THE BLOG
12/26/2013 04:20 pm ET Updated Feb 25, 2014

Is Apple Introducing a New Generation of "Dumb" Users?

Bloomberg via Getty Images

As a Mac user myself, I'm often the first to snap at anybody telling me "Linux is better!" or asking "Why did you purchase that machine for £2,000 when you could have got more in a PC for less?!", but is there something behind this? Peer pressure has been present in the industry since... well... the first computer was built, and I often see many of my friends and colleagues purchasing new luxuries just because their peers are. The Macintosh is a prime example. Some of my friends use the term "convert" when they talk about me recommending the Mac to Windows users and I guess there is some truth in this. I don't have any issue with Windows though -- quite the contrary, I actually fell in love with Windows 8 when it was released last year.

Are the people who "fall in love" with Macs stupid, gullible individuals? Well this argument could be used with any fanatic of any operating system. But there's one thing that possibly makes the Mac user more "dumb", as it were: the incredibly closed nature of the system -- which even Steve Wozniak, the co- founder of Apple, complained about when he met me for dinner in October. Woz loves everything open-source and fights for his rights as both a software engineer and a human being. We discussed how he always told Steve Jobs that the system should be more open, to allow more customization and collaboration between its users. However, as we all know, Jobs disagreed with this and perhaps it was one of the most negative strains on their relationship at Apple. In the end, Jobs got his way (as usual), and decided to take some of the control away from his users, in order to deliver a more secure, friendlier experience. As a result of this, Linux and other FOSS (Free and Open-Source Software) Unix users, especially, have been complaining that there is much less room to innovate and build upon the system.

When creating either Mac or iOS applications, developers are limited by what they can do. It's slightly better for Mac devs, because they don't have to publish their application through the Mac App Store and therefore they can freely use private APIs, but those developing for iOS don't have a choice. They are only allowed to do what Apple's tells them they can. For example, apps cannot interact with any of the system settings (brightness, WiFi and Bluetooth are just a few) and send/receive data with other applications locally. On one hand, many of us can just look over at the Android users huddled over in one corner of the room, joyfully pretending that they love their devices and wouldn't change them for anything, and see that actually 80 percent of their apps are spammy, useless and poorly-designed (ok, so that's a bit of an understatement). So iOS wouldn't be iOS without it's locked system -- only allowing apps of supposedly superb quality to be let through the gated doors of the App Store, but then there are some really cool ideas for apps which just can't happen because of the restrictions.

One example of this was Soundwave. I have been following Soundwave for a while now, ever since Stephen Fry spoke about it in London at the Regent Street Apple Store. Their Irish founder, Brendan O'Driscoll, told me that at first he wasn't able to upload the app to the App Store, having spent months building the concept from scratch. O'Driscoll then emailed Apple's Senior Vice President of iTunes, Eddy Cue, to see if he could "pull some strings" and allow their app into the ever-growing store. He gave them some tips on how they could change their app slightly to adhere to Apple's guidelines and they were finally able to release it. The app had over 165,000 downloads in just shy of two-and-a- half weeks back in July and has since had many more, with backing from Stephen Fry, U2's Bono and Apple's Co-Founder Steve Wozniak.

soundwave

One of the biggest hinderances of the Mac, is the slow disappearance of the command-line. Although Terminal still exists -- who really uses it on a day-to-day basis? A considerable amount of my friends would do so, but they're software developers, not every-day users, like my parents for example.

"Command-line?! What the hell is that?"

Without a proper, fully-functional command-line implemented into the operating system, people are no longer able to sort their own issues. If there is a unique bug in the deep layers of code on a Mac, the Apple Store geniuses will just shush you and say, "No worries dear, we'll get a replacement in for you this afternoon!" As lovely as the "geniuses" are -- they aren't geniuses at all, and neither are the average Mac users. They're taught to visit the Apple Store every time they have a problem with their operating system; something that many can't do as they might not have a store located within 25 miles to their house. The horrible truth is, Mac users are pretty stuffed if something goes wrong and they can't get to speak to a genius. To even get a replacement you must visit one of Apple's stores to prove that your device is broken. I have often noticed, that with Linux users -- they often see bugs as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn something new and fix an issue themselves. As Linux is open-source, they can then commit the changes in a new update. Many of these users are called "hackers," but as many influential names in the industry (including Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg) have touched upon, hacking is not necessarily evil and some don't even consider that when they use the word. Everybody is happy, no?

Certainly some of the biggest advantages of having a Mac must be the intuitive display, the beautiful glossed icons which bounce up and down to make you forget you were ever waiting for anything and having pretty much everything given to you on a plate. But do you use a Mac, and if so, is it making you dumb?