Apple's Environmental posturing or The unmaking of an Apple iMac G5

Quite often you get to hear of corporate policies that make you wince but when you're on the receiving end, the wince gets deeper and lasts longer and might cause you to do some jumping up and down.

Us Jumping Up and Down

The story so far ... the editorial iMac G5 was accidentally tipped over and managed to break a section of the LCD when it landed. At first it refused to reboot but the next day it did and so at least the files were accessible and transferable. Approximately one third of the screen was usable.

Next we headed off to our local Apple store to get a quote on a new screen. Apple, in the past, have been amongst the most unfriendly of parts sellers but maybe that had changed? A lot of environment friendly rhetoric had flowed under a few bridges since we last checked.

But no, the screen quote made the machine uneconomic to fix - and not an ancient machine either.

Our next step was to contact Apple and ask, first of all whether the quote had been correct or if there might be any special programs we weren't aware of (support the arts, etc.). And secondly, if the answer to the first question left the quote unchanged, how does this policy of effectively obsoleting fairly new products, through their extortionate parts pricing, coincide with wider statements about environmental friendliness.

Them Jumping Up and Down .. or sitting still

The answer was that the quote was about right (though, nitpickingly, we had not chosen an authorised dealer or super-dealer) and, somewhat predictably, that Apple wouldn't comment on the rest. We were, however, sent a handy link to the official line.

Us Jumping Up and Down Again

This noxious sort of parts pricing has been going on in quite a few industries for some time. Car makers have been standouts, especially with their habit of bundling bits together so you couldn't just buy the part you needed. Knowledgable people in this field then start telling stories about how to get the bit you need from other sources for a quarter or so of the price.

In the computer line of things, the PC is actually quite good as long as you're dealing with relatively common form factors. There's lots of competition amongst the bit makers and, importantly, the information you need is readily available.

Apple is a different kettle of fish: form factors (for all their beauty) are all over the place and information is quite hard to get... a fairly ideal situation for a bit of price gouging.

What to do?

If you're concerned about this sort of thing, then you'll support another manufacturer. Or you could continue to support this one and make some sort of noise ... enough people, etc. 'Think Different' is a good slogan we think, and we intend to replace the G5 with a secondhand IBM Thinkpad (not Lenova, ever) which will run Linux primarily and Windows XP for one app we need that is only on Mac OSX and Windows.

Other considerations

If we were a bit closer to relevant lawyers we might well also ask if something that fell over so readily and managed to break itself in the process was, in fact, unsuited to its task - in other words whether there had been a design fault.

Media considerations

Yes, we live in the real world too, although we try to compromise a lot less than other media appear to do - well, let's not be mealy-mouthed - "bought and paid for" are the words we're looking for here... mostly.

Transparency is one thing Mstation is about and so we'll do some of that - if all this had happened a couple of years ago we would have thought harder about whether to run this story. At that time Apple were extremely helpful generally, providing us with loan and review equipment as well as software for review. For some reason all this changed (perhaps someone who liked us left, to be replaced by someone who didn't "get it" - some big companies would be totally amazed to discover this level of pettiness in their outsourced PR offices) and then all we got was continual protestations that whatever we were interested in was temporarily out of stock - well, prermanently really, as the items never seemed to subsequently be "in stock"... Which is all quite funny in a way. And so, really, who needs 'em?

OK, We've almost stopped jumping

... Unless it was about the iPod Nano that was either lost or stolen by their courier. We had witnesses to say it was picked up but they did pester us for a while afterward. Anyway, this gives us an excuse to think differently again, and talk about it - The iPod range is deservedly popular for its looks and ease of use and its link with iTunes. We, however, didn't like to carry a separate gadget for music and, at that time, used a Nokia 6600 for music and phone. Now it's a Sony w880 which we reviewed recently. The iPhone hits this spot but there are other aspects of it that we don't like. And we don't like iTunes. Why? The short answer is because it's sanitized: There are barriers to smaller bands getting on iTunes which make it uninteresting generally to us, and also, because we know what we're doing, and what we want to do with soundfiles, we frequently found it was a hindrance rather than a help. Also, we think that Apple and iTunes are getting too much power in this field.

Dirty laundry? Well, that's transparency for you.

MyTunes? Well, it will take a big player to give iTunes a shock or even make a contest. We dismiss P2P as being generally unfair to artists (but don't get us started on the blockheads in the big labels and at the RIAA) and so ... think Myspace - approximately a gazillion bands from commercially huge to tiny outfits. Why not a client that does similar things to iTunes? Mr. Murdoch happens to be one of our least favourite people in the universe (but there are also rumours he wants to sell Myspace) but there, in one go, you have an iTunes competitor.

That's it. We're done here.

iMac G5 4 Sale!

1 loving owner. Item has lost the first bloom of youth and could even be said to have lines on its face. Other bits work fine at the moment. Good for parts or someone with a G5 with fried innards but a good screen. You'll need to be somewhere near Berlin, Germany, for this to be economic. Comes with original box! Use the contact page to own it now!

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