Three Apple Products You Should Never Buy

image credit: Bob Smith from FreeImages

published by Chand Bellur
March 21, 2021 at 6:21 p.m.
  • Most Apple customers purchase the iPhone, which is Apple’s best product in terms of quality, features, and popularity.
  • Other, lesser Apple products are often no better than inexpensive, generic gadgets yet still carry the hefty Apple price.
  • When the iPhone became a huge success, Apple started neglecting less profitable products, such as the Mac, Apple TV, and iPod.
  • Apple’s less regarded products are often defective and fragile, garnering excessive repair costs.

Why Some Apple Products Are Better Than Others

Apple is a long-lived tech corporation that’s been through many highs and lows. Founded in 1976, the company initially evolved the “homebrew” computer into something more consumer-oriented — the Apple I.

Apple’s first breakthrough product was the Apple II. With its open architecture and easy upgradability, it proved a success with early computing enthusiasts. Apple II owners could open the top of the machine and plug-in expansion cards, adding new functionality. Third-party companies arose, delivering new and exciting expansion cards for Apple’s then flagship product.

The Apple II was way ahead of its time. Electronic music acts like Portion Control were using the Apple II for sampling decades ago. Apple first introduced countless students to computers through this remarkable machine.

Eventually, the Apple II fell out of favor, but not due to consumer demand. Steve Jobs didn’t like the idea of consumers purchasing products from third-parties. His vision of a locked-down ecosystem produced the Mac — an expensive and unpopular computer that languished for decades. At the time of this writing, combined OS X and macOS market share hovers around seven percent.

The moral of the story is that not every Apple product is top quality or ideal for consumers. Apple has a history of one or two products keeping the company afloat, while its other devices become marginalized. Most seem to acknowledge this, as the majority of iPhone users possess Windows PCs.

Like any rational decision-maker, Apple cares most about the iPhone because it’s the most profitable product. The company shuffles top employees from other divisions to work on the iPhone. With the best and brightest rightfully assigned to Apple’s flagship product, the company neglects other products. Consumers should avoid these devices because they’re expensive, fragile, and frustrating. They’re not as good as the iPhone — not even close.

Avoid the Mac

The Mac has had its ups and downs. The original 1984 Mac was innovative; however, it failed to compete with the IBM PC and its clones. The corporate world overwhelmingly chose the PC over the Mac. The lower end of the market, fulfilled by Atari, Commodore, and others, also eroded Mac market share. Apple’s early all-in-one computer was expensive and initially didn’t even offer a color display.

For years, the Mac languished, buoyed only by creative content producers and “rebels”. Graphic designers, video editors, and recording engineers started to appreciate the Mac. It found its niche but still was not mainstream. Multimedia systems from Atari and Commodore also provided a compelling low-end option.

2006 marked the beginning of a new era for the Mac. Apple announced that new Macs would run on Intel processors, making them less expensive and Windows compatible. A lack of software titles plagued the Mac, and the new strategy sought to broaden its appeal. Developers were reluctant to create OS X apps because the market share was too lean. A Mac with an Intel processor can run Windows apps, either through dual booting or virtualization, making it much more compatible and useful.

The strategy worked, to some extent, but the Mac never became the mainstay of the corporate worker. Large corporations purchase $500 Windows laptops, not $1600 MacBooks. Software developers joined the fray, but not by choice. If you’re going to develop a Mac or iPhone app, Apple’s computers are the only option.

The Mac’s POSIX compliance also made it close enough to Linux and Unix for enterprise developers to adopt it. This similarity enabled them to run a development environment, reasonably close to production, on a machine that can also run Microsoft Office. Some tech corporations, such as Google, equip most of their employees with Macs.

Despite growing its userbase, when the iPhone became the superstar, the Mac downgraded into the stepchild. Refreshes to the Mac lineup became infrequent. Defects crept into the machines, such as unreliable keyboard mechanisms, wear-prone display cables, and faulty Fusion drives.

The halcyon days of the Mac ended around 2012, as the iPhone eclipsed all else and Bob Mansfield’s career with the company ended. The Mansfield Mac was near-perfect. Once absent, his successor focused on making the thinnest and cheapest notebooks possible.

