I loathe Apple products – the primary reason being that the hardware you buy is inseparably coupled with the software, and the software isn't...erm, the best out there. I've had my work Macbook die on me multiple times. A strong feeling of helplessness overcomes you when that happens.
Over the years, I've fixed boot issues, OS issues, software issues countless times for myself and people around me. With the Mac, if a software issue kills the macOS, the options are very, very limited. Worse, you cannot even salvage the hardware using a USB-bootable Linux OS. You cannot flash an alternate ROM on your iPhone (albeit the practice of doing this on an Android phone has been steadily reducing).
I'm thinking of this because I had to replace my microwave a few days ago. And I had to get the washing machine fixed, a smartphone repaired, a laptop replaced. Each year during the monsoon, multiple devices in my household decide to seppuku. Then comes the time to decide repair vs. replace – the odds overwhelmingly in favour of 'replace'. Sometimes the device has outlived its expected life, sometimes the repair costs are upwards of 30% of the product's purchase value, sometimes the charm of online shopping and discounted prices lures you.
I rate the microwave as the second most important device in my life, lower than the laptop but higher than the smartphone. It's an ingenious invention that we take for granted.
Okay, time to replace. Browse product catalog. Hmm...two products with the exact same specs. What could possibly explain the price difference? What could "F" and "B" in the product code mean?
Sales Agent: "F is for the floral design on the front. B is for Black"
Me: "Nothing else?!?!"
Sales Agent: "Nope"
Me: rolls eyes
This reminded me of the Pixel 5A. Almost the same phone as last year, but with minimal upgrades and a lower price, here's yet another product that will end up in a landfill in ~15 years when the battery no longer holds charge.
Can you exchange your old product for a reasonable discount on a new product of the same family? Nope, we can only offer you a paltry sum in exchange, and we reserve the right to fix and sell your product at a huge markup and a shorter warranty for the "refurbished" product sold to our next "valued" customer.
If you tend to purchase white-goods from the same company as your current malfunctioning product (as I do), you immediately notice a few things. The materials used are remarkably worse in quality. Good paint job. Bad glass, metal, plastic, rubber - everything is lighter, flimsier. Critical parts are built with materials designed to wear out quickly. Better buy the AMC! But there's no guarantee we'll even offer an AMC for certain products after a few years.
It drives me nuts.
Companies are clearly abusing the clarion call to "save the environment" to their benefit, pushing a large volume of ever-so-slightly different products but with marked up prices, built with inferior materials that have nowhere to go but landfills.
Take laptops, for instance. When Intel 8th Gen laptops hit the market and sold for ~36k-40k, they almost definitively satisfied the need for 90% of the general computing consumers. Why aren't older gen laptops available and selling for cheaper now? For students or teachers? Why can't they be manufactured and sold at volume simultaneously, as your shiny new <pointless-name>-lake processors target power/business users? When will the advancements in chip fabrication technology, smaller nanometer chips, start actually reducing prices for consumers?
The base price for a good general-compute laptop has steadily increased although tech and cost-effective manufacturing processes have improved. Even before the COVID and silicon shortage issues that hit us last year, you could see where these industries were going.
Expanding margins and profit.