back to article The Apple Armada - Still worthy of the Jolly Roger?

In August 1983, Steve Capps of Apple's original Macintosh Division famously hoisted a pirate flag over his team's Cupertino building to embody Steve Jobs's dictum that "It's better to be a pirate than join the navy." From that day forward, members of the Mac community have been a little feistier, a little more insular, a little …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I give 'em an A...

    ...on philanthropy. It's their money, good for them for not giving it out.

  2. Justin Clements
    Thumb Up

    So what?

    So Apple doesn't give to charity? Who cares. It doesn't have to, it gets charged a shed load of corporation tax, why does it need to hand out more hard earned cash? Just because every other company has been emotionally black mailed into handing over the readies doesn't mean Apple has to either.

    Philanthropy died when Govts decided to create taxes to pay for the very programmes that philanthropy used to support.

  3. Aaron

    Apple won the home?

    With ~10% market share just now, and that being the highest they've ever managed -- how do you figure? If anything, it seems that, until recently, Apple's desperately struggled just to keep from losing the single-digit market share they already had. How does this work out to a 'win'?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Do I care about...

    their "green-ness" or their charity? No. I only care how good their computers are, and if the company stands behind 'em.

    And basically green $FOO == crap $FOO and this applies for "computer" values of FOO.

  5. yeah, right.


    Arguably it's the role of government to do those things that neo-con style governments leave to charities. Governments abandoning the hungry, the homeless, the sick and the destitute is a sad state of affairs, not something to crow about.

  6. Jax

    jolly rodger

    They're becoming the Pirate on their way to retirement or a dynamic of split personalities. There are those of us users who still embody the old days and the users who stil are used to finding the one periphial that doesn't work.

    There is, however, the new user that his helping the user base grow. These are the younger ones who aren't as scrappy or the moms and dads at home who are wanting everything to work not have to find the Mac item. This audience is the total opposite of the flag of innovation.

    I believe they have both the right to fly and are starting to lose their right. I am biased though for being a Mac BOFH

  7. Trevor Pott Gold badge

    Not giving to charity?

    What do you expect? They're an American corporation. Vive la capitalism ra ra freedom and all that crap.

  8. Nuno


    so, you started the article proposing to find out if Apple was still "pirate" worthy...

    and you conclude they aren't, because they could be more green and give money to charity? Both things that pirates are known for...

    As for the lack of using new available technologies, will have to wait and see if those technologies will succeed, and if some other manufacture will use them first!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gosh, how incredibly sad

    they are like the Why Don't You kids - with their little ways and sayings, how awful.

    Computing is meant to be for the cool kids, not these bunch of weird'os. You know what would look good on those macs one of those little professor decals, quite in keeping with this odd bunch of technological lusers.

  10. Andy Worth

    Re:Apple won the home?

    I was to say, since when did Apple "win the home"? I can name plenty of people who own a PC at home but only a rare few who own a Mac. The only area that the Mac has ever really taken a hold of is with the "creatives".

    If anything, Apple made a mistake by aiming their whole brand at image over competitive pricing. Macs have always been the territory of things you buy if you have more money than sense, because there's no other good reason to own one at home unless you work with the creative software a lot. I remember a friend trying to convert me to Mac quite a few years ago, showing me how it can emulate Windows and run Windows apps. but then I pointed out that so can my Windows PC, and it cost me a quarter of the price.

    Just like the iPhone, Apple devices are mostly overpriced and sold as a status symbol. I'm not denying that some of them (including the iPhone and iPods) look great and work very nicely, but for me they went the wrong way. The trouble is that they left it too late and now can't change. If they cheapen themselves now, they lose that part of the market they have and it'll be a gamble to see if they can steal any of the existing PC market share.

  11. Urs Keller

    Innovation for innovations sake?

    Why should Apple put TurboMemory into their computers just because Intel has developed it and makes a lot of fuss about it? Why are the HP's, Dell's and Acer's of this world ignoring it too? Why should they put BlueRay into their computers when there are hardly any movies avalable in that format?

