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A Third Strike for Apple

January 02, 2004

Let’s review:

  • I bought my G3 iBook in September. My first Mac purchase ever.
  • One week after, Panther’s release date was announced. I’m still on Jaguar.
  • Two weeks after, Apple announced an upgrade to the G3 iBook line: G4s for the same price.
  • Now it’s coming out that the logic board on my particular model is flawed, to the point where there are rumblings about a class action lawsuit.

Apple has an upgrade program that gives users who buy before a certain date a cheap upgrade. I’d have been prefectly happy to pay for one, but I bought a week and a bit before the cutoff date. I called. It was recommended I submit a letter. I submitted. It was denied. I called again. Sorry, no chance.

Given the above list, the least I’d expect is Apple throwing me a coupon or a gift certificate or an OS upgrade or something. Apple is famous for poor customer service/appreciation, but I think this is crossing the line. I’m not a happy customer.

Listen, I know all this sounds like sour grapes. But I really want to like Apple. The operating system is excellent, the products are insanely well-designed, and the subversive anti-Microsoft sentiment is fun. They’re just making it really hard for this first-time buyer to stay enthused.

I’ll most likely be buying again in the near future and selling this iBook, since my needs have changed and it’s not nearly powerful enough for what I need to do with it. The choices on the table are a 15” PowerBook (which, rumour has it, features an ugly spotted screen in some cases) and a cheaper Windows machine that will run circles around the PowerBook, performance-wise, and cost at least a thousand dollars less.

It’s not looking good for Apple at the moment.

Reader Comments

January 02, 01h

I don’t have the personal experience to refute the charge that Apple has poor customer service, but there are exceptions to that.

In fact, I know somebody who emailed the big man, Steve Jobs himself, about a gripe he had. Within a week this friend received a call from somebody very high up (president, vice president…) within the division in question, who said that he’d been asked by Steve to discuss my friend’s concerns.

Seems that may be the exception rather than the rule, though, unfortunately.

eric says:
January 02, 01h

From my experience with Apple, if you go to one of their stores and talk with a tech about your problems they might actually be able to help or at least point you in the right direction. They all seem to know people up higher and can give you a reference number to use when you talk farther up the ladder.

However, I’ve had similar things happen. Last March I bought a second generation 10g iPod, and a month later the new third gen pods came out. Yes, I was a little pissed - I could have saved $100 and gotten a newer model, or paid the same price and gotten double the storage, but the thing was that either way it was worth it.

Six months later I dropped $800 on a refurbished 700mhz G3 iBook, only to have the G4 ‘books announced the next month. I even paid for Panther. But I still saved money, and it was basically my ‘intro’ to the mac os. When a G5 powerbook comes out I’ll probably eventually break down and buy one. I really like how apple works, and while it’s more expensive, I personally feel that it’s worth the expense, just like an Audi would make more sense in terms of a nice, performance car than a VW.

eric says:
January 02, 01h

Oh - one more thing. About the logic board - if you bought your iBook in October or whenever right before the G4 announcement, you’ve got ‘iBook’ written on the screen in a sans-serif font, right? As far as I understand, the logic-board error applies only to the older ‘2001’ iBooks - the one I own and I presume you own is a 2002 model and doesn’t seem to suffer the same problem.

I might just be blowing smoke here and there, though.

Haze says:
January 02, 02h

the difference between a happy i-will-buy-from-apple-again customer and a disgruntle i’m-still-going-to-buy-from-apple-again customer is that … wait… there is no difference. LOL! sorry dave, not to make plight of your situation, but apple just doesnt care. so long as you continue to buy stuff from them, theyre not going to pay attention. being a mac user myself, i feel for you.

Brendyn says:
January 02, 02h

I enjoy mac products, but my iBook has crapped out on me going on 3 times now. The power cord has broken twice, the power supply inside the computer has broken once, and the screen has broken once as well. I have to call and get it replaced before my 1 year is up. It’s frustrating because I don’t want to have to keep sending it back to get fixed. So I feel your pain.

Alex says:
January 02, 03h

First off, I would like to say that I am a total Mac geek. I love ‘em. Some of my opinions may be a little altered by this view.

Alright, so let me try to sort out what you are saying… You bought a seemingly nice computer, only to watch in dismay as Apple released a bunch of deals + upgrades that you could’ve gotten. Am I right? It seems that this is not Apples fault for any of these things. It is simply chance. You happened to buy at the wrong time. You did. It’s more your fault than Apple’s.

