How cool things quickly fade

So Apple has released its iPhone 5 accompanied by the usual hype. Humorist Andy Borowitz describes its amazing new life-changing features.

Apple has a reputation for producing products that are cool but as this history of Apple products shows, today’s cool quickly becomes tomorrows clunker.


  1. Alverant says

    Today if someone were to make a better iPod Apple would sue them out of existance. My life was fine before iProducts and it’s fine without them. I will not play that game with Apple. If I own an electronic gadget, it should be mine to do with as I please without having to worry about the manufacturer sabotaging it.

  2. machintelligence says

    Who can forget the Apple LISA? Apparently just about everybody. It was a clunker and was quickly supplanted by the Macintosh.

  3. kyoseki says

    I will never buy another Apple product, it appears their service life is only just long enough to get you to the next release.

    I bought a Macbook Pro a few years ago to see what all the fuss was about, the first one’s “superdrive” (because obviously, being Apple, it can’t just be called something as mundane as a dvd drive) crapped out within the first 2 weeks, so it went back for a replacement. The screen catches on the replacement crapped out after 6 months, so that went in for repair (obviously, I’m then left without a laptop for a week) and ended up getting replaced anyway. Then after about 18 months (obviously this being the expiration of the Applecare warranty), the replacement started having trouble with it’s keyboard, which turns out to be because some genius thought an exposed ribbon cable in the (very hot) battery bay was a good idea.

    The good news is that the Time Capsule allowed me to restore each new replacement to the same place as the broken unit within a few hours, the bad news is that the Time Capsule then expired taking all of it’s data with it (fortunately I only used it with Time Machine, all the important stuff was on another non-Apple external drive).

    Meanwhile I have an 8 year old Dell Inspiron laptop that still works despite having had beer poured all over it on more than one occasion.

    So much for Apple’s much vaunted quality. Every person I know with Apple junk has had similar issues, mainboards crapping out and phones just dying for no readily discernible reason, yet they all still seem to think that Apple is “just better” than PCs, which I can only attribute to clever marketing – every time I bring this up, I get the same response “yeah, but the warranty is excellent”, oh great, that makes it alright then.

    Now that Jobs has died, I can see Apple stock deflating as people come to realize that the only true innovator there is gone, especially when the iPhone 6 comes out and it’s only marginally better than the 5.

  4. says

    I have a MacBook that has lasted for over six years with not a single hardware problem. This replaced an equally expensive HP laptop that didn’t even last three years before the main board died. My iMac is almost three years old and I have had zero problems with it as well. Likewise for my iPhone and iPad; all have been very reliable hardware.

    What do my counter anecdotes prove? Nothing.

    Computer hardware is complex and some rate of hardware failure is inevitable. There is not, so far as I have been able to find, any reliable data showing that computers or phones or MP3 players or whatever from HP, Dell, Sony, Samsung, LG, etc., have failure rate better than Apple. Shit breaks, and sometimes we get a lemon.

    It just a different type of product. People have legitimate reasons to prefer one over the other, it certainly is not all just marketing. If that were the case I would expect Apple to have folded long ago. Marketing isn’t magic, it can’t keep shitty products selling once their shittyness has been revealed.

  5. Aliasalpha says

    I dunno tajparis, couldn’t your last sentence be countered by mentioning religion? Seems like a triumph of marketing over product quality…

  6. Rob says

    I have to say Kyoseki that I have not had your experience. Sure they’ve messed up the odd product, but by and large I’ve found them to be great to use and the few times I have needed customer support they have persisted until the issue has been resolved.

    There are lots of surveys done for reliability. In all the big ones I’ve seen Apple either tops or comes very close to top. here’s an example

    and another from 2010

    Both are similar to other surveys I’ve seen over the years. Also, I’d never describe as rough with expensive, delicate, technology but…

    …Dell Inspiron laptop that still works despite having had beer poured all over it on more than one occasion.


    I’m certainly prepared to take issue with the rather moralistic stance Apple take in the iTunes and App stores. I guess that’s a combination of trying to be family friendly and the publicly conservative attitude of America to sex.

    Funny thing is that if you hang out on tech forums you see exactly the same kind of bad reasoning and argumentation in the Apple vs Samsung or Google vs Oracle debates as we have seen in the last years A* vs FTB/Skepchick/A+ debate.

    Only difference is one matters and the other does not.

    (for the avoidance of doubt I do not see the point of passionately arguing that the world will end if I don’t get the perfect smart phone this week.