    Appleis making something usable by finding a clever integration, and that is the kind of innovation which is needed. We have more than enough base technologies which by themselves are unusable or simply make no money. Because at the end, innovation is about making money

  12. Francis Vaughan


    The Bay area is one of the wealthiest places on the planet. What exactly do philanthropic works there support? Emergency neck massages? Lattés on wheels? The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Mountain View's smaller Computer History Museum, and so on. Sorry, supporting these are not philanthropic gestures in my book.

    Apple may be total tight wads when it comes to charity, but seriously, if the above are considered a metric of philanthropic goodness, the person with the problem is the author of the article.

    As much as we like to villify him, there is no doubt that the king of real philanthopy is Biil Gates. (Clearly with significant input from Melinda.) Their efforts make a very real difference to a lot of people.

    Sadly, one suspect that Steve Jobs supports no worthy causes. But at least, when it comes to identifying real causes, can we identify things that are actually worthy of support?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    'As for the lack of using new available technologies, will have to wait and see if those technologies will succeed, and if some other manufacture will use them first!'

    Excuse me for pointing this out, but isn't that kind of in the job description of innovators? Waiting to see if they succeed and if someone else adopts them first is the sort of thing I'd expect a mass market outfit (i.e. Dell, Acer) to do, not an outfit that crows about bleeding edge. In addition, practically all major manufacturers offer Blu-Ray, some right down the product line, and make considerable sales. Apple's take is basically 'it's too much hassle' - they're unwilling to adopt a format that has been somewhat successful (both for data storage and video) AND has failed to follow other manufacturers.

    I like Apple - I'm interested in jumping ship as OSX is better in some ways than Windows. However, until they start catching up with PC manufacturer's standard desktop specs (quad core on the iMac, Blu-Ray) and justifying their inflated price tag with something special, I find it hard to justify. They look nice, and that'll sell to the masses, but that novelty will soon wear thin when the expensive suit doesn't match the increasingly dull content.

    Oh, and USB wasn't an Apple innovation - it was inititated by a core group of companies (Intel, Compaq, Microsoft, Digital, IBM, and Northern Telecom) in 1996. All Apple did was build the first off-the-shelf desktop that didn't have legacy connections (serial, parallel etc) on the G3 iMac in 1998.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @yeah, right

    But the septic's bang on endlessly about the perils of "socialism". They are not expecting government to give them a hand out and there is a firm tradition in American of philanthropy. To my mind its one of the more appealing aspects of the USA, something to balance their shite infant mortality rates and massive incarceration numbers.

    @Nuno - they are not pirates because they make nothing original, they perfect others innovation. From hackers to whale song infused, joss stick burners in 20 years. Hey ho.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Peculiar Article

    Interesting none the less....

    For all the people that don't care about charity, consider yourself fortunate you don't need it...

    Same could be said about the environment.... I wonder how well you'd do without it...

    Nothing to do with pirates though...

  16. richard
    Jobs Halo


    good point about the title of the article. those pesky charitable pirates.

    also good to see people agreeing with my thoughts about being charitable, why the fuck should they? the government of the richest country in the world should look after it's people, along with the richest state in the US! it's not the job of 'techie' companies.

    yes, they could support local computer museums and such, but i'm sure they do without making a big deal about it.

    this article seems to be on apple's back because their leader hasn't done a bill gates and 'left' the company to feed the starving. no they haven't, and i didn't give anything to children in need because i chose to support other causes without making a song and dance about it.

  17. Gordon


    Of course A proper analysis of the pirate nature of a company should include environmental cred. Everyone knows the decrease in pirate numbers is responsible for global warming.

  18. Max


    As everyone knows, the less Pirates there are...the worse Global Warming gets.

    Not sure about the charities though :)

    ...the one with pasta in the pockets.

  19. Thomas

    I agree with Aaron but not with Andy Worth

    The pure statistics show, Apple has not won the home. They do really well in the home compared to their general market share and in comparison to any single other PC manufacturer but even using the askew statistic of manufacturer versus manufacturer rather than platform versus platform, Apple have definitely not "won" in any commercial sense.

