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Apple is back on EPEAT (apple.com)
157 points by kellysutton on July 13, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 169 comments

"All eligible products" is a key, the new iPad with its glued in battery is not among them.

The "more efficient and longer lasting" case materials he brags about are irrelevant in their disposable products made of low quality components that are not user serviceable or upgradable.

It's like bragging you made your automobile frame out of solid titanium with a carbon fiber shell, but ignoring the fact that you built the engine without any way to change the oil, so you're going to be throwing it out or sending it in for major costly service after a short time. Such planned obsolescent designs are certainly not environmentally sound, and claims of the longevity and strength of the frame materials, and even of certifications, are just PR to distract and hypnotize the marketplace into believing the opposite of the reality of the situation.

Not being user-servicable does not mean it's disposable. You can take it to Apple Stores and they'll fix it for you (and they certainly don't tuck the entire thing in the trash, they probably have some complex machines (that not everyone has) that are able to de-glue screen/battery and case).

It's a compromise most regular customers will probably accept.

And I don't get ""disposable products made of low quality components"" at all. Low quality?!

But you can't upgrade them. I just added 4 GB of RAM and an SSD to my mom's 4-year-old MBP, ensuring it'll last another 3-4 years. 2 GB RAM and a 5400rpm drive just wasn't cutting it anymore. Several of my friends extended the lives of their MacBooks by replacing the DVD with a secondary SSD.

Apple's new generation design of Macs have soldered-in RAM and a proprietary disk. Will we be able to upgrade them in 4 years?

edit: Imagine if you could upgrade the RAM in an iPad. I could still have used my original iPad now instead of it being junk.


I have a first generation iPad and it does more things than the first day it was purchased.

Not being updated will mean that it will do the same things it does now but no more. That's far from junk.

Every iOS update slows it down more and more and makes apps crash more as they run out of RAM and developers have only tested it with the latest device.

You pointedly didn't respond to the post:

>> I have a first generation iPad and it does more things than the first day it was purchased.

That's certainly true of mine, crashing 3rd-party apps notwithstanding.

The original iPad was very much sold on the promise of upcoming third-party apps. If it didn't have the potential of apps, I would definitely not have bought it, just how I didn't buy the original iPhone.

And it has had upcoming third-party apps for 2+ years since you bought it. I'm not seeing the problem.

If your issue is "developers have only tested it with the latest device", that's not an issue Apple can correct.

This is simply not true.

I agree

That has not been my experience.

I also use a 1st gen iPad.

My dear friend, that's the definition of compromise. Lighter/smaller vs. being very powerful. I carry my 15" MacBook Pro + iPad 2 in my bag and the next time would definitely go with the lighter product.

I'm not saying I like it. I would probably buy a Retina MacBook Pro if it wasn't "crippled" (for me), now I just use my 2009 MacBook Pro a year longer, hoping for a better rMBP next year. It's crippled for me, but the retina MacBook Pro does more things than anything 95% of the world could hope to do in 3 years (it's a beast).

I'm still going to buy the new Retina MacBook Pro, but I can currently afford to upgrade my laptop every year and gift away the old one. Plus I personally don't care much about recycling/the environment.

That doesn't mean it's not an environmentally unfriendly design.

Not true, only the Retina Macbook Pro and Airs have soldered-in batteries/RAM, just like ultrabooks made by other manufacturers (ASUS, Dell, Acer).

It's a design decision. If you want an ultra thin/light machine then you have to compromise. If servicing the machine yourself is an issue then buy one of the 'regular' Macbooks.

Something's telling me the 'regular' MacBooks won't be around for very much longer.

Then the market will have spoken.

Sorry, with "new generation" I meant "next generation". There's no way the fullsize laptops are staying around any meaningful time (unless they survive on no-update life support like the Mac Pro)

Original iPad being junk? There's tons still in service. As a matter of fact, I'd imagine most who upgraded to the 2 or 3 did so due to additional features (camera, Retina), not the RAM.

Also, how do I upgrade the RAM in a Galaxy Tab or a Kindle Fire? I think the lack of upgradability is endemic to the tablet form-factor.

>how do I upgrade the RAM in a Galaxy Tab or a Kindle Fire?

You probably cannot, but iFixit gives the Fire a repairability score of 8 and the iPad a score of 2.

Be fair and link to the review:


Main positives are for ability to remove the back side and use of Phillips screws: big pluses. However, primary iPad issues: glued on front glass, RAM, persistent storage: all true for Kindle as well.

Fantastic. Just a 5 hour round-trip to my nearest apple store. Why would I want to service it when I have access to that level of convenience?

You happen to have a stack of unused screens/batteries handy in the attic?

If no, you need to take that trip anyway. And a 5 hour trip every 3 years is better than carrying 60 grams more in your backpack for 800 days (in that 3 year period).

I'm not saying it's ideal, and I don't like it myself that much. I'm just saying it's a compromise most people accept.

Last time I needed to replace a screen in my laptop, I got one from ebay. They shipped it to my apartment.

You are still free to do that ... get a screen off ebay, get a case with batteries off ebay, you can still get a new motherboard with more soldered ram off ebay and have it shipped to your apartment as well.

I fail to see how that would change ...

Wow, you ordered something from ebay, and they shipped it to your apartment, and you replaced it, and all of this- from the moment you started looking at the auction, to completing the repair - was less than 5 hours?!

Amazing! Well, if that's the case, you've certainly made your point!

No. The full amount of time that passed was maybe a week. But it took no more than an hour of attention. Luckily, I had other things in life to do other than look at my broken laptop.

Apple also provides mail-in repairs.

