Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

7Jun/06Off

I Don’t Really Want To Believe

Since I've actually been using a MacBook Pro as my primary machine for a little over a month I feel like I actually have a reason to read the Mac/Apple rumor sites for the first time in years. My advantage in this is that I don't have any particular need to defend either the platform or the company responsible for it. I guess, in that sense, I am not the customer that Apple is looking for. I tend to agree with most of what Gundeep Hora said in his two articles criticizing first iteration Apple hardware which are here (first part) and here (follow up). The first may actually excite the brand-committed types into furious typing on their Chicklet-like keys to make excuses for Apple but the subsequent follow up seemed a wee bit too apologetic.

The one issue that he brings up rather skillfully is how clumsily Apple plays the 'small market share' get-out-of-jail-free card again and again. It absolutely depends on a very enthusiastic micro-market of users who gladly pay full price to beta test hardware. MSFT does the same thing with the notable difference being that many in the software industry will have to force their work to interoperate with MSFT crud and can then legitimize the cost of buying crap-rifice beta access as an investment towards getting a step up on their competitors. Hell, sometimes MSFT even listens to their beta testers as opposed to refusing to listen until legal action is threatened and then trying to keep recalls as quiet as possible. It makes you wonder what the fuck is wrong with people who refuse to criticize any jackass maneuver Apple makes and shouts down anyone else who might. I mean, if you really do want to spend your life grabbing your ankles and cheerleading that's great I suppose but the precedents you support are completely lame. Willful opacity backed up with itchy trigger finger legal departments doesn't make me feel all squishy about a company any more than great software imprisoned in woefully under-tested hardware does. This is especially frustrating when the whole production line is under a single umbrella. You have x number of products so why not try to follow up the Iron Chef-esque product announcements with a little bit of rubber touching the pavement?

The fact that I find this baffling and deny the claims at work that I'm an "Apple guy" because I own a laptop produced by them is probably evidence enough that Apple isn't the lifestyle brand for me. I'll concede immediately that commercial software companies are always going to provide an easy target for me but when you stack the stinking turds high enough most folks are going to notice. It amazes me in some respects that Apple still exists and I still ask myself despite the dollar amount I just shoveled into one of their products how long the uncritical loyalists can singlehandedly keep things afloat. The iPod is the answer to that I guess but I'm not very interested in consumer electronics toys with a pushy fan base. That repels me from buying anything at Radio Shack and keeps me from being anything approximate to an Apple fanatic.

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  1. (forgive me if I tread on the original article – I’m too lazy to actually read it and am providing my take on the phenomena you discuss)

    The whole “first iteration” “beta test in retail release” issue comes from Steve Jobs obsession with having hardware available the day, or reasonably close to the day, it is announced.

    Think about this – no other popular company I can think of does this. I saw the Xbox 360 months before it came out, I saw the future Wii a few months ago and the PS3 has already had a full page spread in GenericGamer magazine. Dell probably pre-releases their hardware as well, it’s just that no one gives a shit about what Dell_Laptop003.5.81.6 actually looks like. Car companies, bicycle manufacturers, appliance manufacturers – all pre-release information and photos of their future products.

    But not our man Steve. He has to get that opening day “boom” and the subsequent attention it gets him in the media and forums. It is wildly successful in terms of marketing, but disappointing to those who’ve been holding out to purchase the new hotness, or purchased last month’s new hotness with no idea there was going to be even newer hotness this month.

    Until Apple is comfortable sharing some details of their hardware before release date they will always be rushing everything through under the cover of NDA’s they know will leak in a few weeks. Computer hardware, particularly proprietary and integrated hardware, is far too complex to rush to production.

    On the flip side of the coin, Apple sticks with a design/technology to the death. Just look at the G4 Powerbook which had a lovely run of nearly 3 years. By Rev 5 their shit was tight on the Powerbook… slow and outdated, but tight.


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