After that is said, I would like to make a point that I have believed in for a long time. I have a four year old laptop, and It works great! I have had no trouble with it what so ever. It is a very old G3. What is the problem with having an old computer? Nothing. They work great. Get ‘em hooked up on the internet and your good to go. Sure, you may not be able to get the latest software upgrades, but like Tom said, keep it as “a road machine”.

Personally, I really don’t care that I can’t get all the newest programs. I’m not professional though. Maybe you have needs that I don’t have. I can produce pretty high quality stuff with the some what outdated software I have currently.

Ta ta!

Gabriel says:
January 02, 03h

Dave, I too know how you feel. I bought a 12” PowerBook at the end of summer just to have Apple upgrade a month or two after. Now I can’t really say much about their costumer service since I haven’t had any big issues; however, the people at the university store have always been helpful.

Having said that, I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is just how things are. Electronics move at such a fast pace that we can’t try to keep up all the time.

So what if Apple upgraded their lineup just after you bought your iBook. The computer you have hasn’t just lost all it’s value, it’s still the same computer. For example, I just bought a cell phone not long ago just to have Fido upgrade it’s low-end phone to a new Sony-Ericsson with Bluetooth and a color screen for the exact same price as mine (no Bluetooth or color screen). Now would anyone consider contacting Fido and asking for an upgrade, no. Granted a laptop seems move expensive but considering its uses both are worth about the same, correct?

I think everyone tends to to share horror stories more often then they do happy ones and this can lead one to believe things are worse then they actually are. Of all the people I know personally, all the Mac users are more then happy with their machines and nobody has ever had a single issue. I guess we’re just lucky though.

Now just to give my two cents on the price-value issue. First of all, I think everyone is entitled to their opinion and if you believe that an x86 laptop is better value I won’t really try to force my views onto you. What I will do is share my experience and let you decide for yourself.

I know that it’s cheaper to build a system yourself but the same is not true for a laptop. You can get a 12” PB for $1,999 (Canadian w/ student discounts) and in my opinion this is worth every cent. I’m not going to waste everyone’s time going into details about this issue as everyone’s situation and needs are different but if you’d like to discuss it personally I’ll be happy to abide.

Baldwin says:
January 02, 05h

Most people realize that, near the end of the year, the next year’s car models are announced. Every manufacturer has a slightly different schedule, and research (including web forums, asking the salespeople, etc.) will reveal a lot.

So if you buy a car in September, you might realize you’re purchasing something that will momentarily be replaced by something newer.

You know this because you know about the automobile industry.

If you’ve chosen to purchase a computer, it would only make sense to research that industry - and your chosen manufacturer - before making your purchase.

Tommy H. says:
January 02, 09h

Panther was announced and previewed in June ( ) so it’s not as if it came out of the blue when it finally hit store shelves. Rumour sites reported that the iBooks were due for an upgrade a couple of months before the new models appeared. You probably don’t have any rumour sites in your bookmarks given that this is your first Mac, but you should get some and check them often. Here’s a few to get you started:

There has to be a cut off point some time, and you can’t know which side you’ll be on. There will always be new models which are faster and cheaper than the one you just bought. That’s the ways things work in a consumer driven society.

If your iBook develops a fault within 12 months Apple must repair or replace it (at least under UK consumer law.) And if you buy the AppleCare package within your first 12 months of ownership Apple will have to repair your iBook if it develops a fault for a further 24 months. Yes, faults are frustrating, but no manufacturer is immune.

Most PC laptops can probably run circles around iBooks and are often cheaper. But a great computer isn’t about just hardware or just software, it’s a balance between the two.

The good part of this experience is that you’ll know what to do next time… keep your finger on the pulse if you want the best buy.

Anyway, I hope your next Mac experience is a more enjoyable one. ;)

Dris says:
January 02, 10h

I’ve had my own struggles with Apple’s customer service in the past, but it’s usually been solved.

For example, a few months ago, I was having some problems with my Airport Base Station. I called up Apple, but was informed that because I didn’t purchase a (very expensive) support membership, I simply wouldn’t receive any advice. The whole membership thing kinda gets me fumed, but I digress.

The next day, I issued a very angry protest with some people over the customer service line. Eventually, I got transferred to a woman in public relations. A few protests of the support I’d received coupled with reiterations of the products I’d bought and support I’d given the company over the years, and I was given the advice I needed. On top of that, I’d be getting my iPod repaired at warranty cost, though I was told it was out of warranty.

