“If an evil monarch forced you to choose...”
May 11, 2017 5:12 PM   Subscribe

Which Tech Giant Would You Drop? by Farhad Manjoo [The New York Times] “Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are not just the largest technology companies in the world. As I’ve argued repeatedly in my column, they are also becoming the most powerful companies of any kind, essentially inescapable for any consumer or business that wants to participate in the modern world. But which of the Frightful Five is most unavoidable? I ponder the question in my column this week.”
posted by Fizz (103 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. Facebook
2. Apple
3. Microsoft
4. Amazon
5. Alphabet

I've already given up Facebook & Apple. So this isn't too difficult a challenge for me. I'm sure I could learn to adapt to another OS for my desktop but Microsoft (Windows) is easy and familiar at this point. I don't like shopping from Amazon in the same way that I don't like shopping from Wal-Mart. Alphabet (Google) is probably the one business/tech-giant that I'd most have trouble giving up as so much of my digital life is built around this one hub. Though, I'm sure I'd just move on to something else.
posted by Fizz at 5:17 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


  1. Microsoft
  2. Facebook
  3. Amazon
  4. Apple
  5. Google
Now if we were talking Jobs-era Apple, flip the last two.
posted by entropicamericana at 5:21 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


If Amazon provided search, this would become more interesting.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:24 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


If Amazon provided search, this would become more interesting.

Just Jeeves it.
posted by Fizz at 5:26 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Can I drop Farhad Manjoo? Why on earth is this guy given a platform to disseminate his inane ideas?
posted by jwest at 5:27 PM on May 11 [37 favorites]


Theory: Apple is becoming irrelevant when compared to these giants because they are not diversified.

Personally I'm the most dependent on alphabet. I think that will only worsen as they slowly take over the world. And although I don't shop on Amazon, I'm aware they control the servers that I do rely on.
posted by latkes at 5:28 PM on May 11 [6 favorites]


1. Microsoft
2. Amazon
3. Facebook
4. Alphabet
5. Apple

I already don't use any Microsoft products. Haven't ordered anything from Amazon in years. I could give up Google before Facebook, but maybe not YouTube. And finally, I guess I'm still an Apple fanboy to the core (but having given up Microsoft and Alphabet, really no choice here).
posted by rodlymight at 5:31 PM on May 11


If Amazon provided search, this would become more interesting.

How quickly we forget A9.

Theory: Apple is becoming irrelevant when compared to these giants because they are not diversified.

That's because Apple is currently helmed by their version of Steve Ballmer and his business model is "coooooast."
posted by entropicamericana at 5:32 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]


And although I don't shop on Amazon, I'm aware they control the servers that I do rely on.

An outage from 2 months kind of woke me up to this very fact. Much of the East coast just stopped working because of a few lines of code and so many servers went down.

I provide technical support for a cellular company and we were dead in the water, unable to use the program that we log all our tickets/e-mails with. It was kind of terrifying how quickly shit just halted to a dead stop.
posted by Fizz at 5:34 PM on May 11 [6 favorites]


"That's because Apple is currently helmed by their version of Steve Ballmer and his business model is "coooooast.""

Sadly true...
posted by jwest at 5:34 PM on May 11


Microsoft lived artificially long for me because I use my Xbox a lot. Windows I've already ditched.
posted by corb at 5:34 PM on May 11


Apple
Microsoft
Facebook
Amazon
Google

Apple, easily. I only use it for iTunes and iTunes is a hot mess. I like my iPod shuffle but can't really be arsed to buy into the Apple ecosystem further (especially now that google music is easy to use).

"What will your friends say when you lose access to Apple’s messaging service and your texts start coming in green?"

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU GROWN-ASS ADULT???? GET DIFFERENT FRIENDS.

MSoft -- I like Windows fine and use it, but I have a Chromebook that's great. I migrated off office years ago in favor of Libre Office, the only person I Skype with is cortex, and I don't XBox.

Facebook -- that'd be tough because my whole gigantic extended family uses facebook to keep up. I originally got on it because my book club schedules events there. I don't use messenger (after a very traumatic experience!) or whatsapp. I would maybe give up FB before MS, I'm not sure.

Amazon -- I've been shopping at Amazon since 1998 and I do way too much shopping there but man it would be hard to give it up, especially when I still have kids in carseats. 2-day Prime is just too convenient when you have little kids. And you can pry my paperwhite from my COLD DEAD HANDS. I am long over falling in love with my technology, but I WOULD MARRY MY PAPERWHITE. (I did recently acquire an Echo and it's kinda fun! But totally live withoutable.)

Google -- I am so deeply enmeshed in Google's ecosystem it would be very hard to extricate myself. Search, sure, but Keep, Docs, Gmail, Maps, and Calendar are very central to my life.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:35 PM on May 11 [6 favorites]


Easily Microsoft. I didn't use any of their products to any non-trivial extent personally after Windows 3.1. (I played Minecraft a bit, but mostly before they bought it, and I did crowdfund/get a GPD WIN, a Windows 10-based pocket-sized PC, but that's been mostly sitting in a drawer.)
posted by acb at 5:37 PM on May 11


Regarding the server outage mentioned above, I've been wondering when someone will fly a plane into some server farms, or into Sunnyvale. I think we can all see where power is moving.
posted by latkes at 5:41 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


And finally, I guess I'm still an Apple fanboy to the core (but having given up Microsoft and Alphabet, really no choice here).

No, no, you're fine, it turns out that this is the year of linux on the desktop.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 5:42 PM on May 11 [14 favorites]


Theory: Apple is becoming irrelevant when compared to these giants because they are not diversified.

Apple are also the only one of these companies that's not tied to a surveillance-capitalist business model (gather lots of data about the users, make a show of trying to be “balanced” about privacy, but use that for ad-targeting, psychological modelling and potentially other adversarial uses). Apple's model is to make solid margins on selling the user desirable devices (and, to a lesser extent, services) and not touch their personal data with a bargepole, and they're leveraging this to differentiate themselves from Google and such. So even if their user base shrinks, they may end up occupying a niche for people who don't like being prey to algorithms. (This niche may grow, as awareness grows, or alternately shrink if we enter a dark age where only the elites can afford privacy.)
posted by acb at 5:42 PM on May 11 [21 favorites]


Considering that an increasing amount of the internet runs on AWS and Azure I don't think anyone is getting away from them any time soon. Google Cloud Platform is significantly behind those two in terms of PaaS but between search, chrome, android and g suite I think Alphabet is also pretty solid in terms of foundation.

Facebook and Apple are incredibly strong and popular but both are extremely dependent on their walled garden product set. In theory Facebook could become the next Myspace or Yahoo in a bad way but on the other hand I have expectations that they could leverage all of their user analytics into something extremely powerful. Apple seems strong right now but part of their dominance is about being perceived as cutting edge (particularly around the SmartPhone/Tablet market) but a major sea-change in terms of computing platform like the change related to smartphones could leave them hurting badly. Combined with the fact that they are in effect being forced to compete with both Samsung and Alphabet on their signature platform makes their future somewhat challenging.
posted by vuron at 5:43 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


The dropped first and last stats are interesting. People really hate Facebook, and rather like Alphabet and Apple.
posted by rodlymight at 5:46 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I find the tone of this article objectionable. "Ha ha, you stupid rube! You make different choices than me and are obviously stupid!"

