not “direct access” Hans. The creator (NSA) goes on to say that “remote access” will be pursued for a future release. It is important to note that Dropoutjeep is an actual, purpose built “part number” created by the NSA to specifically target iPhones/iOS devices. It is NOT just a “flaw” they tripped over.

    It’s been over a year Hans, and I’ll bet the NSA succeeded with remote access by now.

    Oh, BTW… does this look familiar?


    Do you really think that’s the end of it? What else could be sent to an iPhone with nefarious or disastrous results?

  • Dave Matthews

    No Hans, it requires “close” access, not direct as I told you above. I’m sure NSA has figured out remote access by now, it’s been over a year and the STATED they were working on remote access. And for crying out loud STOP IT! iOS is not the most secure/private, it is actually the LEAST secure/private!
    You are blind if you cannot see/recognize this!

  • Hans Van Dijk

    Right – all the followup articles showed you needed physical access since you need to get a boot loader installed. That original revelation is now 2 years old. It is based on the assumption that either Apple is actively colluding with the NSA (like Microsoft and Google) or that Apple has done nothing to fix the vulnerability (like fixing the SMS crash hack above). I’m heartened by the discovery that Hacker Group with all of its funding/resources still needed physical access just last month in order to gain access.

    Is it possible? Anything is possible in tech, so I’d say yes. But if it’s a choice between trusting Google who makes a living off selling me (the product) vs Apple, that’s an easy decision.

  • Hans Van Dijk

    The ad hominem comment is directed at Dave Matthews. I work in tech and deal with security professionals all the time. None of them claims they can hack iOS the way they can Android – Android is an enterprise nightmare. Apple is not perfect (this is tech, not religion) but its track record is miles ahead of its competitors. Blackberry is a nonstarter as it’s dead technology – two Dixie cups and a string is also very secure, but not if you live in the 21st century.

    The article below found 97% of malware is on Android, with large percentages of popular apps repackaged for subsequent distribution on third party app stores (which don’t exist in iOS):


    If you have more recent data than that, I’m all ears. Otherwise we will just have to both be happy with our choices – I know I am!

  • I know that post well. No one is arguing the amount of malware on Android. I am speaking about the amount of vulnerabilities on iOS. That dwarfs Android. Meaning malware on iOS could potentially dwarf android. Of course we’ve been told it doesn’t. We’ve been told that iTunes keeps out the malware, but we now know malware sat there undiscovered by Apple until the researchers told them about it. I wonder how much more there is?

    And in terms of marketshare, you’re correct about BlackBerry. In terms of tech and security, you couldn’t be more wrong. There’s a reason why all the G7 governments use BlackBerry. There’s a reason why BES is the number one MDM. There’s a reason why both Apple and Google’s infotainment systems run on top of QNX (BlackBerry). That’s right, your lovely Apple Car Play can’t run without BlackBerry. How’s that for being a dead technology? Should I mention both Google and Samsung partnering with BlackBerry to secure Knox and their workspace?

    I really wish iPhone users would do some research before spouting off opinion as fact.

  • Dave Matthews

    Why would you think that Apple wasn’t colluding if MS and Google are (in your mind)?

    And just exactly how do you reconcile Apple collecting information on you for the express purpose of selling you something?

    Looks like Google, no?

  • Dave Matthews

    Hans, I work in tech all day every day as well. As a matter of fact I manage the tech dept of a PHONE company!

    I do not know who you are talking to, but saying that Apple and/or a 3rd party MDM (Good, MobileIron, etc) is miles ahead of BlackBerry and BES is utterly hilarious! NOBODY worth their salt would say that, not and be serious.

    Sorry I laughed at your love for Siri, but come on. And again, this discussion was about which OS was least/most secure without MDM. Not apps, stop referring to apps.

    You can root/jailbreak iPhone, therefore it is NOT secure

    You can root/jailbreak Android, therefore it is NOT secure

    You CANNOT root/jailbreak BlackBerry 10, therefore it is inherently more secure
    I’m happy for you that you like iPhone, fill your boots. Just don’t kid yourself about security because it is not there!

  • This made me more of a fan Spengler. I refuse to drink the Apple kool-aide.

  • Interesting comments regarding the “dead” BlackBerry system. I agree that in the consumer space they are now irrelevant but in the business that I work in across Northern Europe they are alive and kicking hard. Any business that requires bullet proof security, frequent travel across borders, long periods between charging, safe document sharing and accurate document production and editing requires OS10 BlackBerry handsets managed by BES12. There is nothing comparable. If you want an entertainment device then the High End Androids or iPhones are really good once you have access to a wall socket but for work, not so good. Without downloading any apps I can produce and edit pdf’s, word and excel docs, I can download files from my pc/laptop from anywhere in the world, I can open a video meeting etc etc and still get 30 hours Battery life from a Passport. I can assure anyone interested that my department trialed every smartphone from Apple, Microsoft and Samsung and no one could make a business case better than the BlackBerry users.