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Screw this, Apple.

Screw this, Apple.

Oh my, oh dear. Apple fans and iPhone junkies, I have some bad news for you. That innovative, fun company we’ve all been throwing money at for the past few years has recently made some very evil moves that directly affect YOU.

To wit:

After 34 months, this battery has lost 75% of its capacity

1. Planned Failure sticks it to your wallet.

Yesterday, iFixit posted a discussion of Apple’s continued use of lithium-ion batteries. They work great, for a while. Then they lose their juice and need to be replaced, after about one year.

Until the iPhone, you could buy your own battery for $20 or so, and replace it. Now, you can’t do it yourself. You have to pay Apple $85.95 and let them erase your iPhone’s memory… or else buy a new iPhone.

“Imagine if rather than shipping inkjet printers with replaceable ink cartridges, HP forced you to buy a new printer every 400 pages. Or if Ford told you to buy a new car after 40,000 miles rather than replacing the brake pads! We would never tolerate such wasteful engineering—and yet somehow Apple has suckered us all into an involuntary annual upgrade cycle.” – Kyle @ iFixit

The current iPod Shuffle is almost impossible to repair, and it costs more to have Apple replace the battery than it does to buy a new Shuffle.

Want to attempt to replace the battery yourself? IFixit will sell you the tools, but even that’s expensive. And soon, those tools will be obsolete. Read on:

2. Putting the screws to you and you and you

In a move that iFixit calls “diabolical,” Apple is replacing the screws on iPhones and Macbooks with the “Evil Proprietary Tamper Proof Five Point Screw.” Also known as the “pentalobe.”

Now, screws like the Torx have been around for a while, and even if you don’t have a Torx driver at home, a good repairman will. The pentalobe is a different story.

“This screw head is new to us. In fact, there isn’t a single reputable supplier that sells exactly the same screwdrivers Apple’s technicians use—which is Apple’s point. They picked an obscure head that no one would have.” – Kyle @ iFixit

According to iFixit, these screws are only being used on the outer shell; inside, it’s good ol’ Phillips. That means their only purpose is to keep you out of your hardware. Worse, if your iPhone is non-pentalobe, Apple will replace the screws after you take it in for repairs.

Treehugger analyzes this move in The Pentalobe Screw, and Apple’s War Against Self-Repair. Author Lloyd Alter compares this to another screw story—the square Robertson screw, which failed because its inventor and Henry Ford both wanted to own the rights to it. In the end, nobody won.

Same goes with Apple: iFixit is already offering $10 drivers for the Evil Pentalobe. The only result of this move will be to anger and alienate users.

But hey, at least they’re not poisoning and killing people—oh wait.

NOTE: this chart is from 2006

3. Dirty touch

Two days ago, 36 Chinese environmental groups sued Apple. Why? “Failing to address concerns over pollution and worker health issues” in its supplier factories.

The groups have been working to better human and environmental conditions at tech factories all over China. When notified of workplace issues, companies like HP, BT, Alcatel-Lucent, Vodafone, Samsung, Toshiba, Sharp and Hitachi all responded and made changes. Apple, however, was “evasive” and did not respond.

One of the issues was the poisoning of 49 workers at a factory that makes touch screens. You know, for your iPad. Apple never responded to the incident, even though the workers were left with “debilitating illnesses.”

When Chinese factories are suing you over worker health issues, you’ve got a problem. Add to that the immense amount of e-waste Apple is producing by making products that are intended to die young. That e-waste goes right back to China, where child lead poisoning rates are through the roof.

Suddenly, that iPhone doesn’t look so slick.

I am writing this on an Apple computer, and it works great. But unless things change and quick, I don’t think I’ll be buying Apple again.

How ’bout you?

Images: FHKE, iFixit, The Economist

11 Comments

  • I have been on the fence about Apple for years, but for a much shallower reason; their acolytes bug me.

    Number Three particularly distresses me. SonnyBoy just got promoted at the big-city Apple Store where he works. I will forward this with a series of wtf question marks.

  • I has a disappoint. A BIG ONE.

  • have always resisted apple. we’ve got a post about the shuffle tagged as “digital tyranny”

  • This all sucks. Me and my husband were both getting ready to get iPhones next month, and now I think I might rethink that. The last one particularly bothers me, but the first two are obnoxious as well.

