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Apple’s Wasteful Press Event

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I am a Mac user and have been since 2001. My first computer was an Apple  IIgs. My current phone is an iPhone. Overall, I am a huge, huge fan of their products and design ethos. So much so that I follow every Apple press event in a live feed, even if I don’t plan on buying anything new for some time. One such event was yesterday, when Apple Senior VP of Marketing Philip Schiller, remarked on stage that over 600 Million people are using PCs over five years old, and that “this is really sad.”

Seriously, siddown. Source: The Internet
Seriously, siddown.
Source: The Internet

No, Phil–Can I call you Phil?–this is not “sad.” This is a good thing. Having a computer over 5 years old is fine (PC or Mac).  Firstly, your statement is pretty ironic, considering Apple spent the opening of this event talking about ecology and how your company is putting the environment first.  Adding to the insane amounts of e-waste in the world isn’t a great thing.

As I’ve mentioned before, I refurbish laptops for the needy, and the amount of unused, perfectly good machines that I see makes me shake my head. Know what? There are a ton of people who are more than happy to have a machine from 2011. I would go so far as to say most machines from 2008 (or even 2007, if they are a Core 2 Duo) are more than suitable for a basic machine. There’s little to no compelling reason for anyone not involved in gaming, content creation (audio, video, art, etc.), or development to use anything more powerful. It’s not going to make a difference.

Although if you see this on boot, update the OS right away! Source: Microsoft.
Although if you see this on boot, update the OS right away!
Source: Microsoft.

So why write about this for GeekDad? Because, as parents, it’s our responsibility to teach our kids to not be wasteful. To not want things for the sake of wanting them. My daughter knows she can get a new cellphone when her contract is up, but can does not equal should. Something is obsolete when it’s not useful for the job you need it for, not just because there’s a newer version. We need to teach our kids to get the best out of what they have, not to always desire the new. Implying–hell, stating outright–that a computer is bad because it’s older than an arbitrary date is just, to use Schiller’s own words, sad.

It’s even sadder coming from Apple, considering how one of the arguments for Apple ownership has always been the longer shelf-life of the device. A 6-year-old iMac or Macbook Pro can still run the latest Mac OS with almost every feature and maybe need a RAM update. On average, I would say an Apple device has a 7-year shelf life.

Unless it's a model that used an NVIDIA graphics card with ball solder. Then it lasts 7 days.
Unless it’s a model that used an NVIDIA graphics card with ball solder. Then it lasts 7 days. Source: Wikicommons

Who knows–maybe Mr. Schiller is just upset that a whole lot of people are perfectly happy not upgrading their iPad (or would be, if not for software crippling, anyway).

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15 thoughts on “Apple’s Wasteful Press Event

  1. I can’t fault your logic (I still use a 2006 Mac Pro, it’s a truck) but have you used a 5+ year old Windows based PC? They get buggier the older they get. I pity anyone stuck on Vista (or earlier).

    1. Hi Sean – I have indeed used 5 year old PCs; they’re the bulk of what I fix up for people. 7 came out in 2009, way more than 5 years ago. I rarely run into Vista (when I do, I install Chromium).

      A 2011 PC with a clean install of Windows will smoke that 2006 Mac Pro.

    2. Hmmm, wait a second. My 2006 Q6600 with a GTX 8800 is still fast enough to pity your 2006 Mac Pro. Even with if it would still run on vista with SP2, which naturally is kind of silly with $29 price tag for updating from vista to 8 and then to windows 10. I would even go so far that it still smack talks to a 2008 mac pro. 😉

      What 5+year old windows PCs usually have is a case of “PEBCAK”. 5 years mistreating windows will leave its marks, OSX is for sure more robust in that regard, but at the same time those issues vanish with a fresh windows install.

      Besides that: Stop bashing vista :p
      64-bit vista with 8GB ram still did run better than XP, had a better UI as well (stolen a lot of OSX features actually) and was overall a pleasant user experience. Because let’s face it, you must be insane as os X user to accept something like XP which comes without a spotlight and dashboard clone.
      Which reminds on of all those windows users that still love their XP, insanity! 😉

      If you are talking about ~5 year old PCs then we might talk about computers which run on 10 without trouble and can be or have been updated for cheap into VR-ready machines. Basically my wife’s desktop. Did outlast that 27′ iMac (late 2009) as well, guess there is a reason they stopped using high tdp desktop graphic chips in iMacs after that one …

      1. Ok, ok, ok. Guys, before we get into a pissing match about who’s is what, let me just say my experiences are anecdotal and not backed up with scientific evidence.

