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Dumbing Down on Apple Complaints

Over the years, I’ve read about loads of reasons not to buy anything from Apple, or at least to be deeply concerned about what the company is doing. While there’s plenty of room for different opinions, one hopes the facts don’t change. But sometimes things become so murky that simple marketing or branding exercises can turn into some sort of major catastrophe.

As most of you know, the Macintosh OS has morphed over the years from Mac OS, to Mac OS X and, more recently, to OS X.

Starting with 10.12, also known as Sierra, it becomes macOS, which is pronounced the same, obviously, as Mac OS. The branding change is one of consistency, so it matches up with iOS, tvOS and watchOS. This was one of the less notable announcements at the recent WWDC. In a sense, the change also appears to reflect a greater emphasis for the Mac, since its OS has a product name attached to it again.

You with me so far?

Well, it appears that yet another alleged tech pundit has decided that this is a disastrous move.

But first, the pundit begins with the usual excuse to allow for foolish speculation, “I’ve always loved the Mac.”

That dodge is designed to make this particular writer’s claims bear greater weight. It is designed to make it appear as if the journey into never-never land has a valid purpose.

So we then have the claim that this oh-so-simple branding exercise, one that, as I said, is pronounced exactly the same as the classic version of the operating system, is a deep insult, at least to one person. It will, according to this pundit, “accelerate the downward spiral as a fringe hardware product.”

This is an admission that the product this person has “always loved” is still regarded as a “fringe hardware product.” What is that supposed to mean — a preference for the fringe?

Now do you know of anyone who will stop buying Macs because the operating system regained the word mac with the lower case “m”? Does that make the products less useful? Will customers suddenly freak and demand that Apple remove that dreadful word and revert to OS X, or they will never, ever, well hardly ever, buy another Mac ever again now or in the future, that they must now switch to Windows? Or Linux?

Thus begins an exercise into utter stupidity that consumes several paragraphs to explain why Apple has not only diminished the Mac in the eyes of this particular beholder, but has condemned it to failure. But if one is going to engage in faulty logic, it might help to get the facts straight, particularly the claim that “OS X has been around since 2001.” Well that’s partly true, except that, between 2001 and 2012, it was referred to as “Mac OS X.”

When it became just OS X, some suggested that Apple was actually diminishing the value of the Mac or Macintosh by removing its name from the OS. Some conspiracy theories had it that OS X would eventually merge with iOS, and this was the harbinger of doom. True there have been a few interface changes in OS X that made it function a little closer to iOS. Some apps have become available with similar or the same features for both platforms, except for the interface requirements of a touch versus a mouse/trackpad and keyboard OS.

That ought to be a good thing, and for customers invested in Apple’s ecosystem, it is, since it makes it easier to switch back and forth among devices and experience familiar environments. It’s not as extreme as what Microsoft hoped to do with Windows 10, before its mobile platform came crashing down as the result of poor sales, but it’s far from merging the two. Instead, it reflects the differences and celebrates them for the benefit of customers who want gear that’s easier to use and works predictably.

The next argument is that the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Apple Watch are merely gadgets. But the Mac is not a gadget and therefore shouldn’t have an OS that’s named in the same format.

The mind boggles.

To be fair, an iPhone and an iPad are mobile computers that perform many of the same functions as a Mac. The operating systems are all based on the same Unix core, but optimized for specific classes of products. But if you strip the OS and input choices, you can rightly refer to all of them as personal computers. They have processors, graphics hardware, memory and storage hardware. The rest of the electronics are obviously based on the unique features and requirements of these devices.

Through Continuity and Handoff, Apple allows its devices to share and trade functions for your convenience. I send and receive old fashioned SMS text messages on my Mac. As soon as I use the Mac to send a message, it appears on my iPhone, and messages received on my iPhone appear on my Mac. That way I’m not scurrying for my iPhone when I hear the tone to indicate one has arrived.

None of that has anything to do with the name of my Mac’s operating system, or the fact that it once again has “mac” in its name.

But there’s always someone who can change something relatively unimportant into some major slight for some fool who “always loved the Mac” but has a set of peculiar sensitivities that were rubbed the wrong way. I have another few words to offer for such behavior: Go get a life!