    Trying to extend that point to there being "no other good reason to own one at home unless you work with the creative software a lot" is clearly overreaching though, even when you allow for the subjective get-out clause of 'good' reason. The value for money argument is moot; the only thing that isn't is cost of entry, which is clearly a big Windows win. Clearly cost of entry isn't the sole factor in consumer minds or Linux would be the OS of choice, so even ignoring Mac vs PC, I don't see how anyone can genuinely argue that it is determinative.

  20. Paul
    Jobs Horns


    "also good to see people agreeing with my thoughts about being charitable, why the fuck should they? the government of the richest country in the world should look after it's people, along with the richest state in the US! it's not the job of 'techie' companies." and all the rest....

    If you look at the US system it is very diffrent to the UK system. There is very little state help for the poor. The expectaition is that companys will be philanthropic, as will the very rich. Big UK companys do not give in this way, because they pay Taxes to pay for these things. This is not the case in the US.

    The US system is not based on Money = Good, and anyone can make it, and if you cant you are just a waste of space. It is based on the idea of philanthropy. This is why Apple can be judged on this basis.

    Please please please learn somthing about cutural norms and govenment befor you moan about it.

  21. Kevin Fields

    You don't get it, do you?

    @richard: "also good to see people agreeing with my thoughts about being charitable, why the fuck should they? the government of the richest country in the world should look after it's people, along with the richest state in the US! it's not the job of 'techie' companies."

    This is not the American way. The American way is that we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, not look to government for a hand out. The American way is that when our own rich and well-off see the poor and downtrodden, they don't demand that the government sweep them off the street or make the problem go away, they reach into their own pockets to find solutions.

    By and large, while the gap between rich and poor may be widening, there is still a long-held spirit by both sides that we're all in this together.

    Corporate philanthropy is a product of the late 1800s, the backlash to the Industrial Revolution, that corporations have a duty to its employees and the communities they work and reside in to not merely be another cog in the machine to be chewed up and spit out. When you invest in your employees, when you invest in the communities that you reside in, you build a healthy relationship that is mutually beneficial.

    I'll provide you with one example of such a situation: Eli Lilly & Co. is based in Indianapolis, IN. Very early on it invested in charitable activities in Indianapolis, in the early 1900s it started to donate its medicines to national and international emergencies. Today it invests heavily in academic programs within the public school systems in and around Central Indiana, as well as many public cultural events. They are also very generous with grants for college students in many fields. The result is that it has a very favorable relationship with the Indianapolis city government, many of the residents who benefited from this charity go on to become employees of the company.

    I think it is fair to ask what is Apple, Inc. providing to the people of Cupertino as well the rest of the world besides encouraging them to become drunk on the power of mass consumerism. As far as pirates go, even pirates of the old high seas shared the wealth amongst themselves and frequently welcomed those who were considered societal outcasts, using the elite talents of these individuals to help their causes.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    @ Richard

    Luxembourg? What have they got to do with this?

    Or second richest? Qatar?

    Last I heard USA was 10 Trillion in debt and rising!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Sigh, all we need

    Apple-obsessed San Fran weenie, wake me up when it's over. Surely, people can read Wired, CNet or other mawkishly America-centric irony desert if they want this sort of thing? The Reg already has Cade Metz, with his/her tedious Wikipedia obsessions and general reek of incestuous Silicon Valley agenda. Too much of this sort of thing is going to denude the reg of any remaining local colour.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Innovation? Neither the company

    ...Nor the management.

    Read history and you will find that innovation at Apple was limited within these boundaries:

    - Lisa and Mac development

    - Internal evangelists and tech-gurus

    It's only between 1983 and 1985 that Apple really innovated by bringing totally new concepts to market. Only the Newton is to compare in terms of innovative products but the effort lacked trust from inside the company themselves (I remember being a certified Newton developer.. Go figure!!)

    People at Apple. Those who put the flag, those who fought managers and egos are the innovators. There was almost no point in common between a Jeff Raskin or a Bill Atkinson and a Steve Jobs (indeed the latter wanted to kill the Mac by the time he came out)

    The key to success of an innovative product has often been the "clarvoyance" of its developers and their attention to details.

