If you look at the comments section of this NRO post, you will see my unbridled enthusiasm for mocking the Cult of Apple. You will also see why I enjoy mocking the weirdos who populate the MacCult. That’s not to say that all Apple users are weirdos or in a cult. My guess is the Apple user base is divided into three groups. One group simply got used to using Apple stuff and never saw a need to change. Another group buys the Apple display items because that is what cool people do. The final group are people who have turned an electronics maker into a religious movement.

My guess is the majority of Apple customers are just people who follow trends. The first group, people who got used to using Apple gear is probably the smallest. The most vocal by far are the MacCultists who are convinced Apple is ushering in the utopian future. They are the idiots who line up at midnight to trade in their iPhone 6 for the iPhone 6.1 that does nothing new or different. They are the ones who will tell you that their $900 iPad is changing the world, even though they only use it to play games and surf the web.

These people have been with us for a long time. My first encounter with them was in the early 90’s, I guess. A woman described herself as a “Mac-snob” while we were discussing something to do with computers. At the time most people figured Apple was going to follow Wang into the abyss. But, the true believers kept the company alive, despite the fact Apple products were comically bad for a long time.

These were the people Jobs identified as his way out of the technology trap. If his company could become a social statement, they could move a lot of product. Apple went from competing with Microsoft to focusing on clever designs and marketing to the growing hipster community. I don’t think it is an accident that Apple took off with the Great Progressive Awakening. The iPod became an ID badge for every liberal hipster in the 90’s.

Here we are at the denouement of this Great Progressive Awakening and I suspect Apple follows the trend. This story in America’s Paper of Record suggest that’s the case.

Detroit had a good year in 2014, selling 16.5 million autos — up 1 million from 2013. The stock of Ford and GM has revved on the good news, jumping 5.7 and 7.8 percent, respectively, in 2015.

That’s better than the S&P 500, which has risen 2.5 percent.

Motorists responded well, not only to low-interest-rate loans but to all the technology in cars today — everything from touch screens, Wi-Fi hotspots, hybrid technology and back-up cameras.

But in just one week, Detroit’s vibe has gone from hip to has-been.

With reports last week that Apple hopes to bring a car to market in five years, every motorist who remembers the pre-iPhone era of smartphones must be feeling like their new car will go the way of BlackBerry, Nokia or Palm Pilot.

I’m continually amazed by the social amnesia. I remember life before the iPhone. I had a Palm and it was a nice phone. Apple took the idea and applied what they learned from the iPod to it. That is, make it look cool and let the army of iDrones in hipsterville market it. The touch screen was a nice upgrade, but hardly revolutionary.

Currently, at a secret location near its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, Apple is said to be working on a car design — code-named “Project Titan” — at breakneck speed. While auto companies can take as long as seven years to develop a car, Apple is said to be hoping to start shipping its vehicles in five years — or as early as 2020.

Elon Musk’s Tesla is currently the No. 1 electric car maker — with vehicles ranging from $70,000 to $100,000 — and Google is working on George Jetson-like driverless cars. But neither is close to cornering the market on mass-affordable electric cars.

My sense is this is where Apple will attack — just as it had with smartphones, laptops and tablets.

Elon Musk is the biggest parasite in the world. Tesla does not exist without tax payer money. The driverless car is a solution in search of a problem and it is far from being practical. I’ll note that Apple’s “success” with laptops was quickly cannibalized by the iPad, a cheaper display item than a $4,000 Powerbook.

Former Ford Engineer Steve Zadesky is heading up Titan.

Efforts to fast-track the car project got Apple in a little jam last week when a car-battery maker, A123 Systems, sued it over alleged poaching of its executives.

How badly does Apple CEO Tim Cook want to get this car out the garage?

Well, Apple has been offering the best and the brightest in the car-battery field $250,000 signing bonuses plus salaries 60 percent higher than what they currently earn, Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek this month.

Take Marc Newson, who just so happens to be close friends with Apple’s design guru Jony Ive. Newson, hired last September by Apple, is considered one of the more elegant engineers in the world.

The guy has works archived by MoMA — not something you hear about a lot in Detroit.

Zadesky, the boss, besides holding 90-some patents, was the sole signatory on a 2010 business contract with an organization called Liquidmetal. It is known for Moldable Metal — “Nanophosphate metal” — which can be shaped like plastic.
Detroit still welds.

