Look closely at my article’s headline. What do you see? A question mark. This may be one of the few instances where Betteridge’s Law of Headlines does not apply.
The question is posed to any Apple customer, be it Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Music, iTunes, Watch, Apple TV, AirPods, Beats headphones, or whatever else Apple sells these days. They all form components of what is called the ‘walled garden.’ I’m here to tell you that’s a good thing.
Nice Big Brother
Apple’s entire ecosystem has been negatively characterized as a walled garden of sorts, a Disneyesque land where technology gadgets work well together. Apple is the nice Big Brother. Big Brother? Isn’t that negative? Think George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The tyranny is ostensibly overseen by a mysterious leader known as Big Brother, who enjoys an intense cult of personality. The Party “seeks power entirely for its own sake. It is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solely in power.
Does that sound like Apple?
No. We can leave Apple’s walled garden ecosystem at any time, though it isn’t always as easy as the rebellious and critics would prefer.
Look around. What do you see?
Technological chaos. It’s everywhere. Products over there don’t work with products over here. The battery in that product can’t replace the battery in this product. And don’t get me started on cables and power cords and power supplies. It’s a jungle out there. Apple provides peace and serenity.
Throughout its publication history, Nineteen Eighty-Four has been either banned or legally challenged, as subversive or ideologically corrupting, like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, Kallocain by Karin Boye and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Some writers consider the Russian dystopian novel We by Zamyatin to have influenced Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the novel bears significant similarities in its plot and characters to Darkness at Noon, written years before by Arthur Koestler, who was a personal friend of Orwell.
There is so much about Apple’s walled garden ecosystem that benefits customers that we could and maybe should be suspect of those who want to leave. Maybe it’s their poor diet, or lack of exercise, or allergies, or chemical imbalance, but why would an iPhone or iPad or Mac user want to leave the Disneyland of technology for Westworld. Nothing good comes from such moves, other than some who leave Apple are never heard from again. I think of such moves and disappearance as pruning the vine.
In the good old U.S. of A., most Americans live well within an hour drive of an Apple Store. What do you get there? Everything you need in your technological life. Product support and service. A place to hang out with friends and neighbors and co-workers who have joined the Apple collective because it brings peace and comfort to our otherwise chaotic technology lives.
Yes, Big Brother is watching us use our Apple gadgets, but he smiles, and, for a price– you must always pay the price– he is there to help when needed and many times when not needed. Or wanted. Compare that loving atmosphere with owning a Samsung Galaxy whatever. Have you ever seen a Samsung employee? What about Google and Pixel and Pixelbook? Have you ever seen a Google employee?
Yes, Microsoft, ever trying to diversify itself by copying Apple, has their own stores, too, each filled with Microsoft products and employees and hardly anyone else. If you’re going to copy Apple, at least do it right by building a line of products that customers want to see, touch, and use.
How does Apple’s walled garden treat you? That old battery in your old iPhone? Apple made it work better by throttling the degeneration problem, and since no good deed goes unpunished we have Batterygate and lawsuits. Those who mock the Nice Big Brother will have their day and it won’t be pretty.
The truth should be obvious. All gadget manufacturers have their line of products, their customer base, and their own ecosystem— to be attracted to or to disdain. Apple just does it better.