My English 330 class recently talked about the very popular, very parodied Mac v. PC ads. We talked about the kind of counter-culture brand image that Mac tries to sell, and some of the contradictions that image necessarily contained, given that Apple is a technology juggernaut that is dedicated to monetizing all kinds of web content. We said that Apple had successfully turned a pretty profit on a counter-culture sensibility. Apple tends to project itself as hip, tolerant, and progressive, all the while making huge profits by asking its loyal user base to buy the latest product, rolled out every six months or so.

I’m not blaming Apple: their marketing is brilliant, and the company is the model of corporate success. So much so that when their products fail–think iPhone attenae–Apple can essentially say, “Deal with it” to its disgruntled users. Apple knows they will, of course.

They also know that whenever something does go wrong with one of their products, those same loyal users will dutifully take their Macbooks or iPhones to the nearest Genuis Bar, where they’ll likely have to spend more money on something they could have done themselves at home. Could have done at home, that is, if Apple products weren’t engineered to be tamper proof.

I say this all because last week Friday, I dumped water onto the trackpad of my Macbook Pro. It was the final blow of an abysmal week. The trackpad was fine at first, but then started acting up a few hours later. I decided to take matters into my own hands: I’ve taken quite a few laptops apart over the years and am fairly competent at it. I figured I’d take off the cover, find the moisture, and fix the problem.

Not with a Mac. Turns out a need a special screwdriver to remove the battery. Sigh. Not available at Home Depot. Had to special order it. It would be nice if there were middle ground between Mac’s forbidding high-art design and the run-of-the-mill PC that you can take apart in about ten minutes. Ah well. That’s Mac culture: we build beautiful things so you don’t have to.