You Should Stop Buying Apple Products, Here’s Why:

Planet Earth (TFC) – If you’re an avid user of Apple products then there’s a good chance you’ve probably broken at least one in your life. What you may have fail to realize is that broken iPhone represented a golden opportunity; an upcoming decision and a metaphorical fork in the road between Apple and Android. I’m going to explain why the Android route is the ideal direction in which to travel.

2006 was the year I owned my first and last Apple product and I hated it, especially the difficulties I encountered trying to figure out how to add music to it without destroying my friend’s library or my own. It was an original 4th Generation iPod and given to me as a hand-me-down. In spite of the inconvenience that its old style proprietary cable poses, I used it for a short while until it was replaced by the music player in my Android phone. I still have that 32Gb iPod, I’ve just stripped it of everything that makes it Apple. Now I occasionally use it for external storage. This year marks a decade of my distaste for the Apple company and it’s products, so let’s celebrate. I’m going to explain why I’ve never purchased an Apple product, nor will I ever own one again… and neither should you. Here’s why:

Computers shouldn’t be used for censorship and Apple devices are a platform for censorship.

All Apple products come standard with “Apple Store” and “iTunes Store” that allow users to download any app, song, book, movie, or TV show of their choosing, right? Actually, not exactly.

The Apple Store only allows users to download content permitted by Apple. The company has banned countless apps from their Apple Store and rejects any book submissions that even mention a competitor’s name. For instance, a book titled “How To Think Sideways Lesson 6: How To Discover (Or Create) Your Story’s Market” was automatically censored and rejected by Apple’s iBooks store because it had “live links” to Amazon. When author Holly Lisle removed the links and resubmitted the book, Apple rejected it once more, stating that they wouldn’t sell her book due to its mention of Amazon. Amazon still sells many Apple products on their website, though, because the folks at Amazon are decent people.

In 2010, A Wikileaks app was deauthorized from the store, effectively using censorship to promote censorship. Most, if not all Bitcoin apps have been blocked or removed by Apple. Another app denied within the Apple Store titled “Drone+” provides up-to-date information on drone strikes around the world using reports collated by an organization that tracks usage of unmanned CIA aircraft. After multiple rejections accompanied by lackluster explanations, Josh Begley, the developer of Drone+ decided to focus his efforts on developing his app for Android devices.

Creative freedom, increased access to functionality, and lack of censorship practices has led many developers to avoid the hassle of Apple altogether and flock to Android, especially for development purposes.

Apple has yet to take sufficient action in order to ensure humane working conditions for those meticulously assembling the next generation of iThings.

As I’m sure many of you know, Apple outsources their manufacturing jobs to several companies and countries around the world. One of those many companies is The Foxconn Technology Group, whose parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry, currently reigns as one of the largest manufacturers of electronics and computer components on the globe. Foxconn’s factories, along with similar factories, are responsible for the assembly of the iPhone, iPod, the Mac mini, and the iPad amongst others. These factories in China double as cities, some with walls around the perimeter. All factory employees live on site in housing near the factory. Foxconn and others alike produce millions of Apple products each year and employ tens, even hundreds of thousands of workers in each factory-city.

The inhumane conditions of the laborers that piece together your iPhone continues to occur. By use of threats, intimidation, and instances of public humiliation according to some reports, draconian working conditions are often being forced upon laborers at these factories, and have been neglected or improperly handled.

This story originally made headlines in the summer of 2010 when 18 workers attempted suicide by throwing themselves from the window of the factory, 4 survived. The Foxconn factory where this occurred has been scrutinized and audited for poor working conditions, yet made few significant changes to working conditions until after the incident. In an effort to prevent subsequent deaths of employees, Foxconn installed “suicide nets” outside factory windows. As Images of these nets circulated around the world, the incident became a rather damaging bit of negative publicity for Apple, reinforcing the necessity for Apple, Foxconn, and other electronics companies to address the inhumane practices within their supply line more seriously.

