Mac Scope

The Curse of Being Apple

Stephen Van Esch - 2001.07.11

Another Macworld Expo has come and gone, and Apple has decided not to wow the crowd with some gee whiz innovation.

Solid performance upgrades were the norm and, I suspect, welcome for a lot of people.

Of course, a little speed bump here and there was hardly enough to placate those that participated in the biannual rumour feeding frenzy. Several Mac news and opinion sites jumped on Apple for not releasing anything "new" and "exciting." It seems that Apple is having trouble meeting the high expectations of its users.

It really kind of sucks to be Apple these days. No matter what they do, their adoring fans will likely clobber them. If they push the envelope, they'll be nailed for being to "risky" (remember the Cube!) in uncertain economic times. If they decide to hold back on any surprises and ride out the economic storm, they are derided for being "boring." They can't win.

Admittedly, Apple fans are a tough crowd to please. They've become used to getting droolworthy products from Apple. They expect this, much like a child expects dessert after a hateful meal. The Macworld Expo is a treat for Mac users because we can almost be guaranteed something sweet after many secretive months.

I suspect that Apple may be adopting an "underpromise and overdeliver" attitude. In other words, don't promise anything too spectacular and then deliver something that they know will knock people's socks off.

In any event, while its nice to hold a company up to a high standard, the moon cannot be expected every time a Macworld rolls around. A new iMac, tower, PowerBook, or iBook is not necessarily a good thing to have at each and every show.

Apple is playing its cards correctly. In the uncertain economic climate and a lot of focus on OS X, new hardware will, for a change, have to take a back seat. When the PC market heats up again, expect us to be singing "Happy Days are Here Again."

I'm looking forward to the next Macworld. Things should be a whole lot more exciting then. Apple is going through a small transition now that probably slowed down the product announcements a bit. It's focusing on OS X, riding out the downturn, and, undoubtedly, prepping some amazing hardware for January.

January makes much more sense for the release of new products. A significant drought in hardware changes will have occurred meaning more people will buy new machines. The expectation of new machines will also drive the sales of older models. The economy will have heated up a little bit and more people will feel compelled to replace the aging PC workhorse they bought two years ago.

All in all, nothing now and much more later isn't such a bad proposition.

Apple still has to live with unhappy users, though.

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Stephen Van Esch is the founder and president of the E-learning Foundry, an online training resource for Mac users. Steve loves the Mac and is doubly bilingual, since he's also fluent in Windows and French.

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