    Stuffing an iconic OS in 64Kb of ROM was such a hard work, innovations down to every single byte of code (ever read the history of "round rects"? I suppose everybody should do:

  25. blackworx
    Paris Hilton

    @ Andy Worth etc.

    "...the Mac won the home and the content-creator's studio"

    Perhaps I'm wrong, but I interpreted that as: "Apple won the home studio and the sontent-creator's studio". At any rate, that's the only way I could reconcile it with my own experience.

    Only other interpretation is "Apple won the home with more money than sense and the content creator's studio".

    Paris 'cause now I'm confused over simple things too.

  26. Frank Bough

    To Answer Urs's Question...

    ...they should equip Macs with Blu-Ray so we can a) AUTHOR FUCKING BLU-RAY VIDEO DISCS and b) gain the advantages of 25GB optical disks for transporting large amounts of data without recourse to hard drives.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Good green credentials?

    I think all they have done is actually start to abide by the law.. certainly all their "nice" stuff they are starting (remember they haven't done all of it yet) is actually European legal standards on manufacturing:

    recycling old products - law.

    Removing Lead - law

    PVC? Check.


    Their dragging their heels on this sort of thing was why Greenpeace put them so low to start with. Pirates? Oh come on, they have lost every thing that makes them rebels. Supporting RIAA? DRM? Doing adverts for the RIAA ffs. this is a Corporation plain and simple and no different than any others. In some ways a less ethical, less corporate responsible one.

    Shame people are still swallowing their FUD

  28. richard


    'Please please please learn somthing about cutural norms and govenment befor you moan about it.'

    Please learn something about spelling before you add comments using it.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Philanthropy and greeness

    I'm really not at all bothered by the companies philanthropy, or lack thereof. Nor am I impressed that it is now taking "climate change" seriously, not when there are an awful lot of people who take "climate change" seriously but don't believe man is having much of an impact on it. Both philanthropy and "green issues" just add to the cost that gets passed on to us, the consumer, eventually.

    Part 1 was interesting, part 2 was dull and irrelevant, here's hoping part 3 is worth waiting for.

  30. Neil

    Mac Vs PC

    come on guys....let's clear up Amiga Vs Atari first :p

  31. Jonathan Hogg
    Paris Hilton

    Innovating by ignoring

    Perhaps Apple is innovating by not jumping on the latest bandwagon of the day. I mean, BluRay? Who gives a f*ck? Seems to me that Steve reckons the future of HD content is the net not a disc.

    Just like Apple was clearly innovating when they ditched the floppy. Jesus, the new DELL under my desk still has a floppy drive in it and I haven't even seen a floppy disc for years.

    It seems to me that Apple is innovating in non-hardware-related stuff now: iTunes store, iPhone UI.

    (Also unfair to say the iPod wasn't an innovation. The smart thing was realising that 64MB sucks and sticking a hard-drive in it.)

    Paris because I mentioned a floppy.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    So what!

    "The US system is not based on Money = Good, and anyone can make it, and if you cant you are just a waste of space. It is based on the idea of philanthropy. This is why Apple can be judged on this basis."

    So the fact that the US is an entirely capitalist country without adequate welfare provisions for all is Apples fault? So it's up to the Dells and HPs to provide medical care for everyone. Do Intel have to fund libraries, museums and schools? Is it really Bill and Melinda Gates responsibility to find a cure for AIDS? FAIL. It is fantastic that the wealthy people/companies WANT to help, but they should not be EXPECTED to because a greedy government and a frankly greedier populace will not. US 'society' is an extremely toxic, violent and selfish one, and worryingly, people in Europe and Asia want to emulate this?! They have never lost the protectionist policies of the Great Depression and have a fuck you attitude towards the rest of the world. The US system is categorically NOT based on philanthropy. It is based on pure capitalism and greed - just look how Bill Gates was derided for acheiving the 'American Dream'(TM). The whole Global Credit Crunch(TM) has happened because the US tried to sell toxic mortgages and loans to their European buddies and get rich quickly at their expense. People too seem to forget that 10 years ago Apple were staring bankrupcy in the face, one would expect them to be cautious when it comes to giving revenue away, and IMHO rightly so - as I said, it's the goverments problem, that's why we and they pay taxes and why politicians have jobs!