In recent years, Apple has continued to be heavily criticized for the unfit working conditions that make up the foundation of their products. What’s more, aside from making empty promises, they initially did little to address, let alone work towards a solution to the problem. Apple originally commented on the controversy saying: “Apple is committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply base. Apple requires suppliers to commit to our comprehensive supplier code of conduct as a condition of their contracts with us. We drive compliance with the code through a rigorous monitoring program, including factory audits, corrective action plans and verification measures.”

“Driving compliance” of Apple’s own accord was presumptively either ineffective, poorly enforced, or perhaps never occurred at all as suggested by Apple themselves in an announcement dated February 13, 2012. In the announcement,  Apple revealed it would be relying on the investigative research provided by The Fair Labor Association (FLA) to assess the specifics of labor rights abuses within its supply chain.

According to Apple, subsequent investigations would follow stating: “Similar inspections [to those of Foxconn] will be conducted at Quanta and Pegatron factories later this Spring, and when completed, the FLA’s assessment will cover facilities where more than 90 percent of Apple products are assembled.” The FLA released a report a month and a half later detailing several serious labor rights violations at the Foxconn factories assembling Apple products.

Image Source: Feras Hares, Flickr, Creative Commons Apple Space Wallpaper-Black  Black Version of the Wallpaper

Image Source: Feras Hares, Flickr, Creative Commons
Apple Space Wallpaper-Black
Black Version of the Wallpaper

Violations reported within the three factories inspected include: unpaid compensation, inadequate wages,underage labor, violations of workers’ rights to freedom of association, excessive overtime, and a slew of safety concerns..15 hour work days are said to still be routine occurrences despite the 60 hour per week limit. During heavy production times of the year, conditions worsen. For instance, reports claim that to meet the overwhelming demand for the release of the first iPad or annual releases of new models, laborers had been given ultimatums and coerced to take just one day off within stretches of up to two weeks.

Every year Apple releases a report outlining their progress regarding the working conditions of their factory laborers. This year Apple claims that they’ve made progress and managed to meet the limit of 60 hour work weeks with 97% efficiency. It should be noted that Apple’s reform reports are frequently overstated and equivocal at times. Claims of progress in past similar reports have been negated by findings from both The FLA and China Labor Watch on different occasions. In previous years, Apple’s own data has revealed the exaggeration within its own testimonies. All of Apple progress reports can be found on Apple’s Supplier Responsibility webpage. Admittedly, I have skepticism regarding Apple’s actual progress and the validity of their statements.

The average monthly salary of a Foxconn laborer can be as little as 1350 yuan, or $205.35. In a standard American 40 hour work week, that comes out to be approximately $1.23/Hr. Which by comparison is an arguably higher paying job than others in China. That wage still is just enough to afford rent in the towering dormitories where most employees reside. What’s left is often sent to family members in rural villages, who in many cases, live on even less. Apple affirmed years ago that they would be committed to wage reform for low-wage workers. Even with billions and billions more in profits being made each fiscal year, no action has been taken and to this day, no noticeable wage increase has ever occurred.

  • Morality, empathy, and dignity > profit.

Labor rights violations and unethical work conditions are not a problem exclusive to Apple.

Granted, most compact devices on the market today are assembled in factories with conditions comparable to those in Apple’s supply chain, and some perhaps are assembled within the very same factory. Proper measures to prevent Inhumane working conditions are being neglected by companies whose devices run Android as well. There is no arguing that, but the demand still needs to be made in order to hold these companies accountable for violations. Strict measures need to be taken to ensure that they indeed are supplying required resources, making commendable efforts, and providing sufficient funds in order to pave the way for progression. Until guaranteeing acceptable working and living conditions for fellow human beings becomes a regular practice. As long as the greed and neglect of a select few outweigh morality, very little will change. We as consumers can pressure these companies to conduct business in a much more ethical manner. Though none of us may be able to personally accomplish a worldwide reform of working conditions, we can still make a difference. There are men and women on this planet with the power, funds, and authority to considerably influence and/or enact these kinds of change, and these men and women have names, phone numbers, and email addresses. Let them know.

