Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 6.10
October 2000


How To



Download ATPM 6.10

Choose a format:

Apple Cider: Random Squeezings From a Mac User

by Tom Iovino,

You Have Arrived

Relaxing on the vast sun-drenched expanses of white sand on my very own private Caribbean island. My lavishly appointed private jet whisking my wife and me to a quick romantic dinner in Paris. A fully decked-out woodworking shop that would make Norm Abram stop and take notice.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times these fantasy images have danced in my mind as I stood in line at the local convenience store, lottery entry in hand. You see, while my wife and I are able to pay most of our bills in a timely manner, we are by no means swimming in cash. And it always seems that, when we have saved up enough money to do something a little decadent such as take a vacation, some essential home device will decide to go on the fritz and need to be replaced. Our latest household financial catastrophe involved a severe thunderstorm and a very close stroke of lightning that fried about half of our household electronics. Can anyone say “New TV”?

Author’s Note: Just a little off track here, but remember that lightning and electronics don’t mix. I had to learn this lesson first hand. I guess this is the price of living in the lightning capital of the world. Either invest in a very powerful surge protector for your entire home or unplug everything when you hear the first rumble of thunder. ’Nuff said.

Hey, at least we can dream. And, when that Florida Lottery jackpot gets to be about $20 million, I sit up and take notice. Once I have that ticket in my hand, my thoughts turn to how I will let the world know that I’ve attained millionaire status.

I guess that must be a common reaction for people who have achieved success.

It seems that the urge to show everyone that they have ‘arrived’ is a strong desire.

But, how would you know that a company is successful? Sure, you could sift through a mountain of financial disclosures to see what the company’s bottom line is. But, the easiest way to determine if a company has achieved success is to gauge the response of the public.

One glance at Apple Computer’s fortunes will prove my statement.

Who among us Apple boosters can forget when our beloved company teetered on the brink of ruin? Ahhh, those were heady days when we were ridiculed for choosing the Betamax of the computer industry and told to pray for Apple’s future.

True, being under siege really sucks, but it does have one benefit: everyone pulls together as a team. After all, when you’re attacked from all sides, it’s great to have someone watching your back. At least that’s what I learned from watching Men In Black a dozen or so times.

Fortunately for us Mac Faithful, Apple finally got smart. New products such as the iMac and iBook reignited consumer interest in the Mac. New chips like the G3 and G4 helped Apple maintain its technological advantage when compared to Wintel boxes. New emphasis on producing these products on time and in quantity has renewed consumer confidence in the product line and the company—at least it had until Apple's recent sliding stock price.

The real way we know that Apple has arrived has nothing to do with market share, product offerings, or consumer confidence. No, it has to do with the amount of flak the company receives for its decisions.

Sure, back in the bad old days, there was plenty of flak to go around. Apple supporters and detractors alike roundly criticized decisions made by Spindler, Sculley, and Amelio. But a trip to an event such as Macworld Expo was more of a church revival than an industry event. Mac evangelists would speak, exhorting the throngs to keep the faith that a new day was about to dawn for Apple. Company officers took the role of preachers reassuring the congregation that, with hard work, faith, and determination, they would make the difference in the company’s future. Very little on-floor criticism or protest was seen because, hey, everyone was pulling for the very survival of Apple.

Oh, but things have changed.

At the September Apple Expo in Paris, a group of disgruntled British Mac users were planning a protest. Their complaints seemed to gear around three main points:

  1. Apple’s general treatment of its fans/customers and in specific its legal strong arm tactics against various Web sites and individuals.
  2. Apple’s treatment of its European customers and in specific its UK customers. For example, the canceling of the UK Expo on numerous occasions, and the canceling of localized versions of the OS.
  3. Apple’s growing arrogance and its failure to recognize the loyalty of its most loyal users who stuck by the company through the dark years.

The protest was supposed to involve a person standing and reading a prepared statement during Steve Jobs’s keynote address. If this person were removed from the room, others in this group would stand and continue reading until the statement was completed.

My take on this whole mess is that these complaints that have been put forth are the very reason Apple has managed to survive and thrive.

First off, Apple has traditionally been seen as the R&D arm for the computing industry for years. Great technology and user-friendly designs developed by Apple have frequently found their way into other products offered by other companies—often without any repayment to Apple. Finally, Steve Jobs is getting territorial and requiring consumers to come to Apple if they want the latest and greatest. That translates into more consumer sales and a swelling market share, ensuring that Apple will be around for years to come.

This group’s second point is another puzzler. Why should Apple support numerous Expos around the world? Will UK users be less inclined to buy Apple if they don’t have a trade show within their borders? I have never been to an Apple Expo, and I’m about as rabid a Mac fan there is. And, what’s up with the whole localized version issue? When last I checked, Britons and Americans both speak English—even though there are a few differences in word selections and spellings. If I were immediately transported to London, I’d have a heck of a lot easier time finding my way than if I’d been transported to Sri Lanka. Holding a BA in English Literature and Language, I’ve had to suffer with British spellings of words such as valour, colour and cheque. Somehow, I’ve always managed to survive—and even understand the meaning of what was being communicated.

Finally, I have to wonder where the complaint about Apple mistreating its loyal customers originates. I have often thought it would be great for Apple to offer loyalty discounts on new purchases, but I have never felt mistreated.

In fact, it is important to remember this one basic fact when it comes to understanding my point of view:

Apple is not a charity.

It is a business.

Apple has a responsibility to make money for its shareholders and plan for sustainable growth to survive for years to come. As far as customer appreciation, I feel appreciated when Apple comes out with the latest incarnation of the popular iMac or the latest operating system. I feel repaid for my loyalty when I know that the iMac I bought last year will continue to serve me for a while.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a huge advocate for people speaking their minds. I’ve even gone forth boldly enough to speak out against the iMac when it was first released. That kind of conversation serves as the impetus for change and improvement.

But when it comes to whining, I hope I’m able to win big in the lottery and escape to my deserted tropical island so I won’t have to hear it.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (2)

Elliot Jordan · October 8, 2000 - 01:01 EST #1
Great article!
Tom Iovino (ATPM Staff) · October 8, 2000 - 01:01 EST #2
Hey, thanks. It's good to see people are reading my articles! I hope that the check my wife sent you clears in time ;-)

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article