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Is Apple Lying to You?

It seems quite certain that most of you trust Apple Inc., at least to some extent. After all, you buy their products, and no doubt depend on your Macs for a wide variety of critical tasks, such as balancing your checkbook, creating Web sites, writing and publishing books, magazines, newspapers and lots more.

If you put your faith into a company and its products, surely you have good reason to expect them to tell you the truth about the things they do. This is particularly true with a public corporation, where there are rules and regulations that need to be followed.

But I’m willing to bet that a lot of you believe that Apple lies, or at the very least exaggerates to some extent.

No, unlike most computer companies, Apple is pretty good about meeting promised release dates, especially since Steve Jobs returned and become CEO a decade ago. However, it hasn’t always been that way. Do you remember when Jobs talked earnestly about Rhapsody? No, not the music download service from RealNetworks, but the first iteration of the NeXT-based replacement for the Mac OS.

After making and missing promises about product delivery, Apple changed direction and unleashed Mac OS X, which finally appeared as version 10.0 in March, 2001. Now in all fairness to Apple, one of the reasons Mac OS X didn’t arrive as soon as originally planned was because Apple needed to make serious changes to make it easy for developers to update their products for the new operating system. One answer was Carbon, designed to allow software authors to build applications that would run on both Mac OS 9 and X.

From there on, Apple managed to meet and exceed its promises for Mac OS X updates and most of its hardware.

But there were notable exceptions. Take the 3GHz Power Mac G5. Steve Jobs made what seemed an iron-clad promise about such a product, but IBM couldn’t deliver the chips. Today’s 3GHz professional Mac desktop contains Xeon processors from Intel

That takes us to those infamous Mac versus PC bake-offs at Mac Expo keynotes, in which it was shown that the PowerPC smoked Pentiums for lunch. So were those public demonstrations faked with spiked Mac hardware and crippled Dells?

I know some of you believe they were, but I actually duplicated a few of those benchmarks myself, using comparable equipment and Apple’s preselected testing methods. We’re they designed to show off Macs to their best advantage? Sure. Were they faked? No way! They represented actual features in Photoshop and other applications that you might really use in your daily work.

Let’s look at another example of Apple’s behavior and see if there’s dishonesty there. Do you recall when Steve Jobs demonstrated a new hard-drive based iPod and then went on to claim that there was really no use for music players with Flash memory? Jobs insisted that people would just put the things away and never use them.

That logic made perfect sense until the first Flash-based iPods arrived a year later. Oh well, Apple’s variation had more memory, and was therefore more useful. Besides, it was an iPod, so it had to be great.

So did Steve Jobs lie to you or did the situation simply change to allow Apple to enter that segment of the market?

Now there’s the cheap PC. During a financial analyst meeting, Apple’s money people said they wouldn’t enter the entry-level PC business because it wasn’t profitable. That was just three months before the Mac mini was announced.

What changed? Well, it would seem that the Mac mini must have been under development when Apple was saying that no such product was contemplated. Then again, there are lots of products in Apple’s labs that are tried and tested and found wanting. It may very well be that the decision to produce the Mac mini came later, and hadn’t been finalized when the denial was issued.

That takes us to Mac OS X Leopard, promised for this spring. It won’t happen because Apple claims it had to divert some of its operating system resources to finish the iPhone, so that product would be delivered on time. This would seem to require quite a few people to create a four-month delay. Now is it also possible Apple ran into some difficulties putting the finishing touches on Leopard? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps we’ll never know, although there are those unofficial reports that the developer releases of Leopard have been extremely shaky.

Yes Apple sometimes misses its product deadlines, as all computer companies do from time to time. As to statements denying the possibility of making a product one day, and deciding otherwise the next, well that may just be marketing.

And since when do you accept marketing claims as gospel? But I suppose you could say that a lie is a lie, whatever you label it.