That said, obviously you give up Apple last. The rest of these companies are run by Bond villains.
posted by Automocar at 5:47 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


1. bye bye Facebook! :)
2. Apple
3. Microsoft
4. Amazon
5. Alphabet

I can't read good so I thought the question was that I was forced by the evil monarch to eliminate these tech companies for everyone else including myself and answered accordingly. Then I realized it was just for me personally which is a totally different and much less exciting question. Sadly that would move Microsoft to #1 because I need Excel to do my job.
posted by eeek at 5:47 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


I have never had anything to do with Amazon, or Apple. I am growing tired of hardly speaking to real humans, and using Facebook. I am considering dropping Facebook, and Instagram.
posted by Oyéah at 5:51 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Facebook obviously is thrown out of the lifeboat first. Microsoft is second because they have been dicks for too long.

The boat, lighter, with more food and water to go around, will safely reach shore with Apple and Google safely aboard, and it will be discovered that Amazon could have summoned rescue, a la Tony Stark, at any time.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:52 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


(especially now that google music is easy to use)

Ahahahaha. I use Google Music all the time because I like being able to upload things I’ve purchased elsewhere to the cloud and have a similar experience on my Laptop & my phone, but it is, like, a garbage product that takes forever to load, has clunky computer/Android sync-up, literally lags when I scroll down the page, and must be run from the browser without even a cursory excuse for a desktop application (though there is a clunky third-party solution). I mean, I love the one thing it has that it does well -and paying for a YouTube experience with no ads is a nice bonus- but it’s not getting the cream of Google’s developers.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:56 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


I need either Apple or MS but not both and really only because I need something to run Photoshop and Lightroom on. If you asked me to choose I'd ditch Apple just because of the better gaming support on Windows. I hate both MacOS and Windows about the same amount but since Adobe products don't run on Linux, I need one of them.
posted by octothorpe at 5:59 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


The amount of trust that Apple users seem to have in the benevolence of Apple seems interesting if misplaced.

Apple's apparent concern about privacy doesn't so much seem focused on the rights of consumers so much as leveraging Apple Pay as the premiere next-gen payment platform. Not sure if they will ultimately be successful though. But at the end of the day I expect they have stupid amounts of user data to leverage if their veblen goods become less popular.
posted by vuron at 5:59 PM on May 11 [7 favorites]


1. Facebook: I think I still have an account, but haven't logged in in years. Sorry for any messages I've not responded to. Screw Zuck and his political ambitions.
2. Apple: Grew up using OSX and kind of hate other OSes I've used. Continued iOSification and hardware lockdown may cause me to cave, though. I miss 10.6.8.
3. Microsoft: Excel is pretty useful. Other than that, meh.
4. Amazon: Don't use.
5. Alphabet: Hail Hydra
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 6:02 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Theory: Apple is becoming irrelevant when compared to these giants because they are not diversified.

Surely Facebook is the least diversified company in this list.
posted by good in a vacuum at 6:03 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Never been on Facebook, don't own a single Apple product, deleted my Amazon account a while ago, and use Linux half of the time already.

I'll be expecting my "more punx than you" award in the mail, thanks.

;)
posted by bigendian at 6:05 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


All of you saying that you "don't use" Amazon are ignoring the (stealth?) behemoth that is Amazon Web Services. It is used "behind the scenes" (as it were) at an enormous amount of companies, and when it has problems, so does the internet.
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:08 PM on May 11 [26 favorites]


...good point, namewithoutwords.
I guess it would depend on which server farm Metafilter is situated then.
posted by bigendian at 6:10 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Now I'm trying to figure out who among my family/friends/acquaintances are in the 1% of humans that axed Facebook last.
posted by eeek at 6:20 PM on May 11


Amazon retail itself didn't fully switch over to AWS until late 2010. It would probably be painful, but I bet others could (gradually) pick up the slack if it went away. Also, that's like saying you use Unilever products, because the vast majority of the people who provide you services on a daily basis use Unilever products.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 6:22 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


facebook - last year, apple would have been on the list to go bye-bye, but i bought a rather old imac, and yeah, ok, i like it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:22 PM on May 11


All of you saying that you "don't use" Amazon are ignoring the (stealth?) behemoth that is Amazon Web Services. It is used "behind the scenes" (as it were) at an enormous amount of companies, and when it has problems, so does the internet.

True, though that's one layer removed. Were that to disappear, either (a) internet services would die, all hell would break loose, and ultimately, the wretched remnants of humanity who survive would have to relearn paper-based office management and the use of landlines, or (b) someone else would step up, a lot of engineers would put in a lot of overtime and >90% of things would get ported to use the new service, without the users noticing any difference. (Same with Amazon, MS Azure and Google disappearing; whoever does hardware deployments at Rackspace and Heroku would have the mother of all headaches, but most things would get shifted over, and the user experience would be more or less identical.)
posted by acb at 6:24 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Facebook
Microsoft
Google
Amazon
Apple

Fuck Facebook. I'd find some other way to keep in touch with people. They're scummy as fuck.

Microsoft? Enh. Not much of their stuff I use, anyway. And if I could get off of LinkedIn and still have a career, I would.

Google... There's where it gets hairy as I use Google for email, and prying myself out of that is a tricky thing.

Amazon? I buy a lot of crap from Amazon. I just ordered 100 Magic Erasers for $10, for goodness sake. And I do like my Kindle.

But Apple? I'm literally surrounded by Apple Hardware. I like Apple products. Call it Stockholm syndrome, but I'm in it for keeps. I even like iTunes! (Though the cloud stuff sucks, and if you're using it on Windows, well... I'm sorry.)
posted by SansPoint at 6:32 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Apple's apparent concern about privacy doesn't so much seem focused on the rights of consumers so much as leveraging Apple Pay as the premiere next-gen payment platform

Cynically or not, Apple has made real strides in securing IOS devices such that they're unable to exploit the collective data they process. Not a few security experts (most famously, tptacek on Hacker News) recommend Apple as your goto 'basically secure' setup because they're getting a lot of security/privacy right, and making it easy enough that you don't end up defeating your own security precautions just to make it workable for yourself.

It would probably be painful, but I bet others could (gradually) pick up the slack if it went away.

The first time you virtualize is the hardest. The problem for AWS is that the second time is a lot easier and once you have a grasp of your virtual hardware needs and have bothered figuring out automation for deployment, it's a lot easier to justify moving a large site to a cheaper host.
posted by fatbird at 6:44 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


I've already dropped Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, and could drop Apple by switching to Linux and an Android phone if I had to.

