Apple Leads Smartphone Industry Into Anti-Consumer, Environmental Hell

Few products generate the excitement and anticipation that the iPhone does. Apple’s iPhone was just released. announced the 14th generation Many tech-focused media outlets, enthusiasts, and journalists were eager to hear about the release of this product. One particularly excited tech columnist described it as “the world’s most iconic product.” This excitement is why some have termed this time of year to be “Techtober” — when the iPhone and other tech products are released in time for the holiday spending rush.

Apple, the world’s first $3 trillion companyIt is a global giant. The iPhone’s adoration by Americans is not a common phenomenon. Apple is the most popular smartphone worldwide. has about 18 percentof the smartphone market share, behind Samsung and facing stiff competitionCompanies like Xiaomi. Apple has more than a dozen companies in the United States. 50 percentDespite iPhones starting at a higher cost than its competitors, this market share is significant.

Most notable is Apple’s domination of younger demographics. According to a survey, Apple is the most popular smartphone among U.S teenagers. 2021 report88 percent of respondents own an iPhone, and 90 percent plan on buying one as their next smartphone. This was an increase of 17 percent ownership a decade earlier. The iPhone is the new mobile phone for American teenagers. Google is to search enginesOr Kleenex is to tissue paper. According to a, it has become so popular that a Wall Street Journal report, non-iPhone users are being bullied and isolated in U.S. schools for having the dreaded “green bubbles” that denote an Android user on group messages. (Android is an open-sourceGoogle created the operating system used by most of the world’s smartphone manufacturers.)

This kind of domination of the market share — as well as of the culture more broadly — gives companies tremendous leverage to engage in conduct that, while profitable, can be destructive. Apple has contributed significantly to the declines in consumer rights, repairability of products and environmental degradation (a particular problem with Airpod headsets). privacyConcerns, the use forced laborAll over the world, bullying and elitism are rampant in schools.

Apple’s Dubious Environmental Claims

Apple made headlines in 2020 when it announced that it was going public with its 2020 plan. to remove the charger from the boxAll new iPhones have shattered decades of expectation that a piece consumer electronics would come with all the parts it actually uses.

Apple was saved by this decision $6.5 billionOver the next 18 months. Apple executives claimed they were not doing this for their own self-interest. They were actually more interested in their customers. claimedIt was a Policy of benevolence This is a way to preserve the environment.

Naturally, many were suspicious of Apple’s claims or frustratedas consumers. Some governments, such as France BrazilThese accessories are required by law in many countries, including the United States. The company would be putting its carbon footprint on consumers by not including the charger. Consumers would have to purchase chargers as an accessory. AppleOr third parties — using much more packaging. Apple created its own magnetic adaptor to charge their phones at this point. MagsafeiPhone users can add this to their iPhones purchase for a fee.

Despite this, Apple fans and techies are still very friendly. media outlets,Some of these benefitFinancially, these products are expensive. They were believed to be very reliable. This group of “Apple sheep” as they are sometimes called (meant as a pejorativeInitial, but often worn asThey quickly defended the company with a badge of honour).

Apple was initially ridiculed by competitors for these practices, many — including Samsung, Google Microsoft — quickly adopted the policy of selling phones without chargers. This further shows how Apple’s controversial decisions become industry-wide trends.

Four years earlier, Apple made a similar provocative decision when it was founded. announcedIt would mean removing the 3.5mm headphone jack on iPhones. Apple claimed it took “courage” to remove this port, which has been a low-cost universal standard for decades. Similar to the charger, there are other. manufacturersThis port was removed in due course.

Apple introduced its proprietary headset Airpods in the same year. Soon, the product became a symbol of wealth, social status and fandom. Apple has sold more than 2 million units. 150 million unitsThis product (or any newer variants)

Yet, these products are “impossible to repair or recycle” and will be clogging up landfills for a thousand years, long after every current iPhone user is dead. The environmental impact of these “fossils of capitalism” were described in Vice in 2019 as a “tragedy” and an “environmental disaster.”

“They’re physical manifestations of a global economic system that allows some people to buy and easily lose $160 headphones, and leaves other people at risk of death to produce those products,” wrote Caroline Haskins2019

These two case studies are very telling. They show that Apple not only causes harm to the environment when there is profit to be made, but will also do so under the mantle of “green” corporate behavior, when convenient. Because so much of the U.S. technology media infrastructure depends on the growth and goodwill from loyal Apple fans, many of these issues are overlooked or explained away.

“Buy Your Mom an iPhone”: Apple vs. Universal Standards

As with the 3.5-mm headphone jack, universal standards can have many benefits for consumers as well as the environment. Recent years have seen near universal adoption of USB-CAs the primary port for smartphones and electronic devices. The same charger can be used to charge a variety of electronic devices, including a tablet, phone, controller and tablet. This saves consumers time and money. significant reductionElectronic waste

Apple was active in opposing thiseffort for years and continued using the slowerA proprietary charging port is called the lightning cableApple accessories, and every iPhone. Apple received a cut on accessories. sold from third partiesThat you use the port.