        (With regard to my Mac Pro, yes, I’m sure there’s lots of faster machines out there but it’s not about speed. My Pro is not factory anymore, and specs around a 2012 model. I have Mavericks running smoothly on it. I can boot and/or run Windows apps and games. It’s 64 bit and despite the bus bottleneck, I hardly notice it. Also, there’s been ONE trojan to market and it’s already been squashed.)

        My experience with Windows dates back to the early 90s and I can tell you that I completely understand why a full fledged tech head nerd would love it. I do. But why they would want to push it on to a normal is beyond my understanding.

        I have had to chase down bugs and weird anomalies, that may or may not be features, in every version of Windows. Usually to help a regular person get their PC back online. And myself too. I’ve worked at dozens of different studios and shops that have had Windows, OS X, or some flavour of Linux or a mix of all.

        When I get to a Mac I can get it configured in about a minute or less and go (I don’t really need to configure it to work but it makes me more comfortable). When I’m in a Windows based studio, as I am now, it takes about a week to shake out annoyances that crop up. And if you have to install an update to one driver, better be prepared to update them all. I found several “features” in Windows 9 that had frustrated other staff here for weeks. I found a way to turn these features off, to the relief of everyone. These so called features don’t exist in the OS X environment.

        The problem with Windows is the complexity and inconsistency, from years of legacy, are confusing to the everyday person. I know they’re trying to fix that with 10 but even with 9 there are features that are completely inscrutable. And it’s 2016 fer crying out loud! Trying to mash together a touch and desktop UI is a mistake. Sure, one of these days it’ll be better but I’ve been saying that since 1995.

        Don’t get me wrong, Macs and OS X are not without it’s issues! But when I show someone how to use it, especially someone coming from Windows, they more often than not say “that’s it?”.

        Anyways, if your PC is older than 5 years and you love it, more power to ya!


  2. Thank you! My PC is ollldd… I know this. You know what?!? Three laptops have died in the time I have had my PC and the newer PC doesn’t have the programs like the old ones did. I don’t like the app based Windows. Yes, I said something about needing to upgrade it the other day and the salesperson was shocked I am still running on Vista but it works.

  3. My first tower computer – that was mine alone – lasted for about seven years. My first laptop which replaced it, about six.

    The only piece of electronics I need to need to replace after two years is my ASUS TF100, because it keeps slowing down on even basic things. Though that just could be Windows 10. :-/

  4. Apple really has backed themselves into a corner, if this is their new company strategy. Their stellar QA and better-than-average materials and design means that all of my iMacs have lasted far longer than most PCs I’ve used. I’ve got a 2011 iMac and see no reason to upgrade (though an SSD and Retina screen *would* be nice).

  5. I think that there is a growing trend in society of hanging onto functional items for a longer period of time. Just last summer, IHS reported the average age of vehicles on the road was a record-high 11.5 years old. Part of it is still not feeling the impact of the economic recovery in your wallet. Part of it is environmental consciousness. Part of it is the maker culture and ease of repairing your own stuff rather than thinking that everything is disposable.

    Mordechai is right on for calling Apple out on this “sad” notion that just because they need to see a sales spike by releasing a marginally better piece of equipment with minimally better specs that we should all rush out and buy one.

  6. While not being wasteful is a great lesson, understanding value is another. There’s an age threshold for electronics (especially Apple devices) where it becomes more valuable to sell or trade in your current device and upgrade. It’s often more costly to hang onto a device until it’s obsolete and has no resale value. Repurposing old machines for those in need is an awesome use case. But keeping a fast upgrade cycle isn’t wasteful, especially when your older device is being resold or even, say, repurposed for those in need. It makes more sense to me to stick with the latest and greatest by offsetting my upgrade costs with the sale of my old device. It brings down the overall cost of Mac upgrades, and it has meant only paying cash for my first iPhone and getting all the others for a net cost of about $0. Wasteful? No. It’s more like being a savvy consumer.

  7. a well said article. I agree with you. To many of us are used to this Throw away society. We do not try to recycle or keep on using it until it finally dies and then recycle it. Hell, i am a regular at the Best Buy store when it comes to e-waste. I find a phone on the ground, it goes to best buy or to the local zoo for their recycling bin for cells to be reused. Maybe you could do a series of blogs talking about E-waste and best practices? Such as items you can refurbish to items that maybe should be recycled.

  8. Here Here! Any chance this critique can snowball into a backlash? I doubt it since recycling would really eat into their profits.

  9. I know a guy who is still using a very old (like 1995 vintage) PC because he prefers to use the DOS version of a particular program. It works for him.

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