Sunday, July 10, 2016

An Apple ugly truth

Get your seatbelts on. First, I'm going to make some bold statements. Then I'm going to back them up with documented and photographed evidence.

Fabrik, a subsidiary of Hitachi, which is licensed to manufacture and sell products for Apple, currently sells at least one external storage device that overcharges customers somewhere between $267.19 and $386.91. Why would the customer unknowingly agree to this? Because there is an Apple logo on the device. Furthermore, Apple does not license anything without knowing vital manufacturing details, for quality control. This means Apple is complicit with this blatant cash grab, something not that surprising since they have been overcharging for their products for decades now.

What's particularly galling about this fraud is that the whole reason customers are willing to shell out so much more money for an Apple-compatible product, is that they are trusting Apple to provide them with superior devices, when in fact that's not actually happening, at least not in this case.

For those who want the details to back up these statements, keep reading.

A friend of mine at work asked me for help with his external drive. He knew I had recovered files from a corrupted drive for someone else, and that I have helped others with their computers.

He said the problem was that his drive didn't work anymore. The light came on when he plugged in the power cord, but when he plugged it into his computer with a USB cord, the computer no longer acknowledged the drive. I told him to bring it in, and I'd have a look.

I had no idea that it was an Apple device, but saw as much when I got the box home. Here is what transpired, complete with pictures.

See link for pictures: http://www.7162.com/apple/simpledrive.htm

The external drive turned out to be a SimpleTech SimpleDrive, model number 96300-41001-073, which is manufactured by Fabrik, licensed by Apple. See link:

http://www.memory4less.com/m4l_itemdetail.aspx?itemid=1457071079

As my friend had said, when I plugged in the power, the white light on one end lit up. I could also hear the drive trying to spin up, but it kept clicking, which can sometimes indicate the drive's internal mechanics are failed or failing. Also as my friend indicated, when I plugged in the USB cord and connected it to my computer, the computer did not acknowledge it.

I had no choice but to disassemble the enclosure and see if I could salvage the drive inside.

Now, what most computer users don't realize is, many external storage devices (not all) are really just custom-made outer shells (enclosures) that surround the exact same kind of hard drive that already exists in their desktop computers.

So it was no surprise that the actual drive inside the Fabrik enclosure was a regular desktop hard drive manufactured by Hitachi. It was a Deskstar model (HDT721010SLA360). See link:

https://www.amazon.com/Hitachi-HDT721010SLA360-1000GB-Hard-Drive/dp/B001LDK4H4/ref=sr_1_1

I was able to remove the custom-made USB interface and plug the drive into an SATA docking station. And guess what? The drive was working perfectly fine and all my friend's files were still there.

What makes these facts interesting are the following:

1) Other than a groovy SimpleTech logo and Apple logo, the only functions that the cheap plastic enclosure provided were a power-is-on light, a basic on-and-off switch, and the minimal electronics necessary to convert the hard drive's native SATA connection to a USB connection.

2) I'm not sure what Apple stores are asking for these units, but the link I provided above displays the suggested retail price of $478.89 (currently selling at a "Summer Savings Discount" price of $359.17).

3) The Hitachi Deskstar internal hard drive within the cheap plastic enclosure currently sells for $66.99 on Amazon.com.

[Note: Interestingly, just one day later (July 11), the drive now sells for $79.99, with no indication that the previous price was a discount. I have not adjusted the original math, because I suspect this price fluctuation will continue.]

4) For $24.99, at a local computer store, my friend can purchase a hard drive docking station that converts the SATA connection to USB. Thus by simply plugging the actual hard drive into the docking station, and connecting the USB cable, he can have the exact same functionality originally provided by the Fabrik enclosure.

http://www.microcenter.com/product/432414/25-35_SATA_Drive_Docking_Station_w-_USB_30

5) This means in fact, the electronics that likely cost a couple of dollars, together with the cheap, brittle plastic case, are apparently worth more than SIXTEEN times the cost of a simple docking station that performs the exact same function. [($478 - $67) / $25 = 16.44]

6) For those who still want to believe that Apple is innocent of any wrongdoing, remember that for any third party to be licensed to sell Apple-compatible products, that third party must agree to kick some percentage of their profits back to Apple. Thus Apple is aware of, complicit with, and profiting from this larceny.

As stated in the first paragraphs of this blog entry, this is business of a fraudulent nature. The unwitting customers are literally paying around $300 for a cheap plastic enclosure and potentially faulty electronics. That Fabrik can get away with this, and that Apple signs off on it, is outrageous.

Somewhat coincidentally (or not), the other friend at work whose corrupted drive I recovered was also using a faulty Apple product.

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