Those that know me well know that I’m an Apple guy. Well, that’s waning. There are several key things that have caused me great consternation, as well as a few key sector swings that have impacted my opinion.
A biggie for me: Apple’s reluctance to “play well” with others. One key example: the whole iCloud thing. Calendaring drives me crazy. Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, all these use the same calendaring protocol. If I send an invite, or receive one, from one of the other systems, it works fine in mine (currently Gmail). Updates come through, changes come cleanly. Apple, of course, needs to do things their way. So, when my wife sends a calendar invite from her iCloud account, I check to ensure sure it’s in my calendar correctly. And if she sends an update, I need to manually update. This drives me nutty. This is rudimentary. Nobody exists within one network’s system, and the inability to “play well” with something as basic as calendaring shows a deep disregard for customer needs.
Once, .Mac’s email (the original incarnation of the current cloud tool) was on par with Yahoo!, Gmail et al. (And was free too. Alas!) Well, that’s gone. The iCloud email interface is nearly identical to its first iteration and Apple has made minimal effort to update their UI. Clunky and ugly; ironic for an entity that makes a big deal about their design chops.
More critically, though, Apple’s dead silence on dealing with system issues angers me. A few years back, my Macbook would drop its wifi signal randomly and repeatedly. The wifi fan would sit and spin. I found the Genius bar useless. Then I read tons of discussions in forums, including Apple’s own. Nobody found a solution, and Apple corp’s insights, replies, thoughts or even a simple acknowledgment were completely absent. Well, my solution was simple: boot it into Windows. I did have it set up with Boot Camp and Windows worked fine (hence how I knew it was an OS or driver/OS issue, even though the Geniuses insisted it was a wifi network issue. Yeah, the library and Cafe Ladro and Starbucks and the local community college all configured their wifi with the same error). I’ve come across several issues over the years where it was clear Apple had a system problem, but we never, EVER saw anything publically announced by the company. Well, with huge PR debacle situations, they’d say a little “we value your concern and are working diligently on it” non-answer. Basically, silence. Then (like with the wifi issue above) an update rolls out and fixes the problem. Apple’s unwillingness to engage with even their fans is just plain dumb.
As someone who spent a significant portion of his career working on sustainability and social responsibility issues, their unwillingness to engage and publically addresses serious issues with their environmental and labor practices really disappointed me. Yes, eventually they caved in and started addressing these, but it took quite a bit of pressure and resolve to overcome the Cupertino silence. At least that was the perception based on their silence.
Last fall I took a web development course. The entire course was focused on the PC environment. My instructor needed to look for Mac based alternatives for each program they used and it was left to me to figure out how to make those equivalents work. Eventually I solved this problem the same as with the wifi issue: run Windows. But it was very telling, as the last dev class I took and all the design classes I took focused on Macs. There was pity and some condensention towards the Windows crowd. That’s dead.
If my Macbook were to die today, it’s likely successor would be some Windows variant. Justifying the Mac tax is hard enough given the comparative systems now. Add to that the issues I’ve had and it becomes very hard indeed to justify buying a Mac.