Apple Hubris?

Apple

A friend of mine was having trouble with his Apple iPhone 4.  For some reason, the iPhone no longer recharged.  My friend verified that the charger and cable were not defective. After calling Apple support, they agreed the iPhone was defective, and although the warranty had expired, overnighted a new iPhone 4 for $149 +the FedEx charge, including a shipping label to return the defective iPhone.  My friend swapped his SIM card, restored everything from iCloud, and was “back in business”.  His reaction was, “What a company!” I agree, and I hope they stay great.  But, they are not perfect, as I have reflected here in patrickWeb on a number of occasions.  At times, I sense a touch of hubris may be creeping into the Apple culture.

I could not wait to get my hands on the new MacBook Pro Retina, and my initial impressions justified the anticipation.  The new product meets all the claims made by Apple (See Apple – MacBook Pro Family – It’s never been more powerful).  The short version of my review is that the new MacBook Pro is thinner, faster, lighter, and retinal.  The engineering is brilliant and the performance is dazzling.  With no moving parts (except a silent fan), 16 gigabytes of memory, and fast solid-state storage, the laptop is a joy to use.  There is just one exception to my overall delight — the power cord! The magnetic attachment of a power cord to a laptop was another brilliant Apple innovation introduced some years ago. The idea was to make it simple to attach the cord, but in the event of someone tripping over the cord or it getting caught on something, the magnetic connection disconnects silently and falls to the floor without the laptop crashing to the floor with it. The amount of magnetic attraction was perfect — not too weak to fall off, not too strong to jeopardize the laptop. That was before the new more powerful MacBook Pro Retina with a redesigned MagSafe power cord connector.  The magnetic strength does not have the balance of the past — it is too weak.  The cord is constantly falling off when I am sitting with the MacBook in my lap.  David Pogue, over at the New York Times said that the cord will fall off “if you look at it funny” — see One of Apple’s Best Ideas Ever — Made Worse. I have never seen David so upset about a product.

I was in New York for a board meeting a few weeks ago, and staying at the Hyatt Grand Central. I had an hour to spare and  decided to make an appointment and visit the Genius Bar at the gorgeous Apple Store in Grand Central. The “genius” who was assigned to me was a handsome and friendly young man. I explained the problem to him. He immediately denied that that the MagSafe connector was anything put perfect.  I told him how the cord kept falling off when I was using the MacBook sitting in a chair. “You should never use the MacBook in your lap.”  The MacBook needs to be on a flat surface to get the best cooling, he explained. I said I thought the MacBook was a laptop computer. He did not laugh. I suggested that the magnetic strength was inadequate and perhaps something was wrong with either the MacBook end or the power cord end of the MagSafe duo.  The genius suggested a test to compare my MacBook with the others on display. Good idea. Turned out that they are all the same.  To him, that proved that there is nothing wrong with my MacBook. To me, it proved that there is something wrong with all of  the MacBooks.  This is where the hubris comes in. The genius believes so strongly in Apple engineering, that if anything is wrong, it is the customer that is wrong, not Apple. The combination of giving their tech support people the title of “Genius” and throwing in a touch of hubris could spell trouble for Apple at some point.