The title is ironic and untrue, but the feeling is real.
As someone who read tech news since the pre-historic era, before CNET became a CBS subsidiary. and then was later bought by the TV Guide / Lonely Planet Group (Red Ventures, probably communist), watching tech editorializing move in favor of conformity and monotony is cruelly disappointing.
A decade and and a half ago, tech news was not mainstream, but CNET now has featured articles on the front page of MSN news, one of the last remaining paywall free major news outlets in the US, and unsurprisingly, they are all about iPhones. However, they are not what you’d think, which is rumors and gossip about the latest releases.
They are persuasive opinion pieces about why more people should already adopt the most ubiquitous product line to every exist the face of the earth, and the arguments reads like membership calls to the freemasons. Then, they ask why after you buy that glass hockey puck, you don’t just carry it around naked case-less because it probably won’t break?
The recent crop of CNET articles that have shocked me are about why the last remaining middle class holdouts should abandon android for case-less iPhone supremacy.
The first article appears to look like a transition story, where someone tells their honest experiences of the differences in software (we already know… less control, less settings, less freedom, more simplicity, more design flair) and hardware (less ports, less features, less buttons, less thinking required, less control). It is far from it, it resembles a call to scientology because of the amazing network effects of finally being able to connect with those poor long lost friends who forget you existed because they were unwilling to download a messaging app that didn’t come bundled with their “made in Shenzhen” Chinese spyPhone.
Quoting people saying, “I’m so happy you are blue now!!!” “Bienvenue a la Club Apple!” “It’s about time”
These quotes sound like friends finally so happy that you euthanized your pesky Chihuahua that always ruined dinner parties with a poisoned apple, more than relief that you all finally bought identical devices made by Uighur slaves from the same corporate machine.
The network effects are the main reason that author enjoyed switching. What is alarming is a tech company even hinting at the idea that all mobile users, meaning nearly every person on the planet, switch to a single set of devices and a single application for all of their communication is crudely Orwellian.
If you think iPhones are secure, or that Apple hasn’t predesigned backdoors for eavesdropping on conversations that are just an exploit away from some Chinese credit card farmer buying bitcoin with your debit, think again.
Unlike the publicity that Apple got for its standoff with the FBI, where the government can’t put CEOs in forced labor camps, in China, the government requires all tech vendors to put backdoors in its products to be able to sell there, a revelation made nearly a decade ago by Snowden but largely ignored, because people like pastel colors so much.
Since Apple is no longer an American company, and sells that majority of its goods abroad now, with “Greater China” (yes, Apple also believes in the One China policy) responsible for more than a quarter of Apple’s operating profit as of 2018, they certainly do not make two versions, an American iPhone and a Chinese iPhone
Nearly all iPhones are still made in China, which means that yes, American phones too have a pre-built backdoor for Daddy Xi to listen in on your microphone or tune in to your front and back cameras when the Chinese government sees fit. Do you cover up those lenses with electrical tape too?
Besides the known existence of both hardware and software exploits, putting all of your security eggs in the Apple basket is also a disaster waiting to happen. With Signal, Telegram, or yes, even Zuckerberg’s Whatsapp just a 5 second download away, why would any tech-minded person suggest that it is a good idea? Or even reasonable that anyone in 2021 with a heavily optimized thousand dollar glass computer in their pocket should just stick with the stock-apps because in their utopia, if everyone puts in 0% extra effort and 0% extra thought, the world will be simpler for everyone!
Especially for the spy agencies.
Implying that if all Americans, or in fact all people switch to the iPhone and solely rely on iMessage, the world will just be a little more simpler is one of the most tech ignorant and conformist troughs of swine feed that CNET could have possibly pushed out.
The second article was gaspworthy but in a different way.
For anyone who has bought a non-plastic smartphone in the last decade and a half, unless you have agoraphobia, you have experienced a cracked screen, the frustration it carries with it, and the implicit desire to just buy a new one.
As if the screen was not vulnerable enough, nearly all of the major manufacturers have gone out of their way to make smartphones even more vulnerable in the last decade by adding a glass back, too, for aesthetic purposes, as it adds no technological value to the phone whatsoever.
They have added ultraweight aluminum to the sides, also one of the softest metals known to man, to sturdy it.
And despite however many iterations of Gorilla Glass (six) or iPhones secret shatter-prone Apple branded Chinese polymers, an iPhone, as a small, slippery, heavy little brick that you literally carry around with you 24 hours a day to every single place you go, is just about the most vulnerable piece of tech you can own.
So, when CNET makes an argument which is essentially, cases are ugly, and fail sometimes, which in fairness they do, enjoy life and let your sexualized phone’s curves go free. While this argument isn’t inherently wrong, it is deliberately letting Apple, and indeed the manufacturers, who created this crisis, go off the hook.
Anyone older than 25 can remember a time when plastic phones with lightweight metal bodies very seldom actually broke, it was a rarity.
This was before the Apple revolutionized the mobile phone by introducing the iPhone along with tech frailty and pre-planned obsolescence with fixed release cycles. Everyone should know that Apple, and indeed Foxconn want you to buy a new phone every 1-2 years.
It is abundantly clear that these phones are made to break easily, whether through the “waterproofing” which places high-voltage circuits deliberately near ingress points, or through the sheeting of a phone in exquisite (how did industrial design become so mainstream) faberge-like materials that crack or shatter almost spontaneously.
Where are the journalistic calls for less aesthetics and more resilience? Those got left behind when CNET became a clickbait factory and was bought up by “Red Ventures” and its pro-Communist Party of China controlling shareholders.
Staff writer: Ari B
Relevant sources and links: