5 Times Apple Has Treated Its Customers Badly
Apple is a major force in today’s tech landscape. It makes products that are widely purchased and generally adored by customers. Apple also treats its customers well, routinely landing near the top of customer satisfaction surveys. But just because customers are usually satisfied doesn’t mean Apple always makes all the right moves. There have been a number of times when Apple has fallen short of its promise to make customers happy. Here are a few of the standout moments.
1. Removing the MacBook Pro’s “time remaining” feature
Apple touts its Touch Bar-equipped 2016 MacBook Pro as providing about 10 hours of battery life. While Apple is normally one of the industry’s few straight shooters when it comes to battery life specs, many reviewers and customers complained that they weren’t getting anywhere near that much out of their batteries. They said they were getting more like seven, or even five hours out of a single charge.
One way they knew how much battery life they were getting was by looking at the “time remaining” feature, which explicitly tells you how long you can expect your computer to keep running. According to reviewers’ tests, the time listed tended to be accurate.
In response to this controversy, Apple could have updated the MacBook Pro’s software to make it last longer, if it was a software issue. Or it could have changed the MacBook Pro’s spec sheet to reflect real-world battery life more accurately. Instead, Apple issued an update that removes the “time remaining” feature, claiming it wasn’t accurate. Meanwhile, battery life remains the same five to seven hours, but now customers can’t glance at the corner of their screen to see how much time they have left. Thanks, Apple.
2. Lack of upgradeability
If you like being able to upgrade your computer, the 2016 MacBook Pro is not the machine for you. That’s because, unlike in many previous models, Apple has gone to great lengths to make this machine difficult to take apart and, in some cases, impossible to upgrade.
For starters, Apple uses special proprietary screws that can’t be removed using standard screwdrivers. If you buy the proper screwdriver and open up the machine, you’re still limited in what you can do, because everything is glued to the case. Making matters worse, the RAM, processor, and flash memory are all soldered directly to the logic board, so don’t plan on swapping those out.
It’s so hard or impossible to upgrade most of the MacBook Pro’s components that the site ifixit gave the machine a repairability score of 1 out of 10.
3. Ditching the iPhone’s 30-pin dock connector
In the glorious years between 2003 and 2012, iPods, iPhones, and iPads had a 30-pin connector port used for charging and transmitting audio. A whole sub-industry of charging docks and speakers emerged around this dock connector. They were everywhere from hotel nightstands to — very possibly — your own kitchen counter.
But then 2012 rolled around, and with it came the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 was a little bigger than previous iPhones and came with an aluminum back. But, annoyingly, it didn’t have a 30-pin dock connector. In its place was another proprietary piece of hardware: the Lighting port. The Lightning port is smaller than the 30-pin connector, but it also made all of those speakers, charging stations, and cables millions of customers had bought useless (without a clunky adapter).
In fairness, the history of the gadget industry is littered with peripherals whose usefulness came to an end because of changing standards and new technologies. The introduction of the Lightning port wasn’t a major catastrophe, but it made a whole lot of people throw away their old gadgets and buy new ones — new ones that will only be useful until Apple changes the port again.
4. Inconsistent enforcement of censorship
Unlike Macs and PCs, the iPhone isn’t an open platform. You can’t put any old app you want on them. That’s because iOS is a “walled garden,” meaning Apple must approve all apps available on the App Store.
That’s not always bad, seeing as it helps keep things like malware and viruses off your phone. But it also stops developers from making content you may want, like apps featuring political satire, nudity, and some forms of violence. Oddly enough, all of those things are very much present in many of the books and movies Apple has no problem selling.
5. Removing the headphone jack
When Apple announced the iPhone 7, you didn’t hear many people talking about its new features, like water resistance and stereo speakers. Mostly, people were hung up on one feature it didn’t have: a headphone jack. The 3.5mm audio port has been in use for nearly 50 years, but it’s nowhere to be found on the latest iPhones. Instead, Apple includes headphones that plug right into the iPhone’s Lightning port — which means you can’t charge your phone and use headphones at the same time.
According to Apple’s thinking, wireless headphones are the way of the future, so why should precious real estate be wasted on a dedicated jack? But for many people, a headphone jack is still the most convenient way to listen to music. All change comes at a cost, but were the benefits worth the cost? Probably not.