Are Apple's Massive Profits Immoral?

Joe Thinker:

Among my friends and acquaintances it is no secret that I loathe several big players in the proprietary computer field, including Adobe, Oracle, Microsoft and Apple (among others). These corporations have created business models that allow them to extort ever-increasing profits from their myopic customers. Of those noted, I consider Apple to be the worst offender, by far.

Why is Apple the worst? Would not every company in the world want to trade places with them? They sell a few products at a premium price and have a great profit margin.

As greedy as Microsoft may be, Apple seems a clear winner in the race to extort money from customers. Whether it's their proprietary hardware requiring special converter cables to connect them to the rest of the world where standards rule, or their over-the-top prices for everything they manufacture, or expensive add-ons and expansions such as the referenced article describes, Apple is never shy about reaping every last penny from their zombie customer base.

It seems that what Joe is disagreeing with a capitalism at its core. Apple does not have a monopoly on any industry. If you don't want a Mac, buy a Windows PC. If you don't want an iPhone, buy a Samsung phone. If you don't want to buy music from iTunes, purchase it from Amazon. Consumers vote with their wallets, not with their opinions.

I think the saddest aspect of this greedy mania is what it says about their customers. These are not people with technical expertise who are buying Apple products because they are somehow getting better technology—because they're not! In fact, Apple has frequently boasted about how easy (supposedly) their devices are to use for total ignoramuses. I think they got the characteristics of their core target demographic just about right.

Joe is now insulting Apple customers now along with Apple.

Where money is no object, Apple products tend to do very well. Thorstein Veblen had something to say about that peculiar phenomenon in his Theory of the Leisure Class. Meanwhile, people around the world, especially outside the USA, will gravitate toward Linux, a free operating system that is less vulnerable to hackers, much less likely to crash, much more compliant with international standards, and capable, with thousands of free add-on software programs, of doing everything that Apple and Windows machines can do.

This will be the year of Linux on the desktop!

On the other hand, if you simply want dependable, completely functional and affordable computing capability at a reasonable price, avoid Apple products like the plague—unless you're a Republican!

We just need to move along here. He's gone down a rabbit hole.

David Carnoy with CNET:

You see, I've been around iOS devices long enough to know that 16GB of storage space just doesn't cut it -- throw a couple of high-res games and an HD movie or two on the thing, and you're starting to hit the limit. That put me at $429 for the 32GB model. Tack on the extra dough for sales tax and suddenly I was over $450. And that doesn't include the $29 Apple wants for Lightning-to-30-pin adapter that will allow me to use my old Apple connectors with the Mini.

You will convince Apple to charge less for upgrades when you don't buy its products. Buying about it and complaining is about the same as buying it and not complaining.

Steve Jobs had a pretty good insight on this when discussing it at the D8 Conference:

"Well things are packages. Some things are good in a product, some things are bad. If the market tells us we're making bad choices, we'll make changes. We're just trying to make great products. We don't think this is great and we're going to leave it out. We're going to take the heat because we want to make the best product in the world for customers! If we succeed, they'll buy them! If we don't, we won't sell any. And I have to say, people seem to be liking the iPad!"

If you don't like Apple making insane profits, then don't buy its products. Making profits in an environment where there is ample competition is not immoral, but rather just good business.