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Mac mea culpa

Readers sound off on Apple. Mac mea culpa Readers respond about Apple.

Ever done something really dumb? I sure did. After seven months of writing the weekly newsletter opinion pretty much without incident, I decided, in a short, frantic week, to dive into something I knew nothing about and didn’t have enough time to research properly. My attempt last week to write a fairly lighthearted critique of Apple flopped, as many readers let me know. The piece was indeed not up to usual standards, and I apologize.

Following are some excerpts of reader feedback:



James Robinson:

I’m confused by your opinion piece. The adoption of USB brought a wealth of peripherals over to the Mac side that weren’t there before, and there are more announcements of Mac versions of products now than I’ve seen in years. The attitude toward OS X is even stranger. The Dock and the new Finder toolbar could hardly be aimed more squarely at home users, and even some critics of OS X’s interface admit that it’s more newbie-friendly than OS 9. Most of the grousing comes from power users who’ve seen many of their baroque but expedient UI hacks disappear, and who haven’t discovered how to use OS X efficiently yet.

Companies and organizations that have never made Mac products are coming on board. Even if there is only a trickle of product announcements after today (fat chance), OS X will have an impressive suite of native applications by this autumn. Speaking as a developer who has shunned MacOS programming up to now, OS X looks like the Promised Land. Not just because it’s a UNIX, but because of beautiful technologies like Cocoa which are unique to the platform.

Scott Rudin:

What I’ve heard Apple say in all their recent announcements is that they believe digital media processing and applications are their core interest, along with education re-vitalization. And they’ve been very clear that they think powerful machines & OS are at the center of this work to make them easily usable for consumers and pros alike. They don’t believe handhelds and scaled back operating systems have the necessary power to make a meaningful impact in this arena, at least at their current level of technology. I would tend to agree. That’s not to say that handhelds, wireless, and ‘lite’ operating systems don’t have their place and utility, because they certainly do. But, put simply, Apple has said repeatedly that they are not currently interested in these alternate devices because they don’t match well with core goals. Wireless may be a bit different, and Apple has continued to provide wireless in it’s new machines.

Jim Burger:

Apple has been working on developers both hard and soft. I see it, I hear it, I read about it. Where were you? Don’t bring up old and discarded issues … not applicable to an economy which has practically dictated a new computer every 6 months on the PC side. Apples usually last at least 5 years and even then I have a waiting list for my old equipment for several schools. My PC counterparts just end up trashing theirs.

Bill Brown:

While I agree that Apple needs to do a better job of promoting its work with developers and others besides Microsoft and Adobe, I’m not sure I agree with many of the rest of your concerns. … Apple gets very poor treatment at large stores, and a number of Mac focused stores have gone under as profit margins have dropped, so it makes sense for Apple to open some stores of its own to give the public a hands-on experience.

Ken Rundle:

As a die hard Mac user for graphics who also has a Sony Vaio laptop and an office full of desk top PC’s, I also have been wondering what the heck Apple is doing lately. I got disgusted with their planning when they took out all of the clone makers a few years back in that “Saturday night massacre”. I still use aÊfully outfittedÊUmax S900 with a G4 upgrade board and find it satisfies most of my needs. I’m really wondering about upgrading to OS-X since it would mean a substantial investment in new hardware. I Guess I’ll wait and see a while longer before I make any move …


Hugh Huntzinger:

Is OS X going to support new standards like Bluetooth? Is Microsoft? Is Intel? HP? Dell? Gateway? The same question can be asked about USB 2.0 technology, ad infinitum, ad nausium. Pragmatic users often do not have to care what the enabling technology is behind a particular capability, until there are actual viable competing standards to actually choose between that are sufficiently and meaningfully differentiated, which, per the Pareto Principle, is unlikely. And if you don’t need the capability, such a question is useless techie trivia.


Let’s remember that Macs have been shipping (built-in, no add-on hardware needed) with the I/O of choice for DSL and cable modems for the LAST 10 YEARS—ethernet. THAT is forward thinking.

Chidi Onwuka:

Look guys, I’m sure you’re all very busy but please please please try and put out articles that are written by people who actually know what they are talking about!


Elizabeth Tucker:

Macs may have a large hold in education, but that is only because of the massive discounts that Mac offers to schools. As far as the USB ports, I don’t think anyone is arguing that Mac should not offer them, for me, the problem is that Mac refuses to offer serial ports anymore, so everyone with serial port peripherals now has to track down expensive converters that can hardly be considered reliable or be forced to buy all new peripherals. On the issue of hand-helds, they may not mesh well with Mac’s core goals, but there’s no denying that their popularity will grow …

Will Parker:

I can’t speak for other companies or even Microsoft, but I’m pretty sure I speak for all of us here in the Mac Office group when I say that we *love* the way Apple is acting right now. It’s far better to see Apple moving swiftly and with purpose than the bad old pre-Jobs days when no-one was really pointing the way. Sure, it makes developing for the platform more of a challenge, but who can respect a software company that isn’t ready for a challenge?

As someone who has been making a good living on the Mac platform for over a decade, I’d like to offer my predictions for Apple’s future.

Mac OS X will be a hit, because it will give new developers easy access to the platform, while retaining all but the stodgiest of current developers.

The Apple stores will do what they’re intended to do–make the Apple brand highly visible. Profitability won’t matter, any more than it really does for the Nike stores.

The company’s market share will grow–handsomely–over the next three years.

I’ve bet a significant amount of money on these predictions, in the form of Apple stock purchases. I don’t expect that I will disappointed.

Oh–and one more thing. Michael Dell makes really ugly laptops. He will continue to do so.

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