1. How Many MacBooks?

    brian on 2009.04.05
    at 07:07 pm

    Andy Ihnatko is a wonderfully talented tech columnist for MacWorld, the Chicago Sun-Times and others. If you only read two Mac/Tech columnists make it Ihnatko and Gruber.
    However, “How many MacBooks?” was uncharacteristic for Andy. It was an excellent troubleshooting piece wrapped in some tales of woe about machines Andy has owned over the years. This is the quote that prodded me to write this blog post:

    Apple has a reputation for screwy hardware


    This is an absolutely ridiculous statement. Now, having been published in MacWorld, perhaps the epicenter of Mac fanboydom, they came out of the woodwork with their list of every Apple product they’ve ever owned and how none of them have ever needed a reboot. That is to be expected. I feel I can be a little more objective (pauses to listen for the peanut gallery snickering).

    In my past life as a Mac Genius at one of the busiest stores in Apple’s retail chain, I saw a lot of broken Apple products. Two years actively in the repair process, and two years prior to that observing the process, no doubt, Apple products break. In fact a problem with symptoms very much like Andy’s MacBook “SSS” problem absolutely plagued G3 iBooks.

    Having been designed and built by humans, all things break. Some, much more than they should. Though, according to people who track these things, like Consumer Reports, Apple’s products break less than all of their competitors, and while I worked there, they were on a six-year streak of that level of success. That doesn’t sound screwy to me. And beyond that, Apple has another edge on its competitors. They’ve built a pretty good experience around what happens when their products do break. Compared to when I used to run Windows machines, I find the software repair process much more intelligent. With Apple’s string of company-owned stores providing excellent service, hardware repair is pretty painless too. No competitor can claim anything remotely close to this.

    Repair may not always be cheap, but I’d list owning an Apple product in the category of “you get what you pay for.” (except the current AirPort Extreme Base Station – dang, that’s expensive; I really have a need for one, but cannot justify the expense!)

    Yes we all know someone who can’t look at a piece of technology without it succumbing to some mystery affliction (I can name two or three of you off the top of my head, you know who you are).But making blanket statements because you have a string of failing hardware, and let’s face it, I’m betting Andy is both pretty demanding of his hardware, and it’s well worn by his travels, that’s unlike Andy. I’d expect those kind of statements to come from an Enderle or a Dvorak.


    Bonus material:

    The subtitle of this piece is “When your MacBooks die like Andy’s, be sure to have a backup plan or three.” I’d like to add that this is a good idea if you own a computer and count on it for anything critical. I can’t count the number of people who would come to service their Mac for some routine problem than can afflict any computer, and then ream me out because it couldn’t be fixed that moment. Their favorite reason why this was a travesty was that “I run my business on this!”. That’s great, but if your company grinds to a halt upon a single point of failure, that is a sign to me that you’re not a very savvy business person.

    If you’re a business person or a student during finals, you must have backup plans. Computers break. You must cope when that happens. That means having copious, accessible and reliable backups and something to use those backups on until your computer is fixed. This is not hard. Your local Mac Genius can even give you some easy suggestions. For some of you, that will mean having a backup computer. This is simply the cost of operating a business. Invest now.

    Posted in: Apple · Hardware · Technology


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