Problem is, I started working at Google this year, so that kinda makes dropping Alphabet impossible. Drat! So close... 😐
posted by subliminable at 6:46 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


  1. Apple would be dropped first. Don't have anything with them now so I'd hardly notice.
  2. Facebook - I use them to publish my daily 365 project to my family but really if they are interested they could checkout my Flickr/Tumblr/or Twitter feed.
  3. Amazon would be next though this is really where the pain starts because of all the sites served via them.
  4. Microsoft next. Moving all my computers to linux would be doable but it would be a lot of work.
  5. Google I guess would be last but my life would pretty serverely impacted. Changing my email address would be the sharp initial pain but the suckiness of other search options would bring me down everyday. Plus what other option would be available for smart phones at that point.
posted by Mitheral at 6:55 PM on May 11


I thought this would be an easy choice - drop Microsoft first. But then I realized that I really like using their Visual Studio Code editor for my side project. It's nimble, does exactly what I need (edit text, git source control and Chrome debugging) and no more. It is so good it doesn't feel like a Microsoft product.
posted by Triplanetary at 7:06 PM on May 11


Doesn't some of Netflix run on Amazon services?
posted by drezdn at 7:07 PM on May 11


I've never had a facebook account. This used to elicit some pretty odd reactions from people, especially people I was trying to date, but lately it seems (at least in Brooklyn) that living facebook-free is becoming more normalized.
posted by overhauser at 7:21 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


1. I use Facebook but I don't really know why and don't care about anything that happens on there to anybody I know, so could pretty easily ditch it, and only don't because of inertia.

2. I don't use any Apple products because they are overpriced, underpowered, and the OS doesn't appeal to me - I actually find it counterintuitive, on both Mac and tablet.

3. Microsoft I guess? I use a Windows 10 PC, but it could easily be Linux Mint or the like. I do have an Xbox but it could just as easily be a PS4.

4. I don't use Amazon any more, but I do use Bookdepository, which is owned by Amazon. But I could special-order books from a local bookstore for stuff I actually want to own, or torrent them to my eReader for stuff I just want to read.

5. Google would probably be hardest because I have a lot of stuff in my Drive, a lot of stuff in my various Gmails, and watch a lot of channels on YouTube.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:31 PM on May 11


One of those companies is headed by a gay man in his 50's, who remembers. One of those companies is headed by a gay man in his '50's who remembers what it was like when his friends and lovers were dying wholesale and the Republicans said they deserved it. One of those companies has a CEO who told the feds to take a long walk off a short pier when they demanded his company decrypt a smartphone, so the feds had to hire hackers.

I wish I was purely Apple, but Amazon and Netflix is so nice these days ,and Apple TV and iTunes have lost their way, and I regret it, because when they come for me, One Infinite Loop will lawyer up and go to war.

Also, Steve Jobs was ethnically Arab. Truth.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:32 PM on May 11 [11 favorites]


1. Apple - I have never bought an Apple product for myself. I have a MacBook Pro for work, but I could manage my job from Linux if I needed to.

2. Microsoft - The only MS product I use is my son's Xbox, which I use as a streaming TV device since we already have it. $99 for another Roku would replace it quickly.

3. Google - I ditched Google Search in favor of Duck Duck Go years ago, and although I have a Gmail address, 95% of my email goes to my domain account, which is not hosted at GMail. I back up to Spider Oak, so although I use Drive a little for convenience I could drop it quickly.

4. Facebook - Without it I would never talk to anybody but my wife.

5. You can have my Amazon Prime account when you pry it from my cold dead hands.
posted by COD at 7:38 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


1. Apple
2. Facebook
3. Microsoft
4. Amazon
5. Google

First three are basically not part of my life already.

I could probably drop Amazon if I wanted to, although I have no idea how often Jet.com is just a proxy for Amazon shopping. So I'd probably want to move to a bigger city with like, actual stores first though. AWS-wise, I did sign up for a free VM, but I am already contemplating moving it to GCE, and Linode/DO are sorta fallback plans, as is ye-olde-colo.

Google though, is sorta everywhere. It's been over 10 years and still nobody has a comparable email app. Their phone system sucked the air out of Nokia's Maemo / Meego alternative. It'd be easy to turn off AdSense because I get negligible revenue from it, but I don't have a drop in replacement. Analytics I could replace with Piwik, but the data retention would be costly. Google domains is a nice to have, as their UI doesn't suck and is relatively featureful. Oh, and I guess I'd need to switch phone carriers back to tmobile or something.
posted by pwnguin at 7:44 PM on May 11


Ordered by personally perceived ease of abandonment:

Facebook
Microsoft (although actually, I rarely use any MS stuff at all any more - one machine for one game and quarterly or so ventures into Excel when looking at old spreadsheets)
Amazon
Apple
Google (because fuck your rebranding)

ordered by actual frequency of use, least to most:

Microsoft (significantly less than weekly)
Amazon (less than weekly, AWS not taken into account)
Facebook (multiple hours daily)
Google (multiple products, multiple uses, multiple times daily)
Apple (any interaction with a computing device in my household or work with the single exception of that one gaming computer)
posted by mwhybark at 7:46 PM on May 11


If I wasn't allowed to ever touch a Facebook product again it would take me months to notice. With the exception of one work task, if the same were true of Apple, it would take weeks. Microsoft or Amazon would take hours; Google would take seconds.
posted by penduluum at 7:51 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Bye-bye Apple.

Google helps me win internet arguments, Amazon sells me CPU, Facebook is how I meet my band, and Windows is the best available Steam launcher.
posted by Sauce Trough at 7:54 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


1. I have never owned an Apple product. I used to use Macs occasionally for work, but not in many years.

2. Facebook annoys me and my account is currently disabled. I'll probably turn it on again at some point when I get too paranoid about what I am missing, but I shouldn't, dammit. I HATE the way people get on there--strident and brainless. I hate the superficial culture of scan and click. I hate the devaluing of the word "friend". I hate how it hoovers up time like nothing else, yet leaves you unsatisfied, like you were really hungry so you ate a tub of lettuce. Now you're full of lettuce yet still starving. Facebook leaves me full of People yet still starving for human contact.

3. I could live without amazon, but it is gosh dern convenient. I'm always a little surprised when things arrived so quickly. And I'm not aware of any other single site where you can find such a broad array of things.

4. I get that Microsoft sucks, but unfortunately I am most used to Windows operating systems. I'm learning more about Unix at work, so maybe if I had to I could make the transition. I already transitioned from MS Office to Libre Office.

5. Alphabet is the one I would miss most. Google maps on my (Android) phone was my lifeblood when I was driving to mobile massage gigs, and it's still absolutely indispensable when driving anyplace new or far away. Calendar and its reminders gives me peace of mind that my shitty memory will not be allowed to ruin my life. Gmail has been my primary email for many years. The Google search engine is the only one I use anymore, usually multiple times a day. Youtube has a resurgence of Prince videos so I'm not giving that up. I store stuff on Drive. Google Voice was great for setting up a free business number. But yes, I would give up Google+. :-)
posted by nirblegee at 7:58 PM on May 11


I use Amazon for buying books, and get anything else niche off of eBay that I can, oftentimes used. No control over hosting but obviously lots of folks host with them. Facebook is nice for events and Instagram. Google has all of my personal emails from the last twelve years and a very helpful set of search tools. I have invested thousands of dollars into the Apple ecosystem - both Apple hardware and App Store software. I make money using Microsoft tools like SQL Server and Excel. Other than the eBay-instead-of-Amazon thing, are my patterns really that unique among Americans?
posted by oceanjesse at 7:59 PM on May 11


In order of ditching:

1. Apple: I own very little Apple hardware (at this point an iPad Mini which I got because I'm working with a company developing a mobile game for iOS), and have typically found Apple's ecosystem a little precious. I could lose them and hardly notice.

