Finally, the tech press is willing to talk about Apple’s software quality

Anybody who follows me on Twitter knows I document many of my problems with Apple software and occasionally hardware. But I don’t mention every little problem because that would be too time consuming and I’d have 0 followers in a short time. That means that seldom a day goes by that I’m not fighting a problem on one of my computers. It’s exhausting.

It was so bad last year that I actually wrote a polite challenge to Tim Cook, with the same hope of winning the lottery, that he would listen and do something. Apple’s response was to block my email address. I took that as a “no.”

Since then Yosemite has been released and, to quote Steve, “It’s a bag of hurt.” I think it’s better than Mavericks in some ways, but far worse in others.

Once a few notable Mac devs and bloggers started talking about Apple’s poor software quality I thought to myself, the Apple hardware guys must be really pissed off at the software guys for dragging their reputation through the mud. After all, Apple hardware is much more reliable, right?

When you consider how complex hardware and chip technology is, and that it’s executing billions of instructions per second and moving many gigabytes of data during the day, it really is wondrous that we don’t have more problems.

So then I started thinking about all the purchases my family has made to see if my perception was true. I’m not going to include the hundreds of Apple products purchased or used at work. Just personal purchases. So how does Apple hardware quality fare?

  • 1984 Mac 128K — cooked a power supply due to inadequate ventilation. Repaired and donated to a school.
  • 1994 Power Mac 7100/66av — a tank. I still have it and it still works whenever I power it up out of nostalgia. Sure, I have to tap the disk with a rubber mallet to break the stiction, but that’s to be expected.
  • 1999 iMac G3 — lemon. Replaced due to constant hardware problems. Replacement was very good.
  • 1999 PowerBook G3 (Lombard) — defective CPU daughter-card wouldn’t let it run OS X. Replaced under a hidden Apple warranty (that I heard about from a friend working at a Mac computer store). It still runs 24×7 by my electrical panel running my X-10 based home automation system. 15 years and still going.
  • 2001 Power Mac G4 — These computers were one of the most reliable I’ve seen. I got it surplus from the company where I worked, used it for years, and sold it.
  • 2002 iMac G4 — A friend bought this on my recommendation and I currently use it today so I’m counting it. The modem would constantly drop connections. This is the beautiful swing-arm iMac but the arm joint friction is no longer strong enough to hold it in place. This too is a well-documented problem and because Apple loves to use proprietary tools, I can’t find a tool to simply tighten this joint.
  • 2005 Power Mac G5 — another tank. Never a problem and it still runs, although I haven’t used it in months.
  • 2008 Mac Book 13″ x 2 — Worked flawlessly until batteries died. Now being used as desktops, one as my iTunes server, PhoneValet phone messaging system, WeatherCat weather station; and the other is running Windows 7 under Bootcamp as a Windows Media Center DVR.
  • 2008 MacBook Pro — motherboard died in 2012 due to overheating (a well-documented problem with this model but no extended warranty from Apple). Repaired the motherboard myself by baking it in the oven. I’m not kidding! It still works today.
  • 2012 MacBook Pro — still going strong.
  • 2012 Mac mini — Great little machine except that it has a video glitching problem affecting both monitors several times a day. Read this massive support thread. It’s damned annoying and Apple has never admitted to there being a problem, let alone fix it.

Of the 12 Apple computers I’ve bought, 4 have had serious problems and 2 have had minor problems. I don’t know about you, but I consider 50% to be a very high failure/problem rate. It doesn’t seem too bad because it’s spread out over many years.

I’ve also bought two Newton MessagePads (that still work), The half a dozen iPods of various models I bought have almost all died due to battery problems (as expected). One 2nd gen iPod runs but the screen is unusable due to a well-documented problem.

Well, this surprised me. I honestly didn’t think Apple’s hardware quality was as bad as my own experience shows. It’s a crapshoot as to whether the model or particular Mac will run for a normal lifespan without problems.

Author: Tom

Destroyer of software. If I haven't tested it, it hasn't been tested.

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