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The Apple Quality Marketing Myth

What was it 'just worked'?


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Which is grammatically correct? 'It doesn't just work' or 'it just doesn't work'? Either way they apply to Apple. There's a persistent myth that 'Apple' stands for quality, stands for things 'just working'. But it's largely a marketing myth.

In terms of usability Apple are frontrunners. They win by default today because NeXT who made Tim Berners-Lee's favourite system are no more. And their competitors are Linux GUIs (ugh) and Windows - where programmers learn to properly branch their code without thinking about how users will react. Apple approach matters from the other end of the field and in so doing can go so far as to alter or completely remove de facto technology they deem as conflicting with their abstract ideals of 'user friendly design'.

But Apple are both a hardware and a software company. They do not themselves see things divided up into hardware and software - they see things divided up into a number of generic gadgets; but the rest of us know hardware and software are two separate things. And in neither field are Apple particularly outstanding - quite the contrary if the truth be told.

Forget for a moment there's a company called Microsoft. Forget for a moment almost all the ills and chills of Internet use - all the rampant criminality - are attributable to Microsoft. Think only of quality - pure quality. How do Apple stand up to such review?

They don't.

Back in the day Steve Jobs wanted to sell a circuit board to the hobbyists in California - when he wanted a price of an unbelievable $777 per unit - his 'product' only worked about half of the time. The other half of the time the units were on recall. What a good start.

The Apple ][ was a much better product and the original Macintosh appeared to be good too - even though those looking under the bonnet were horrified at what they saw and predicted what would happen with that system many years later.

Cut instead to the past ten years or so - when cofounder Steve Jobs finally got to take the CEO helm for the first time. What's happened to quality?

It certainly hasn't been good.

The titanium PowerBook laptop flaked and suffered from a poorly designed hinge. Sooner or later the hinges broke, leaving the machines useless.

The G4 Cube was designed to be an 'object d'art' but turned out instead to be an 'object d'crappy design'.

The iBooks hardly fared better. The connections to the screen were through the hinge and with time they wore out.

The original iPod was hermetically sealed with a deteriorating battery inside. What did Apple support tell the Neistat brothers? 'If your battery wears out you go and buy a new iPod. Goodbye.' The fact Apple have a battery replacement programme today is not due to the generosity of Apple - Apple gambled their users would toss their old iPods away and buy new ones. They gambled wrong.

The original iPhone although technologically impressive seemed to have been put together by kindergarten computer science students. Moving from the happily secure Unix underbody they suddenly made everything run as root, effectively reducing the security of the device to that of MS Windows. What an arrogant blunder.

Apple borrow a lot of code from the open source movement but they always borrow yesterday's news. Anyone with a mind to hack any Apple device need only keep up to date on open source changelogs and they get their free ticket to own any Apple device. So much for security again.

Apple have repeatedly created astoundingly stupid design flaws in their Unix bastardisation that give black hats a wide open door to system control. No hacks necessary. A two year old can walk right in. The brightest of the Apple experts can complain and scream bloody murder at Apple for years about these flaws and they get back things like 'this works as designed' and 'this behaves correctly'.

So Apple's computer systems are designed to be hacked? When an Apple system is hacked it's behaving correctly?

At time of writing there are wide open root hacks on Apple's OS that have been open for years. And Apple to this day continue to ignore user pleas. Every single Apple computer is vulnerable. Every last one.

Apple file management is a chapter unto itself. Fearful of the proper 'merge' algorithm Apple's engineers have stubbornly stuck with the 'replace' algorithm that has resulted time and again in massive data loss. Or in utterly moronic things like allowing users to inadvertently overwrite entire directory hierarchies with a single 100 byte text file.

Their 'file manager' - if it can be called that - doesn't even show full file system attributes anymore. Users of this program ('Finder' - what an ironic moniker) have no means of controlling all the 'bits' that determine the behaviour of their files and directories. They can't see half of what's on their hard drives, much less have any control over it. Apple purchase third party technologies like 'cover flow' but address basic file system issues? You. Gotta. Be. Kidding.