Yes, you surely are representative of a large user base that self-replaces their laptop screens, one that should be catered by all major computer companies in their designs...

>Fantastic. Just a 5 hour round-trip to my nearest apple store. Why would I want to service it when I have access to that level of convenience?

5-hour round-trip when (and _if_) your laptop fails!

1) Oh, the humanity.

2) Oh, how I wish I had a 5-hour round-trip solution available to me...

3) Whereas your alternative would be what? Opening it yourself and using the stack of compatible batteries, screens, logic boards, touchpads etc you have on your house "just in case"?

4) Even if you had that crazy alternative, that applies to what percentage of laptop buyers? And what engineering tradeoffs would it take in that form factor to have user serviceable parts?

The user serviceability argument is tired. The readers of HN are disproportionally more willing and eager to service their own tech than the overall population. The only group this really isn't good for is the third-party repair companies.

Apple has made it clear they want a tight relationship with the customer at every step of the product experience. This is (from Apple's point of view) just strengthening that relationship.

In this day and age I really don't see user serviceability for tired argument, it is a fact that lack of it is prejudicial and that is important to people both on and off HN. If it isn't there is something wrong.

I also don't understand how alienating the implications of how apple manages to get to this poor state of pissing on everyone and just going with shallow statements like this, erodes to: "The only group this really isn't good for is the third-party repair companies.". That is really past the point of this whitewash of a public relations exercise and a further non important apologetic unrelated point by itself.

You responded to a poster that takes the spin out of the statement and all you have is; you don't care it isn't done properly. You don't mind glued batts, say it. Let us not further this pathetic marketing spinfest. That, is very tiring and at this point really see through when it comes to speaking about apple like if any negative view on this brand is to be squashed by people that never even seen a spinning beachball while waiting for their computer to catch up... please.

Tight relationship at every step of the product experience => almost forcing the customer for paying a fucking premium for every little service you need for a device you have already paid for and own. Too bad educated people on HN still justify that kind of BS.

Should the price, quality of the product, quality of the service, or simply the way a company does business not jive with your principles... don't do business with that company.

We are criticizing the way the company does business. Ending the conversation with "Don't do business with the company" is a lousy cop-out.

No. You are criticizing a company's products under the assumption that everyone has the same needs as you. Weight, form factor, battery life and reliability are all more important to me than serviceability. I'm not alone in feeling this way.

If you value the ability to service a product more than the qualities I mentioned, you should choose to buy from a company other than Apple.

> We are criticizing the way the company does business.

I love the way Apple does business. They focuses on creating products that almost perfectly fit my needs.

>> I love the way Apple does business. They focuses on creating products that almost perfectly fit my needs.

This can also be interpreted as: I don't care if they make products that are not as environment friendly as some of the others in the market because their products are shiny and cool. Thanks for caring for the planet.

it can be interpreted as that; that's obviously how you interpreted it.

The irony is Apple's one of the greenest, if not by far the greenest, manufacturers in the world. Can you name any tech manufacturers that are better?

>> Apple's one of the greenest, if not by far the greenest, manufacturers in the world. Can you name any tech manufacturers that are better

I take it that you love to live in Apple's reality distortion field?

EPEAT's website has all the details you need: http://ww2.epeat.net/searchoptions.aspx

Reality distortion field?


If the statements made are true, then there really is a problem with epeat. Just cause a company has many products certified, it doesn't mean that company is more green than Apple.

Interesting quotes:

"Companies like Dell have 171 products listed on EPEAT, but yet if you look on Dell’s Web site, none of their computers are even Energy Star Compliant."

"By its own admission, the EPEAT certifications are old.

“Part of it is expanding EPEAT’s global reach through the multiple certification [process]; as well as moving into new, additional products; as well as updating the EPEAT [certifications], because they’re a little long in the tooth. [Each of those] is a huge project on its own,” Christine Ervin, an EPEAT board member told GreenBiz in March."

"The hubbub over Apple pulling out of EPEAT is interesting because the products that were listed as gold products by the environmental organization are the same ones Apple is currently selling."

Apple outsources manufacture, so presumably you are claiming that Apple's suppliers, rather than Apple, are the greenest manufacturers in the world.

> Apple outsources manufacture, so presumably you are claiming that Apple's suppliers, rather than Apple, are the greenest manufacturers in the world.

You are operating on the assumption that Apple (or Dell, Lenovo, etc) have no say in the materials used, methods of construction or the materials not used in manufacturing their goods. They do—they don't just hand over a spec sheet and tell the supplier to get to work. They supply a detailed specification and set of drawings and likely engage their manufacturer to ensure their requests are feasible and/or meet particular national standards.

Apple outsources manufacture according to their _specs_.

Do you believe it goes like this:

Apple: We want 20,000,000 SSD drives.

Samsung: How do you want them?

Apple: Surprise us!

Uh no - I didn't criticize the products. Where did you get that from? And why should serviceability be sacrificed for qualities like weight, form factor, etc?

Sent from my 2010 Macbook Pro...

And why should serviceability be sacrificed for qualities like weight, form factor, etc?

Because I will "service" my laptop maybe once, if even that many times, during its operational life. Meanwhile, I will enjoy its "weight, form factor, etc." every single time I use it.

Not everybody is going to prioritize environmental issues over all others. Those who have a problem with that can deal with it and get over it.

  > And why should serviceability be sacrificed for qualities
  > like weight, form factor, etc?
Well, just see the teardown of Apple product and think, how much space would be needed for the replaceable battery (with casing), packaged RAM, etc.

>And why should serviceability be sacrificed for qualities like weight, form factor, etc?

Because serviceability is a one-off process you do when the product fails or when you want to update it, whereas weight, form factor are things that make you buy a product specifically in the first place, and things you deal with every day.

