This is a letter sent today to an Apple executive who will remain nameless. It was not Steve, but I thought it was worth sharing.
It has been over six years since my last day at Apple. I now realize that it was time for me to leave Apple in 2004. Of course the reasons it was actually good for me are certainly different than the ones that sent me on my way.
It is very hard to leave a company like Apple where you have spent nearly twenty years and given the company all the commitment and passion required for success.
I have no regrets. I remain proud of my accomplishments. I believe the integrity that I demonstrated in handling my job and in leaving will stand the test of time.
I truly enjoyed my career at Apple except for the last two years when I had a target on my back. That was no fun, and I have tried to not let that color the big picture of my Apple career of nearly twenty years, but I suppose some scars will remain with me forever.
While leaving Apple was extremely challenging for me and my wife, it pushed us even closer to values that have sustained us through our whole life. Family is far more important than the company that writes your paycheck. How you live your life means more than any job title or how much money you make.
In a sense learning to live without Apple was learning to live with less while having more time for what is really important in life. It is no surprise that I do not miss the ridiculous weekly forecast calls. However, I do really enjoy hearing my two year old granddaughter say "ridiculous."
I met some great people at Apple, but few have survived as friends. Perhaps even the culture of Apple makes it hard to have real friends.
I am saddened that some people still working at Apple remain afraid to communicate with me even after all this time, but it just reminds me of one of the many reasons that I am happy not to be working at Apple.
Leaving Apple hastened our move to a place with unparalleled beauty that provides daily inspiration and a sense of wonder to those of us living there. Living along the Southern Outer Banks of the North Carolina coast has renewed our close connection with the land and water. That same connection to the natural world sustained us through our early years long before the days of a corporate paycheck.
When I left, Apple was well on its way to being a far different company than the one that I joined in 1984. Coming to Apple then after living and breathing Apple for two years in the Canadian reseller channel was the fulfillment of a dream.
As someone now on the outside who has been on the inside, one observation sticks in my mind. Apple has gone from being the computer for the rest of us to the computer for the well-heeled among us. As a sales manager I never had trouble providing my team with solid reasons for the Apple price difference.
It is a good thing your customer base has changed, or it might be a little more difficult to come up with those reasons today.
Even late last year, I gave my oldest daughter a list of reasons why an iMac was a better buy for her than a slightly lower priced Windows box.
Around the first of the year, we had put aside some money to buy a new Mac laptop for my wife. When the MacBook Pro line was refreshed in early 2010 with Core 2 Duos at $1199, I was in shock. After all I was using a MacBook with a processor not that much different, but I had bought my system in July of 2006. Where was Intel's new line of processors?
We ended up buying two very nice HP laptops, one with a 14" screen and a Core i5 processor, the other with a 15" screen and a Core i7 processor. Our total cost for the two systems after all was said and done was close to $1,500. That is not a bad price for two nicely configured laptops.
Since then I have watched with interest as Apple products have been refreshed, and Intel's new processors have made it into all the consumer computer products but the always over priced Mac mini.
I can only smile at the margins you are making on those i5 and i7 systems.
Yet I realize that Apple has moved on to iPads and iPhones, and in some respects it shows. I started this message on Apple Mail which unexpectedly quit on me. I am now writing it on my Windows i7 laptop in Word. While OS X has never quit on me, it is not unusual to have to do a force quit on some applications on my MacBook running Snow Leopard. Mail and iPhoto seem to be the worst offenders. My latest iPhoto often quits unexpectedly.
On the other hand Microsoft has done a stellar job with Windows 7. I have been using it daily since February of this year. It has yet to hang on either of our two laptops. It has proved to be extremely fast, reliable, and bug free.
With some regrets, I am gradually sliding out of the Apple world. With your new iMacs, the cheapest i7 equipped system that I can get is $2,199. While I know it comes with a terrific screen, I also know from the experience of the white lamp iMacs that after several years you have a great screen and a really out of date processor. While I appreciate the port that allows you to use the screen with a laptop, that still does not fix the problem.
I would love to be the blogger who explains to the world why an i7 iMac costs 29% more than a Dell desktop with even better specs, or why I should ignore a HP i7 desktop with more memory and a 25" screen for $900 less than an i7 iMac. To top it off, I cannot even get an i7 from you unless I buy your largest screen real estate.
I still remember the days when Apple was price competitive. I guess it does not matter as long as plenty of people are still adding to Apple's pile of cash.
While there are still applications on the Mac that I love, I have to admit that Google's online services are eating your lunch. Free Gmail with my own domain is very hard to beat as is Picasa Web Albums with free online editing of photos. Google's calendar even keeps track of all the calls made from my Droid phone.
You should have some Apple engineers check out Windows Live Sync, it even works well with my Macs. I have gotten to depend on it for managing files that I might need on multiple systems.
While I realize that iPhones are Apple's future, unfortunately I could not even consider one. Three years on the coast using AT&T's lousy service convinced me that I needed a better carrier so I would not have to run to my front porch every time my phone rang. My Android powered phone has turned out to be a delight. I can sit in my easy chair inside the house and make calls that are almost as good as ones we make on our land line.
While I hate to say it, as my older Macs expire, I suspect they will be replaced with Windows boxes. It is hard for me to justify the cost of a Mac when I no longer believe Apple's eye has much focus on desktop or laptop computing.
There were a lot of things that I would put up with in the days when a Mac was only a few hundred dollars different in price and when I was confident that OS X was the best operating system on the planet.
Among those things were Apple's lousy warranties, and a dot Mac service that should be free but isn't. Dot Mac mail has no administrative tools when you are managing family users. Then there is always the risk of buying Apple software. Two months after purchase a new version can become available, but if you want it, you have to pay full price. There were times you knew not to complain because IBM or Motorola were the problems behind Apple not getting the latest processors. But now new processors appear only when Apple wants to grace us with them. The wait can be months.
It looks like Apple only moves to a margin clock, which maximizes profit at all stages of a processor's life.
I will miss my Macs, but as I said, I do not miss Apple.
Life is far more rewarding here on the coast about as far away as I can get from Cupertino and the rolling forecasts.
I do, however, wish the company the best. I will keep your products on my radar in the hopes that there will be a day when I can once again purchase some new Apple hardware with the expectation that it will delight me as much as many products have in the past.
Unbelievably I am still getting requests for interviews on Apple. After my experience with der Spiegel this spring, I am done with that. I just turned down a request to be interviewed for yet another Apple book.
If you are visiting the east coast, stop by the Emerald Isle area, and we will have a beer or some iced tea, and I will share some of the best fresh shrimp in the world with you. And I promise you will not need a food taster.
Update, November 2012- I continue to offer advice to Apple in posts like, Apple Finally Loses Its Mantra. Unfortunately my recent experience with Apple products continues to be disappointing.