Usually complaining loudly has worked for me (and others) when it came to Apple. Sorry to hear about your struggles with their customer service. Definitely not the way a company should represent itself to a new customer.

January 02, 10h

Sounds like you chose to buy at just the wrong time! I’m a new Apple owner as well, just bought an eMac and a 12” Powerbook and couldn’t be more pleased. Both came with Panther preinstalled, etc. But if they didn’t I really wouldn’t be mad at Apple for it. I mean if you bought a 2003 Lexus a week before the 2004 model comes out, they’re not going to “upgrade” your purchase to the new model for free… and I seriously doubt Dell or HP or anyone else would do that either. It just seems to be expected of Apple since they are more model-based. Like with HP you never really think “Hm, I really want an HP 6300x” or whatever the model number is. You think, “Hm, I want this P4 3ghz processor and this 120gb hard drive, so I’ll go with this model. But with Apple it’s more like, “I want model X”. So when they upgrade something the next week people seem to get upset. If HP came out with a 3.2ghz model the next week for the same price, no one would even notice. Seems silly to go with a sub-standard OS and computing experience (Windows) just because Apple didn’t upgrade all of your purchases for free.

Tom R. says:
January 02, 10h

I’m sympathetic to your story, but consider the following:

1. The best times to purchase Apple hardware are always right after the Expos (July and January). That is when speed bumps and new models usually come out, so buying in September is a bit of a risk. Now, would I expect a first-timer to know this? Probably not. But in the future, you should always try to time your purchases around new hardware announcements. My personal strategy is to always buy the most recently announced bottom-of-the-line product. So, for instance, as soon as they announced the bottom-of-the-line 12 inch Powerbook, I placed my order. That way, you always get a new model at a great price and you don’t take such a big depreciation hit.

2. As for Apple customer service, there are always good and bad stories about every company’s customer service, but Apple generally ranks very high in this department. They rank very high in quality control as well. Your particular case is unfortunate, but it’s definitely not the norm. That said, I never buy extended warrantees for any products *except* laptops. Laptop manufacturing is such an exacting process these days that a mistake of 1mm in production can mess a lot of stuff up. If you lay a laptop down the wrong way, something can bust loose. Not just Apple… any laptop. Always buy the Applecare warrantee.

3. As for buying a PC laptop for 1000 dollars less which will run circles around a Powerbook, show me this laptop. The 15 inch Powerbook is $2000. Any PC laptop for $1000 is going to be more or less, a piece of crap. And for $2000, you can get a nice Sony which will perform very well, but considering all the crap you have to deal with on Windows XP, you could hardly say it “runs circles around the Powerbook”.

My advice is to either keep your iBook as a “road machine”, or sell it on eBay. Then get yourself a 12 inch or 15 inch Powerbook right after this month’s Expo. You are a professional and the iBook is not really ideal for the professional market.

MJH says:
January 02, 11h

It seems silly to have such a problem with a company and then go back to them so immediately.

Let’s sum it up:
bad product (logic board or spotty screen things)
bad customer service
more expensive

I’ll keep playing around with our eMac here in work, but I doubt I’ll ever switch myself.

Dave S. says:
January 02, 11h

Oh no. What have I done? Please, no OS sparring.

“The 15 inch Powerbook is $2000. Any PC laptop for $1000 is going to be more or less, a piece of crap.”

Let’s step outside the U.S. for just a second. The 15” model I’d need runs $3,699CDN before tax, just over 4 grand after. Even the high end Sonys are more than a thousand dollars cheaper up here.

ceejayoz says:
January 02, 11h

Say you bought 10 days before the cutoff date, and Apple is generous and says “okay, we’ll let you upgrade”.

Now everyone who bought it 11 days before wants an upgrade.

They have to set a cutoff date, and they have to stick to it. Some people are gonna be in the sucky position of being a day before it… but Apple just doesn’t have another option.

January 02, 11h

MJH, Dave hasn’t had a problem with his actual iBook as far as I can tell, so there is no reason to say it is a defective product in his case until something actually happens to his machine. Unless I misread and he had actually had trouble with his machine, and was not just mentioning the possible law suit.

I’ve had some bad customer support from Dell and Compaq as well, that doesn’t mean everyone in the world does though. It really just depends on who you end up talking to that day, for any company.