FREE is not a "fucking premium" you have to "pay" to get your device serviced! And this is for the lifetime of the product!

Not that Apple products require service, but when they do Apple provides a premium service- a global network of stores that will replace even motherboards in 30 minutes. (Something no other manufacturer does, and very important for travelers who don't want to send their computer back tot he continent where it was bought.)

Sure, I'm including the cost of Applecare in the price here, and calling the service free, but Applecare is cheap and very, very often Apple will replace things out of warranty, again, for free, because most of the time something does go wrong it is due to an actual defect (e.g.: the NVIDIA chips that were failing a few years back after being used for a couple years.)

3 years is the lifetime of the product for me. And these days after 4 years the product is generally obsolete.

There is no "premium" you have to pay-- you just get premiums service at the minor cost of the extended warranty (which I'm sure has nice margins, but still is the best deal out there.)

So how can you say Apple is overcharging when nobody else offers as good a deal?

EDIT: Of course pointing out hat Apple offers a free global service network - something others don't offer at any price- being a statement of fact, is being down voted by the apple hating hordes at HN. I know, I'm not allowed to point out facts that disagree with the predominant ideology. This just proves to me that this is not a place where intelligent discussion can take place, and you guy are just a waste of time.

have you tried using that "free global network" outside of the usa? at least here in chile, things that you would get replaced for free (like those damn frayed power supply cords) just don't get replaced. you have to buy new ones. i haven't had any free service here for macs (my partner uses them and i get to fix them) - am reduced to buying bits on ebay and doing it myself (and am proud owner of a diverse collection of obscure driver bits as a consequence).

I've tried in a second-tier country (Germany) and in an obscure country (Taiwan). While I have never entered an Apple Store, at least I have received solid and free service by all authorized resellers so far.

I forgot to add - I'm a poor grad student. So whatever you are calling cheap, ain't cheap for me. If Applecare is cheap and 3 years is a lifetime of a product for you, then arguing with you about cost issues is simply pointless.

And I'm from a poor country, with a tired economy, so it's even more expensive for me (not to mention Apple stuff costs around 40% more here, when the price is translated back to dollars).

But even I find the argument somewhat silly. If you are a "poor student" then don't buy it. It's like saying that a Porsche is too expensive for you. Well, then get something else.

Free aint cheap for you? Well, then you're just penny wise and pound foolish. Like I said, the vast majority of the time you might need some service, Apple does it for free. If you think you're going to buy some other companies machine and keep it for more than 3 years with better success, then, well, you're simply not educated about the state of affairs in the industry.

Your premise is based on falsehoods, and you make assertions and then claim others are "uneducated" because they don't agree with your denial of reality?

Actually, it's not glued with epoxy resin or something like that. The iFixit teardown shows them removing it with a spudger. Hardly a difficult job for recyclers.

Online parts shops are already selling replacement batteries and can even replace it for you if you don't want to send it to Apple. That's the reality of the situation, if you care to do some research.

I've replaced the battery on an iPhone 3GS (also glued in) and it's not a big deal.

IIRC the problem is that there has to be absolutely no glue present for them to be able to recycle it. Even if they can just pry the batteries out, they need to be free of glue entirely.

I'd like a reference on that because it seems completely implausible, and would make recycling almost anything impossible because glue is used everywhere, on tape bits to hold cables in place etc.

And if the batteries has to be glue free, then practically all laptop and cell phone batteries can't be recycled because the plastic battery case is glued together.

Turns out I got a bit mixed up: the problem with the glue exists with recycling the glass front panels of the iPhone and family.

OK, that's more understandable, since I guess that glue has to be pretty solid and has to cover the entire surface. And that's also bad from a servicability perspective (have to buy the entire display assembly).

Which seems very weird, given how many different layers and materials already go into a lithium battery. Why is a small dab of glue so problematic?

It's almost as if the recyclers are too lazy to keep their processes up to date. Nah, couldn't be.

Perhaps the glue can generates toxic derivatives in the recycling process that can nullify the benefits of the process by itself.

I would be interested in your source for that. Batteries are already made of very many different materials, it’s not as though glue is some sort of special material. (The label of, say, AAA batteries is glued to the metal container. The label of the Li-Ion battery of my Nokia phone is also glued to the plastic container. Maybe Apple uses a bit more glue – but glue shouldn’t be something completely new in battery recycling.)

> that are not user serviceable or upgradable.

The Retina MacBook Pro is rated gold EPEAT, despite criticism regarding the glue used.

I seem to remember some components were glued in early versions of some iPhones/iPads, but were later silently updated to have no glue.

Tablets are not rated by EPEAT.

I think that's the number one thing people have been overlooking in this scandal: EPEAT is behind the times by not even offering relevant standards for Apple's most important product segments.

And if it offered relevant standards then it's quite likely that Apple won't qualify given how they are assembled.

If EPEAT offered relevant standards for tablets and phones, they'd have to face up to the realities of the modern manufacturing methods necessary to make powerful devices compact. And if not, it would be harder to single out Apple, because there would be plenty of other tablets and phones not qualifying.

Would any tablet manufacturer?

I'm sure there were plenty of people who bemoaned integrated circuits being less repairable than circuit boards, and then ASICS for being less repairable than single purpose DIPs. We really need to build everything out of wood, I guess.

Only if oil generally only needed to be replaced once or twice over the lifespan of a car, an oil change was traditionally so easy and convenient that most customers did it themselves, and the "expensive repair", in absolute terms, was only slightly more expensive than the retail price of oil change parts and supplies for otherwise comparable cars.

So no, not really.

