It was back in 2013 that I made the grave mistake of updating my iPhone software yet again using the devil’s own installer – iTunes. I should have known better of course. Alas, Steve Jobs had already passed away, so I wrote to the guy who had taken over at Apple, Tim Cook (and, yes, that really is his email address):
I love my iPhone. I’m pretty crazy about my iPad too.
I work in the design business so I truly appreciate the flawless combination of cutting edge technology and sublime aesthetics. Apple products genuinely have set a new benchmark for product design.
However, iTunes is a crock of shit Tim.
I used to get better software on the 3½“ floppy disks stuck to the front of the early PC Magazines back in the days when a 48Mb hard drive was as cool as penguin pee. There are an awful lot of awful things I despise about iTunes but the thing I hate the most are the iPhone software updates. They are the inflatable dartboard of the software world. The chocolate teapot of programming.
The other day, it just so happens that I was trying to get some photographs off my iPhone onto my laptop. No matter how I tried, Explorer and My Computer could not see the iPhone. So, I started iTunes and it informed me that my phone needed updating. I naturally figured that this could be the source of the problem and so reluctantly clicked on the horrid little button.
To my initial delight, it worked. Everything was absolutely fine until I tried to use the iPhone in my car. As far as the car was concerned Tim, my iPhone had simply disappeared. The laptop could see the phone as clear as day. The car was now as blind as a bat.
What gives you the right, Tim, to change the software so that my BMW voice-activated Bluetooth no longer talks to my iPhone? There wasn’t anything wrong with the Bluetooth, so why the hell did you change it? Why did you fix something that wasn’t broken? Why did you dick around with it?
Do you know how much it costs to update the Bluetooth software in a BMW Tim? Do you?
Well, as of this morning, it cost £100.00 (including VAT). That’s $154 Tim.1 And that’s actually gone down in price. The last time you fu**ed up my Bluetooth, it cost me £147 ($226).
But it’s not just me is it, Tim?
BMW sold 1.54 million2 out of a global total of 60 million cars sold last year. So, on that basis, 2.6% of the cars in the world are BMWs. As there are over 1 billion cars on the planet, that means there are at least 26 million BMWs. Let’s say for the sake of argument that just 30% of those are fitted with Bluetooth (although it’s probably far more than that).
So, we have at least 7.8 million BMW drivers with Bluetooth. Given that your share of the global smartphone market is 18.2% and it is reasonably safe to assume that if you can afford a BMW with Bluetooth, you’re also going to have a smartphone, it follows that you have seriously pissed off just over 1.4 million people!
If each of these is paying an average of $154 to fix the problem you created, then you have forced your customers to squander more than $215 million. TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLARS TIM!
And that’s just the BMW drivers. If we add in the Minis, the Mercedes, the Lexuses, the Range Rovers, the Jaguars and, who knows, even a few American cars, you have caused the pissing away of
BILLIONS OF DOLLARS!
Damn it all Tim, that’s even more than you earn!
And that’s just scratching the surface. Imagine if you add in all the downtime.
This week, I have had to drive to Bath and Glasgow. For your information Tim, those places are at opposite ends of our little island3 and each of them is a four hour drive away from my home. So that’s two round trips of eight hours or 16 hours in total. The reason that I paid BMW’s obscene premium to have the hands-free Bluetooth in the first place was so that I could make calls whilst on long journeys such as this. Ordinarily, I would spend most of my time on the phone in connection with my business. As I have already said, I work in the design business and I’m actually pretty good at my job. Let’s say that my time is conservatively worth $300 per hour and I would have spent just half my time productively on the phone.
That’s another $2,400 you owe me Tim – plus a couple of hours to go and get the bloody software upgrade done in the first place so that makes it a round $3,000 in downtime.
Then there’s the loss of productivity back at the office because my team couldn’t get hold of me. We’ve got 18 highly skilled design staff back at the ranch and several of them were unable to get their work done because I was unavailable for 16 hours. Estimated cost to our business – $8,000.
I appreciate that I represent just 6.76×10-10 of your global market share, 4 but you’re a very clever guy and clever guys listen to their customers.
So, stop messing with the Bluetooth every time you update the phone software. Get iTunes replaced with a half decent piece of software. Stop pissing off the people whose money you take home every month. If you don’t, that stock price is only going one way.
In the meantime, you owe me $11,154. You can make your cheque5 payable to me and remit it to the address at the head of the snail mail copy of this letter.
Needless to say, I didn’t get any response of any kind from Tim or anyone else at Apple. Now (2020), iTunes is still a piece of shit. It is finally being killed off we hear – initially only for Mac owners of course. The suffering of PC owners will be as prolonged as possible. Of course, by then, I’ll be using a Samsung and won’t care any more. You have no idea how much I am looking forward to hitting the ‘uninstall’ button.
You can tell thisletter is from a long time ago. $1.54 to £1. Oh God, those were the days ↩
Not counting all those Minis ↩
The UK, in case you hadn’t guessed by now ↩
A 1.48 billionth in scientific notation. I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently, there are around 1.48 billion iPhones in the world ↩
US: Check; UK: Cheque ↩