2. Facebook. I use it because everyone I knew prior to 1995 is on it, but my presence on it is fairly limited and bland. I could simply tell everyone on it that if they needed to get hold of me, to send me an email.

3. Microsoft. I use a desktop PC and Microsoft Word (which is an industry standard for my line of work), but for laptops I've largely switched over to Chromebooks and Google Docs is now generally sufficient for my daily writing needs. The major issue is not so much using Microsoft programs, etc directly but that everything runs on it or Mac; one can get some mileage out of Linux (if one has to), but everything on it has a steeper learning curve.

4. Amazon. Aside from Amazon Prime and all the goodies one gets from it, and the fact that generally shopping on Amazon is convenient for someone like me who lives in a tiny rural town with limited shopping options, I also have the personal issue that one of my publishers (Audible) is an Amazon subsidiary. Not entirely sure I want to give up the money I get from them.

5. Google/Alphabet. I'm so deeply in the Google ecosystem at this point that it's frankly difficult to imagine doing my daily work without it (Hell, I'm typing this on a Chromebook). I could do it (one nice thing about having one's own domain for 18 years is that everything regarding my online presence runs through it first, not one of the "big five"), but I wouldn't like it, and I would whine and moan about it like you wouldn't believe.

Also, from a practical point of view, one can ditch Apple or Google but not both -- at least, if one wants a functional smart phone. If one is willing to give up the smart phone life, and settle for a Jitterbug phone and a Linux laptop, I guess it's possible. But overall probably easier to stay with Google or Apple.
posted by jscalzi at 8:02 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


I was going to say that I don't use Amazon for anything ever, and that I thought it was mostly a US thing, whereas all the others were more internationally relevant. Just to be thorough though, I checked to see what companies are under Amazon that I may not have known about.

Guys, Amazon owns IMDB.

Free access to information is a huge part of why I love the internet. And now I feel so conflicted because I've always felt fortunate that I didn't have to support Amazon's policies when it comes to things like how they treat employees, LGBT authors, competitors, etc.
posted by A hidden well at 8:10 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


The hardest ones to get rid of are also the ones I most want to avoid. Bleh.

1) Microsoft - switched to Linux years ago
2) Apple - still have that old iPod classic, but could easily live without it
3) Amazon - since the author specifies that AWS-hosted content doesn't count, and I prefer offline retail anyway
4) Facebook - still use it for the local "Buy Nothing" group
5) Google - I ditched gmail and could manage switching search engines, but OpenStreetMap needs to step up their address lookup algorithms and the place I volunteer relies VERY heavily on gmail and docs...
posted by sibilatorix at 8:18 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Facebook goes first. I find it interesting that nobody really likes Facebook but still uses the service anyway.

Microsoft goes next. Never been a Windows guy, not much of a console gamer, and have managed to ditch Office in favor of other things.

Then goes Amazon. They're super-convenient, but I can still do my own shopping in person.

Apple is the one I love. I've weirdly dropped the Mac for most tasks in favor of iOS. The iPad is my favorite personal computer ever. I love my Apple Watch even though I never expected to; it was a gift that turns out to be really useful.

Alas, Alphabet/Google is the outfit I need. Although I prefer using iOS over Android, never cottoned to the idea to Chromebooks, and find their hardware design to comically disdainful to how people actually use things, my digital life absolutely depends on Google Search. Not to mention, I watch more YouTube than I care to admit.
posted by Eikonaut at 8:23 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


3 of those 5 companies are within 30 miles of my house so please keep using them all so my real estate value doesn't drop.
posted by GuyZero at 8:24 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


1) Facebook is easy, never got an account in the first place.
2) Apple next. Their services like iTunes annoy the crap out of me, our iPad leaves me pining for Android.
3) Amazon. I like the internets and AWS makes a big part of it work. Books too.
=5) Microsoft & Alphabet, couldn't do without either. All of my work revolves around MS products; Office, Visual Studio, Azure, SQL Server, Dynamics, etc. Searching with Google and my Android phone make the world go round.
posted by N-stoff at 8:46 PM on May 11


3 of those 5 companies are within 30 miles of my house so please keep using them all so my real estate value doesn't drop.

Please stop using them so that it is possible to rent in this area.
posted by grobstein at 8:53 PM on May 11 [14 favorites]


I have never owned an Apple product.

Then again I’ve never owned a Facebook, Google or Amazon product (I think I did have a Microsoft mouse at one point).

This is why this list of companies seems somewhat weird to me. Three of the five principally sell services, one mostly sells software (Bing and Surface notwithstanding) even if it wants to turn it into a service, and one mostly sells hardware. I guess “big tech behemoths” is a sort of category, but it’s so amorphous that it’s a bit like saying could you manage more easily without Walmart, BP or GM.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:04 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Alphabet has me by the gonads, but I'd never drop Apple (luv u iPhone, iPod, etc).
posted by Yowser at 9:12 PM on May 11


My assumption is that this is all as a consumer, and backends around the globe would replatform (i.e. if Azure goes, they all shift to AWS).
  1. Microsoft: Sure, at work I use Windows, and nothing Excels better than Excel. But, these days, web-based apps can do as good a job. I haven't been a fan of the OS in years. I pretty much did walk away from Microsoft.
  2. Apple: I went Mac eleven years ago, and was an owner of the original iPhone. I'm surprised this went so early. But, post Jobs, I feel the innovation is gone. MacBooks no longer offer, in my opinion, anything close to the bang-for-the-buck they used to--I'm forced to buy online storage and extra dongles. I love my iPhone, but could be persuaded to go Android. The big lose, for me, would be Apple Music--and that's replaceable.
  3. Amazon: I do a lot of shopping there. I'm in the Cult of Prime. Same day delivery of printer ink became the tipping point for me--I didn't have to figure out how to work in a trip to Staples. Prime Video fills niches all the time. But, I lived for a long time actively resisting Amazon.
  4. Facebook: I have a lot of interaction on Facebook. Much of my cycling life is coordinated on Facebook. But, I can share stupid memes on Twitter, and catch up on blogs with friends. Hell--my productivity may actually go up.
  5. Google: Search, Maps, Waze and YouTube start the story. GMail, Voice, and Calendar are my key contact mechanisms. Google can also fill the niches of the above one way or another--Android for phone, Docs for Office, Play for music, etc. Absent Facebook, Google+ might even have taken off. It really is foundational.
posted by MrGuilt at 9:39 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Lots of folks here say they'd drop Microsoft, but I think most office environments are Microsoft dependent. I'm in healthcare and we are certainly Microsoft based. We also use electronic medical records from various companies but operating on Windows, using Access and Word etc.
posted by latkes at 9:43 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Facebook: already don't use (though I'd miss React...).
Apple: don't actively avoid like Facebook, but also don't use.
Amazon: buy the odd book from BookRepository, but that's about it. This might change when they expand their presence in Australia next year.
Microsoft: I'd need a new job, currently develop software for (mostly) Windows users using (mostly) Windows tools.
Google: I'm in to Google up to my eyeballs.
posted by markr at 10:13 PM on May 11


The first time you virtualize is the hardest. The problem for AWS is that the second time is a lot easier and once you have a grasp of your virtual hardware needs and have bothered figuring out automation for deployment, it's a lot easier to justify moving a large site to a cheaper host.