"All eligible products" - in terms of product categories that EPEAT covers.

EPEAT registry does not yet include certifications for smartphones or tablets.

>"All eligible products" is a key, the new iPad with its glued in battery is not among them.

True, but OTOH, then can't go back in time and change it's design now that they decided to go back with EPEAT, can they?

>It's like bragging you made your automobile frame out of solid titanium with a carbon fiber shell, but ignoring the fact that you built the engine without any way to change the oil, so you're going to be throwing it out or sending it in for major costly service after a short time

Yes, if we ignore the fact that for the analogy to work:

1) Most people would not ever have the oil in their cars changed.

2) The car runs fine without an oil change for as many --or even more-- years as others cars that do permit oil change.

Buying a MBP Retina now, with Apple warranty repairs and/or Apple Care, you get as many years as you would use any Dell or IBM or other laptop.

Maybe some people would like to update RAM and HD and use them for 1-2 more years, but how many are those people? Judging from the giant success of Apple retail stores and the relative obscurity of iFixit and such sites/services, not that many.

I’m not sure, I think laptops have become longer lasting, more appliance like. I think that’s a very positive thing for the majority of people.

The only big issue I see is the battery which will definitely break. Those things have a limited lifetime (shorter than, say, five years you at least would want your laptop to make it) and there is nothing you can change about that.

The retina macbook is rated EPEAT gold.


Read the fine print; it says, "Macbook Pro was rated EPEAT gold." Everywhere else, the Retina Macbook Pro is referred to as "Macbook Pro with Retina Display." They are separate products; and, I'm guessing the EPEAT gold rating does not apply to the Retina MBP (though, if someone can show otherwise, that'd be great).

Their environmental report for the MacBook Pro with Retina Display (PDF: http://images.apple.com/environment/reports/docs/macbookpro_...) specifically says it "Achieves a Gold rating from EPEAT".

Ah, fair enough. I didn't really go beyond the linked page for the MBP. The fine print seemed just fishy enough to warrant the notion that it didn't mean exactly what it implied.

Thanks for setting me right.

So you can recycle glass glued to aluminium easily? That is interesting news

What do you mean by easily? Recycling is a very industrial operation; it's more than just the neat little recycling containers you see in the suburbs. If iFixit shows you how to do it, you can be guaranteed that professional recyclers can do it. Especially if it's a material of value: they meticulously disassemble dishwashers all the time for the copper contained within.

tldr; recycling != recycling bin

Interesting! Unless I'm misunderstanding a subtlety here, the common wisdom seemed to be that the retina MacBook's glue made it ineligible to get EPEAT certification and, since that style of design is obviously Apple's future direction, they pulled their EPEAT participation now.

It means one of two different things:

Either Apple has changed the glue used in the retina MBP's to go in-line with EPEAT's certification, or the glue was not rated by EPEAT, which would cause them to not certify it in the first place, but it did satisfy the other requirements, so Apple was able to force the certification through.

That's actually the first thing I checked once I saw the press release. It mentions that they're putting EPEAT Gold certification on their eligible products, and I'm curious if ineligible products means some of the accessories they sell, and that all their computers meet EPEAT gold.

I assume eligible means computers and displays but not iPads, since EPEAT doesn't rate tablets.

I think many people misunderstand where the glue is in the Retina MacBook Pro. They say things like “The display is glued to the case.” which is wrong.

The display assembly (the actual screen where the lights shine true) is glued together. I’m not sure but I think that part of the display is always pretty tightly integrated, probably even glued together. (I tried to find information on that and I would be very glad if someone could point me to resources about how laptop displays are usually built.)

The difference with Apple’s design (as far as I understand it) is that the frontmost layer of that assembly is also the front glass of the screen. Other laptops with glass in front of the screen put an extra layer of glass in front of the display assembly. The Retina MacBook Pro doesn’t have that extra glass. (My understanding – but please correct me if I’m wrong, I’m really not sure and I would like to know more – is that old displays had a sort of plastic outer layer, now Apple uses a glass outer layer. But that’s not that a big deal, as far as I know, since on the inside all LCDs use glass substrate also – so it’s not as if Apple introduced glass into the display assembly, some was always there, they just added more. But maybe I’m wrong about that.)

That display assembly is screwed – not glued – to the case. Behind it are the LEDs and light diffusers.

Here is a teardown of the display: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook-Pro-15-Inch-Retina-Di...

The battery is glued to the case - but it seems to that it is eminently removable with the application of some force. If you don’t care about breaking the laptop (since you want to recycle it) that should be no big deal. I mean, Apple replaces the battery for $200, no questions asked. I don’t think they replace the whole Retina MacBook Pro every time they do that, so they must remove the glued-in battery, and that inside a working laptop. If Apple can do it, so can you (especially with a laptop that’s beyond repair).

> Apple replaces the battery for $200, no questions asked. I don’t think they replace the whole Retina MacBook Pro every time they do that, so they must remove the glued-in battery, and that inside a working laptop. If Apple can do it, so can you (especially with a laptop that’s beyond repair).

This is the best explanation I've seen. Somehow everyone has forgotten this.

That's what I told my coworker when her car was in the shop.

She can have the transmission in her Honda replaced for about $3300 (10% of the sticker price), or do it herself.

Silly girl, she must have forgotten.

I'm not sure if you comment is supposed to be sarcastic... ?

I don't see how replacing a transmission in a car is related to getting a glued-in battery out of a laptop for the purpose of recycling (the main discussion here) ?

(Not at all relevant to recycling, but $200 ain’t a bad price. You can expect to pay about $150 for batteries from other manufacturers, and those are often not as high-quality batteries. Batteries are expensive. In general, not just from Apple. It just sucks that you have to send your damn laptop in and not be able to access it for some time.

