As we (Soluto) move into the Mac world, it became clear to me that I, a proud PC guy, have to become a Mac user for a while in order to be able to get inside the heads of Mac users. So at the risk of letting my soul get sucked into the fanboi dark side, I bought the cheapest MacBook Pro and started working with it as my main machine. There are things I like and there are things I don’t, but the purpose of this post is not to provide a pros/cons chart. It’s to tell a short tale that goes much deeper.
You see, a little while after I started using my new MacBook Pro (as in a few hours after I unboxed it and started using it), its fan started working. And it was loud. Not a clicky-ti-click-somehing’s-stuck-there noisy, but just a higher volume than what I’m used to with my $599 Asus laptop. A day later, when one of our designers sat with me in my very quiet office, the fan went on, she noticed it, and looked at me puzzled. I told her “yeah, apparently MacBooks have a loud fan”. She said “it can’t be right, there must be something wrong with this specific machine. Did you get it tested?” I said “No, I just think it has a loud fan, some machines just do.”
This raised a flag in my brain, so I went to a couple more smart people and told them off-hand that my MacBook has a surprisingly loud fan. The first reacted with “Did you put it in a very warm place? Directly under sunlight?” (the answer: no). The second asked me “what type of heavy analysis did you run on it to make it so loud?” (the answer: I worked on a Google spreadsheet in Safari and nothing else was open).
What’s so amazing about this story is that when people are confronted with a problem in an Apple product, in most cases they assume it’s the user’s fault. Don’t get me wrong, Apple makes the best consumer electronics, it’s a huge innovative force in the world, and in general the guys and gals working there are good for humankind. But their products are not perfect. Almost nothing is. The only perfect product in the history of technology was Microsoft Bob, and it was deprecated back in the 90s.
I hear many people criticizing Android’s responsiveness etc, but no one criticizing iPhone 3GS’s horrible sluggishness since iOS 4.0. And it is horrible. Sometimes I benchmark my iPhone, to discover that opening the settings app takes 13 seconds. But it’s so unpopular to talk about it, that people who encounter a negative experience with an Apple product just suffer in silence, often assuming it’s their own fault (“I must be running too many apps”, or maybe “I’m holding it wrong“).
Beyond being a peculiar cultural phenomenon, it may be the greatest branding achievement of all time: convincing the world your products are perfect, and whatever’s wrong cannot be your products’ fault.
So to sum up, and to paraphrase on one of my favorite movies, the greatest trick Apple ever pulled was making you think it’s YOUR fault.