So Called Frustrations: Apple Hardware

Apple is not an ordinary company in that its customers have larger emotional investment in its products than in any other consumer electronics and software maker. As a developer or a pro user1, the love-hate relationship is only starker.

Recently, the hardware quality problem has become a headache for all kinds of software developers who mainly use Apple machines. Note that not all them develop Apple software (Mac or iPhone apps): a substantial number of web developers, for example, also lives on their Mac laptops. Michael Tsai shares his woes:

Perhaps I’ve just been unlucky, but Macs don’t seem to be as reliable as they once were. AppleCare is probably a good investment.

Following that is a more disheartening thought:

Of course, I still recommend having a backup and a backup computer. You don’t know how long the repair will take.

Now, as someone who comes from Taiwan, I can tell you Apple's repair time is unbelievable (to the extent that it warrants an f word) long. Taiwan's laptop manufacturing industry is one of the world's most competitive, and all major PC brands tout on-site repair in less than one hour for replacement of in-stock components. Yes, that's the crappy PC laptops that Apple loves to make fun of.

Another big problem, and I think Tsai has pointed it out, is that you need a disruption plan. And this is especially bad for pro users. When your investment on a single piece of hardware is huge, not having it around for a week on average is terrible.

And at least Apple's own retail stores in the US are doing their jobs. I'm told that service in Taiwan and China is supervised by some people in Singapore, and I'd put in sarcastically that their job is probably like the insurance people who try to find the fault in you. Defective hardware that is usually replaced with no question asked in the US often requires customers to pay in other places.

When even an under-US$1000 laptop has a service quality and speed is better than pro machines that you spend more than US$2500, it's really frustrating.

  1. I define that as people, a part of whose professional life depends on Apple-made hardware and software, such as pro photographers, visual designers, and many other kinds. Software developers are, by that definition, natural pro users.