The European Union had enough of waiting for Apple’s voluntary adoption USB-C. The EU was established in June 2022. passed a bill making USB-C a “common charger.” On October 4, this dealThe finalization was made. This means that by 2024, all consumer electronic devices, including iPhones will have to include a USB C port. thousands of tonsYou can also recycle e-waste

This is a market Apple will never want to leave. While it’s possible different iPhones could be manufactured for Europe, this would hurt Apple’s manufacturing efficiency. According to supply chain analysts reports, Apple is preparing to make the switchGlobally, possibly in 2023 for the iPhone 15.

Apple’s refusal to adopt universal standards for messaging apps and communication between Apple devices and non-Apple devices is another example. Apple’s critics point out that any message between Apple and Android devices default to the dated and less secureStandard SMS There are universal solutions like RCS (Remote Content Server).Rich Communication Services), which would allow for more secure, modern messaging between iPhones and other platforms, but Apple has refused to adopt them.

On September 7, a reporter asked Apple CEO Tim Cook why he can’t send a reasonable picture to his mom, an Android user. Cook flippantly gave him the expensive advice to go “buy your mom an iPhone.”

This problem is not unique to America, since most users communicate via email. third-party messaging appsYou can use Messenger or WhatsApp to communicate with your friends.

The “Least Repairable” Flagship Phone: Apple vs. Repairability

Hugh Jeffreys, a repair-shop owner, and creator of YouTube content, was soon after the iPhone 14’s release. made a videoTo test the repairability of the phone, he took apart the phone and replaced some parts. It is important to repair the phone in order to avoid e-waste. There was a shortage of repairability, according to reports. an estimatedGlobally, 57.4 Million metric tons of electronic waste will be generated in 2021.

Jeffreys’s frustration mounted as he learned that when he tried to replace one iPhone camera or battery with the official Apple part from the other identical iPhone, it would result in many of the phones primary features breaking. Face-ID had disappeared, the front-facing camera was no longer working and a number of other features were ineffective. Jeffreys noted many other obstacles that could be fixed by third-party or self-help, but these obstacles were not predictable and could be changed drastically with a software update.

He concluded that Apple has made it so difficult to fix these devices that no one would be able to even consider doing it themselves.

Apple has (once again) built the “least repair-friendly flagship smartphone” on the market, Jeffreys said in his video. “I might have spent $3,000 on these phones, but I feel as though they are not really mine.”
These are not new issues. Jeffreys made a similar video on the subject. iPhone 12 iPhone 13Similar restrictions were also in place for the, And many others who have tried to make a career in repairing consumer electronics have bemoaned Apple’s increasing hostility to repair. Louis Rossmann from the Rossmann Repair Group has garnered more than 1.5 million subscribers and built an organization called the “Repair Preservation Group” due to his advocacy of the issue over the years.

This effort has spearheaded the growth of a movement that has come to be called the “right to repair” or “right to own,” which has gained traction in the public consciousness. Large tech channelsYouTube come outfor the movement. The Biden administration issued anexecutive order in July 2021 regarding the issue. This was in response a Federal Trade Commission report on the subject which said the excuses of manufacturers limitations on repair “are not supported by the record.”

Similar movements are fighting for anti-repair policy in the automotive, medical device agricultural industries. Massachusetts a ballot referendum2020 was a record year for the passage of the law on auto right to repair. But other effortsThe efforts to push legislation against antirepair policies have been largely delayed, destroyed or weakened significantly by the massive lobbying arm Big Tech like Apple.

It can be hard to win these battles when the younger generations idolize Apple. “I tried pointing this out for a decade,” Rossmann said in a response to Jeffreys’s video. “It’s sad, but nobody cares.”

iPhone and the Future of Online Media and Software

Apple’s serious issues regarding consumer rights, the environment, repairability and more are worrying in 2022. There is concern that Apple’s dominance will continue and could lead to more problems in the future, especially as society shifts away from traditional computers (which are, unlike Apple’s operating systems on iPhone and iPad, allow for sideloading of software and apps that aren’t officially approved by Apple or Microsoft) and rely more on Apple’s closed mobile operating systems.

The good news is that there has been some progress to force Apple, and other tech makers to change their anti-consumer tactics. The European Union has passed the Digital Markets ActThis could lead Apple to allow customers to download non-Apple software and support functionality between messaging apps. There is also a vibrant open-sourceSoftware community that promotes software that is open and free from corporate control.

However, these types of reforms are less common in the United States. A new generation of American activists and thinkers may find themselves restricted by a corporate walled garden that they inadvertently created.