This is another weird thing with the MacCult and the fake nerd crowd. They carry on like they are cutting edge technologists when most of them can’t count their balls twice and come up with the same number. Detroit is not the hub of the car building universe and it hasn’t been for generations now. Toyota is one of the best run companies on earth and they have been pushing the envelope in automotive engineering for a long time. Mercedes is another example of leading edge technology in the car building business. Frankly, Apple has nothing on these guys.

Building cars is hard. The reason Tesla remains a welfare queen for rich people is it takes more than mock turtlenecks and clever marketing plans to make a car company. Apple’s habit over the years has been to steal someone else idea and then dress it up in their minimalist stylings and peddle it to their followers as innovative. Silicon Valley looks more like the boxing business these days than an industry. It’s all about the pump and dump. That’s unlikely to work in the car business, which is very mature with highly complex supply chains.

This all has the feel of a company and an era jumping the shark.


19 thoughts on “iStupid

  1. Yeah, I get the iHate for Apple products, but what others here have said is mainly true: their stuff just works, in comparison to windows PC environments. If you are like me and can solve your PC problems fairly easily, you get a lot of bang for your buck with a PC running windows (though 8 is a piece of total crap). If you have limited knowledge, then the Macs are the way to go. But I have to say I do love my iPad.

  2. I cannot afford the hassle of Microsoft products. I simply find Apple’s stuff to be simple, elegant, reliable and user friendly. This makes them the BEST VALUE for my needs.

    That said, I sense it has started to deviate from what made it such a great value for those sharing my needs. iTunes is now ridiculous, each new version of the OS seems to gain more in bloat than functionality.

    I economize by just using a Mac Mini connected to a generic monitor, and 99.9% of my actual usage is on either my iPad or IPhone. I look forward to the day when computers are all as easy or easier to use as tablets are today. My guess is Apple is the company to do it, if not, the next Apple will emerge.

  3. Pingback: Tuesday morning links - Maggie's Farm

  4. Several years back, Steven den Beste wrote about four long essays debunking all of left’s “renewable” energy schemes.

    No one ever mentions the crime problem with charging up a car: the only time you’d bother to stop at a charging station is when you had to. Once you’re plugged in, you’re a sitting duck.

  5. Dealing with windows was a real pain in the ass, but XP was leaps and bounds ahead of what came before it. Since Windows 7 I haven’t had much of an issue with PCs. They are a slight hassle, but well worth the price discount and much larger software/game library.

  6. Dear Mr. Z,


    I read the page and thank you for the link. Not being in business per se and even less attuned to legalistic shenanigans I can not see the evil in having an anti-poaching policy or for that matter problems with insider trading. Given the concept of trade secrets I can see why a company would want to have an anti-poaching policy.

    As to Jobs being evil, possibly. That Gates and Ballmer are evil, I am convinced that they were and probably currently are. Read this web page for information:

    Dan Kurt

  7. Don’t know why everyone has so much trouble with their PCs. make sure to use anti-virus and a firewall and no problems – I use Dell towers for five years before replacing. stay away from nasty websites and filesharing as well.

  8. Apple hardware is overpriced, but the OS just works so my last two laptops have been used Apples. You can buy a Windows machine for less than a used Apple but you’ll pay for it in time wasted with upgrades, drivers, bugs, anti-virus software, excessive reboots, etc. I am a DIYer with a degree in computer science but after nearly 30 years of tinkering I just got tired of it. A common basic PC should just work and the Apple largely does. I use iPhone as well. I experimented with Android and it looked like another time sink. But I still agree that Apple fanboys and status seekers suck. And Jobs and Gates are both ruthless tyrants. And an Apple car is a stupid idea.

  9. I think the trade off between MAC and Wintel is a semi-closed development environment versus a semi-open development environment, respectively. The advantages/troubles/peculiarities that each platform has largely stem from that one tradeoff.

    There are so many drawbacks to battery-powered cars:

    • Power loss in cold weather due to slowing in battery chemical reaction (physics, can’t be changed
    as far as I know)

    • The battery waste stream (it takes nasty chemical reactions to produce a lot of energy)

    • The very best batteries are an order of magnitude lower in energy density than gasoline (some physics, some engineering… nano-materials might mitigate)

    • Replacement costs of the battery pack (last time I checked was in 2006, but at that time it was $3,800 for a new battery for a Prius, before labor)

    • The fast charging issues which are very well explained above (physics and engineering)

    • The continuing issues with Li ion batteries “brewing up” (engineering)

    Which doesn’t mean we won’t ever have electric cars. I just don’t see them ever being powered by chemical batteries without some weird physics/chemistry. I tell my tech savvy, environmentally concerned friends that if they want to make a difference, by a quality subcompact.