The problem is that virtually no one who buys in on AWS has an infrastructure that only depends on vanilla compute with EC2. They're almost all supplementing that with SQS, ELB and Route53, S3, Dynamo, Redshift (ironically, though, given that data is far and away the best vector for vendor lock-in, the AWS data offerings are starting to look a little feeble compared to that of their competitors), CloudFormation...it's incredibly easy to take advantage of the full ecosystem of AWS products, especially given no charge on ingress/intra-network bandwidth, and then all of a sudden switching cloud providers is a non-trivial expenditure of engineering hours that you could be using to actually deliver a product instead. AWS doesn't have much to worry about here.
posted by invitapriore at 10:49 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Apple -- they sold me a lemon, never owned up.
Amazon - I tried to buy something once and it screwed up because I was in Canada.

The other three -- I have my uses, as I'm confident they're using me.
posted by philip-random at 11:46 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Apple -- they sold me a lemon, never owned up.

and f***ing iTunes devoured many, many hours of my life. First integrating all my music with it, then disentangling myself. What a clusterf***!
posted by philip-random at 11:50 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


I think the question fundamentally doesn't make sense and is really quite biased. It's like a "how would you break this vicious cycle" puzzle where the only choice is to remove one of the components of a dynamic system. A hypothetical scenario like that is utterly meaningless, and in this context, more evilly serves to reinforce consumerist style of thinking--the notion that you can pick one to eliminate, like Survival or whatever.

That said, assuming suspension of disbelief on principles of how political/economic systems function over time, the ethical choice is to pick the one that's the most potential to have evil consequences in the future, whichever one that might be. Even that analysis is hard to unpack. But I'd guess it would probably be Alphabet or Facebook due to their effect on politics.
posted by polymodus at 12:06 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


1. Facebook. It's a stupid ad platform. (but I like Instagram... sigh)
2. Amazon. It's not really available in Australia. (but I like AWS and NetfIlix using it rocks... sigh)
3. Microsoft. I gave up using PCs ages ago. (but I really like Microsoft Word.. sigh)
4. Alphabet (Google). I use duckduckgo.com for search. (but I have a gmail account, and YouTube is great... sigh)
5. Apple. iPhone, iMac, Apple TV.
posted by panaceanot at 12:30 AM on May 12


1-2. Amazon/Apple: I already don't really

Amazon: I don't buy that many things, and my recent experiments in buying shoes on Amazon have been failures. I am happy to comparison shop across sites instead of guessing whether Amazon has raised the price I see on a certain item, go to B&M stores to try on and buy, or, as a more recent discovery, try my luck in local Buy Nothing groups.

But I have no dependents and a lot of time; I hear this all goes out the door when you have kids and suddenly, leaving the house has a huge time cost, and time is at a premium.

Apple: I'm on a mac, but I'd be perfectly happy with a Windows machine again (Visual Studio I miss you).

3. Facebook: It is the main way that some of my activities communicate, but announcements are usually duplicated on Google Groups or Gmail, and have private Google Calendars. Those local Buy Nothing groups run on Facebook, though, so I'd have to say goodbye to random free neighborliness, or drop back to Craigslist.

4. Microsoft / Google: It'd be rough to not have at least one. I guess I'd rather it be Google I keep, not least because Microsoft seems to have given up on phones again.

Microsoft: There are a lot of photos of me available only in SkyDrive^WOneDrive, and I don't think I could be totally happy with a Chromebook.

Google: See #3, not to mention Translate, Photos, Maps, Drive...
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:09 AM on May 12


1. Google - I seem to be the outlier here but I've already bailed on everything Google. Even ported a number I've had parked forever at GrandCentral Google Voice out to another service. (Heck, I use Firefox and am apparently the last person on Earth to do so.)

2. Facebook - Sure, easy come, easy go. My parents and close friends still know how to e-mail so that's a substitute.

3. Amazon - It'd mean going to the grocery store versus having groceries delivered but, OK. I've already started going to regular bookstores and retail shops again simply because I've found that I like to see what I'm about to buy before I plunk down for it.

4. Apple - I like my iPhone, iPad Mini, and Apple's stance on user privacy. If Apple ceased to make mobile phones, I don't know which one I'd pick up because I refuse to use Android-with-anything-Google-installed.

5. Microsoft - Yep, Windows. I actually like Windows 10—with the telemetry stuff turned off—and did not like Mac OS and have played with Linux off-and-on-and-surely-this-will-be-the-year-of-the-Linux-desktop.

(On the 1st entry: I suppose it shouldn't, but I am really surprised to read all of the replies here that say "I am into Google up to my eyeballs." Maybe I have a slanted view but I just can't get over the advertising-engine-masquerading-as-a-search-engine position that Google has staked out. Yeah, almost everything of theirs is free, but at what cost?)
posted by fireoyster at 1:20 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I have already given up on FB, Apple, Microsoft. Could give up Amazon, although I would end up switching to some other large conglomerate. Difficult for el Goog
posted by hleehowon at 3:32 AM on May 12


Facebook was fun for awhile, and there were a few old high school buddies who only communicated through it. I miss them. However, when FB unilaterally unset privacy settings that I had very deliberately and appropriately set, that was "oh hells no" territory.
posted by jazzbaby at 5:35 AM on May 12


latkes: Lots of folks here say they'd drop Microsoft, but I think most office environments are Microsoft dependent. I'm in healthcare and we are certainly Microsoft based. We also use electronic medical records from various companies but operating on Windows, using Access and Word etc.

I guess my perspective on Microsoft is this: for most use cases, you can drop in an alternative like Google Docs, and, aside from a couple bumps in the road, manage. I suspect the medical records company you speak of already would love to host that for you in the cloud ("look: we're secure! We manage the upgrades and patching! Infinite storage! Just tote a tablet around! You just have to pay us a monthly fee...").

Granted, you could say, to a certain extent the same is true for the other platforms (Microsoft could probably fill a lot of Google's void with Bing/Outlook/OneDrive/Office 365, for instance). It's more that most folks perceive Microsoft's business to be more tied to old-school "desktop, Windows, and Office" computing. Very little is really sticky other than a folder full of documents and some legacy apps (such as you describe).

In the world of web apps and mobile computing/tablets It's easy to imagine quarantining those things as "legacy" on some media and converting ad hoc. Jumping from phone to tablet to laptop becomes trivial--you can use the right tool for the job (even if it's the "right tool" because it's what you have on you). The platform becomes disposable; the data is what's important.

I was really surprised how quickly Apple moved up my "I can live without it" list, for more-or-less the same reasons. Since discontinuing Aperture, I haven't felt like I needed a Mac, and I can't think of any unique app on my iPhone/iPad. My investment in Apple-provided media (iTunes movies, music, and books) makes it a bit stickier than Microsoft. As I said, though, it's harder and harder to justify their premium.
posted by MrGuilt at 5:40 AM on May 12


(On the 1st entry: I suppose it shouldn't, but I am really surprised to read all of the replies here that say "I am into Google up to my eyeballs." Maybe I have a slanted view but I just can't get over the advertising-engine-masquerading-as-a-search-engine position that Google has staked out. Yeah, almost everything of theirs is free, but at what cost?)

