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Is Apple's control freakery out of control?

Mike Elgan | July 28, 2015
Apple makes money. A LOT of money.

White Apple logo on storefront
Credit: Tommy Klumker

Apple makes money. A LOT of money.

The company reported nearly $50 billion in revenue for the quarter that ended June 27, as well as $10.7 billion in profit. For a handy comparison, that's about seven times more revenue and profit than McDonald's.

Apple's success gives it numerous benefits and privileges. One of these is that it gives Apple the ability to exert a previously unheard of level of control over both its App Store and its retail Apple Stores.

This has always been Apple's modus operandi. But, increasingly, the more successful Apple gets, the more it seizes control. Or could it be that Apple's control freakery is the key to its success?

In the past few weeks, Apple's ever-tightening grip over its stores has gotten even tighter across the board -- let's have a look.

Apple drops Nest Thermostat

The Apple Store was the first retail store where consumers could buy Nest Labs' Nest Learning Thermostat.

When it first went on sale there three years ago, the tech press said it all made perfect sense. After all, the company was launched and the product design overseen by longtime Apple employee Tony Fadell.

Then last year, Google bought Nest Labs for $3.2 billion.

Earlier this month, Apple began selling a thermostat product called the ecobee3, which happens to support Apple's HomeKit platform.

Then last week, Apple pulled the Nest Thermostat out of the Apple Store and its online store. (Nest's Protect and Cam products still remain available in the stores.)

Let's fully grok the control freakery here. The Nest Thermostat was on sale in Apple Stores for three years and, of course, it never supported HomeKit because HomeKit didn't exist. Then, HomeKit happens, followed by HomeKit support in the ecobee3, and suddenly, Apple really, really doesn't want you buying the non-HomeKit supporting the Nest thermostat.

It's just part of how Apple plans to control everything -- everything! -- about what you buy and how you buy it.

Apple insists on designing every package in the Apple Store

In an even bolder move, we learned earlier this month that Apple had been working on a new policy. All third-party products sold in the Apple Store must now have packaging co-designed and approved by Apple.

The apparent reason for this change is purely all about control-freakery. Apple wants the "experience" of buying any product in the Apple Store -- even those not made by Apple -- to be just like the Apple-product "experience."

It's not just the retail Apple Store where Apple is exerting total control. They're doing it in the iOS App Store, too.


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