Firewall protection? Really? Where? It's almost impossible to satisfactorily configure the firewalls to block all undesired traffic. Apple like to sort of 'deceive' users and keep a few of their own ports open anyway - despite telling users otherwise. Makes users feel comfy alright.

And anyone who's seen what Apple's former 'Pascal' programmers have done to their firewall tools - 'enough said'. It's not quite 'Comp Sci 102' and it's certainly not 'user friendly' or 'professional'.

And what's happened to sacred code such as for 'cp' and 'mv', 'open()' and 'write()'? Dare one ask?

Apple have so crippled the open source underbody of their systems no one knows anymore what is what and where the faults lie. No one really cares any longer either - and now with their latest 'Leopard' they've turned file I/O topsy turvy and no longer bother writing to files - even at 'Unix' level. Why bother opening a file for writing? It must be user hostile! That's the only possible explanation - for Apple's perversion of Unix APIs today in Leopard means no files are updated - they're destroyed first and then recreated.

Technical details? Do Apple ever come out and explain the reasoning behind their wacky ideas? Beyond saying things like 'oh yeah we came out with a bug fix'? Or how about the time C|NET were putting pressure on them so they sent their Jack Russell Bud Tribble to talk 'tribble' with the editors and basically reveal nothing at all?

The security response times: they've been measured by Security Fix. They stink.

And all along Apple users were able to gloat they had the better CPU - the IBM PowerPC. Oh yes this was a better CPU. Than Intel that is. Far better. Then the war began - the gigahertz war. Steve Jobs promised a 3 GHz CPU and IBM weren't at all part of the deal. IBM had contracts elsewhere and couldn't be bothered with a twit who insisted on hardware lockin and could promise them maybe 5 million unit sales.

So what does Steve Jobs do? He tells everyone Intel is better than the PowerPC! Do the Apple fanboys stumble? Of course not! Steve's told them all along how much better Intel are! What's that? You heard Steve and the fanboys say the PowerPC was better? Oh no! You must be drinking Kool-Aid™!

So now the transition to Intel - and with it the biggest hardware scandal ever in the history of computing. Not just personal computing and not just in Apple's weird history - but the biggest scandal ever in the history of computing anywhere.

Thermal grease, mooing, whining, oozing green slime, discolouration, random shutdowns, computers delivered DOA - even Gateway don't do that - and so forth. And originally Apple wanted to take a full year for quality control etc but guess who rushed them out the door half a year early? And did he once apologise for all the customers who got - who to this day still use - crap product?

Bridget Riley lines. Hosed hard drives. Exploding batteries. Overheated boxes running at 200°F. Yes that's almost the temperature of boiling water.

Apple deny all. The Danish government push them on iBook issues and Apple stay in denial. The Danish government contract a third party firm to look into the matter and are able to prove Apple are hiding the truth - that the iBooks are defective by design.

Danish users are finally reimbursed for their crappy iBooks. But legislation being as it is Apple calmly refuse to acknowledge the flaws in all other countries and get away with it. If you own a crappy iBook and don't happen to live in Denmark then Apple - fully aware all along they sold you shit - will not reimburse you. So much for 'user friendly Apple'.

Melting MagSafe adapters. Power supply units emitting foul odours. Displays deliberately designed as substandard. Swollen batteries. Batteries that ignite, explode. Blocked vents. CD/DVD drives destroying inserted media. Cracking cases. Display artifacts. Thuds in hard drive. Clicks in hard drive. Hard drive failures. Failing keyboards. Blown speakers. Kernel panics. Buzzing screens.

Not your ordinary type of hardware flaws from your fly by night cheap as shit oriental 'manufacturers' - these incessant innumerable incidents set new standards in quality scandals that can only be described as 'ridiculous' and 'outrageous'.