Sounds like they are more expensive up in Canada though…

MJH says:
January 02, 11h

Ha, I just spent the past couple minutes trying to build comparable systems (unsuccessfully, btw), and it never dawned on me you are in Canada.

Derek - My opinions on Mac and Windows put aside, if its gonna be a possible class-action lawsuit, I would call that grounds for a bad product. Or at least that piece of the product.

I happen to like the eMac in work. Good operating system, good design. Good test machine.

Just curious - Tom mentioned to always buy the Applecare warranty. What warranty does apple give without that? In other words, whats the standard warranty from Apple?

matthew says:
January 02, 11h

A friend got a new 15” powerbook a couple weeks ago, and we compaired to it another friend’s powerbook which was bought as soon as they came out. The screen actually looks different when you put some pressure on it.

Since the white spots were caused (I think) by the screen’s supports, I would venture to guess that the problem has been fixxed.

Even, if it isn’t, Apple was replacing powerbooks that developed the white spots with no other questions asked.

amsterdam says:
January 02, 11h

Just read your apple story. I bought a G3 couple of years ago. I couldn’t do what I wanted…I had to buy an external cd burner…could find the audio cards I needed, not for under $500 at least. Anyway, I had been an apple person for years. My first computer was my dad’s Mac Plus and I had worked with just about every model after that, but I ended up selling the G3 and went to the darkside: Microsoft. Built my own box., because it was cheap and I could all the audio work I needed. Now I’ve turned that original MS box into a linux server. I experimented with a mini-itx system, but I didn’t like that. So, I decided to try Apple again. I had some money, so I bought a 15” G4 powerbook in Novemener. I got the educational discount so it was a pretty good deal, and I also did get the protection plan for the same reason Tom R. mentioned.
I’m very happy with the powerbook…but I wasn’t happy with my first G3. So I’m 1 for 1, and I’m also 1 for 1 with my XP box experiments.
I’m sorry that your apple experience was so bad. I had thought they were trying to really boost their image and from what I gather it was working, but there are still the unfortunate cases like yours.
To each his/her own. As far as the OS sparring goes, I have one of each XP, Linux, Apple. But I’m using the Apple the most. The reason I went back to apple, incidentally, is beacuse of all the native Unix code…and since I’m a bit of a unix geek, that was a big sell for me….it just depends on what you want.

TaxMan says:
January 02, 11h

Two things –

1.By my calculations, a $2000 (US) 15” Powerbook would be $2575.40 in Canadian dollars. If you guys are getting the shaft up there on prices, why not driving an hour southward to the border and buy it there? If you can show you’re not from Washington, or Montana, or wherever you might drive to, you will pay no tax on it at the store.

2.Who pays taxes on computers anymore? Order it online from anyone except Apple, and you pay no tax.

kjell olsen says:
January 02, 11h

I am also sympathetic, and was in somewhat of the same boat as you a few years back when I bought a shiny new iMac G3 600mhz. Just weeks later in september, apple unveiled it’s charming new beautiful G4 iMac. I was stunned, and disappointed, and as much as I wish I could have doubled back and returned my iMac for the iMac, I knew I couldn’t. But the fact of the matter is I bought my computer to fufill my needs. If going into the purchasing process you knew that you needed a G4 processor, why didn’t you get a powerbook? I’m sure that a lot of thinking went into your decision and you settled on an iBook for a reason.
And about panther, says that if you bought a qualifying mac system (mainly meaning that you can’t buy a used G4 tower off ebay and claim free upgrade) on or after October 8, 2003, you are given the opportunity to upgrade to panther for the price of $19.95 US. If you did in fact purchase your iBook after 10/8, just go to the above site and download the application pdf and mail it in! Otherwise you are in much the same situation, and you just got unlucky because apple had new products in the pipeline that were released at a time inconvenient to you.
And about the faulty logic board problem - are you experiencing any problems with your display or video output? Becuase if you aren’t, and your iBook is working just fine, then just dont worry about it! Here’s a site that claims to have the lowdown on the problem, look into it, but don’t get too worried - I have an iPod, and a few weeks back some dummies went around complaining that their iPod’s battery died and it’s impossible to replace, but the fact is they were dead wrong. A battery never lasts forever, and probably will run out at some point. But when taken care of, the iPod battery lasts just fine. My friend has the original iPod - 5Gb, weighs about a pound, and it still works great and has more battery life then my third generation 15Gb. Just read this - .
I just wanted to tell you that your previous posts about the iBook (one you were amazed with it’s technical abiilities, and one you were enamored that you could work next to the fire on a beautiful machine all wirelessly) reminded me of using my computer, which has lasted, been taken care of by apple whenever a problem came up, and very much served my needs, if at a slower pace then the G4 iMac I could have had if I had just waited.

