This was originally published on Pessimists Archive.

No two words better describe Apple than “Think Different”, its famous 1980s tagline. What people forget is the amount of flak Apple has gotten for practicing what it preaches.

When the iMac was announced in 1998 – the first product release after Steve Jobs returned to the company – Apple rethought the PC. To start, the monitor now contained the computer and its shell was colorful and translucent, rather than beige and opaque. It was internet first (hence the ‘i’) and as a result had no floppy disk drive, a move as controversial then as removing the CD drive or auxiliary port was in recent years.

This had happened before and it would happen again. A history of reactions to  product announcements:

1983: “No command line?!” (Apple II)

The first personal computer with GUI caused a stir – it was called ‘cartoony’ and ‘childish’, one study even suggested that students work suffered when created on computers with graphical user interfaces.


2008: “No CD drive!?”

In 2008 Steve Jobs pulled the new MacBook Air out of a Manila envelop – laptops containing CD drives couldn’t get any thinner and the internet was getting faster, so Apple made the same move it had a decade prior: removed a beloved storage format to move the industry forward. Inevitably outrage issued.

2010: “No Flash?!”

When the iPad was announced many wondered how it would hold up to traditional notebook PCs – its lack of flash, which was prevalent across the internet – caused a huge stir. At the time YouTube ran on flash, but Apple worked with Google to release. Steve Jobs was eventually forced to write a letter ‘Thoughts on Flash.’ Flash was recently discontinued.

2015: “No USB!?”

When Apple updated the MacBook, it removed regular USB ports replacing them with USB-C. After 7 years people had got used to having no CD drive, but for many no USB ports was a step too far.

2016: “No headphone jack!?”

In 2016, the iPhone 7 removed the aux headphone jack – replacing it with a all-in-one charging port. Audio buffs flipped out – accusing Apple of foisting its proprietary alternative on people.

An Apple exec defended the move, saying it was courageous which pissed people off – but he was right. Thinking different is never popular.