Yeah, I think this is surprising too. I use Google, but it wouldn't be that hard to give up. There are other search engines, I'm not a tween so giving up YouTube wouldn't be devastating, Apple Maps is generally fine, really the most annoying thing would be switching from the Gmail account I've been using for, what, 13 years?

After that would be Amazon, then Microsoft (I'm assuming this is for personal use only and could still use Microsoft products at work), then Facebook, then Apple. I'm in a couple of very active Facebook groups that I would hate to give up.

I am pretty surprised at how fashionable it's become to hate Apple. Certainly they're not perfect (labor issues and tax avoidance being the two biggest problems IMO) but show me a tech company that doesn't have these problems. Tech in general is all a "fruit of the poisoned tree" situation, and unless you want to live like the Amish, you unfortunately have to make compromises. I just feel better having most of my stuff made by a company that still cares about build quality and has gone to bat for its customers over privacy.
posted by Automocar at 6:29 AM on May 12


Apple - burn it with fire. iTunes is the worst piece of software ever. I could switch phones in a heartbeat and same with the iPad. Cupertino must pay for iTunes. Pay with fire and blood.
posted by Ber at 6:54 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I'd love to say Microsoft first because I dislike Windows and Outlook and don't really have any need for MS Office, and the only Microsoft product I have in my personal life is my XBox, but as an attorney I would absolutely not give up Microsoft because it would mean having to teach other attorneys how to use a different OS, which would be about as much fun as pulling my own teeth with pliers.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:42 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


...I don't get the iTunes Hate.

Well, I get if you're a Windows user. The damn thing basically runs in emulation, since it's built using ancient Apple APIs.

But on a Mac it's okay. As long as you don't use the cloud stuff. I've got a lot of media in it. I can play stuff, and sync parts of my library to my phone.

(Now, the Music app on iOS is another story. That's been a clusterfuck since iOS 7, and while the iOS 10 app is a slight improvement, it's still abysmal. I use a replacement called Cesium.)
posted by SansPoint at 8:02 AM on May 12


Automocar: I am pretty surprised at how fashionable it's become to hate Apple.

The problem, I think, is that:
  • They haven't done anything really interesting since the iPad, and nothing game changing since the iPhone. The Apple Watch, while handy, doesn't really change my life much other than how much I have to pull my phone out of my pocket. The iTV is still flailing.
  • From a functional perspective, there is less and less reason to get a Mac as opposed to "computer." They've abandoned their pro apps, so alternatives on other platforms are more attractive. A lot of other stuff is web based or web connected, and can move seamlessly elsewhere.
  • Their Mac line seems to be placing a premium on the Apple name and coolness, rather than capability. I'm less and less able to upgrade things like RAM and storage onboard as the system ages. It's hard to justify a $1400 MacBook Pro base model when you have to turn around and buy more storage (either cloud or external), when I can spend less and get more (both initially and in terms of upgradeability) from HP and Lenovo.
  • While I love OS X, Windows 10 is decent, and flavors of Linux are more desktop friendly. It's harder to justify the hardware premium just to get OS X, especially absent a "killer app" (as noted above).
  • With Thunderbolt/USB-C, Apple is forcing everyone to a new standard. That may be a good move, but, during this transition, it means going out and buying dongles for my current USB portfolio. I see this as similar to "under provision storage and force subscribing to a cloud service."
Bottom line: while they still produce some very nice kit, the gap between the perceived value and cost has made many of us seriously question the Apple Premium. All the while, they are expecting you to subscribe to the Apple cloud. The fact that the platform is mattering less and less, and it's easy to walk away.

I'll probably continue using iPhones and iPads--I have a decent investment in apps and media, and I feel the "worth it" (for now). I've already replaced my creaky old MacBook with an HP running Ubuntu.

They could win it back. Drop the prices and up the specs a bit on the Mac side to make the Apple Premium not as great over WinTel systems. Don't force me to pay extra for cloud storage (by making onboard storage more affordable) or connect my existing stuff (throw a dongle in the box). Make the Apple Watch more than an extra screen for my iPhone. Give the Apple TV a purpose.

I fear that, absent someone like Jobs, they aren't going to be able to make the shift.
posted by MrGuilt at 8:03 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


bile and syntax: I would absolutely not give up Microsoft because it would mean having to teach other attorneys how to use a different OS, which would be about as much fun as pulling my own teeth with pliers.

This is how Microsoft gets to be sticky. A lot of geeks and younger folk feel comfortable moving off Windows, using an Office alternative (Google Docs, Libre Office, etc.), and don't get hung up on icons changing (in the long term), there are a lot of folks for whom merely changing the color of an icon is Earth-shattering. I'm thinking of my mom and mother-in-law in particular. I think my mother-in-law would do well with just a tablet that she can tote around, read wherever, etc. But she clings to a desktop because she is super-familiar with it. Explain to my mom how to do something, and she writes down every. Single. Step.
posted by MrGuilt at 8:12 AM on May 12


I've actually been using OSX for the first time ever in the last year and I'm mostly pretty baffled why people think it's better than Windows 10. Maybe it's just what you're used to but I find the interface just constantly maddening in a dozen ways.
posted by octothorpe at 8:13 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I dropped Facebook 7 years ago. What do I win?
posted by tobascodagama at 8:25 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


That said, obviously you give up Apple last. The rest of these companies are run by Bond villains.

See, that's why I'd give up Apple first. I'll take a Bond villain over a committee of people groupthinking their way towards evil in order to get the shareholders a slightly better dividend that quarter.

And at least there's someone to hate when they dick you over.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:39 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Periodically I unfriend everyone on Facebook. I have to keep an account for work, but it's so satisfying to delete all online contacts and remind myself to see my friends in person. Amazon and Google ARE the internet to me. Not using Amazon and Google means I don't get online.
posted by olopua at 8:44 AM on May 12


1. Apple. Already don't use Apple products. Even though I admire their corporate values more than the others, for reasons articulated above. I think the last time I used an Apple product regularly was a IIc in the mid-80s.

2. Amazon (if you exclude their web services, which I don't use directly but power a lot of useful websites). And I'm a pretty happy Prime customer, but there's nothing there I couldn't find elsewhere if I had to. I'd have to give up my Kindle, so it's back to dead-tree books, I can manage that.

3. Facebook. For all the cruft here, it has become a primary means of communication and organization among my friend group. The one Facebook-refuser among the group occasionally misses out because we forget we have to contact him separately.

4. Microsoft. Still my primary workhorse OS, even if I don't have any great love for it. If I reach this point it's going to be pretty painful to switch entirely to Android-based devices, but I'd still rather do that than give up...

5. Alphabet. Plus I'm going to want a self-driving car in 10 years or so.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:54 AM on May 12


olopua: To avoid drama, instead of unfriending people on Facebook, I simply unfollow them. For a while, I unfollowed _everyone_ which (along with Social Fixer), rendered my Facebook feed into a perfectly calm, quiet, empty state.

