The myth of the Mac has come crashing down under the weight of Apple’s ample market share, and I’ll be the first to admit—I take a lot of joy in the fact that this supposedly premium computer brand is finally getting its comeuppance (full disclosure: I’ve owned multiple Apple devices over the years, and am typing this on a 2014 MacBook Pro that’s had more than its share of issues and is currently overheating like an ovulating dog at senior prom).
Here’s the deal: for years, we’ve been hearing that Apple products are unhackable, unbreachable, and largely uncrashable. Use only Apple-approved software and hardware components, and you’ll never have a problem. All your data will stay secure, all your programs and apps will load quickly and run smoothly; the products can even take more of a physical beating than the competition and still keep plugging away. iPhone fragility put that last claim to rest years ago. I’ve never owned an iPhone myself, but given the number of times family and friends have taken to social media with their shatter-screen woes, it appears they break more frequently than Teamsters. Still the other myths regarding Apple’s software invulnerability have persisted.
To be fair, you have to rely on a bit of anecdotal evidence to see a significant challenge to the “uncrashable” part of the Apple mythos; as far as I know, Apple doesn’t publish statistics regarding the number of times users have screamed in frustration at the spinning rainbow wheel of death that just won’t go away. My personal experience tells me that much of the software that used to make Apple king for many consumers – iMovie, iTunes, each generation of the Mac OS – has grown increasingly buggy and crash prone. Beyond that there’s a clear growth in the number of problems and complaints on popular Mac forums. There’s also the fact that, while researching this article, Google wanted to autocomplete my search of “Apple products” with the words “break,” “made to break?” and “suck.” Like I said, anecdotal.
It’s the software’s vulnerability to attack that’s showing the biggest change, though. Recently Bit9 and Carbon Black issued a report identifying 2015 as “the most prolific year in history for Mac OSX malware. Then, a group of white hat hackers managed to snag a million-dollar bounty offered by Zerodium for developing a technique to remotely hack any iPhone or iPad simply by getting users to visit a specific website. Around the same time, Claud Xiao of Palo Alto Networks announced he had discovered a new malware infecting the Xcode compiler—the development platform created by Apple itself and used by makers of iOS apps, Mac OS programs, Safari extensions, and add-ons/programs for basically all Apple products and operating systems. 3,500 iOS apps that made it to the App Store are known to be infected, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg (or the stem of the apple?).
When fewer than 1% of the computer-owning public had ever even handled an Apple device, there wasn’t much incentive to find a backdoor into their operating system. The fact is that the iPhone has helped Apple break corporate revenue records by selling as many units as other entire industries (more iPhones were sold in the past quarter than TVs – all brands of TVs combined). With the iPad and Mac computers also capturing significant market share, the game has changed.
So what’s changed? Has Apple truly gotten worse as it’s diversified, allowing its software supremacy to slip while the company tries to dominate the music industry, considers breaking into TV and film production like Amazon, is increasingly engaged in professional-oriented products in healthcare and other industries, and so on? Possibly, but there’s also a simpler explanation: Apple’s products and systems finally have enough presence in the market for hackers to hack them, and for people to start paying attention when vulnerabilities are exposed.
It’s not that Apple is necessarily worse than any other major computer manufacturer or software developer out there, it’s just that they had such a height to leap from. Once their market share grew large enough, gravity was bound to kick in—even Newton could have told you that the apple always falls from the tree.
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John Wilson says
While I will say that Apple has a “premium” product that seemed to be less crashy than others in the past, that has slowly started to change. The MacBook’s are still top notch, but the iPhone has taken a little turn for the worse.
Thomas Hunt says
Sometimes its tough to be on Apple’s side and then they release the new MacBook and I’m all like, “Oh, ok, you do like me again!”
William Simmons says
No kidding, like just about the time I am about to throw my iPhone out the window, there is a new shiny object to look at and love again.
Dexter Shook says
The iPhone fan base is really what is keeping it alive in the end. Just the fact that people WILL pay for an Apple accessory, because APPLE says you need to is beyond me.
Dexter Shook says
Well, Apple is the leader in “innovation” and when it comes to making sure that you can actually innovate for the consumers, the company might have a good game plan!
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Carl Holman says
Apple is a company that has been around a long time and I still cannot believe that it hasn’t been hit by the slumping economy.
Karen Taylor says
Very interesting article. Apple has been at the top of the market share game for so long, it was only a matter of time before it came down. That must be a weird feeling for them, but is the company actually worried about a drop here or there when they gain so much back after a new phone release?
Daniel Guttenberg says
Haha! I don’t know how worried they are–they seem to be headed in a few different directions–but we’ll see where things are in twenty years.
Denise Gumm says
Apple has been at the forefront of technology for many, many years now. It was only a matter of time before companies started to produce products that were better and those that pulled consumers away from Apple. What I have seen over the years is that many of those that were pulled away, tend to head back to Apple in due time.
Daniel Guttenberg says
They’ve definitely been at the forefront of consumer-friendly technology–Apple knows how to sell, there’s no question.
Emil Hudak says
I agree they can sell. Only as long as we are all buying the products are they able to tell us what we “need’ when it comes to that technology.
Bobby Austin says
Market share is such a weird metric. Of course Apple is going to have a majority in the mobile market, but did they ever have the home computer market? Just the fact that Apple might be losing share gives consumers a good feeling knowing that other companies are here to replace them or at least pick up some slack.
Staci Kelley says
I agree. Market share can come and go as the sun rises and sets. However, when you are talking about how much Apple has, that is not a fluke. They build great products and know how to market them. It will take A LOT for another company to figure out the process there.