John says:
January 02, 11h

A related story at the Register..

Old marketing saying …
“Never an early adopter be” … unless you are time poor and cash rich enough to simply move on to the next glittering product or update.

Hope it all gets better sooner than later


January 02, 12h

Dave, I really feel for you hear. I totally see where you are coming from.

It was not more than a few days ago when my long time best friend asked me for advice on a computer purchase. In specific: a Mac or Dell laptop. We went to the Mac store that recently opened here in Portland, and then we went to the Dell Direct store.

Both sales people had valid points. Both systems had their benefits and weaknesses. When it came down to the U.S Dollar (I have no idea what they charge in Canada for these things), it was pretty clear that you got more bang for your buck going with the Dell laptop. The only thing that came within my friend’s price range was an iBook, but he really needed the performance of a Powerbook.

Add to the fact that this friend is a student. Even with the Mac student discount the price for performance was still favoring the Dell laptop. A lot of people say that PCs break down ‘more frequently’ (yes, Macs break down too) but I have yet to see any significant issues with Dell desktops and laptops.

I too would love to purchase a Mac, I love the design (both visually and technically), I love the UI, the performance of the Powerbook and the tools it comes with. But you know, people wouldn’t buy a Lexus if it was priced like a Ferrari.

A Mac may be a Lexus of the computer industry, but it is over priced. Now, a Dell may not be a Ferrari, but at lest it’s priced reasonably.

vlad says:
January 02, 12h

“…a cheaper Windows machine that will run circles around the PowerBook, performance-wise, and cost at least a thousand dollars less.”

the windows machine will definitely be cheaper, but unless you’re using it to play games, it will /not/ run circles around a powerbook.

price and performance are important factors, but you mustn’t forget ease of use, product design, etc. i’ve found powerbooks better designed and sturdier-feeling than comparable notebooks from sony or something. you can’t say that what the hardware looks like doesn’t matter, we’re designers after all ;).

if i were in the market for a new notebook right now (which i’m not, i bought one last year), the factor that would tip the scale for me is this: would i rather use windows xp or panther?

Dave S. says:
January 02, 12h

“but you mustn’t forget ease of use…”

Usability is 9/10ths familiarity. For the time being, I’m still far faster on XP than on OS X because I’ve been using Windows for a decade.

Mainly what I’m reading here is that a) I should have waited before buying, and b) I shouldn’t complain about the rules. Fair enough, but surely you can see how the overall experience dissuades me from buying Apple next time around? This is what I’m getting at. Poor service of existing customers reduces chances of them being repeat customers.

January 03, 02h

It sucks, but as everyone else has pointed out, crap happens. Apple is no different in this respect than any other manufacturer.

If you still want a Mac around, maybe you *should* go portable with Windows and stick an eMac on your desk. It’s a touch cheaper than the iBook - you could get a PC laptop and an eMac for the cost of a PowerBook.

jgraham says:
January 03, 03h

> If you buy a Dell laptop just prior to the release of Longhorn

You mean they’re actually planning to /release/ longhorn eventually…

Which is, at a certian extent, I suppose, the point. Microsoft doesn’t realese new operating systems more frequently than once every three years, and sometimes rather less often than that. In the interim, they release service packs which could be considered point upgrades. Apple, on the other hand, releases a vew version every year, and expects people to pay up one year in two (I think?), helpfully encouraging them by not making new products compatible with the old system. You can decide for yourself which is the better deal.

For the record, the “cheap” UK 15” Powerbook is £1,600 (i.e $2400 or so US) and the model with the superdrive is £2000 or about $3000 - so these things are 50% more expensive or so in the UK than in the US. Also, I own a (three or so year old) Dell laptop, and I really wouldn’t recommend one to anyone. The power saving features have never worked consistently (even when I used Windows), the battery is under 2 hours, the lettering on the keyboards is coming off and sometimes rows of keys stop working properly. Apparentley, this latter problem is quite well known - the “solution” is to press down hard on the keyboard. It also makes a noise like a 747 taking off*. Were it not for the hefty price, I would quite happily replace it with a powerbook, although I can’t help but wonder if I would end up with a Power PC Linux distribution on there, so that I could be assured of free operating system upgrades.

