It's not that treat users like idiots, it's more that Apple NEEDS to retain its closed system. Without the closed system, Apple will not be able to do most of the things it does.
I continue to believe this is *not* the case and have yet to see compelling evidence to the contrary. Apple could, if they desired, provide the "best of both worlds". In some senses they do, with a BSD-based OS and a shiny GUI on top of it. But their consumer electronic devices are much less accessible than that, and they are where you actually see most of these restrictions. But they're *not* necessary to maintain the user experience or anything. Tell me, what value is there in renaming all audio files copied to an iPod to obscure file names with 0 useful info, and messing up the Id3 tags? How does that help the user, how is that necessary to make the iPod or iTunes experience better? It isn't. Just one example. There are tons.
In other words I think "Target" may be right on, er, target...
I also don't think that file management on Windows is any more "necessary" than on a Mac. What you're probably seeing is different levels of users, of user demand, and of productivity requirements. There are plenty of Windows users I know who don't organize their files, ever. They have messy computers. But I would argue actually that Windows users who don't bother with file management are inherently likely to have more easily accessible files, from an objective standpoint, than Mac users. At least on Windows there are good predetermined organizational structures that fit most people's basic needs (Docs, Pictures, Music, etc. and now on Win7 the handy Libraries). On a Mac almost *everyone* has a messy computer, even more "power users". Period. This is because, as others have said, the tools for organization are crap, and all the Mac apps try to organize data in their own proprietary way. iTunes wants your music where it wants it, same with iPhoto. Try to find your iPhoto photos with another photo app. Good luck. So as long as you're doing it Apple's way, yep, you're fine. But think about this: maybe the reason people *don't* do this stuff isn't just because they don't want to, but because Apple makes it *hard* to do so. One time installing an alternative photo management app and trying to find your iPhoto archive and finding out it's either impossibly lost, or none of your data transfers over, and you can bet you'll never try that again. And it gets ingrained in the culture, because all Mac users over time get trained to work this way and accept it as natural and teach others the same, until nobody expects anything different. It doesn't make it better and it doesn't mean it's necessary for the value that they do indeed provide (nice UI, ease of use, etc. - theoretically at least).
And yes, this is precisely because Apple think their way is best. Because of this attitude and the inherent laziness of most computer users, people - especially Mac users - tend not to bother with file management at all (and I'm not talking about advanced stuff here like changing OS files). This is why Apple can get away with issues like the "2+2=2" problem which, frankly, is inexcusable. Yes, few people actually use file management for anything but *finding* files on Mac (as opposed to *moving* files), but that doesn't mean they should experience unexplained data loss if they do! Apple's attitude sucks.
What keeps coming up in these threads is interesting for me though: almost everyone, whether Apple user or not, tends to equate Apple with "easy to use" and "pretty" and "nice UI", etc. But I wonder quite often whether that first aspect, "easy to use", is really true, or if perhaps there is some level of "shiny" that overcomes most people's ability to see unintuitiveness. Quite frankly I feel this really may be the case. In other words if a device has a sufficiently smooth, slick, *cool* UI, it will give the strong impression of being "intuitive" even if it is not, or is only partially so. In fact I have run into many concrete examples of this, certainly not just in Apple devices. There are many good examples already in this short thread about Apple specifically, and there are tons more I've come across. How can anyone say with a straight face that Apple's devices are "intuitive" given comments like Nosh's about simple file management and re-use? Sure, you could say that's an "advanced" use, but then you really need to be clear that Apple's products are "intuitive to a point" or "intuitive for easy stuff". Which I guess is great, but a lot less of an accomplishment. Basically we're back to the "most Apple users are idiots" thing - they do a good job of making things easy for people who know nothing and don't want to learn anything. Is that good? Maybe.
And then all you may be getting down to is: remove enough flexibility and function and it's easier to make things intuitive. If that's Apple's secret, then I'm not interested in knowing it. It's not revelatory, and not where I want to see computing going. Then again some classic wisdom of design says that removing all but the most vital elements is the way to the best design, so what do I know. Apple certainly has that down to an art. Everything they do handles a narrow problem set with a high degree of polish, and then you hit a wall. Just pray you fall within that narrow problem set that the system is designed for and that you *never grow beyon it*.