> I mean, Apple replaces the battery for $200, no questions asked. I don’t think they replace the whole Retina MacBook Pro every time they do that.

I'd like to point out that no one has had a RMBP serviced yet, so everything you've said is entirely speculation. As is the following:

They will replace the entire RMBP.

The only user customizable part is the data on the SSD. Why go to all the trouble of taking the laptop apart when Apple could just move the data and give you a new one? Much faster turn around time. (And fixes any other dings/dents. Yay Apple!) It will be interesting to see how they deal with unorthodox customization, such as stickers on the exterior of the case. Probably will separate those out and give them the special full service treatment.

After they ship you your new laptop, they will take apart the old one and unglue the battery - but only so the unit can be resold (as refurbished) as part of a student discount service.

They probably won't even take apart the laptop and swap the SSD - just dd the whole thing over their fast little thunderbolt port. In theory, they could offer battery replacements in the Apple Store - the sales rep just has to connect the two laptops, start the sync and wait 3.5 minutes. No skilled labor involved.

From a bottom line perspective, this makes too much sense not to happen. They'll be making money on every step of the process and the majority of customers will love it.

So you completely agree that it's possible to replace the battery in a working rMBP and that it is not in any way permanently affixed to the case? The rest are irrelevant (for the purpose of this discussion) implementation details.


No, I think they will replace the aluminum case and the battery as a single unit.

But why the hell should that be the case? Look at iFixit’s teardown. It didn’t look at all like the battery was firmly glued in.

The 'glue' in retina displays (based on my experience with the iphone 4's lcd) fuses the front glass to the LCD screen. Usually you can separate the protective glass and the LCD screen, but not on a retina display. That is why if you crack the glass in front of an iPhone 4's LCD, you have to replace the entire LCD (~$70) and not just the glass (~$10).

That’s what I tried to explain. There is one less protective layer in the Retina MacBook compared to other MacBooks – but the same amount of protective layers compared to matte MacBook Pros. I don’t think it makes a difference.

In the Retina MacBook Pro the glass is an integral part of the display, not some separate piece glued on just cause – as far as I understand it. If it weren’t there, there would be a piece of plastic glued to the display. (And since LCDs already contain glass elsewhere I don’t think the extra glass changes the equation much.)

Supposedly Apple replace the upper case, keyboard, touchpad and batteries as a single disposible unit. Cheaper than replacing the whole laptop but not terribly good for the environment.

They replace the top case (with keyboard) when they replace the battery, but I highly doubt they just bin the whole thing. They can send the part for refurbishing, remove the battery, and reuse the top case.

"I recognize that this was a mistake." strikes me as a very un-appleish communication style.

In the post-Jobs era I think we'll see more of this. Jobs was the face of Apple and he can't be replaced in that role. Going forward the best they can do is put other faces out there and let them be authentic and true to themselves in the process. Even when Jobs was being a huge jerk you could at least appreciate he was being authentic. People appreciate authenticity.

I agree. Worryingly, it could be evidence of a move away from traditional Steve values, ie don't back down (straight away), don't apologise, don't explain. Alternatively, it could be Apple realise they made a huge mistake, were about to see immense damage to the brand and/or sales, so have taken the drastic, ajobsian action they think is required.

Am I the only one who thinks that even though it made for a nice source of anecdotes and mystique, this part of Jobs' influence on Apple was actually not particularly relevant to Apple's success? Not everything he did was perfect.

I know some may consider it blasphemy, but I'm hoping certain aspects of Apple will improve now Jobs is gone, especially in the realm of open and honest communication.

Those aren't values, they're PR techniques. This whole non-event is made entirely out of image vapor and really shouldn't be hard to handle.

They've got a top-notch environmental story regardless of what sticker is on what webpage. They're clearly trying in their designs to use less toxic materials. They're clearly working on energy efficiency. They buy back almost any old equipment. They recycle any old equipment for free, including free shipping for chrissakes. And they're swearing up and down they're not just binning their recyclables and washing their hands as it ships off.

I think it is pushing it to say Steve's approach (which would probably have been to say nothing, then back-track 3 weeks later) was a PR technique. Having read the Isaacson biography, it's clear Jobs was 100% sincere in his belief that he knew best and was surrounded by bozos who hadn't earned the right to question his decisions. That's the attitude that made Apple great - twice - and it could now be gone.

If you read the biography and came to that conclusion, then it's incredibly unfortunate because the opposite was true. Jobs surrounded himself with the best engineers and often flipped positions based on their arguments. If you read or hear any of his interviews, he always talks about the team and how foolish it is to think one person could do everything.

I can buy that his convictions informed how and when Apple communicated with both customers and suppliers. His insistence on quality as he defined it certainly showed up in Apple's products and services. But I don't think it's the full story of how Apple achieved greatness, and his Indomitable Will hasn't always helped.

Apple plays business hardball as hard as anyone ever has, but that trait can be found in any b-school. Steve's twist on that is that he truly, personally despised the bozos and he'd freely break decorum to let them know it. His only interest was in Apple and, arguably, Apple's customers. Every other entity lower on the totem pole could expect rock pelting or the silent treatment at any time and for any reason. Antennagate was an example of this: no apologia was ever offered, customer concerns were treated with patronizing kid gloves, and internally the design team for iPhone 4 got their clocks cleaned over the issue.

"Fuck you" is costly, and I'm not sad to see less of it from Apple.

Recognizing a huge mistake is one thing. It was the publicly admitting it that is un-Apple. They could have just silently stayed the course for awhile before announcing they had changed they're mind.