Now I follow a few people I want to keep up with, and the feed is much more manageable.
posted by SansPoint at 8:54 AM on May 12


[Apple have] abandoned their pro apps

I find this slightly confusing, as my experience is that although Final Cut Pro X and Motion and Logic Pro X (the ones I use) are only sporadically updated, I'd prefer to use them than the alternatives. I have a Creative Cloud subscription for print publishing so I have Premiere and After Effects installed. I keep trying to use them for my very occasional (and admittedly non-professional) ventures into video but find that dipping my toe into Premiere sends me scurrying back to FCPX and that although After Effects is undeniably more powerful it's often easier to do the things I want with Motion. There are almost certainly more fabulous solutions than either, but I'm not really motivated to seek them out and pay more for them. Logic is simply my favourite DAW.

They shouldn't have killed Aperture, though, no. That was a very bad idea and Photos is not a replacement. And neither is Lightroom, really, which is what I've been trying to use instead (perhaps if they had access to my photostream, which is undoubtedly Apple's fault, but still a problem).

Actually, Apple is my last to go, simply because I'm bought into their ecosystem with no real motivation to go anywhere else. I have no Microsoft in my life, most of the others could simply be replaced by something else and Amazon is effectively evil.

The original article is very splainy, though, isn't it? Like Mansplainy, but that sense that the author knows they're morally superior to you and they're going to talk down to you at length about it has a lot less gender specificity than people might like to think. Splaininess is for all.
posted by Grangousier at 9:02 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Wait, how is one's employer affected in these hypotheticals? My workplace is standardized on Microsoft products: Windows, Office, even (retch) IE. If I give up Microsoft, do we imagine my entire workplace has shifted to non-Microsoft products? Or just me? Because if it's the latter I'm probably out of a job, which would move Microsoft from the second-to-last place on my list to last.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:22 AM on May 12


I fear that, absent someone like Jobs, they aren't going to be able to make the shift.

Eh, I dunno. Like, all of what you said is basically true (I could quibble with some things, especially with the Mac, but I'm not going to invalidate your experiences so suffice it to say I have a different experience and leave it at that, I have a Macbook and a Windows box for gaming and Windows 10 is a hot piece of garbage) but I guess I'm specifically confused why people who don't work in tech or care about tech have this weird Apple hate fashion. 95% of people never gave one thought to Apple before the iPod exploded, and I can't say that Apple's products are much different than they were for most people since they made that shift towards "consumer" electronics.

Not to mention the fact that Apple is unfairly being judged for not releasing a iPhone-like paradigm shift every 18 months. How often does that actually happen? How often did Apple do that? Not that often, maybe 3 times in over 40 years?
posted by Automocar at 9:56 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Grangousier: Aperture is what I was thinking about the most in that. I think it also ties back to the state of the top end Macs (MacBook Pro, Mac Pro). The MacPro, over the last decade, is often ignored from a design and upgrade perspective. I can forgive them the notion of attaching storage externally--it's a desktop, and the price of the base unit somewhat accounts for that.

I'm less inclined to extend the same forgiveness to the MacBook Pros. To get more than 128 GB of storage, you either pay a ton for a larger SSD (which tops out at 512 GB), subscribe to their cloud, or doing the external drive (which is annoying and awkward for a laptop). Your RAM tops out at 16GB.

Much of this is a classic Apple form over function move: my understanding is that to fit the battery and storage in as thin a laptop and keep them cool, these compromises were made (no additional RAM or spinning drives).

The more I type, the more annoyed I get at Apple.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:11 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Automocar, you're right. Few companies get to make one innovative, world-changing product. Apple has had more than their share (Apple II, Mac, iPod, and iPhone). Unfortunately, I think the problem is they built their brand around doing that, and, as those product move from innovation to commodity, maintenance of those lines doesn't drive the business. The Halo Effect that provided allowed for the Apple Permium. Absent that, they start to suffer when looking at details.

I'm going to go out on a limb: with the possible exception of the Apple II, Apple isn't really an innovator, but popularizer. Take SmartPhones: prior to the iPhone, you had BlackBerries, Blackjacks, Windows Phones, Handspring/Palm Treos, etc. All could be called SmartPhones, and had some of the capability. But until the iPhone, there wasn't something that took the best of those ideas, packaged the right way that "just works." Everyone looked at it and said "that's how it should be." It went from something only either very geeky folked or time-crunched business people would want to being something everyone could see in their pocket. You can draw a similar line for music players and desktop computers.

I suspect that's one of the reasons the Apple Watch hasn't caught fire: there weren't enough proto-SmartWatches to allow a sense of what works and what doesn't to develop. The Apple Watch isn't an iPod, in this way, as much as it's a Diamond Rio.

Windows 10 is a hot piece of garbage

I'll confess that first, my primary Windows 10 experience is on my WorkTop using mostly Office and browser-based apps. Not an especially tall wall to clear, though I'm getting more exposure to it these days. Second, I've used every Windows version since 3.1 in some capacity (both the DOS/Windows/Win95 line and current NT-derived line), and feel that, to some extent, it follows a "Star Trek Movie" rule (every other one sucks). Windows 10 feels more like "The Voyage Home" than "The Search for Spock."

In other words, I graded on a curve.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:27 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I'd nuke the whole thing from orbit. Its the only way to be sure.

In time the regrowth would be far more interesting. These guys have already had their day and are well past their prime.
posted by BigBrooklyn at 10:46 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I think the thing with the Apple comeback is that it actually was driven by Jobs' vision of what domestic computing and connectivity should be - if you go back and watch that promo film he made for NextStep in the early 90s, it's clear he had a roadmap that basically took the company to the release of the iPad, at which point he died. You're right that the company's genius was not innovation but understanding how dry technical things could be domesticated. Dragging us out of the world of searching for device drivers, endlessly tweaking settings to try to get one thing to talk to another, searching online for hints to make anything happen at all wasn't just something that Apple alone was aiming for, but it was at the forefront of their development in the way it wasn't for most other prominent tech companies. Apple very rarely initialised technologies, but they did understand better than most other companies the importance of making them work together, for user interfaces to be as self-explanatory as possible, to make the technology centred on the person using it rather than the person designing it.

A lot of that seems to have gone by the wayside, admittedly, but I don't see anything out there that's so much better than Apple stuff to make me switch over, and I don't really feel angry or betrayed by them. I even spent the Apple Store gift tokens that my mother had been giving me for years and which had been piling up on one of their silly watches.

It's just the inevitable action of gravity on something that has been propelled high into the air. They should definitely regroup somehow, if they can, but I don't perceive anything of the imperial pomp of Microsoft at the apex of their world domination.
posted by Grangousier at 10:52 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


I find the tone of this article objectionable. "Ha ha, you stupid rube! You make different choices than me and are obviously stupid!"

That said, obviously you give up Apple last. The rest of these companies are run by Bond villains.