*Well not quite like a 747, but you can’t have it on and try to do anything that requires quiet.

Jim says:
January 03, 03h

> The only “surprise” was that the new version of Safari would not be back-ported to Jaguar

That surprise is exactly what pisses me off. Safari is probably the most important browser to test in on the Mac. Its market share is increasing rapidly, and the obsolete Safari 1.0 isn’t going to be the version that gets all those new users.

With Longhorn, it’s known *years* in advance that there is a new browser that won’t be back-ported. The same *wasn’t* true of Apple, I had a reasonable expectation that it would be useful for its intended purpose well after I bought it. I don’t care that there’s a faster processor now. I don’t care that there’s a slight upgrade* to the OS available now. I care that the most important application is a dead end until I pay more money to Apple.

* From the amount of hype over Expose, I find it hard to believe that Panther is anything more than a minor version bump. Sorry, but a slight interface change is not what I call revolutionary or worth £100.

January 03, 04h

Dave S.,

I’m pretty sure the Sony you mention isn’t comparable … I’m here in Canada too and the models that I’ve found in that price range have 1024x768 LCDs, slower NVidia graphics card (versus the ATI 9600 Mobile), half the disk space and a battery life of 1.5 hours tops. Yeah, it’s a faster processor, but not when you run it off of a battery. And it uses XP Home which I wouldn’t inflict on someone I hated … so the upgrade to XP Pro would add another CA$300 or so.

As for the OS upgrade costs … yeah, Apple has more upgrades, but it costs me CA$185 for a full installation of the OS, while Microsoft has upgrade installer which will set me back CA$300 while a full installation disk (in case I don’t feel like re-enacting my entire installation history when re-installing the OS) sets me back CA$475. Every upgrade disk from Apple is a full installation disk.

And if you’ve got several computers at home, you can buy a family pack license and have valid licenses for up to 5 computers. However since Apple doesn’t have evil DRM like Microsoft, you aren’t required to enter Proof of Purchase numbers every time you upgrade your computer’s hardware.

And my luck with Dell is far worse than your history with Apple …

Mike says:
January 03, 06h

Fwiw - We had to buy a new machine for our group and decided to go with a Dell laptop. That was one and a half years ago - the machine has been so good that I dove in and bought another for me.

I’m not sure what your needs are (we do standards based web design), but I’ve got a fully set-up apache server with all of the software I need on my machine - that way I can develop locally or on the team’s dev server. I run many programs at once (grphx, css, html editors, browsers) and have never had a problem with my p4 (that at only 1.7 gigs, 512 ddr).

Bottom line, I was an apple freak in university, still am, but *economics* dictate our work decisions (btw-all machines bought in Canada, at least a year ago). We’ve had zero down time, and I’m never left there waiting for my computer (I only wish I was that good!). I’d love a pearl-white latest-and-greatest apple (and a condo in whistler-creekside…) but my Dell is doing the job quite well.

Web says:
January 03, 06h

Dave, did you try using the line …

” Do you know who I am?? I’m f’n Dave Shea!
Thousands of designers read my site almost daily, they will hear of your incomeptenance Carl … if that is your real name!”

You probally would have gotten somewhere with a line like that. Maybe.

January 03, 08h

James Graham wrote:

“Microsoft doesn’t realese new operating systems more frequently than once every three years, and sometimes rather less often than that. In the interim, they release service packs which could be considered point upgrades. Apple, on the other hand, releases a vew version every year”

Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. (Does anyone remember Copland?)

For better or worse, Apple has been releasing annual upgrades to OSX (10.1 was, IIRC, free; 10.2 and 10.3 were paid upgrades). Each constituted a *significant* improvement, both in performance and in new features over its predecessor.

I don’t think they should have to apologize for their tight development schedule.

As to Service Packs, over the space of the year, Jaguar went from 10.2.0 to 10.2.8, with a few additional Security Updates as well. All these were free and – if you left the checkbox checked (the default) – were automatically downloaded and installed by the Software Update application.

Jim wrote:

“From the amount of hype over Expose, I find it hard to believe that Panther is anything more than a minor version bump. Sorry, but a slight interface change is not what I call revolutionary or worth £100.”

You can’t *both* complain that Panther sported new FrameWorks – making Safari 1.1 not backwards compatible with Jaguar – *and* that it was nothing but a slight interface change.