The Mac became the iPhone’s stepbrother, acquiring hand-me-down technology, such as Touch ID, years after its sibling. Making it thin created mechanical defects, and its glued together assemblies, which must be wholly replaced, prove expensive to service.

The present-day Mac is a farce. The last two I personally purchased broke within six to eighteen months for no apparent reason. After owning PCs for decades, I’ve never experienced anything so fragile.

Unless you’re a corporate user whose IT department has spares on hand, a celebrity with abundant resources, or one who gets special treatment from Apple, it’s best to avoid the Mac. Windows 10 PCs are less expensive, with top brands like LG offering military-grade durability. They also run many more apps than a Mac.

Most Windows laptops offer touchscreens. Apple fans dismiss this as useless, but when I use Ableton Live on my LG Gram, I can move the faders and knobs with my fingers. Apple doesn’t cater to the multimedia crowd anymore. If you’re producing music on a Mac, you still need to purchase external controllers or plod along the UI with a trackpad and pointer.

When it comes down to it, the Mac is for the ultimate Apple fanboy. Outside of developing apps for the Apple ecosystem, there’s no longer a rational case for purchasing a Macintosh.

What About the New M1 Macs?

Macs equipped with Apple’s new M1 processor are another reason to avoid these computers for now. Apple touts the M1 as offering fast performance with energy efficiency. The company cherry-picked specs to make the case that M1 Macs are radically superior to PCs. Intel fired back, demonstrating that many less expensive PCs are as good or better than Apple’s newest Macs.

The M1 Mac is encouraging. It’s a sign that Apple seems to be taking the Mac seriously. But we’ve all seen this before. The company appears to be rebooting the Mac and promoting its virtues, but when the market share reality hits, they’ll once again treat it like a stepchild. Four years later, they’ll get excited about the Mac once again. It’s a familiar pattern.

Beyond the hot and cold treatment, M1 Macs are bleeding edge. Much of the software has to run in a sort of emulator known as Rosetta 2. By Apple’s account, users won’t notice a difference. However, technology experts note that some non-native apps perform poorly on Apple’s newest machines.

The M1 Macs are new and should only be adopted by those who require them for work. If you’re a software developer and need to compile your app on an M1 Mac, you have no choice. The more casual computer user should probably skip this one. Perhaps the next M-series processor will realize what Apple is already promising. For now, it’s more hype than reality.

Just Say No to Apple TV

Apple TV, the brainchild of Steve Jobs, was supposed to be the company’s future, breakthrough product. The Apple founder believed this device would replace the iPhone as Apple’s flagship product. Time has shown quite the opposite, with Apple TV only earning 2% of the market share after over a decade on the market.

Apple invented the TV appliance. Before Apple TV, consumers interested in going beyond cable went the home theater PC route — a clumsy user experience, with wireless keyboards, mice, and lots of squinting at the TV. Apple TV fixed all of this, but it could never replace the cable box. As demand for cord-cutting increased, a slew of inexpensive competitors stole Apple’s thunder.

Today, virtually every new flat-screen TV has some smart capabilities. Most can play Netflix, HBO NOW, and other top services right out of the box. Apple TV is redundant for most consumers, as contemporary television sets give people most of what they want.

Although Apple TV can run apps, such as games, its capabilities pale compared to Xbox and PlayStation. Both of these devices can stream all of the top content providers.

Apple TV is a jack of all trades and a master of none. It’s an expensive streamer and a cheap, lackluster game console. The modern television ended up becoming capable enough. The technology could have been an opportunity for Apple if they had the ingenuity to partner with TV manufacturers. Although the company licensed its AirPlay technology to some televisions, it could have sold embedded systems running tvOS and the App Store. Apple could have dominated television; however, it was too distracted by the iPhone.

As the owner of two Apple TV’s, I can honestly say they’re mediocre products. tvOS is one of the most defective operating systems around, with severe, show-stopping defects. The other night, I was using my Apple TV, and my program continuously paused with a black screen. I restarted it, and it worked again. It’s just that any smart TV could do this simple task — playing a video from Amazon Prime — without the restarts. 

