Promised much, delivered a bit of it…. Where did it go wrong, Mistress Mac? Was it your huge screen that wasn’t really, pin-sharp graphics that seemed to blur the more I looked at them, ever-so-unexpected crashes when you promised you wouldn’t, wilful absence of a delete key or my shock at realising just how much the rest of the world hated you as well?
You were gorgeous though, even if far, far heavier than you should be. It’s been a while (over 15 years) since I flirted with your sort. I’d expected the operating system to have changed. But not always for the better, huh? The dock is clever, but how am I really supposed to use stacks? Why do some applications produce a lurking icon that’s-sort-of-like-a-disc that I have to ‘eject’ (but others don’t)? You Macfans are grinning here, thinking, Windowsdinosaurboy, you have to accept some things Are. Just. Different.
Of course I do, but I had such high expectations… Expectations like the not-crashing thing. Oh dear. Three on day one, two on day two, the most spectacular finishing with a jump-jet take-off noise and the fan hitting a coloratura E flat before I strangled the power off.
I’m not a jealous man, far from it; in fact your failure to talk to other devices when I actually wanted you to was just plain embarrassing. The one feature that would have meant I could live (sort of) within a native Mac environment would have been PDA synchronisation. Business critical this one. Can it be done? No.
This was the surreal bit where I picked below the gloss and found myself back in 1987 groping around for bits of shareware and half-baked garage apps from A Bloke In Wisconsin who swears he’s finally cracked how to get Lynx or Lion or whatever to speak in code to Windows Mobile. But not Leopard, yet, oh no, we haven’t got the, erm, sorted, the, er, we’re waiting for more info from Apple, mutter… shuffle… refund.
One bit of freeware actually managed to get my PDA contacts into the Mac address book – all but one of them, anyway. Unfortunately it was supposed to do iCal as well, but could only cope with going in one direction (and that wasn’t the device-to-Mac route which might even have satisfied me as a back-up).
Apple themselves. Flawed Geniuses. That shop/zoo/theme-park in Regent St. ‘Nuff said. Having beaten a way through the spotty backpackers to find similar-breed-but-in-black-T-shirt, I asked what seemed to me simple questions. “This is what I need…” “Will this work with this?” “And this software I think too, and it all has to work together or I’ll bring it back: how wonderful that you give me 14 days to get it right, at no risk.”
“What do you mean, not the software? It’s the whole set-up I need to check out. Oh, ok, yeah, sure I understand, you trust me, but not completely. Yeah, that’s fine. Tell you what I’ll buy the software then, get free trial versions if I can to test it all out, but if it’s good then I’ll open my shrink wraps and I won’t have to come back to the zoo again.”
At which point I asked for some pornography.
Well, you’d think I had judging by the look on the face of my Genius. What I’d actually said was “Ok, so can I also buy a copy of Windows then so I can install that if Parallels seems to be working out?”. No. I cannot get that here. I cannot buy porn here, I cannot buy narcotics Class A, B nor C here, I cannot buy an Olympic-size swimming pool here, and I most certainly cannot buy a copy of the most popular operating system in the world from here. It’s a computer shop for heaven’s sake. What was I thinking?
C’mon guys – the war is over. You have your market, Bill has his. You’re fashionable, he’s functional. You Aren’t Really In Competition With Each Other. Move on. Sell his software. Take a margin on it. Don’t be so proud. Perhaps even think about licensing some of your own stuff? Sell those little white apple stickers as well and let your wannabee designer/musician/artist types use it to cover up the letters “IBM” on their £400 laptop that is just as quick, just as useful, oh and about half the weight… (ranting aside, I’m rational, I know PCs are cheaper and just as quick, but I still came into your shop. Repeat: you are not in competition).
And some other little tips for Apple if they’re remotely serious about having anything called customer-centric strategy. Sticking a little plug-in to Safari to play the most common embedded media files wouldn’t really be that hard would it? I’m even prepared to wait for a ported iPlayer if that’s a better way overall for the BBC to spend my licence fee. But to get “Game Over” when trying to watch a tiny video clip on the BBC News site? Purrrr-lease.
Put the delete key in. Just above backspace, where that rather less useful Eject button lives at the moment. Just there.
Buy Missing Sync or PocketMac Pro. Make one of them work. Make a fortune out of a robust PDA-to-Mac product. Or just put it into the operating system.
(I’ll probably get another one before very long though. Let’s see if there’s anything behind this new MacBook Pro launch rumour first…)