And how about their 'operating systems'? The last good operating system Apple had was the one NeXT used before the Apple/NeXT merger. Everything since then has been some kind of macabre joke - an insult to the software engineering community. A joke that's not even funny anymore (if it ever was).

Oh are you still thinking of getting an Apple computer? By all means do - you're far better off than with a Windows computer. But that doesn't mean you're getting a bang for your buck that's fair. You're not. You're getting better - but you're still getting crap. It's just that it's a bit better crap.

By April 2005 the game was for all practical purposes over. Apple started really digging in to destroy what good was left in their Unix heritage. And by the time Leopard emerged in 2007 it was all dark. By now a new class of programmer idiots seldom seen in the industry had taken over systems development. The old engineers had either run for their lives, run for better paying jobs as Apple pay piss poor, or been assigned to that iPhone project. Six updates into this 'Leopard' and things still aren't working right for the customers who all paid full price in good faith. The system is basically unusable - and it's already almost a year old.

Apple fanboys have over the years put up with so much shit from Apple it's not funny - and still they'll boast their platform is 'user friendly'. All the while the most of these pathetic morons also boast they've never even touched any other type of computer, much less tested and compared. But they know alright! Where can the whining and mooing be worse? Inside Apple computers or amongst the Apple fanboys?

Kernel extensions: Apple fanboys used to have to manually configure their machines prior to use. Nothing 'just worked' - often it 'just crashed'.

Physical memory: Apple fanboys used to have to - yes this is true - manually configure how much physical memory each of their applications would be allowed to use. No computer user since the demise of the abacus has ever had to do that. But Apple fanboys did - Apple fanboys suffered in silence and continued boasting theirs was a 'user friendly system'.

Crash standing still overnight: Windows boxes are so crappy they lose memory just standing still but no Windows box has ever been so stupid it literally crashes just standing still. But Apple's computers did! Right up to the new millennium they were doing this! These the most user friendly computers in the world!

Apple in the mid 1990s were a company possibly even more despicable than today. Apple hardware was atrocious. CEO Gil Amelio totally froze production a half year until his engineers worked out the issues - issues they weren't the least concerned about. And at least one middle echelon Apple exec was caught saying 'so what - if the customers don't like it they can buy again'. To think Apple - the company Apple with the good attitude towards customers - turned up their noses at customers who purchased computers that just didn't work - but as Steve Jobs was heard to say about the same time: 'our customers - fuck 'em!'

Apple have discussion forums as many computer companies. But Apple are alone in patrolling these forums and removing any mention of widespread flaws in their products or double crosses in their customer policies. All the Apple fanboys know this is going on. And they know why: word must never get out Apple have such terrible quality control. Should any Apple customer complain about Apple's betrayal the more likely reaction from the Apple fanboys is not sympathy but outright hostility and persecution.

One must go back in history to the likes of Jamestown to find a cult so utterly foul.

And now it's the iPhone 3G. It doesn't connect. It comes with an Infineon chipset found years ago in Europe to be flawed. Did Apple test it? Nope. Do the fanboys love it? You bet. It just works!

Something like their ActiveDirectory for Leopard - did they test it? Nope! And admins everywhere lost salary bonuses because their Apple computers experienced outages. Any response from the user friendly company where everything just works? You get one guess.

iPod nanos are exploding, catching fire. iPhone 3Gs are melting, catching fire. And so forth.

Apple: they're the darlings of the media alright. But they're a sign of the times. People today are willing to pay exorbitant prices for trendy (but wobbly) crap that can even burn their houses down.

Apple: it doesn't just work; it just doesn't work; it might work; but for how long and at what cost?

The German BMWs have the comfortable center arm rest without the uncomfortable phone tray placed in all American BMWs. Likewise with the cupholders. German BMW cupholders don't exist. The American BMW cupholders are acknowledged crap. Same with the outside arm rests. The German BMW doesn't have an outside arm rest to hurt your arm. The American BMW arm rest is garbage.

See Also
BMW Design Flaws
Ferrari Design Flaws
Rolls Royce Design Flaws

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