Every company has its opponents, but Apple really gets people worked up. Some people hate Apple a lot, more than they hate Nazis or Smurfs. They leave angry comments on Apple blogs. Based on my extensive observations of the species, Apple-haters fall into five categories. If you're an Apple-hater, which one of these categories do you fit in?
You believe buying Apple undermines your individuality. You see yourself as making a bold stroke for your individuality and freedom by your refusal to buy Apple. You use words like "brainwashed" and "lemmings" to describe Apple fans.
These haters frequently have very poor grammar and spelling. Many of them seem to be barely literate. They also often have issues with alternative sexuality, accusing Apple fans of performing acts of love with Steve Jobs that were, until recently, illegal in many states.
Is this a good reason to hate Apple? No, it's dumb. Your choice of consumer products says nothing about your individuality. The true individual doesn't care what the herd does, he does what's right for him. Sometimes that means forging a unique path, but other times, what the masses do is just fine. If your sense of individuality is bound up in the consumer products you buy, then you have no individuality at all -- you're just one of the Body of Landru, kidding yourself that you're a unique special snowflake.
Moreover, Mac OS has just 5% market share, Windows still runs on more than 90% of desktops. The iPhone is only the third most popular phone in the U.S., lagging Android and BlackBerry. If Apple is trying to absorb everyone into its universal groupmind, they're doing a poor job of it.
You hate Apple culture. Your favorite word is "arrogance." You look at Apple's secretive culture, its slick stores, its polished advertising campaigns, and you think that Apple feels it's superior.
There is some truth in this. Apple does feel it's superior. But they're hardly alone. Everybody who works in the computer industry thinks they're superior to everybody else. The same is true for Christians, Jews, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Americans, Europeans, Objectivists, and New Yorkers. It's part of the human condition to think that your tribe is better than everybody else's tribe.
Is this a good reason to hate Apple? No, it's dumb. What do you care what Apple thinks about you? Do you get worked up in a hissy fit if the barista at Starbucks looks at you funny?
The more you go on about Apple's "arrogant" culture,the more you reveal about yourself, your own insecurities and father-issues. Go get therapy, give yourself a hug, and shut up about Apple already.
You've had a bad experience with Apple products. Every company produces occasional lemons, and if you're stuck with one of them, you're likely to hate the company that sold it to you.
Is this a good reason to hate Apple? Heck, yes. If a company sells me a bad product, or gives me lousy service, they're dead to me. I'm still holding a grudge over a bum Compaq laptop I bought in 2002. I have a voodoo doll of Carly Fiorina that I torture whenever I'm felling blue. Carly, you know that pain you occasionally get in your lower back? That's me.
On the other hand, relatively few people have had bad experiences with Apple. Apple has great quality control, its customer satisfaction rankings are routinely among the highest for retail experience, the App Store, the iPad, its technical support, and the iPhone.
But what about the iPhone 4's antenna problems? Surely that caused Apple's customer satisfaction ratings to drop?
Did they? I haven't seen any surveys to support that data. It appears that if you're in an area where service was already marginal, the iPhone 4's antenna design will make it worse. If service where you are is good, then you shouldn't notice a problem. The iPhone 4 antenna problem apparently only affects a few people; its effects were magnified by an echo chamber of journalists and bloggers.
But if you're one of the people having problems with the iPhone, or with any other Apple device or service, then I don't blame you for hating Apple.
Apple isn't right for you. There are great swathes of people for whom Apple products simply aren't right. Apple is rarely the right choice for large and medium-sized businesses. The company doesn't provide the kind of close, hands-on relationships that these customers require.
The iPhone isn't for everyone. Phone service is poor in many areas of the US, including New York, San Francisco, and Boston, so if voice calls are still very important to you, then you're better off with an alternative. Likewise, if you want tethering, true multi-tasking, an open operating system, or Flash support, then an Android is a better choice.
Is this a good reason to hate Apple? No, it's dumb. I don't like McDonald's, but I don't spend a lot of energy denouncing it. I just don't go there.
You hate Apple's closed architecture. By refusing to buy Apple, you see yourself as striking a blow for freedom. You believe that Apple's control over the App Store is an affront to your right to read what you want to read, view what you want to view, and run whatever software you choose, without Daddy Steve Jobs telling you what to do.
Is this a good reason to hate Apple? Well, half-and-half.
App Store restrictions protect the consumer. The iPhone is a device for people who don't want to take a lot of time customizing, managing, and learning to use their phone, and App Store restrictions mean consumers spend a lot less time worrying about porn (which many people don't want to see, even if it is also popular among many others), malware, and junk apps.
App Store restrictions do sometimes go too far, as when Apple blocks a a Pulitzer-prize-winning political cartoonist and an app from a Republican Congressional candidate. That was wrong. And while Apple reversed itself on those cases, we don't know how many other cases there may have been where the wronged app developer simply walked away quietly.
However, even when Apple blocks an app from the App Store, you're not blocked from seeing the content. Apple does not block content on the iPhone Web browser, just in the App Store. So porn and political speech that are blocked from the App Store are still available in the browser.
Overall, my beef with the App Store restrictions aren't that they exist, they're that they need to be better. I want a native Google Voice App -- Google developed one, but Apple rejected it. I want an app that will let me update all my podcasts automatically, over the air, without having to sync to iTunes; Apple blocked a podcasting app in 2008.
While Apple kills those useful apps, it allows more than a hundred fart apps, including iFart Mobile, Atomic Fart, Fart Piano, 1,000,000 Fart Generator, and something called "Bluetooth Fart" (because, presumably, USB and Firewire farts just weren't good enough). You stay classy, Apple.
Still: Apple is not blocking your choices. Apple isn't the only choice in any of the markets it serves, you can always buy an Android phone, a Windows desktop, and download your music from Amazon.com. If Apple is trying to control America's thoughts, they're doing a poor job of it, an alternative to Apple is on the next aisle of any electronics store.
Raging against Apple censorship is just a cheap way to make you feel brave. You really want to be a freedom fighter? Go argue with the mullahs in Tehran. Until then, take off your Che Guevera beret and stop congratulating yourself.
Apple haters fall into five overall categories. Which one do you fit in? Did I miss one? Leave an inarticulate, angry comment below.
Mitch Wagner is a freelance technology journalist and social media strategist.