    As a 'creative' it really pisses me off that the term is used, in this case, as a term of derision by some that are obviously ill-educated and opinionated, not to mention narcissistic and self-important. Creatives don't just make things look pretty, they generally also give a crap about interface, form and usability - their remit is one of problem solving in an elegant way. It seems that once someone has installed PhotoShop, they instantly become graphics experts, or they learn Dreamweaver and become web designers/developers.The view seem to be that anyone can do creative stuff, so it must be a pointless and easy career. I can assure you that there is more to it than that!

    AC for obvious reasons...

  33. richard

    @kevin fields, you don't get the rest of the world, do you?

    yes, you're right. i take it all back. the US is the best place to be, you are such a peaceful lot and never send under educated, working class kids into pointless wars while the children of your rich and politicians get educated in privately funded establishments.

    i wish i lived there, thanks for correcting me.

    i'm glad that you have an excellent health service where the poor get treatment at the same speed and quality as your top business executives.

    i'm so sorry for upsetting your exceptional country, please don't invade the uk and punish us for our ignorant, behaviour and for all talking in dick van dyke-esque accents.

    and lastly, oh great one, thank you, thank you for your endless succession of well mannered, highly educated heads of state.

  34. David Cornes

    Shiver me timbers

    Surely the Armada would've flown Spanish naval ensignia, not The Jolly Roger?

  35. Jared Earle


    /me looks behind self at chief designer's Mac tower.

    Yup, there's a Mac with a Blu-Ray drive. Works fine as long as you're not wanting to watch bought movies off of it.

  36. Kenny Millar

    Get (IT) right!


  37. Alexander

    well if the name fits

    I find Apple's line a bit well ridiculus since guys like WOZ use to sell blue boxes during his early years is phreaking not illeagal never mind selling devices to aid this pastime so the skull and crossbones is quite apt, apple are the most anti compedetive ,locked down phoney baloney we love our customers pants tripe in the technology market.


    1.clone and steal an unprotected Xerox OS/gui.

    2.use it like we says or else.

    3.change it and lawyers will be your next contact.

    4. say a 7 yr old sends a letter asking a question then is cease and desist time.

    5 hound, threaten or withdraw support for any third party developers that add functionality to devices or applications.

    6. charity begins at home

    I am MAC (Mean And Cheap)

    But Mac's are so cool look they come in different colours, it is a pitty though their green credentials are as bad as their charity credentials ....their is only one word and one on apple mind "monoploy".

    Dont get me wrong MS are no angels but at least they are honest about world domination plans, and how come an apple OS can give things away that an MS OS does then ends up in court for anti compeditive practices.

    never been a fan boy of ethier because i really dont understand the principle of geek worship,and as both companies are founded by the geek eltie i will pass on steve jobs and bill gates tshirts, baseball caps and fridge magnets.

  38. Anonymous Coward


    No one with any sense agreed with you.

    Geeks have the political awareness of hamsters and should not be allowed to vote.

  39. John
    Jobs Horns

    You're Welcome


    You're Welcome.

    For World War II

    The Marshal Aid plan.

    And for standing behind the UK since we took the colonies from you.


    for Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Zeppelin.

    @AC for obvious reasons.

    If you feel so strongly about it, why hide behind AC?

    The UK is the nanny state. Do everything for the people because they are too stupid to take care of themselves. And put a camera on every corner to make sure no one is misbehaving. Or at least thats how the MPs would have you think.

    In the US, things are different. You make YOURSELF. Winners in this country don't wait for the government to take care of them. They take care of themselves.

    And the armed forces are voluntary. No one is forcing anybody to join up. Most of my friends are ex military. They have all made themselves upper middle class by hard work. Not by waiting for a government hand out.

    As for Apples philanthropy, they suck at it. Its part of the culture of that company/Steve though. Buy the latest shiny thing we are selling you so you will look better than your neighbor. Who cares if you need it or not? Love us for building obsolency (sp?) into our products! Love us for charging more than its worth. Why? Because we love ourselves more than the people dying of malaria in Africa. We love ourselves more than the rest of the world. So we are going to keep ALL of our money and how dare you look down on us for not having a heart?

