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At last Apple is dumping those pointless, wasteful stickers

Not my car.

Starting with the new iPads, Apple has finally stopped including the stickers and it is a relief.

Okay, it's partly a relief just for me because I happen to have papyrophobia — I am a writer who is afraid of paper. It's like an OCD thing and I'm fine with US Letter or A4 scripts. If those are torn, or if you give me a Post-It Note, I am in trouble.

Consequently, every single time I've bought a new Mac, or an iPhone, or an iPad, there has been a moment of wincing distaste as I hide the stickers back in the box. But I have also never had a moment's desire to slap any sticker of any kind on anything — and especially not a device I've just spent at least a thousand on.

I mean, I'm not Justin Trudeau. I don't need you to somehow think I'm cool or down with the kids, using a Mac when actually I've just borrowed a PC.

It's not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's MacBook Pro. But then it isn't anyone's MacBook Pro, it's a Windows HP laptop
It's not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's MacBook Pro. But then it isn't anyone's MacBook Pro, it's a Windows HP laptop

There is the idea that this is all fantastic marketing by Apple, and free marketing at that, since users put the Apple logo on their devices or their bags. If I somehow needed, really needed you to know I'm using an Apple device, if I really think you are someone who could possibly care, then waving the device in your face would do it.

And if I want to tell the world I have an expensive iPad in that deliberately nondescript-looking bag, sure, yeah, I'm going to slap a sticker on there.

Stickers work for Apple as advertising, and they are apparently supposed to work for us because they are a way of personalizing the devices we've bought. They don't personalize them, they sully them.

When you see a MacBook Pro on a TV show and it's got a huge, bland sticker on the back, it isn't personalization, you know it's a television company not wanting to advertise Apple for free. In a true Streisand effect kind of way, they do call attention to this thing that only someone buying a Mac would notice anyway.

Or when you see a PC on TV — no, actually, when you see a PC anywhere you see stickers. I can't type on a PC that has "Intel Inside" stickers because they are always right on the palmrest and I can't touch them without shaking.

Which is why I had a bit of a dry-mouthed fear back in the 2000s when Apple announced that it was moving to Intel processors. Back then, every PC was required to include an "Intel Inside" sticker on the case, just as they were all required to play that four-bong Intel music sting on every TV ad.

There's clearly no benefit to the user of having a sticker reminding them every day that they bought a computer with an Intel processor, it's not as if they need whatever reassurance that could give them. And clearly no PC user has ever willingly stuck an Intel sticker onto anything, where Apple users have.

So "Intel Inside" is a contractual sullying of the industrial design of a computer, and it exists only so that next time you buy a PC, everyone expects to see Intel tarnishing it.

Laptop with a video conference on the screen showing four smiling people, logo of Intel inside on the front.
How the first-ever Intel-based MacBook Pro could have looked

It was contractually ubiquitous for computer manufacturers to have this Intel Inside sticker, so everyone did expect to see the same thing on Macs once the transition to Intel had been announced. Ken Segall, at the time working on marketing for Apple, even feared it.

"I approached [Steve Jobs] with my biggest concern," wrote Segall in a 2017 blog post about it. "'Please tell me we won't have to put the Intel Inside logo on our Macs.'"

"With a big grin," continues Segall's blog, "Steve looked me in the eye and said, 'Trust me, I made sure that's in the contract.'"

So we can thank Steve Jobs that no MacBook Pro ever had its palm rests sullied with stickers.

Yet we probably have to blame him for how every MacBook Pro — and every Mac, every iPhone, every iPad — did have stickers. Typically two of them, printed in colors to match whatever device they shipped with.

It's a decent bet that Apple has surely sold over 100 million Macs since the original, and every Mac had two stickers. In 2021, AppleInsider reported that Apple had then sold two billion iPhones.

So that's now at least 2.1 billion Apple devices, just of the Mac and the iPhone, each shipped with two stickers.

Two Apple logo stickers with a silver gradient, one larger than the other, on a pale surface.
Looking at this image is difficult for me, let alone having had to take the photo

Granted, the number of people with papyrophobia is rather small, but out of over two billion stickers shipped, it's not like everyone else slaps those on their devices. Consequently, much as I could be alone on thinking stickers sully devices, as much as I am quite surely close to alone in my paper phobia, I cannot be alone in seeing what an incredible waste those unused, unwanted stickers are.

Apparently that's what's changed Apple's mind. As well as killing off all plastic packaging by the end of 2024, Apple has now decided not to include stickers in the box for the new iPad Air and iPad Pro models that it just announced.

As first spotted by 9to5Mac, Apple has informed Apple Store staff of the change, but said it will be sending a limited supply of stickers that can be given out on demand.

Yeah, let me rush to that.

First Apple came for our Lightning connector and we shrugged. Then they came for our headphone jack and we were briefly bothered. Finally they've come for those wretched stickers and it's a relief.