Apple admits they've made mistakes in a number of ways, I'm pretty sure they've verbally said "we've made a mistake, we're doing this instead". The more interesting facet is they admit a mistake whilst sticking to their original notion.

That's exactly what Steve would have done.

Yup. My first-gen white MacBook back in 2006 was one of the ones afflicted by the random shutdown issue (http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1599). It took over a year iirc of local Apple stores blindly trying heat sink and logic board replacements before central management publicly acknowledged that an issue existed and promptly released a firmware upgrade to turn the fans on. Problem resolved.

I think it may be a shift, but not a worrying one. Those particular traditional Steve values were not the good ones. Until and unless they show a trend away from Steve's good values (e.g. good taste, favoring customer experience in engineering compromises, willingness to compete with their own products when necessary), I think this is a good thing.

I wouldn't worry about it. Actually, I'd worry more if Apple didn't change at all after Steves departure, since that would be a sign that they were afraid of thinking for themselves. I don't think Apples success is dependent on being a dick, and I hope they more towards opening up things (like the Gatekeeper certificates on OSX).

Here's Jobs himself regarding MobileMe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPMjqXa5QLc#t=41s

I don't know if you'd consider that an apology per se, but it's definitely him admitting mistakes.

it should be noted that they didn't explain. They left. They came back. They apologized. They never explained.

Think Atennagate. It’s pretty similar.

I’m also not sure why you are worried about that. Not everything Steve did was gold. Some of the things he did were pretty toxic, and I think being unable to really admit you were wrong in public is one of those things.

If this is indeed a change in that direction (and I somewhat doubt it is) it is to me unquestionably a positive one.

"Apple makes the most environmentally responsible products in our industry."

How is this possibly true? Nothing Apple makes can be easily opened, upgraded, or have their batteries replaced. They are made to be obsolete in 2-3 years.

When my iPad screen cracked, they made me buy a new one (at discount) instead of fixing it. I doubt they even fixed the old one I gave to them - just discarded it. How is that environmentally friendly?

I own almost everything Apple makes. But they need to better explain how built-in obsolescence and impossible-to-fix devices equates to environmentally friendly.

"How is this possibly true? Nothing Apple makes can be easily opened, upgraded, or have their batteries replaced. "

It can be true if ease of opening and component swapping aren't the sole factors in determining the environmental impact of the devices.

"When my iPad screen cracked, they made me buy a new one (at discount) instead of fixing it. I doubt they even fixed the old one I gave to them - just discarded it. "

It was probably refurbished. Someone else is likely using it now. Though neither of us know for sure. At any rate, Apple's policy is to refurbish and resell damaged devices when possible, and they sell refurbished products directly in their online store.

"I own almost everything Apple makes. But they need to better explain how built-in obsolescence and impossible-to-fix devices equates to environmentally friendly."

Here is data from their website on your iPad, for example:


More here:


As far as them needing to explain how the factors you mentioned equate to being environmentally friendly, I think that that need rests on your assumption that those two factors are the most important ones. The fact that Apple is probably the biggest reseller of refurbished devices speaks to that point, but again, that question is so complex. An economist could probably write an award winning dissertation just trying to answer it.

Every consumable can be replaced - just not necessarily by you. Every structural component can be replaced and installed according to manufacturer recommendations - just not necessarily by you. Replacement parts are available for a seven year window - just not necessarily sold directly to you.

Apple's answer to obsolescence is to make their stuff good enough that it doesn't need to be upgraded continually throughout its lifetime in order to remain competitive. I'm pretty sure you'll get more use out of a sealed, non-upgradeable MacBook than you'll get out of most other similar alternatives.

As for your iPad screen, it seems rather unfair to criticize a company by imagining the worst case outcome and then imagining that's what they did. It's pretty common to give customers refurbished replacements, then take back their old broken stuff, refurbish them, and give that out to the next customer who needs a replacement. This way customers are insulated from the annoyingly-long repair times, but they can still reuse repairable equipment. There's no reason to think Apple just tossed your old iPad in the trash.

Pretty much everything Apple makes is obsolete within a year, but that's not due to Apple's design choices, it's due to technological progress. What you're trying to say is that Apple's products are garbage in 2-3 years, but that's obviously not true - other than batteries (which to my knowledge can all be replaced for a fee at the very least), all Apple products can be expected to have useful lifetimes in excess of 5 years.

As for your cracked iPad screen, just because Apple may not have refurbished it in the way you think they should have does not mean it ended up in a landfill. It's quite possible that it's cheaper for them to recycle the case and logic board than to re-validate the machine after putting a new screen on it.

I don't know of a single product Apple makes that's obsolete in a year: obsolete doesn't mean "doesn't have latest and greatest features". 3GS phones run pretty much all the apps a 4S runs; ditto on the original iPad compared to a new one.

Apple sell refurbished iPads, as well as Macs, online. They also use the broken units for reconditioned parts.

'Environmentally friendly' != 'easy to open'. There is a lot more to it than that.

Apple products avoid plastic. They are not "made to be obsolete in 2-3 years".

>I doubt they even fixed the old one I gave to them

They do. It's sold as refurbished.

No doubt the "new" one he got at a discount was a refurb as well. I had to exchange my 3gs due to a bad battery. The Apple guy brought out a white box 3gs as a replacement. I asked if it was new, and he got a little cryptic only saying it was in "like new condition."

Isn't that basically the best possible reasonable outcome in that scenario?

Would you prefer to spend the same amount of money, and then wait 3-8 weeks for it to get shipped off to a repair facility to be worked on?

Oh, I absolutely agree. I think it is great.

My comment was with regards to the grandparent post that claimed he had to purchase a new replacement--complaining it was wasteful.