Of course the latter is simply incorrect:

Totally new
Vastly improved
Fast User Switching
iChat AV
Safari 1.1
gcc 3.3
FreeBSD 5.0
IPv6 (which works, this time!)
X11 (with a very “mac-like” default window-server)

And did I say it was significantly faster? I actually thing it well worth $129 (and the grief I went through

) to upgrade.

But, then, I might feel differently if my primary use of the machine was to preview the occasional web site.

wim says:
January 03, 12h


did you use the PR from your local dealer or did you go straight to the top and tried to squize the service out of HQ?
My advise is to keep it locally, use the force of your supplier (their leverage with HQ is by far better than yours), bring out your charm, swap the ibook for an upgrade and trade with your design skills to upgrade their website.


“Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.”

Good luck!

Jim says:
January 03, 12h

My story is *exactly* the same as Dave’s, except with one difference: I only bought the iBook to test the websites I create in Mac browsers. Now Apple have released a new OS, and a newer version of Safari that won’t work on my OS. I understand that computers are eventually obsoleted, but to find that the laptop I bought is useless for its intended purpose just a matter of weeks after I bought it leaves me thinking very little of Apple.

January 03, 12h

“Now Apple have released a new OS, and a newer version of Safari that won’t work on my OS. I understand that computers are eventually obsoleted, but to find that the laptop I bought is useless for its intended purpose just a matter of weeks after I bought it leaves me thinking very little of Apple.”

Well that’s a rather strange attitude.

The release of Panther was well-known pretty far in advance. It was also pretty well-known that a new version of Safari would be released concurrently. The only “surprise” was that the new version of Safari would not be back-ported to Jaguar (though that, too, was broadly hinted at on the rumour sites).

If you buy a Dell laptop just prior to the release of Longhorn, do you promise to bitch as loudly when they don’t offer you a free upgrade to the new OS and to the new version of IE?

ben says:
January 04, 02h

My feeling is that if you don’t like your Mac, then get a PC. What’s the big deal?

I happen to like mine – and I’ll never buy the cheapo consumer model. But that’s just me. I’m crazy.

January 04, 02h

Here’s how it works (the Gospel According to Bat):

Microsoft is a marketing company. Apple is a technology company that’s trying to become a marketing company. Linux isn’t actually a company, but if it were it would be a technology company that doesn’t want to be a marketing company.

So: customer support, testing, user interface development and so on are Microsoft’s domain, and will remain so. (This is a good thing, since their technology is bad enough that they really need good testing just to keep up!) Bells and whistles are Apple’s and Linux’s domain. Gradually, Apple will improve in their customer service, because it’s a priority for them to do so, but for the moment they’re still in a Californian garage building 80-column hacks for the ][e… damn pretty ones, but never mind that. They’ll get there.

Short form: if you buy the hype, buy a Mac. If you don’t, you get a choice. Anyone who tells you there’s no choice has already bought the hype.

jgraham says:
January 04, 07h

> Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

I was really serious when I said “You can decide for yourself which is the better deal.” Whether you think that getting a new operating system every 3+ years, with a big fanfare and /years/ of hype about it revolutionising computing is better than getting new operating system every year and getting new technology as it is developed, but having to pay for it every year, is really a personal choice. If Apple threw in a couple of point upgrades with every purchase made (like 10.2 buys you 10.3 but you have to buy 10.4), that might be the best of both worlds. But maybe they make less money that way. Maybe the whole situation will improve if a little competion develops in the OS sector. At the moment both MS and Apple are basically free to do what they like since ~100% of hardware purchases in their chosen architecture contain their OS.

January 04, 09h

James Graham wrote:

“If Apple threw in a couple of point upgrades with every purchase made (like 10.2 buys you 10.3 but you have to buy 10.4), that might be the best of both worlds. But maybe they make less money that way.”

Probably the best policy would be an extension to the current UpToDate program: give *every* purchaser of a new machine a hefty discount on the purchase of the next release of the OS, whenever it occurs.

– No more uncertainty (or whining) about having purchased a new machine just before the cutoff date.

– There’s a certain percentage of users who would never think to upgrade the OS that came with their machine. This will get them to purchase that first OS upgrade. Who knows? Maybe they’ll like it so much they’ll pay the full $129 the following year.

Ethan says:
January 05, 06h

For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure the PowerBook’s white spots have been fixed; at least, my screen’s been fine since got it back from AppleCare.

