• An Apple Branded Two-Button Mouse? Can’t We Talk Reality for Once?

    March 19th, 2005

    Try as we might, we at The Mac Night Owl can’t escape the gossip mongers. Just as I planned to move on to other subjects, here comes another round of speculation. Informed? It’s hard to tell these days. It’s clear the rumor sites haven’t been cowering in their boots as a result of Apple’s lawsuits, though that might change if the expected appeals don’t succeed.

    In the meantime, we have to look at the latest stories and see if there’s a gem of truth to them. I will not, first of all, dwell on the progress of Tiger development. My opinion about such things is that I’d rather see it come later rather than sooner, so Apple has plenty of time to dispose of serious bugs before it hits the retail shelves. Yes, there will be the inevitable 10.4.1, 10.4.2 and so on, but I’d prefer a few months of peace and quiet, and a reliable operating system. Is Apple listening? Of course not. The company’s operating system crew has their internal timetables, I’m sure, and no doubt the whips are being cracked to move ahead as quickly as possible, but I’d rather see it simmer along and reach the proper cooking temperature before the CDs are pressed.

    However, the most interesting story these days, though, is not the delivery date of the next Mac OS X upgrade, but whether Apple is secretly planning to produce a killer two-button mouse. Now I should point out that I’ve lived most of my life with the one button variety, and only made passing acquaintance with extra buttons. Only in the last year have I migrated, largely because my aging wrist feels more comfortable with the high profile shape of, say, the Logitech MX1000 laser mouse. Yes, I once said I had abandoned the product because Logitech indicated it was planning to exit the Mac platform, but my enduring comfort won out. So sue me. No, I better not say that, not in our litigious society. Somebody will get the wrong idea.

    In any case, I would be willing to switch mice if Apple could deliver a superior product. No, not just a Pro mouse with two buttons and a scroll wheel. We already have third party versions of that. If Apple must go for the extra button, I’d like to see something supremely comfortable, something that has been tried and tested among folks with aching wrists to see if it passes muster. I don’t know the state of Steve Jobs’ wrists, so this sort of testing has to extend beyond the norm. Of course, with Apple’s penchant for security, the victims, I mean testers, would have to come from amongst Apple’s staff, but I’m sure enough aging hippies can be found among the ranks of its employees to sign up.

    The other thing I’d like to see is a product that is ambidextrous. The Logitech mouse, as good as it is, is for right-handed folks only. Now I started out in life as a left-hander, but in those days at least, southpaws were not accepted as they are now. Somehow along the way, my right-handed abilities developed, and I found myself eating and mousing in the traditional fashion. Try that Logitech mouse, or anything with a similar shape, with your left hand, and you’ll give it up real fast.

    Now the standard Apple mouse has not shown such limitations, since its simple shape works either way. If Apple goes the multiple button route, perhaps the product could have pop-off sides. You leave it alone when your right hand is called into duty. For the left handed, pop off the sides and reverse them. Smart, eh? All right, maybe it’s a clunky solution, but I think one that would address the problem beautifully. Of course, Apple could design both versions, so you would be forced to by two if need be on a Mac with multiple users, and multiple wrist preferences.

    Yes, the stockholders will be happy. Money is everything. As someone said in a movie years ago, “Greed is good.”

    I’m half serious. For most Mac users, I still believe one button does the trick. Apple has always stood for simplicity. You do things on the Mac faster and more efficiently than on the Windows platform. A few steps on the Mac, and a complicated wizard on Windows. That’s how it’s always been.

    But Mac professionals and those deserting Windows will want two buttons, maybe more. Sure, they will find plenty of choices among third parties. And, despite Logitech’s ill-founded solution, other companies still believe Macs are worth it. An Apple multi-button mouse won’t sit well with those other companies, but if it can do a better job, so be it.

    And I’m not done yet. The present Apple keyboard is slim, and smooth. And if you like a soft touch it’s ideal. If not, and you love the clicks and clacks of traditional mechanical key switches, the Matias Tactile Pro will fulfill your needs.

    But what about the multimedia keyboard? You know what I mean: A keyboard with an extra row or two of extra buttons at the top to provide fast shortcuts for such functions as launching your preferred browser and email client, and playing your songs via iTunes. There are third party alternatives, but frankly they all look as if they were designed by the same person. Where’s the innovation? Where’s the Apple solution?

    The killer multi-button mouse and multimedia keyboard with Apple logos. That’s the ticket.

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