  7. kyoseki says

    Well, my point wasn’t specifically that Apple are any worse than other hardware manufacturers (although in my experience they most certainly have been), but that, for a company that markets itself on quality, they really ought to be noticeably better and they’re not.

    Apple generally charges a premium for their hardware, so I was expecting an awful lot more from the MBP I paid well over $2k for. It was certainly no better than any PC laptop I’ve ever used and that’s being generous.

    I wasn’t impressed by ease of use either, remember the whole “It just works” commercial? Yeah, not so much. OS X is a colossal pain to get software for. If it’s not Apple software, it always lags behind the Windows version. My general experience was that if you were doing anything that they didn’t design OS X to do as a general case, you were left having to hand hack text files buried in the bowels of the operating system somewhere.

    .. and as “unbound”‘s link pointed out, they’re not particularly innovative these days – SIRI is a gimmick and everything in their line up is just a slightly improved version of the thing they had last year, ie. the same thing everyone else does (for less).

    So if they’re not innovative, particularly high quality or easy to use, why, exactly, do they charge a premium for them?

    Aliasalpha is right, it’s almost a religion, the Cult of Apple, you had a few big miracles when it first showed up and now the high priests are just capitalizing on those without producing any of their own.

    I’m totally ok with people with buying Macs because they happen to like them, or they love OS X which means they’re stuck with them, but let’s make no bones about it, these things are just overpriced PCs without anything like the same level of flexibility.

    Apple are constantly dumbing down their product line up, for example, look at the complaints from serious users about the latest iteration of Final Cut Pro – and I will never forgive those fuckers for what they did to Nothing Real Shake. Then there’s the constant move towards making hardware that has no user serviceable parts, like a car with the hood welded shut.

    My main desktop PC is, for example, an i7-2600K with 16 Gb RAM and twin GTX 570 graphics cards running dual screens. There’s nothing like that in the Mac line up, it’s somewhere between the top of the line iMac and the low end Mac Pro (though, of course, it was cheaper to build than either) and unlike the iMac is completely upgradable, I don’t have to throw it out and buy a new one if I want better performance.

    You can’t even buy an iMac with a regular graphics card these days, they all use the “Mobility” level graphics cards, in other words, an iMac is just a big laptop that you can’t fold up and take with you.

    They’re basing their entire business model on selling their products to members of the public who are generally ignorant of technology and to students who easily bow to peer pressure.

    By all accounts, Steve Jobs was kind of a dick, but without someone central being a monumental pain in the ass, they’re not going to be doing anything that any other PC manufacturer isn’t already doing and as soon as people start realizing this, their stock price is going to collapse.

  8. Rodney Nelson says

    I had an Apple IIe in the 1980s. I liked it and used it for years until it was so obsolete I couldn’t get software for it from the used software bins.

  9. kyoseki says

    Both are similar to other surveys I’ve seen over the years. Also, I’d never describe as rough with expensive, delicate, technology but…

    Yeah, the joys of working in the visual fx industry 🙂

    Oh and you wouldn’t believe the holy wars people here get into over which 3d software is best when usually it’s just a case of them all sucking in different ways. Hardware is the same, which is why I don’t get fanboyism in general.

    Which brings me to my next point, it isn’t the quality or even the cost of Apple products that really annoys me, it’s the generally intolerable smugness of the hardcore fanboys out there that drives me nuts. That, combined with this general kind of deification by the media fueled by bias & general ignorance and some pretty savvy marketing that helps drive these high prices.

    Apple is held to a much higher standard than other tech companies from a financial standpoint and I think another few stumbles with mediocre products that don’t do anything revolutionary and people will start to see that the emperor’s new clothes are a bit fishy.

    I will say though, that Keynote remains an almost unique high in my Mac experience. I had to give a speech at SIGGRAPH a few years ago and it worked flawlessly and was a pleasure to work with. It’s the only reason I’m even considering spending the $300 or so to repair my Macbook Pro, since with a luck, I’ll be giving a couple more next year 🙂

  10. Rob says

    Yeah fanboys of whatever flavour are pretty intolerable. A few minutes ago I was reading a forum discussing the latest iPhone. There were several comments about screen size and whether it was too small for many men and better suited to women. Differing views all over the place. Then one clown comes up with the quip that women don’t need smartphones in the kitchen. Maybe it was said with a sense of irony, but sadly I doubt it given the frequent comments of that nature.

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