Nope. I ditched Apple when my two PPC Macs became basically unsafe for use, gorgeously designed, doorstops. I cried a bit, as I have had a great time with them. Now, I don't miss them.
posted by Samizdata at 11:56 AM on May 12


Also, don't badmouth Bond villains. I love Telegram Messenger.
posted by Samizdata at 12:00 PM on May 12


1. Microsoft. I actually do use MS products; chiefly I use Word for reading other people's documents. But I got by without it before I had a free Office license, and I don't need it for anything.
2. Facebook. I use Facebook \all the fuckin' time, and Messenger is my main channel for talking to some people. But I don't feel like my time on Facebook is actually valuable; it's mostly just procrastination, and I have no shortage of ways to procrastinate. Email is still good for keeping in touch with people.

So those would be kind of easy to give up; I use them but they're not deeply embedded in my life (MS) or at least not in a way I reflectively value (FB).

The rest I would really not like to give up.

3. Apple. I'm a 15-year Mac user and I would like to continue forever. But recent changes in the Mac line have made me think about what I'd need to do to shift. Like many people, most of the stuff I do on my computer lives in cross-platform formats and applications, so the Mac is not indispensable, it's just convenient and familiar. I am already on Linux pretty often and, while I dislike every Linux desktop environment I've seen, I assume I could make the adjustment if I decided to. The big headache would be returning to the world of commodity hardware, I think. The build quality and compatibility guarantees of the Mac are really nice. In general, I appreciate how Apple allows me to not think about a lot of the details of my PC. I also have an iPhone but I think I would be fine with a different smartphone.

So I've thought about how to move away from Apple, and I could do it, but I really don't want to. The one thing that could make me do it is if they really fuck up the Mac line. Which they might!

4. Google. Could I migrate away from Gmail? Sure, but it would be a multi-layered headache. Similarly, I mostly use Google search for stuff that I could replicate without it -- e.g. finding academic articles by title. But it would be a pain, I would need to go through multiple workflows (search publisher indexes, search government indexes, search specialty databases, search library catalogs) each of which might fail. I use Google Docs all the time, and the sharing would be hard to replicate outside of Google. I also use Chrome every day, Google Voice pretty often, and other Google services now and then.

5. Amazon. I think this is the one that would really change the texture of my daily life. The shit I buy from Amazon in a year would otherwise come from, like, 100 different speciality stores, most of which are either not available in my area or would require hours of travel. (And I live in a big metro area!) Amazon is up there with owning a bike in making car-free life tolerable in my area. In practice, I would do without a lot of everyday goods that I currently rely on, pay more for others or get inferior substitutes, or spend hours and hours procuring them. Plus I use AWS for various stuff, the most important of which is daily backups of my PC. I could move away from that, but if I went back to physical backups I would probably just never do them, which could get me in trouble.

(I assume that you get to keep your friends who work for these places when you give up their products. For me, it would probably be worst to give up my Google friends, based on quantity, then Facebook, and then I only have vague acquaintances who work for either Apple or Amazon as far as I can remember. I'm not sure I know anyone at all who works for MS.)
posted by grobstein at 12:27 PM on May 12


The shit I buy from Amazon in a year would otherwise come from, like, 100 different speciality stores, most of which are either not available in my area or would require hours of travel.

You know there are online retailers that are not Amazon, right?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:06 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Wow, I'm kinda' surprised by the MeFi reactions in this thread. My list:

1. Microsoft: I've never used Windows, just Unix in its various flavors. And until recently, I've never been forced to use Powerpoint or Excel. I do use Skype, but eh, I'll get over it in a heartbeat.

2. Facebook: It's really good for my loose social connections. I'll miss getting routine updates from long-lost friends, and my professional group is a really good resource. Maybe I'll turn to Google Plus!

3/4. Alphabet: I guess I could do without Google Search. I keep switching to DuckDuckGo but it doesn't take. I rely only tangentially on GMail, don't care as much about YouTube (although the kids will not be happy), and do not use Android.

4/3. Amazon: The Prime Video shows haven't taken for me, not even Man in the High Castle. But I do *love* the convenience of Prime delivery. This will be a hard one. (Note, AWS is not counted here - only direct-to-consumer. You don't have to give up Netflix.)

5. Apple: In spite of all the MeFi hate in this thread (???), they make good hardware - really quite excellent hardware, well integrated software, laptops and phones that still "just work" for me most of the time. OS X is still a good Unix. Their emphasis on privacy, gimmick or not, is something I'm willing to pay for. And for accessibility options, they are without peer right now. (Believe me, sooner or later, you too will need accessibility options.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:14 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Apple makes good hardware, which it then intentionally turns into toxic garbage long before its time through their aggressive planned-obsolescence treadmill.

The we-know-better-than-thou attitude ("you didn't really need that peripheral, peon—now bask, BASK in the glory of our shiny, white dongle") is... tiring as well.

They weren't always like that as a company. But it seems to have been the dark side of Jobs' leadership.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:09 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I don't think there's anything planned obsolescence about Apple products at all. In fact, I'd argue the exact opposite.
posted by Automocar at 6:56 PM on May 12


Automocar: " I use Google, but it wouldn't be that hard to give up. There are other search engines,"

Do you actually use any of the other search engines for general purpose searching? Any of the ones that aren't wrappers for google pretty much blow IMO.

Automocar: "I am pretty surprised at how fashionable it's become to hate Apple."

Man I want to love Apple; they make pretty things and I've always been a sucker for that sort of thing. And the IIe was a brilliant piece of kit. But dang their software is infuriating and often locked to their hardware. Every 8-10 years they sucker me in with a shiny and it renews my hatred for the next decade until the next thing I can't resist.

Last time I got lured over to them was a few years ago when I bought a Nano 6 with a little work bonus and then found out that A) I couldn't even turn it on without an apple account and b) I could only load music on it via iTunes (AKA the most frustrating software program I've ever used and I programmed RPG II for a while). I'm still bitter and I think it is going to be longer than a decade this time.
posted by Mitheral at 6:58 PM on May 12


> Apple makes good hardware, which it then intentionally turns into toxic garbage long before its time through their aggressive planned-obsolescence treadmill.

Opinions and experiences differ, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(He said, typing on his Mid-2012 Macbook Air.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 7:45 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


i have a 2013 Macbook Air whose SSD is so full that if it were a file cabinet it would look like this

i'd love to buy a new macbook pro but the prices current specs (RAM, SSD, ports) have moved beyond "apple tax" to "just downright insulting."

and then there's the mac "pro."
posted by entropicamericana at 7:53 PM on May 12


(He said, typing on his Mid-2012 Macbook Air.)

I have this model also, hope to get another 18 months or so out of it.
posted by grobstein at 3:25 PM on May 13


1. Apple: A no-brainer for me because I don't use anything they make anymore.
2. Microsoft: We'd lose Microsoft Research which kinda sucks but as a Linux user in academia I could stand to see Office go away forever.
3. Facebook: Surprisingly, a lot of people get in touch with me over Facebook so I'll put them in a grudging third place despite my general side-eye at their general passive-aggressive hostility to the concept of "privacy."
4. Amazon: I use Prime a lot because I keep weird hours and have trouble getting my shit sufficiently together to run errands. But the big problem, as others mention, is their servers.
5. Alphabet: They seem to be funding a lot of comp bio research so this is mostly selfish. Also it would be pretty tough for me to drop Apple and Microsoft without keeping Drive, Docs/Sheets, and Android.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:36 PM on May 13


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