This article was published on September 12, 2018

I’m breaking up with Apple’s product launches

It's you, Apple. Not me.

I’m breaking up with Apple’s product launches
Matthew Hughes
Story by

Matthew Hughes

Former TNW Reporter

Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twi Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twitter.

For the longest time, I thought of the annual September Apple product exposé like Christmas. Trust me, the parallels are there if you look for them.

Let’s start with the most tenuous link. Saint Jobs, like Saint Nick, had a beard. So too does his protegé, Saint Jony, although it sometimes veers into disheveled stubble territory, rather than the full folicular product.

Facial hair aside, both Jobs and Santa Claus are the figureheads of a yearly orgy of unabashed consumerism. And like Christmas, the buildup to the September Apple event was a crescendo of excitement.

There’s another parallel I want to talk about, and it’s the reason I’m penning this piece. As I’ve gotten older, my enthusiasm for the Apple event has waned much like it has for Christmas, and this year I’m giving it a miss entirely.

You can find me in the pub. I’m taking the evening off, and will be chained to a pint of Guinness rather than my keyboard. Don’t worry, my colleagues have it covered and will be working hard to keep you informed about Apple’s latest wares. But me? I’m just mentally checked out, and here’s why.

No alarms, no surprises.

Let me share a little secret with you, dear reader. In the weeks preceding any Apple product launch, pretty much every publication and blog covering it will prepare some coverage, based entirely on the (usually accurate) rumblings of the rumor mill.

We’ll write (in industry parlance ‘stub’) a piece based on the information available to us at the time, and as the event unfolds, we’ll update it with imagery and any new facts. This allows us to get coverage out quickly, but it also means that whatever “breaking news” you read tonight was likely penned weeks earlier.

Boring, right?

I’ve noticed that over the past year, the rumor mill has become astonishingly accurate, to the point that we can publish pre-written content with the most minimal of modifications. There are no surprises whatsoever.

Sticking with the Christmas metaphor, it’s a bit like finding out what your presents are before you unwrap them. While you might be grateful to get a new Scalextric set, will you still have the same sense of excitement and surprise on Christmas morning? Doubtful.

You can’t always get what you want

This bit’s a bit more subjective, but I can’t be alone here. Has anyone else noticed that Apple’s output in the last few years has been a bit… meh?

It’s virtually abandoned its more consumer computer products, like the MacBook Air (which, side note, might actually be getting an update this time around after years of neglect) in favor of impractical and overly expensive boondoggles like the post-2016 MacBook Pro.

Rather than pushing the envelope, Cupertino is wasting time and effort on white elephant technologies like the TouchBar, and trivialities like Animoji. And frankly, I don’t want to work late just to watch Craig Federighi pretend to be a chicken on stage.

Apple, which previously defined the smartphone and computer industry and was a shining beacon of innovation, has long ceased to excite me. It’s stagnated.

Money, it’s a gas.

While Apple’s arguably resting on its laurels as far as tech goes, its PR and marketing machine is second to none. A feature of every launch is a mawkish video about how Apple’s technology is making the world a better place.

That’s all very nice, but is Apple itself a force for good? That’s less obvious.

Apple is one of the most aggressive corporate tax dodgers in the world. It was reportedly able to cut its EU tax burden to just 0.7 percent, thanks to some creative accounting and corporate structuring. Other accounts suggest it could be as low as 0.005 percent. Not a typo.

Given Western Europe has gone through a prolonged and destructive period of austerity that has pushed millions into poverty, and worn down the social safety net, this feels deeply unethical. While the company may have remained within the letter of the law, it shows a questionable commitment to its civic duties.

Apple’s tax arrangements in the US have also drawn scrutiny from journalists and elected officials alike, and when the company held a launch event at a Chicago public school earlier this year, I couldn’t help but think: “Did you help pay for this?

I just don’t like how Apple works as a company. Its ethics and worldview is completely at odds with my own. And with that in mind, do I really want to work late to cover one of its launch events?

Do what you do

I just want to be clear about something. This piece is just my personal opinion. If Apple’s launch events still manage to get your blood pumping, that’s awesome, and I sincerely hope you enjoy tonight.

But for me, I just can’t think of one reason why I’d want to stay late and cover this. With few surprises on offer, and a company that continually manages to disappoint me (both in terms of product and its ethical behavior), I just don’t see the point.

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