    Apple-heads…for lack of a better term? bug me too. I experienced their customer service first hand a few weeks ago (along with a stunning display of fail from my iPod touch and iTunes), and the next time someone tells me how reliable Apple is & how great their customer service is, I’m going to laugh in their face. Speaking of, did anyone else see the post that talked about how HP has better customer service than Apple, going by ratings? I’ll see if I can find it again & post a link.

  • Technology as a whole is HORRIBLE for the environment.
    Most things are made to be easily replaceable. So even if your phone doesnt die, most people will replace it with one that is slicker and newer tech. Not just iPhones. I have seen friends, in a country that prides itself on its speed towards carbon neutrality, buying 2 phones a year because a cooler android phone came out.
    so at the risk of sounding like an Apple Fanboy(girl), I think its a little unfair to single out Apple.
    ( http://tinyurl.com/4tvbser is simply one example).

    I also took issue with iFixit posting that article that made it sound as if it was the end of the world and you would never be able to get your gadgets open without a genie (!!!) and then selling the tool to solve the problem for $10.95 when it is available in several places for less than that.
    I have replaced parts on several apple products. Currently I am working on restoring a 2006 17″ macbook pro for my niece.
    I think if they were making the batteries or the replacement parts unavailable for purchase we would have a problem on our hands. This is a less than $10 screwdriver.
    I wholeheartedly agree that there is a problem with the waste and problems that tech is causing in less developed parts of the world. and i think that those countries that it is happening in have to take their share of the responsibility for letting the companies run wild with the health and safety in return for financial growth.
    but think about it, when all hope is lost and you feel like there is no good decision you can make, there are always baby animals
    http://www.zooborns.com/

    • Thank goodness for baby animals.

      And thank you for the informed counterpoint. I think it’s all manageable, except the part where factory workers tried to contact Apple about their injuries and received no response. That’s over the line for me.

  • I like my apple computers because they just seem to work. I barely do anything and they just work. I would never put one of those silly white apple logo stickers on my car though.
    All batteries fail, but not being able to change a battery is ridiculous.
    Those “pentalobe” screws just really piss me off though. That is just mean and stupid.

    Oh, don’t you just love how Apple puts “designed in California” on all its made in China stuff. That always makes me want to puke.

  • Had I known Apple was pulling bullshit like this two years ago I never would’ve bought a macbook.

  • I own both apple and pc products. I’ve owned the same well-used ipod for 5 years and have never had any problem with the battery. The reason apple makes their products tamper-proof and proprietary is the same reason they don’t allow anyone to sell whatever mac software: their business model is to keep all those aspects well-controlled to insure their products function properly. Ask and PC IT person, that their jobs consist of undoing stupid things PC users have done and resolving conflicts between software programs. People gravitate to that industry because they are not interested in making anything work efficiently, just band-aiding problems to keep themselves busy and always necessary.
    I have to use a PC for work, but I use a Mac at home for everything else. My Mac works just as well as it did out of the box over three years ago. My PC started bogging down as soon as I installed a printer on it.
    The problems with the labor conditions in China need to be addressed, no question. But I’m not going to buy a crappy product to make up for that.

    • You know, I wish people would treat their computers like they treated their cars. You don’t go installing cheap parts on your car yourself with no idea how they work. You either leave it alone and let professionals work on it, or you take the time to learn. Otherwise you get a broken car.

      I can see your point about Apple not wanting people to mess around with the interior of their computers, but I still don’t think it’s their place to make it so difficult. And while your old iPod doesn’t have battery problems or need upgrades, mine failed as soon as the warranty expired and was unfixable (for a reasonable cost, that is). My Macbook’s battery started losing its longevity almost immediately, and now I pretty much use it plugged in. It’s 3 years old.

      I saved up for *years* to get this Macbook and am totally happy with it otherwise. Just a little irked at Apple.

  • Quite recently, we received some items as gifts. Opened up two boxes and there were items inside square holders that looked to be some sort of electronic devices. At first I thought they were some type of flash drives. One of the waver sized flat things was a lime green color and the other red. A friend who dropped by saw the gizmos in their plastic boxes sitting on the downstairs bar. He said that there were apple shuffle something or others. It was of no meaning at all to me. After a time the devices along with other small items were tossed into a box. Seeing pictures of the ipod things on the Internet, I believe that is what was dropped into the carton with other random junk. Believe that box and contents were thown into the trash last week and is long gone. Have no understanding or interest in how those things function, but a neighbor claims that he operates the music on a large sound system using one of those small ipod items.

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