The 2015 Apple Hit Bait Report

January 8th, 2015

Those who have little better to do than diss Apple for real or imagined ills will no doubt enjoy coming up with new drivel to spread this year. Of course, last year had plenty of meat and potatoes to consume. Some of it was true, such as the failed iOS 8.0.1 update that bricked some iPhones. But others were utterly bogus, and Bendgate is a prime example. It was never true that the iPhone 6 Plus was far more prone to bending than other comparably-sized mobile handsets.

When I think about it, though, I wonder about the people who are so willing to bend a sophisticated consumer electronics gadget that costs upwards of $750 at retail. Do they have enough spare cash on hand to throw it away? Or maybe they just hoped Apple would fix the damage at no cost if they told a good story.

Sometimes there’s so much sheer silliness, you cannot keep up with it. I know several of us monitor these hit bait articles on a regular basis. Some publications are devoted to fear mongering about Apple, while others do it occasionally. Not that Apple is above criticism. The company has done some stupid things and should be roundly criticized, but there’s no excuse for just making stuff up.

Sometimes a basic set of facts can be corrupted to fuel a legal action. Now SEC filings will usually reveal that Apple is suing others, and others are suing Apple. Often cases are settled out of court, perhaps for an undisclosed sum, to get them resolved as painlessly as possible. Sometimes they never seem to end, such as the remaining legal skirmishes between Apple and Samsung, and that iPod lawsuit, which recently came to its natural conclusion in Apple’s favor after percolating in the courts for years.

The latest legal action involves complaints that Apple is somehow cheating you of storage space on your iPhone or iPad and, worse, that if you run short of space, you may be invited to get more via iCloud. It’s all a nasty trick, I suppose, except for the fact that you already have 5GB of iCloud storage free before you consider whether you need any more. I know I’ve existed within that limit and haven’t felt the need to fatten up the capacity.

Well, to be fair, I also have 1TB storage courtesy of Microsoft’s OneDrive and whatever Dropbox offers before you have to order up a paid plan (actually it’s 2GB). I use some of the latter to exchange files with a graphic artist from time to time, but that’s pretty much the sum of it. Maybe I’m just living off the grid, or I’m out of touch.

But I do sympathize with people who are unaware of the basic facts about the storage on a personal computer or mobile device. For obvious reasons, there are severe constraints on the latter, though a 128GB iPhone or iPad gives you plenty of room for a decent music, photo or movie library. Decent.

Unfortunately, the people behind Storagegate seem deliberately ignorant of some basic facts, which his that, as operating systems mature, they necessarily grow larger to add additional features. When a company says a device has a capacity of 16GB, or whatever, they are obviously not suggesting that you can still get all of it with the OS and bundled apps installed. Some companies reserve so much for their own needs that they don’t leave very much for your own stuff. Maybe they are selfish.

Take a 64GB Microsoft Surface 3, where there’s only 23GB left for your own needs when it’s first activated. Is that abuse, or just a reflection of reality, that if you want the OS and apps that Microsoft offers, you have to assume a certain amount of space is required? But is that message clearly conveyed to customers, that perhaps they’d be better off investing in the 128GB version instead? After all, these flash-based devices don’t allow you to just pop a chip and add more, although that would be a neat idea.

I suppose the tech industry could do a little better to inform customers about what they are actually  getting. Wouldn’t an asterisk after the storage spec, pointing to a few lines about the available space with OS and bundled apps, be sufficient to properly alert even the most naive customers — not to mention their lawyers — about the terms and conditions?

Now it’s true that Apple already has a long set of fine print that applies to storage specs on an iPhone, which start with: “1GB = 1 billion bytes; actual formatted capacity less.” To Apple’s lawyers, that might be sufficient, but maybe it does call for an additional explanation, perhaps a sentence such as, “Advertised capacity is reduced by the operating system and bundled apps.” That would do it don’t you think?

In any case, you can expect that 2015 will bring all sorts of faux conspiracies and complaints. Apple will, as usual screw up, but one hopes not to a large degree. But those in search of hit bait, to boost their sites, will continue to look to Apple for inspiration, or merely for a name to put in a headline.

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