Below is contact information for both Apple and Samsung:

 

Apple
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 996–1010

tcook@apple.com

 

SAMSUNG Electronics North America
Attention: President & CEO Gregory Lee
85 Challenger Road, Ridgefield Park, NJ. 07660 USA
(973) 601-6000

ykkim@sea.samsung.com

samsungpr@edelman.com

Apple is a massive patent bully.

As a means to corner the market and shake down other developers for their lunch money, Apple is constantly purchasing patents with the foresight of someone creating an app or game vaguely similar to an already patented Apple program. Apple preemptively buys these patents and then proceeds to threaten copycats with lawsuits, even if the developer was previously unaware of the resemblance. As an app developer, becoming an unsuspecting victim of bullying tactics like these can be a major concern. An example of this absurdity is patent D670,713. The “invention” titled “Display screen or portion thereof with animated graphical user interface” gives Apple the exclusive rights to the “page turn” animation in an e-reader application. That’s right, Apple owns the animated page turn, an illustration that was featured in cartoons back when Steve Jobs was still alive and had a full head of hair. This kind of behavior by Apple is deterring would-be developers and veterans alike, not to mention stifling the market.

In addition to Apple’s patent aggression, they  don’t publish the set of conventions, or “API”, through which its products and iTunes communicate. Instead, they change it constantly. The likely goal of these continual changes is to make it more difficult for developers to access Apple services with third-party applications. Once again enforcing limitations on technology and it’s users.

Apple devices are a threat to your privacy.

To operate Apple’s magnitudinal network of services for managing contacts, calendars and correspondence across all its devices, Apple owns many sizeable server farms. Server “farms’ or “clusters” are huge collections of computer servers that supply server functionality far beyond the capability of just a single machine. Apple’s server clusters consist of many thousands of computers. These server farms house petabytes of data on Apple customers. Though all servers are vulnerable to attacks, Apple’s cloud services are less secure due to the lack of sophisticated security features in comparison to Linux based devices. As proven with The Fappening’s notorious iCloud nude celebrity leak incidents. Also, iOS is run on all Apple devices and is proprietary, which means no one except Apple can monitor or change it to know exactly what is and what isn’t being sent to the Apple mothership.

You want to be a real thinker, but with Apple, you’re not free to tinker.

There’s virtually no way to escape the restrictions of Apple products without a significant amount of manipulation and possible hardware modifications. Apple has taken security measures on their devices that prevent a user from changing the operating system. Apple also uses very uncommon screws to hold their products together, further complicating the process of altering the device if so desired. Technically according to Apple, If you try to change the software or hardware on your iThing, it voids the warranty. Apple’s lawyers can also consider you to be a criminal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

What makes an Android device so much better than an Apple product?

Side by side, an iPhone simply doesn’t hold a candle to it’s Android counterpart. So for all you diehard Apple junkies out there still on the fence, I’ve compiled a somewhat complete and opinionated list of things which undeniably prove Android has a leg up to iPhone. If you’ve owned both an Android and an iPhone, then you’re probably already aware of some of these advantages:

  • Android conveniently files screenshots, downloaded pics, and pictures saved from messages into their own folders.
  • Android has a visible file system. Copy, move, organize is as easy as drag-and-drop. Apple doesn’t provide that kind of access to all your files.
  • Android doesn’t care where your music comes from, nor does it ask. No need to download two separate programs to access music and pictures. Just plug it in and do what you want.
  • Androids don’t require proprietary equipment for power and functionality. Any micro-USB will charge an Android. Why? Because they’re universal and widely implemented already. No-brainer.
  • The majority of newer Androids have infrared blasters on the top. Most commonly used with Universal remote apps. iPhones? No, iPhones do not come equipped with IR Blasters. Sorry.
  • Androids have removable covers and batteries. If your battery life isn’t what it used to be, you can remove it and replace it with a new one. Can’t do that with an iPhone.
  • Most Android phones have a microSD card slot for removable storage. Which makes it cheap and easy to install more space for your stuff.  The storage capacity you get when you take an iPhone out of the box is all you’ll ever get.
  • Google Maps comes standard with every Android. Apple’s Maps isn’t nearly as good, but iPhone runs Google Maps nonetheless. Try not to get attached, though, Apple doesn’t let you make it your default GPS app.
  • Android offers hundreds of more customization choices than iPhone.
  • Androids can be “rooted” and given full administrative access to the phone. Rooting an Android allows a user to bypass limitations that carriers and manufacturers put on the phone. Rooting can also extend system functionality.
  • Installing a custom ROM (a modified, aftermarket operating system) on a rooted Android can give your phone an entirely new look and feel.
  • There are ROMs that can improve the performance of your phone by replacing the kernel with hyper-optimized versions or even overclocking the CPU. The possibilities with a rooted  Android device are nearly limitless.

Why do I so frequently condemn the “forbidden fruit?”

For many years I’ve not only thoroughly complained, ranted and raved, and condemned Apple publicly and privately but I’ve consciously refused to buy anything from Apple or their online marketplaces for all the reasons described above and undoubtedly several more that I forgot to mention. To me, Apple products are unfit for use by any consumers who calls themselves “free”. If nothing else, these devices are underutilized and sophisticated tools. The problem is, over time by trying to make their device “user Friendly” they’ve catered to lay-people. Haphazardly pacifying critical thought and creativity in a society with an already declining intellect. For Apple, reaching toward the forefront of technology has taken a back seat to accessibility and profit. For the small price of functionality and freedom, Apple has ensured that even toddlers and the elderly can use their products with virtually no risk of accidentally developing a new Stuxnet.  There really is too much “Appleness” crowding the world of technology today. I’m an advocate for open source file sharing, though I don’t under any circumstances condone the piracy of Apple software, please don’t do it. Apple’s famous “Terms and Conditions” attached to the 134th version of iTunes released this quarter do not need to be spread about any more than they already are .Apple is detrimental to the progression of technology and human intellect. That’s why I resent their company and their practices.

All things considered, I’m no worse for the wear. In all actuality, I feel good for not contributing to Apple, and I’m probably better off financially considering how much I’ve saved avoiding their ruthless nickel and diming.

As consumerist slaves, we ultimately decide whether the next fancy tech device proves to be successful or flops, For that reason, being an informed consumer is of utmost importance. We don’t have to settle for Apple’s heavily restricted devices and services. We don’t have to accept unethical production of technology or mediocrity. Public understanding of the clear downfalls of iThings coupled with the refusal to use them sends a clear message to Apple. A message that exclaims:


“I will not support any form of human suffering in the name of profit. I will not support oppressive corporations, nor will I be duped by their products. I refuse to be throttled or stifled by superfluous technological restrictions. I refuse to use mandated software that charges a fee for access to its full functionality. I have no desire to own or obtain digital media enforced with licenses more restrictive than copyright laws. I do not support excessive use of DRM as an attempt to prevent file sharing and the willful editing of digital media. I will be no part of Apple’s long, illustrious, and seemingly perpetual history of digital boundaries, unethical practices, or mass censorship, and I plan to keep it that way.”


 

Reader’s Note:

***In the event that you want to do a good deed and you just so happen to be reading this on an Apple product, try this out: First open one of the GPS apps that Apple has hand-picked and so generously allowed you to use. Then with that app, find directions to the nearest second-hand cell phone dealer or pawn shop (providing they haven’t been censored from the list.) Next, enter the store and approach the person at the register. Then exchange the Apple device in your hand for any amount of money you’re offered. Take that money and then donate it to a charitable cause. Finally, make your way home and relax. Finally, don’t forget to take a brief moment to appreciate all the little things we take for granted as you raise your right hand and solemnly pledge to never again touch an Apple device for as long as you shall live.

 

This article written by Clint Peterson for The Fifth Column.