My point was that he very likely got a refurb, and then related my refurb replacement story.

Sorry for not being clear.

> How is this possibly true? Nothing Apple makes can be easily opened, upgraded, or have their batteries replaced. They are made to be obsolete in 2-3 years.

There are lots of facets to environmental friendliness.

Making everything out of aluminum and glass instead of hydrocarbon-based plastic, for example, or making higher quality devices that have a longer useful life than cheaply made ones.

They didn't make you do anything. You could have gone to a third party repair shop and bought a new screen (glass) for about $40 (first hit i found). If they had welded it together so there was no way to take it apart without destroying it, I'd agree with you. But that's not the case.

The products I use the longest are from Apple.

I have to agree.

I recently upgraded to a new tower after my old one worked dutifully (running ~95% of the time) for 7 years. And it still works OK; the videocard sometimes takes a few minutes to kick on both monitors, and the latest software/OS is sluggish on the older hardware, but otherwise it's fine.

I foresee it running headless for years to come. Perhaps running an older OS or another OS--but running nonetheless. Come to think of it, it will definitely be an older or other OS as it's one of the ones that isn't upgradable to Mountain Lion :P

Obsolete in 2-3 years? No, those would be Android devices, where a phone 12 months old often can't run or doesn't have an upgraded version of Android OS. However, the iPhone 3GS, released 3+ years ago, will run iOS 6.

"Nothing"? I assume you're referring to phones and tablets. You do remember that Apple makes more than iPhones and iPads, right?

Despite the attention the new rMBP gets, they are still selling iMacs, Mac Minis, and MBPs that are easily upgraded.

Things that everyone seems to be forgetting

* Apple makes thin, light, durable products. Reduce > Recycle.

* Raw materials are a small amount of the embodied energy in electronics. The microchips themselves constitute many times the embodied energy. Again, reduce > recycle.

* As others have pointed out, Apple didn't do this because any of their newly-released products weren't eligible.

Putting it all together, Apple did this to send a message to EPEAT: "Disassembly isn't the end-all be-all of green." Looks like EPEAT caved.

One interesting thing to note is that this is from Bob Mansfield, and not Tim Cook. When Jobs was CEO, I don't remember a subordinate ever releasing something like this.

They announced his retirement a few weeks ago too.


When Apple decided to leave EPEAT, Apple Apologists/Fanboys said it's because EPEAT is outdated.

I wonder how they are going to spin this one.

"[Brand] Apologist" and "[Brand] Fanboy" are the kind of ridiculous, loaded terms which shouldn't appear anywhere on a site like HN. When people praise Apple it's not because they're fanboys. When people criticise Apple it's not because they hate everything Apple does with a passion.

EPEAT is outdated. Horribly outdated. By EPEAT's own admission.

Apple made a mistake by opting out of it rather than working with EPEAT to try to improve it. I think that's what they are doing now.

So you are saying that putting a laptop in a shredder after removing the toxic battery easily is an outdated recycling practice?

Apple fanatics have similar brain patterns to religious people. No amount of logic and reason will sway them. I recently had discussion with a bartender who was asking about my rubber case that was on my iphone. He didn't like it because it didn't have a cut out for the apple symbol to show through. I asked him why does it matter and he replied "i want people to know i use apple products because it represents who i am". Criticizing Apple would be the same as criticizing them in their minds.

Article on brain scans http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/apple-causes-religiou...

> Apple fanatics have similar brain patterns to religious people.

Any fanatic does. Find someone passionate about Android, or model railroading, or knitting, and they'll show up the same way in a brain scan.

If you think Apple is unique in having over-the-top fans, that may be a sign that you're some sort of a fanatic yourself.

I've been a mac user since the mac plus came out. I'm typing this on a MBP, i have an MBAir for traveling, iphone, too many ipods, original ipad, and appletv. I like apple products. I just hate the recent crop of apple users aka brand hipsters. They've polluted the forums, user groups and mailing lists. You can't even have an intelligent debate about the product and apple's direction.

The same happens to virtually anything that becomes wildly popular. Hell, here on HN there are fairly frequent complaints about newer users.

I'm not disputing that there are folks who treat a brand choice as a religious issue. Not one bit. I'm disputing that it's somehow unique to Apple fans.

Lots of ways, but you'll only remember the one that fits your worldview.

And people who like to throw around the word "fanboy" said it was because Apple is contemptuous of everyone but themselves and don't care about the environment at all.

I wonder the same thing about them.

I make a distinction between Apple Fans & "Fanboys".

I have no problem with Apple Fans.

I dislike Fanboys whether they are for Google, Apple or Microsoft.

Uh huh. Except, it's funny how little one hears about those other brands of fanboy.

"Our relationship with EPEAT has become stronger as a result of this experience, and we look forward to working with EPEAT as their rating system and the underlying IEEE 1680.1 standard evolve"

Reads to me like EPEAT is moving (a bit) in Apple's direction with the new future IEEE-standards.

One datapoint:

Almost all power cords and extension cords in the US contain lead: the lead is added to the plastic part of the cord when the plastic is still "molten" and its purpose is to make the plastic less flammable.

Although I did not do a chemical assay on it or anything, I am pretty sure that the power cord Apple included with my 2011 Mac mini contains no lead. (The cord has a different, more rubbery feel to it that strongly suggests a completely different material, and I might have seen a claim to that effect somewhere on the web.)

I'm a bit thrown by the overall tone of this announcement. I'll totally on board that Apple is doing its best to make "green" products and, apparently they're leading the way - great!

But if it's all true, why did they pull the products from EPEAT at all?