    • The major problem with solutions like electric cars is they require starting from a blank sheet of paper. If your plan has the words “replace the energy grid” in it, the plan is not going far. It’s why technology that allows for the economical conversion of natural gas into gasoline has more promise, in my view. We can make really clean cars now. There’s not a lot to be gained there, but there are gains to be had in how we get our gasoline.

  10. 2 points:
    1) The Z Man and Denninger are joined at the hip: Apple is the enemy! Great company Mr. Z.

    2) BTW, Apple is using UNIX as it foundation as developed at NeXT in the 1980s, Steve Job’s startup when he was booted from Apple. This UNIX skeleton is seamless across Apple’s entire spectrum of products that is, hundreds of millions of devices: Macs, iPads, iPhones, iTvs, iPods–one OS to rule them all, an OS designed from the ground up to be secure, an OS with nearly fifty years of development.

    Dan Kurt

  11. I’m one of those early Mac adopters, but being forced by my trade (bean-counting) to work on Windows based machines for the last twenty five years or so, I can say without reservation that the Mac and the Mac OS is just a superior product, hands down, and well worth the premium price.

    The time wasted trying to make Windows machines behave is just ridiculous for such a ubiquitous product. Every single one I’ve worked on fills itself up with garbage malware and viruses that slow its performance to a crawl in a matter of weeks.

    Switch to Macs and you can fire your IT department.

  12. I recently got a MacBook Air, after years of trouble with the physical durability of Windows notebooks and Windows software problems.

    I have had many cheap Windows notebooks, and while the early ones lasted two years, the newer ones never made it a year. Expensive ones aren’t any better. The Chinese make terrible stuff. I travel and while I don’t throw my computer bag around, it takes a certain amount of knocks.

    Windows 8 is confusing to me. It may be great but I never figured it out. Notice that companies with IT support use XP or Windows 7 Professional, which are more traditional and reliable. Having to reboot every twenty minutes got pretty old.

    I could have gone with a Chromebook and maybe I would have if I was more broke. I looked at a tablet as an option but I need a real computer. People who are not yuppie or hipster snobs said this was a good reliable option, so I swallowed and wrote a big check.

    I don’t think there is any real good option with technology. Cheap reliable computers and other devices that respected your privacy would be great, but there’s nothing out there like that. For me Apple was the least worst option.

  13. Progs don’t particularly want electric cars either. They want planned communities (planned by them), where electric rail and electric bus transport the drones that are not walking or on bikes.

  14. I’m in the battery business, and the greatest impediment to electric vehicle technology is the current infrastructure and the politics of the left.

    In the golf car market – a true electric vehicle – the switch to lithium ion batteries is hampered by the need to dedicate a full transformer to charge a fleet of cars. The power load overwhelms the current setup, so the investment for mass usage dwarfs the investment made in ‘upgrading’ the cars themselves.

    The chargers for current electric vehicles are designed to maximize and regulate what is available without burning through the lines. It’s a resistor cutting back the flow, and Li-ion in particular will just draw and draw, so you get inefficient (compared to its capabilities) charging times to run-time, and the math just doesn’t work.

    This is the same limitation in electric passenger – entire neighborhoods of electric vehicles would overwhelm the system because the transformers and lines aren’t built to move that much energy that quickly, with the added problem that the power generation isn’t designed to consistently put out enough to make everything electric.

    You are correct that – much like the rest of the digital and entertainment economy – it is parasitic, but the final limit is progressive politics: The move to electric will require a move to nuclear and lots if jobs for burly men to rebuild the entire infrastructure of the grid, and the progs would rather abort their dreams than let either of those happen.

  15. I don’t know, I can see them lining up for the icar weeks in advance just to be the “first”. Then off to starbucks for a latte, a swing by the Whole Foods for whatever is trending, off to Pilates, and home to some off-gendered mate.

    • I’m torn on the whole electric car thing, which is where Apple is probably heading with their car project. If they can create a battery you can fully charge in minutes, even 30 minutes, that can give you a day of drive time, maybe there’s a future for electric cars. Otherwise, they are a pointless hobby. Tesla has reached the point where they can use a special charger to give you two hours of driving after 30 minutes of charging. The price is staggering.

      The more I read about the progress they have made, the more convinced I am that they have reached a cul-de-sac of sorts with battery technology. I just don’t think any of us will live to see the day when electric cars are practical for mass usage.

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