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  • Apple’s Naysayers Find Bad News in Everything

    April 14th, 2010

    So this week, we learned that Apple not only sold half a million iPads during the first week on sale, but that the overseas rollout is being delayed by a month because Apple can barely keep up with all that pent-up demand. That’s terrific news, and you can see that Apple’s stock price continues to soar as a result. Some are predicting it’ll reach $300 some time this year, but before that it will turn Apple into the second most valuable company on the planet.

    In other words, Apple will finally beat Microsoft, at least when it comes to the company’s valuation, which may be a phantom figure but one that financial analysts pay attention to.

    At the same time, you just know that the iPad is a highly flawed product. There are scattered reports of poor Wi-Fi connectivity, and don’t forget that the lack of multitasking, Flash support and the “albatross” of tight integration with Apple’s own software ecosystem are serious shortcomings.

    Worse, Apple has dared to change the license terms for the iPhone 4.0 SDK so that apps translated via Adobe Flash or a cross-platform compiler aren’t welcome. The theory goes that Steve Jobs had another one of his legendary hissy fits and thus has declared war against Adobe and other companies. Indeed, one blogger is claiming that Adobe is prepared to sue Apple, though the basis of that lawsuit isn’t clear. I mean it’s not as if Apple doesn’t have the right to change the terms for its user licenses, or that they can be forced by threat or legal action to allow you to run Flash on the iPhone or iPad.

    Now it’s possible that the rumors of lawsuits and other rash behavior are nothing more than an effort at corporate spin control from Adobe. Perhaps one of their PR people conveyed a misleading impression of the company’s future behavior in a conversation with the blogger in question, knowing that the details of the conversation would be made public pronto!

    Forgetting Adobe’s concerns, which I find specious in light of their refusal to fully support the Mac in recent years, it does seem Apple has reason to be upset. Lest we forget, Apple helped Adobe establish a business in the first place by licensing PostScript for the original LaserWriter in the 1980s. From that grew the desktop publishing revolution, which provided a rich environment for all of Adobe’s content creation apps.

    Even after Apple’s serious missteps in the 1990s put the company at death’s door, graphic designers around the world still continued to embrace their Macs — and Adobe’s products. In recent years, PageMaker’s successor, InDesign, has begun to supplant the mainstay desktop publishing app, QuarkXPress, at many companies. Sure, Adobe sells an awful lot of Windows product, but without the Mac and millions of loyal customers, they’d be in serious trouble. Talk about biting the wrong hands!

    Unfortunately this is but a microcosm of the sort of criticism targeted at Apple over the years. No matter what the company does, the critics will find bad things to say, even if they have to stretch the truth. Sure, Apple makes decisions that should be questioned, such as that arbitrary App Store review process. I also feel that they release products prematurely and saddle early adopters with defects they shouldn’t have to confront.

    That’s been true about every version of Mac OS X. When a reference release of what’s supposed to be an industrial-strength personal computer operating system ships with bugs that might cause the loss of data, you have reason to be extremely concerned. Yes, the most serious bugs are usually squashed within a few weeks, but sometimes too late for people bitten by those bugs.

    The new Intel hardware, particularly the portables, suffered from gestation difficulties, such as hot chassis, premature battery failure and discoloration of the case on those early MacBooks. You’d think that if Apple let those products stew in the test labs for a few more weeks, maybe those problems would not have occurred.

    Last fall, the hot-selling iMacs came out, but the 27-inch models were afflicted with screen defects, including image breakup, a yellow discoloration, plus problems involving the display backlighting and other issues. Yes, Apple was able to eradicate the most serious problems in a series of firmware updates, the most recent of which actually came out this week, but why did it have to go that far? Did the rush to push the iMacs out weeks ahead of the holiday season bring with it a failure to properly complete the Q&A process?

    Sure, I’ll be charitable too. Sometimes defects of this sort are so random that a company can’t get a handle on them until enough units are built and subjected to the rigors of daily use. So even if some of those problems appear during the testing process, there’s not enough data to stop release. Perhaps consumer electronics and the software to run these gadgets have become so complex that it’s impossible to deliver near-perfect reliability the first time. Anyone who buys a new model or point-zero software release must suffer the consequences.

    But I would hope the tech media would try to be more responsible in its coverage of Apple. We all want perfection, but it’s not going to happen, and trying to find fault where it may not exist just wastes everyone’s time.



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