I've always been a Windows user, which means I've always been subjected to the ridicule of holier-than-thou Apple fans. You know what I'm talking about: blue screen of death jokes, spelling Microsoft with a $ in place of the S, saying "it just works" with a smug, chubby-faced smirk. It's always been annoying, and it's always made me want to avoid using Apple products just so I wouldn't turn into one of those people. But then the iPhone came out, and I wanted it. But I being a Windows dude, I knew to wait a year for what I thought would be a more complete, less buggy version. It was Apple's opportunity to get me into the fold, to make me a member of the cult. And boy, did they blow it.
I really would love to know where Apple got this reputation of creating lily-white products that never need fixing, created by a company that cradles its customers in fluffy clouds of superior technology. According to my first experiences with an Apple OS, that's a whole lot of bullshit.
The iPhone 3G is infuriatingly buggy. It crashes. It doesn't get great speeds when it should, switching to EDGE in areas that have 3G coverage. Coming out of the subway, it takes minutes to find a signal again and stop claiming to get "No Service" in the middle of Manhattan, often requiring a restart. Requiring a restart to get service! What is this crap? And when I do have service, calls still drop and fail all the time. The keyboard lags so much that writing text messages is more annoying than using T9 texting on a number pad. The orientation switching when you rotate the phone is inconsistent at best. Backups take minutes, sometimes hours. Sometimes, the audio output dies and it needs to be restarted to listen to music through headphones. If you've got an iPhone 3G or have been reading news on Giz, none of this will come as a surprise to you. What's surprising to me is how they're reacting to to the problems.
I called Apple famed customer support to see if they had any solutions for these bugs. Their fix for my problem getting service when coming out of the subway? Turn Airplane Mode on and off. If there's a more ghetto fix for a problem than that, I'd like to hear it. Last time I checked the C train didn't have wings. As for when all of these bugs will be fixed, the guy on the phone said "Sooner or later it'll be working to its full potential." Oh, great. How helpful. When asked if I could revert to a previous firmware version, I was told to just wait for the next release. Great, thanks for nothing!
Overall, the customer service reps I talked to were friendly, but they've clearly been overwhelmed with calls about the iPhone (my average wait time was about nine minutes for the iPhone support number). They're overwhelmed because they're the only facet of Apple that's available to talk about just what's going on with the iPhone. Officially, Apple hasn't recognized any problems, only releasing two patches that say they offer "bug fixes" without going into any more detail. It's the standard Apple technique; giving no information whatsoever unless they feel like it suits them. And this arrogant company causes such heart palpitations in you fanboys?
If you try to go through the PR channels, you get the Apple standard "no comment." Supposedly, Steve Jobs himself emailed one single person and promised fixes next month. That doesn't count as an official statement. In fact, that's worse than nothing at all, because it just shows how little respect Jobs has for all of us. He has time to tell one jerkoff who files a bug report that fixes are coming in September but can't release a statement that says just that? Screw you, Steve.
When the Playstation 3 got some new firmware that bricked a number of consoles, Sony didn't keep mum on the subject. They rushed a new firmware out in a matter of days and kept in touch with reporters about what was going on. They even apologized: "We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused you and appreciate your understanding and continued support." Apple hasn't acknowledged the iPhone issues to the press, let alone saying sorry for them. Because saying sorry would mean admitting that they screwed up.
The problem is that Apple has this reality distortion field that they use, which is a brilliant handling of PR most of the time. They give out tiny amounts of information, and by being so stingy they make everyone beg and salivate for little scraps But in the end, Apple is just a company like every other company. They screw up, they release things before they're ready and they botch crisis control. The reality distortion field can't cover for things like that. Their shit still stinks.
Before I got my iPhone, I was actually considering buying an Apple laptop. Can you believe it? Me, the Windows guy on the Giz staff, thinking of switching. Eventually, when the time comes to buy a new computer, I probably won't want to jump to Vista, after all. Why not try a Mac?
Now, after this experience, there's no way I will. I don't trust the computers to "just work," and if problems arise I don't trust Apple to handle them in an open way with customers. In fact, I expect them to try to keep things from me, I expect to continue to feel disrespected by King Jobs and his merry minions. And I'm not alone on this one. What could have been an amazing opportunity to introduce thousands of people to the Apple OS experience has turned people off rather than getting them hooked.