January 05, 07h

Didn’t read the discussion, just the post, but if you are going to go the PC route with your next laptop, I’ve been happy with my Dell 600m. If you are doing a lot of graphic intensive stuff, you may want to get one of the beefier models, but it’s been doing good for my needs.

If you really want to get a good PC laptop, you won’t save quite $1000 over the Apple equivalent, but you will save a pretty penny.

I think either machine will get the job done (in most cases).

Tom says:
January 05, 07h

I think the problem arises with Apple when they don’t actually announce many new products until they go on sale. When I bought my iPod, I looked on about three days later and the new ones were there…I was like ‘Where the HELL did THEY come from?!’.

January 06, 04h


Sorry to hear that your experience was less than ideal. We need people like you in the Mac camp, and it’s a shame you’ve run into problems.

I completely agree with “Web” (Eric Webster) in that mentioning who you are can certainly help out.

About a year or so back, I was having hardware issues with a Mac portable. I called them and, after describing the issues, mentioned that I was a long-time Mac user, that the machine in question was critical to my business, and that I was a frequent contributor to a several well-known Mac-related publications. I did this without indicating that I expected special treatment, just giving them additional information.

They handled the situation very well - perhaps no better than the would have if I hadn’t been semi/demi/pseudo/almost-famous - but perhaps they did treat me better.

What people have said here is true: Timing is everything when you make an Apple purchase, and it’s critical that you do the research ahead of time, as far as product-life-cycles go. Buying something near-term after the Keynote today is a good idea.

MacRumors has an excellent page entitled “Buyers Guide” ( ) which offers a bit of guidance in this regard.

Regarding your other comments:

- There was a short-lived, bad batch of 15” Powerbook screens. All of them were replaced quickly. This is certainly a bad mark for Apple’s quality-control, but a reason not to buy Mac? To me, this says that Apple will make good on a known issue.

- It’s true that you can purchase a less expensive Windows laptop. It probably won’t run circles around a new Mac laptop. If you wouldn’t mind using a Windows machine regularly (and relying on its OS), you’ve got some good options.

Contact me if you’d like to chat about this a bit more via email, Dave.

Good luck.

Ryan Johnson says:
January 06, 06h

It’s hit or miss in my opinion. I had a piece ‘o shite Ibook (ever so slightly earlier model), fried the logic board twice. TWICE. Repaired at about $600 each time.

Moved to new zealand. On the way to work, somehow several droplets of liquid made their way into the inner working of the ibook and POOF. Another logic board gone. I’ve saw several bad spills in college and saw them come out better. Logic boards of that make ran $2500NZ so a new laptop it was.

Bought a G4 12” powerbook and I’ve never been happier. WAY less flimsy.

January 06, 11h

I bought my G3 800 Mhz iBook in April. A month later they announced the 900Mhz at the same price. Now we have a G4 at the same price. Bad luck.

So far, my iBook hasn’t suffered from any malfunctionn at all. We already had a 12” iBook that’s a year older and it did get a battery replacement – no questions asked.

I have been a Windows user all my life, still forced to be one at work, but working on my Mac is so much more productive somehow. At work I need to restart my win98 (brand new) machine twice a day….

January 07, 10h

You got burned by the Apple product cycle and hush-hush launch tradition. I did as well with my first Mac purchase (though the net effect wasn’t as bad). Lesson: Don’t buy a Mac before a keynote (or, uhh, you will get exactly what you ordered).

That said, you should contact Apple and see if you qualify for the Panther upgrade for free.

January 07, 10h

Err, I will read more closely next time. Disregard my post.

William says:
August 23, 05h

My apple iBook (1ghz 256mb) is great, it has a very good battery life and the Panther OS is fantastic but it still lacks functionality, when I want to rename a file in finder I cant right click and click on a rename button I have to go press return. When I am in safari, I cant right click a picture and set as background, oh no! I have to save the image. When I right click a file in finder, it takes at least 5 times the amount of time than it does on Windows. iTunes is most probably the worst application, it slows down my mac and is greedy. Ironically, iTunes is faster on my pc (2.5ghz, 256mb ram). I think that Microsoft has done a lot of effort to stop the freezing, bugging by producing windows xp which has never crashed on me. Only problem is, I was fed up of viruses and Microsoft security holes so meh I’m staying on my iBook.

BTW APPLE if you are reading this, stop spending so much time on the design and please start providing hardware which can compete with the PC world. (30gb hard drive for a £800 laptop is pathetic and two usb ports is pretty poor)