Follow the money (or not)

it’s odd to me. one of my jobs is in the technology field doing consulting and such. so, i feel that i have a pretty good idea how things like computers work. at least, i know enough to make them work when they are bad. at least until things get really, really complicated.

Imagine my surprise then when not one, but both, of my primary computers, my g5 tower and my powerbook, decided to take a dump in the same week. i know, i was as amazed as you are. these are apple computers after all. known for their quality and reliability. or so i thought up to this week.

i think something is going wrong with apple computer. no, not that they basically abandoned all of their “64 bit computing is the bomb” hype they have been spinning for the last few years to make us not feel the pinch of the speed gap with pentium chips. no, i’m talking about a simple thing like quality control.

in the good old days, around the time right before the first iMacs and the return of iSteve, apple computers could be counted on to be well-built and last a long time. but, for the last few years, i have seen the number of problems with various apple products increase quite a bit. my own machines have also been affected.

i had one of the first white iBooks and it had to have the motherboard and video assembly replaced. then, i had a bad video card in my G5 tower and it had to be replaced. now, the G5 has a bad power supply and also has some odd freezing issues (when it will turn on at all) and it needs to be fixed again.

and, my powerbook is also starting to show signs of a bad video cable with wavy lines appearing on the screen when the screen is at certain angles. and its not just me. i haven’t done the math but a rough guess would put the number of hardware problems at about 20% at least for my mac-based clients. everything from bad power supplies, melted capacitors, bad motherboards (or mid-planes as the call them sometimes), dead hard drives and a host of other issues that never cropped up with this kind of frequency a few years ago.

i know, as things get more complicated they tend to have a greater chance of something going wrong. and, as apple sells more computers, the number of people reporting problems is also going to rise. i worry about all of this because i see a pattern. the once great company seems to be heading down the road where it must sacrifice one of the things that made it great in order to appease the bottom line.

apple has never been the company for everyone. they are a niche player either by accident or by design. and of course, market factors are also a consideration. i just hope that in the pursuit of dollars and expanding market share that they don’t loose sight of what made the company “insanely great”. they need to remember to “think different”. (i just wanted to see how many slogans i could get in one paragraph).

money is great. we all love money because we can buy shiny things and pay the rent. but in the end, all we really have is who we are and what we do. people and companies alike are defined by it. apple needs to remember where it came from and who it is before it does something really stupid like switch to intel processors or something.

actually, that might turn out to be a good idea. if ibm can’t deliver then they needed to get the boot. i kind of wish that apple had turned to amd instead of intel. you know, one underdog to another. i guess it would be no big thing to make another switch to amd if intel can’t do what iSteve needs it to do.

i can see the future and its a shiny silver box powered by quad pentium 5 processors running osx 11. maybe that’s when the machines will realize that we humans were the problem all along and deal with us accordingly. it could happen. or maybe i saw that in a movie once. either way, it looks to be an interesting next few years in the tech world.

in other news, while in Vegas over the weekend we ran into that kid from “home alone” and the dark haired girl from “that seventies show” at the Mandalay Bay while playing blackjack. you would think that after all those movies and several years on a hit tv show they would have been at a higher limit table. i guess they like their money too. as in, they like it where it is. in their pockets. we could all learn a lesson from that.

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