    The funny thing about it all is this: in the US, the money you give to charity is a tax write off. At the levels of profit made by Apple, it would make sense to give some away to a good cause, rather than just paying the gvmnt taxes.

    At the end of the day, the folks at Apple just don't give a shit about the common man.

  40. Jon Kale

    re: Mac vs. PC

    "come on guys....let's clear up Amiga Vs Atari first :p"

    We'll get to that just as soon as we've sorted out Spectrum vs C=64...

  41. J
    IT Angle

    Nothing against philanthropy, but...

    "If you look at the US system it is very diffrent to the UK system. There is very little state help for the poor."

    Yeah, that's something that bothers me about living here in the US. I make less than $40k and I guess a little less than 1/3 of that goes away as taxes of all stripes. Then people prefer to use that money to kill poor people across the world, instead of using it to make the lives of everybody better in here -- some regions of the country have 25% poverty rate, I've heard. Go figure.

    "This is not the American way. The American way is that we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, not look to government for a hand out."

    That's quite a stupid idea. Actually, not really, per se. It would be a good one, if everybody started with equal conditions and had the same opportunities in life. Which I don't have to tell you they never do.

    You know, there comes a point when the majority of the people don't even have boots to begin with, figuratively speaking. Believe me, I come from a 3rd world country, and not one of the toughest ones by a long shot, and so I have seen first hand how it works if you let inequality run rampant. They lost before they were even born, and you think the crumbles thrown by the super-rich will be fine as substitute. Do you think that is good since that's the American way? (according to you)

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Apple charity - and @John

    I wonder why the only recent cash donation by Apple was to fight the anti-gay wedding amendment... OK, not really.

    Now for all the irrelevant socio-historico-fud:

    About the Merkin way, private charity against state involvment: That's how it worked in the middle ages in Europe, and it more or less lasted till the middle of the twentieth century. "let the poor die unless they meet a rich and generous person -in a good mood- who will give them enough to survive for one more day". It's not generous, it's social selfishness at its summum. It's quite the opposite of civilisation. Of course I'm pushing it a bit, but you get the idea.

    Joining the military is a voluntary thing in the US. With such incentive as "if you die, your family will get green cards". "Voluntary" warslaves.

    I think you'll find that the country which really beat the IIIrd Reich was the USSR. Despite what Hollywood might say, D-Day was some vulture-like opportunism to prevent the USSR from gaining too much influence on western Europe. And so was the Marshall plan, which btw was more than repaid in military, political and financial help since then. The US did quite a good job against Japan though. Anyway all this historical stuff is not really relevant here, is it?

    BTW you forgot the Sex Pistols and a few others ;-)

  43. Andrew Punch
    Jobs Halo

    Capitalist Socialism

    How is receiving a "hand-out" from a corporation (in the form of philanthropy) different from receiving a "hand-out" from the government?

    The United States needs to get off its ideological high-horse and put in some common sense safety nets.

    But I'm in Australia so I'm already sorted. Free high quality hospital care, most GP visits free, subsidised trade schools, subsidised universities, government unemployment and pensions. All with a LOWER tax burden than the US (

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Joining the military in the US is voluntary..."

    Unless you grew up in one of the US' sprawling slums where you join a military school in order to get an education.

    Let's just think about that for a second: In the US the _military_ educate poor children. (nb: not exclusively poor and they are not the sole educator)

  45. Big Bear

    @Mac vs. PC (Jon Kale)

    "We'll get to that just as soon as we've sorted out Spectrum vs C=64..."

    Lessee... one's a beige and grey box, the other a slick, shiny, pretty looking thing. Not dissimilar to today's war?! Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    By the way, notice that the "scrabble" style keyboard that Apple and Sony are being lauded about was actually done on the ZX of 1982? I expect the Macbook Air to introduce rubber keys...

    Where's the pic of Sir Clive SInclair with a halo?

  46. Pierre

    Mac vs PC

    We'll come around to that as soon as the abacus vs slide rule thing is sorted out

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