Michael Arrington at TechCrunch slaps Apple around today: “It’s time for Apple to stop screwing around and start paying attention to product quality.”

It’s rare to see such naked criticism from the heart of Silicon Valley. Even more startling, dozens of commenters are chiming in with their horror stories about Mac crashes, lockups, hardware failures, and software problems. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many real-world complaints concentrated in one place.

10 thoughts on “Schadenfreude

  1. It’s a matter of group dynamics. Usually, if you dare to say anything negative about Apple on an Internet forum, the fanboys come out and drown it out. At some critical percentage of anti-Apple posts, the dynamics shift to the other direction. People who’ve been stifling their Mac gripes for years now feel they have a safe outlet where they can commiserate with fellow sufferers.

  2. Tom, I think you nailed it. It’s fascinating to see in the comments to Arrington’s post that the very first one is an anti-Vista whine, for which the commenter gets slapped down very quickly. And the “it just works/I would never use a Microsoft product” comments from the Apple fanboys ring pretty hollow in the sea of complaints about quality.

  3. Just read Michael’s article. I like the line where he says, “The new buyers aren’t Apple fanatics and won’t sit quietly as they try to access broken services via failing hardware.”

    I am one of those new buyers (I use Vista and Mac) and I will not put up with a company releasing a product without a beta and expect me to pay $99/year for it.

  4. OK, I finally look up schadenfreude, so is that what you are doing?

    I have only ever had one computer fail and require factory service before failing hard at the end of warranty. It was my last non-mainstream computer purchase. Meanwhile, I have machines that I purchased in 1998 and 1999 that are still running (though in need to be retired completely).

    I have never own an Apple product and I marvel at the stories I hear about machines that have to go back in (repeatedly) while still new. If those experiences were typical, Apple could not stay in business, so I wonder what the demographics really are. It won’t influence my purchases, but I just wonder what the true deal is apart from anecdotal reports.

  5. I’m not suprised at all… Apple was quality – when the numbers were low. And everybody looked at the quality (when compared to windows, etc), stability, as well as it being safer (viruses, etc).

    As a result, more people started buying apple for those reasons, but then apple had to scale up, and rush new products to market and as a results, the quality has suffered, and due to it’s rising popularity, it is now a growing target for malware, and people are starting to see that it wasn’t as good or as safe as everybody made out – and apple is starting to exerpience all the same issues that made people upset at microsoft…

    Whenever something grows, they start to exerpeinece these problems – look at Gateway, HP, Redhat, and Dell…

    It’s just the hype cycle all over again, and at this point, Apple is approaching the low point after the first wave…

  6. The demise of the computers I’ve owned:

    Mac SE II: still runs, used still as an e-mail device in desk by kitchen.

    Mac PowerBook 170: still runs–I turn it on occasionally for fun or show my kids because it’s so thick. Plays original Civilization still. Battery still works (ca. 45 minutes)!

    PowerMac 6500: the monitor died long ago, but the machine is still working, no hardware changes, but now as a Linux box for Web development.

    iMac (slot-loading): still runs, used for children’s stuff. Gets a lot of hard use as a result.

    G4 iBook: HD replacement after 5 years ($250); still running now, operates household music speaker system via AirTunes.

    Core 2 MacBook: still runs, partner’s main laptop.

    Sony Vaio laptop from 1996: failed after 2 years (motherboard shorted–too expensive to repair @ $950).

    Dell Inspiron 8200: failed after 2 years (connection to HD and CD drive shorted, too expensive to repair @ $800)

    HP Pavilion zd8000: after a major screen defect was reluctantly repaired by HP within the warranty period, machine still runs but the keyboard doesn’t work any more (too expensive to repair @ $500) + second of two batteries failed + laptop screen has lots of dead pixels on it (also expensive to repair); machine runs XP and serves as media center hooked up to an HDTV with a Bluetooth keyboard (machine is only 3 years old).

    Dell Desktop ca. 1997: sluggish machine still works, but it still has Windows ME installed, so no one touches it. I guess I should recycle or donate it because, unlike the Macs, it’s useless…

    HP Pavilion dv9000: great machine in terms of hardware, but Vista was ANNOYING to get running properly. Now the machine runs smoothly. However, I doubt the machine will have more than a 2-year life expectancy…

    I have sworn already that my next machine will be a Mac laptop. I can run Parallels or the like for my Windows software. Based purely on my experience, Mac products have lasted longest and best for me.

  7. Being both a PC (Vista and XP) and Mac user (Tiger and Leopard) I can tell you that the two Mac Pros I use at work (the highest end Mac you can get) have had more problems than any PC I’ve ever owned. Constant crashes, application failures, slow performance, and these are machines that are almost $3,000 each!

    In the 16 years I’ve been using PC’s (8 years owning PC’s and the most expensive was $850) I’ve had to reinstall Windows twice (both XP). Since February, I’ve had to reinstall OS X six times between the two Mac’s. That’s simply unacceptable in my eyes. If you’re going to sell me a product, especially when it’s far more expensive, it has to be faster, more reliable and easier to use. Mac’s and OS X are none of those in my experience.

  8. The only apple product i own is an Ipod Video. It’s been very reliable, syncing with Itunes every night for me, charging over USB for the next day’s play. I would go nuts without it. That being said, i would never rely on any other apple product, or even have a reason to use them.

    My sister has a mac mini, its currently failing left and right and doesn’t have the ability to burn a dvd, something which is pretty commonplace today.

    I build my own pcs, upgrading parts not when they fail, but when i want to stay cutting edge. If i didn’t choose to, i would still be using the original parts in my original pc, which kept running windowsXP reliably for years upon years. Now i run Vista, which… Just worked. I installed it, it updated all my hardware drivers via the net (and i mean all, even my 6 year old epson printer) and then asked me to restart. It runs all the programs i need it to, and then some. All the games, all the burning apps, and i can easily pop in new hardware if i need to.

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