But does this mean their products will now be more recyclable and whatnot? Or it just means they put their EPEAT badge on the site again, although their new devices are still not as compliant as they used to be before?

I don't think their products changed much in a couple of days. Some are still EPEAT compliant, some are not, just like last week.

Though the last paragraph is interesting that there relationship is now "stronger". I wonder if Apple was just using this to say "See, it needs updating."

Who knows....not I.

Apple realized that they needed EPEAT because some (vocal) customers cared about it.

EPEAT realized that they needed Apple on board to make their certification meaningful.

And thus an understanding was formed...

Was Apple able to re-categorize the compliance issues as misunderstandings? Did Apple agree to make product modifications or agree to follow standards in future designs? Or did Apple coerce EPEAT to just change their ratings?

There was no compliance issue. Apple already had 39 certified devices, they just chose to pull the EPEAT sticker off. Then they put it back on. Why they did that is up for debate.

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2012/07/06/apple-removes-green-elec...

What a coincidence! It just so happens that EPEAT is now relevant again!

The entire thrust of their response - perhaps even half of the text - is that EPEAT remains outdated. So not really, no.

Glad to see that Apple is listening to customer feedback and acting on it.

Well, I have less respect for Apple now, and still none for Greenpeace.

> Signed Bob

A middle finger, the Apple way.

I’m thinking about whether this is an atypical reaction by Apple and I think it’s not but I’m not sure.

The pattern is typical – more or less. Some criticism appears. Apple is dead silent for a few days. Apple has a comprehensive response to the criticism. (Alternative that also happens frequently: Apple doesn’t ever mention the criticism.) That’s what used to happen in the past, that’s what nearly happened here.

The difference is that they responded with a different message pretty quickly after the criticism (arguing that EPAT isn’t such a great certification) so it’s not true that they staid completely silent.

When it comes to the message itself, I don’t think it’s that atypical. Apple rarely responds to criticism, so there are few situations we can use to compare. It’s not as big a deal as Atennagate – so they picked a less involved way to respond (basically a press release instead of a press conference) – but in every other respect it’s pretty similar.

This time there is a clearer Mea Culpa but the undertone is still that EPAT is a bad certification. (During the Antennagate press conference the undertone was that it’s not really that big of a deal – and it was a much more obvious undertone.) The tradition of Apple execs writing letters is also continued.

I would only say that Steve’s letters tended to be more about presenting arguments. That has certainly something to do with the different purposes (explain why DRM/Flash are bad vs. admit that you were wrong and reverse direction) but I still would have preferred if Bob Mansfield had explained more of Apple’s reasoning.

Are you sure you aren't too far into the tea leaves here? Swap out the specifics in what you wrote and it could describe basically any corporate PR organization. Not everything has to be a what-would-the-dead-guy-have-done-differently kind of analysis. They goofed. They thought the market didn't care about EPEAT. It did. They flipped. Yawn.

Hm, I think you have a point. I’m reading tea leaves. I still think that’s an interesting point to ponder, even if the results are probably highly subjective and very much open to interpretation.

"Apple is dead silent for a few days." - Why is this special or even worth mentioning? You expect a multi-billion dollar company with 20K employees to discuss something like that happily in a public forum or so?

Most companies have "damage control" (PR) departments that move very quickly to respond to and contain any criticism before a story explodes.

You would think it’s not special or worth mentioning, wouldn’t you, but it actually kind of is. Many companies respond to a crisis with very confused initial communication before they get their shit together and can internally agree on a message and strategy.

Apple has been pretty consistent in being able to just stay silent until they really have something to say. (I think that has more to do with their general lack of chattiness than anything else, though.)

John Gruber wrote on his blog that all federal US agencies require EPEAT for computer purchases. While government business is probably not that crucial for Apple, it was still stupid to withdraw all products from registration and explains the reversal of that decision.

But Apple knew about the consequence beforehand. It’s easy to predict. (I would expect that even companies which are not all that competent can foresee something simple like that.) I really doubt that’s the reason.

I wonder if this was due to criticism, or cities and companies that have epeat requirements for purchasing.

   San Francisco officials told the Journal this week that "they are moving to 
   block purchases of Apple desktops and laptops, by all municipal agencies" 
   due to a 2007 policy that requires all desktops, laptops, and monitors 
   procured with city funds be EPEAT-certified. [1]

   In 2007, President George W. Bush issued an executive order mandating that 
   all federal agencies procure EPEAT-registered electronic products "for at 
   least 95 percent of electronic product acquisitions, unless there is no 
   EPEAT standard for the product," as outlined by the EPA. [1]
A lack of epeat bugs me, but I don't spend millions or tens of millions of dollars a year on computers.

[1] http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2406948,00.asp

Hm, I tend to think Apple (or any company, really) is clever enough to foresee the obvious consequences of policy changes.

This is one of those. Apple knew that certain government agencies are required to purchase only EPEAT certified hardware. They knew they would lose that business. And they nevertheless decided for the change, knowing that consequence.

That leads me to think that Apple changed direction because of other consequences they did not expect and (apparently) could not predict, in this case the public outrage.

Or, if you're a little cynical, you might think Apple orchestrated this whole thing as a little free PR.

I don’t see this as positive PR by any stretch of the imagination. This looks like Apple wanted to naughty things, got caught and had to reverse direction. Not positive.

If any conspiracy theory is plausible at all then it’s that they wanted to make EPEAT be more willing to change their standards – but I would imagine that even that is something you would rather do behind closed doors (maybe they did and it didn’t work).

geez apple, get it together. i was mildly impressed by tim cook when he took over, but now i'm getting the impression that he is apple's steve ballmer. this was a ridiculous and trivially preventable gaff.

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