Apple TV fails to do its most basic task, and developers haven’t taken a shine to tvOS. It’s another Apple product to avoid. Spend the money on a better TV with built-in apps and avoid the hassle. It once took me 4 hours just to upgrade my Apple TV to the newest version of tvOS. It’s just another useless, frustrating gadget to maintain.

iPod Replaced By Smartphone

Apple still makes one model of iPod, and you shouldn’t buy it. It’s beyond obsolete. Sure, it runs the latest version of iOS; however, with its A10 processor, it’s a lackluster experience.

The iPod was Apple’s first smash hit product. The Macintosh never really succeeded. It was the iPod that became a household name and paved the way for the iPhone. Indeed, if the iPod never existed, Apple would have languished, and the iPhone would have never materialized. We’d still have smartphones, but they wouldn’t be the same.

The iPod is entirely pointless now. Even if you want to give one to a child, it’s cheaper to take the SIM card out of an old iPhone, essentially turning it into an iPod touch. That’s all an iPod touch is — an iPhone 7 without cellular capabilities. At $199 for the 32 GB model, you can get a much better Android phone for less. As for gaming, at least one can play Fortnite on an Android device.

Apple Grew Too Fast

For Apple, the iPhone was a blessing and a curse. Being a massively successful product, it’s still the chief revenue generator for Cupertino. It isn’t easy to manage expectations, as investors and consumers expect something better; however, Tim Cook can’t innovate like his predecessor. He’s a marketing guy with little vision, unlike Steve Jobs, who literally hallucinated the Mac.

When the iPhone became a smash hit, Apple had a tough time growing. The Silicon Valley is full of lucrative opportunities for the best and brightest college grads and seasoned engineers. A company like Apple has little to offer such individuals. There’s no chance to become a billionaire at Apple anymore, and to thrive in the Valley, you need money. Even a tiny condo costs half a million bucks here. Most Apple employees can’t even afford that.

When you have a hit product and can’t hire enough talent, reassigning employees is the best option. Apple pulled its top engineers off the Mac and repurposed them to the iPhone. This is why you shouldn’t buy a Mac. The Mac’s overall proportional revenue, compared to other Apple products, continues to decline. I expect the company to throw in the towel within the next ten years, discontinuing the Mac altogether.

The iPhone is Apple’s best product, but you can do better. Flagship Android phones from OnePlus and Samsung offer superior screens, cameras, and blazing fast performance. Android is a sleeker user experience, and the days of sluggish, buggy performance are long gone. My OnePlus 8 Pro is agile and more reliable than any iPhone I’ve used.

Apple has three flagship products — the iPhone, Apple stock, and its marketing. Working together, these three facets of the company manage to bring in vast revenues, for now.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that everything Apple creates is top-notch because your iPhone is decent. That’s precisely what they want consumers to believe. It’s called the halo effect. The iPhone casts a halo over its other products, which users assume to have similar properties. The iPhone isn’t that great, and Apple’s lesser products are much worse. The best thing a consumer can do is keep an open mind and be brand-agnostic.

2 comments

  1. With regard to the Apple TV, you did not say anything about the remote control. Personally, I hate it. It is too small to handle comfortably. One end looks almost exactly like the other so I pick it up wrong way ’round and my palm presses on the control pad sending nonsense commands to the unit until I figure out I am holding it backwards. The touch pad control is not sensitive enough. I think it is a haptic disaster. Tivo did a MUCH better job with their remote control. Comfortable in the hand, just the right number of buttons.

    1. Good points. I personally like the Siri Remote, but I have seen others struggle with it. And yes, what you say happens to me all the time. In the evening, I often hold the remote the wrong way. Perhaps the worst thing about the Siri Remote is that it shatters if you drop it. This has never happened to me, because I take abundant caution. Apple doesn’t warn users about this. They find out the hard way, and then spend $80 to replace it — half the cost of the whole Apple TV ensemble.

      I’ve made a note to update the article, informing people about the Siri Remote. The only saving grace is Asphalt 8. That game works so well on Apple TV with the Siri Remote.

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