Finger-pointing: The rumored iPhone 8 delay

It raises a quantum mechanical conundrum.

Macalope

You know that product that Apple hasn’t announced yet, let alone having announced a shipping date? It’s delayed.

Yes, the problems at Apple just pile up as the company has missed its ship date of [ERROR. VARIABLE UNDEFINED. RETURN CODE XL8374:00].

Writing for The Verge (motto: “Headphone jacks 4evah”), Thomas Ricker says “You’ll know Apple blew it when it makes a fingerprint dongle.” (Tip o’ the antlers to John Nugent, Alter Eggo, Ben Dansby, Krishan Pérmi, @mylestaylor, Point & Click Radio, Chris Allwein and @JonyIveParody who got to that joke first so The Verge owes him a Coke.)

Siri, remind the Macalope this fall to see if Apple shipped a fingerprint reader dongle so he’ll know if they “blew it.”

I used to think an Apple dongle like this could never exist.

Dear The Verge Forum: I go to school at a small midwestern college and I never thought this would happen to me until

By now you’ve probably read that Apple’s next flagship iPhone might be running a bit behind the company’s usual release schedule.

Actually, the rumor seems to be that the iPhone Pro or 8 or Extreme or Expensive, Expensive, OMG So Expensive (EEOMGSE) might be “delayed” but not the iPhone 7s.

Which is kind of like delaying Schrödinger’s cat. How do you “delay” a product that may or may not exist yet? The Verge, however, would have us extrapolate an endemic Apple design failure from this because… well, it’s Thursday.

The culprit…

There is a culprit. Hopefully we will apprehend the perpetrator of this quantum mechanically-challenged misdeed.

…seems to be a fingerprint sensor of Apple’s own design, that’s meant to sit behind the full edge-to-edge OLED display on the front of the new premium iPhone.

You will be surprised to know that an unannounced product still in development has some elements of its design that are not completely solved yet. Usually products are conceived fully formed and then the company just spends 18 to 24 months slowly putting them together and taking long lunches so this is very shocking and a disturbing omen about Apple’s ability to deliver.

Personally, I’m treating the fingerprint sensor as a litmus test for Apple’s ability to innovate in a meaningful way.

As long as we’re making up wacky, unreasonable tests related to a part on an unannounced phone, the Macalope’s going to treat this as a litmus test for the burning controversy over whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich. If Apple delivers, the hot dog is not a sandwich. If they don’t… well, anarchy.

But this doesn’t come from nowhere. Ricker has a list of “Apple hardware missteps or outright failures over the last few years.” The Macalope can’t argue with the first, the Mac Pro “debacle,” so he won’t try. If Apple still wants to be in the pro desktop business they should make pro desktops, and they really haven’t for years.

The Verge is, of course, still on about the headphone jack, despite it being so literally last year. The Macalope will just note that he has an iPhone SE, which has a headphone jack, and he has not used it once since getting his AirPods. It might as well be a stylus holder.

The award for Most Middling Complaints go to The Verge’s complaints that the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar is “of questionable value,” that the iPhone 7 looks too much like the 6s and that Apple “failed … to bring sapphire glass to the iPhone.” So, we’re now dinging Apple for not using materials that simply didn’t work out but we wanted so badly because, uhhhhh, we read about them online and they sounded neat. No vibranium in the iPhone 8? Just another sign of Apple’s design and innovation failure.

It quit making monitors…

Except it said earlier this month new monitors would be coming.

It abandoned routers at a time when a new breed of mesh routers and smart homes were making the category interesting again.

Is quitting a category a misstep? Likewise is deciding not to compete in one—like Ricker’s complaint about Apple not creating an Echo competitor right now—a misstep? Not doing literally everything is not a mistake. The Apple Watch is a better business than the Echo, but does anyone anywhere ding Amazon for not making a smartwatch?

A litany of bizarre and/or awkward design decisions that have resulted in the lumpy iPhone battery case, unrefined iPad Pro Smart Keyboard cover, ridiculous Pencil and Magic Mouse charging positions, iPhone camera bulges, and a forced need for dongles everywhere.

Flower Power iMac, fat iPod nano, Apple Hi-Fi, delaying the release of Leopard by six months, the button-less iPod shuffle, DVD-RAM drives, cracked MacBook case edges… If you wanted to, you literally could have claimed the same thing at any point in Apple’s history. And people have.

Ricker believes the reason Apple hasn’t been able to keep up with the demand for AirPods must be manufacturing troubles rather than high demand because, you know, one fits his argument better than the other. The Macalope will suggest it might actually be both and point out that it took him the better part of a summer to get an iPhone 4 back in 2010 when Apple was, according to this reckoning, at its design and innovative best. Even though the Macalope distinctly remember reading about how Antennagate was a huge Apple design misstep and bespoke many a woe about the company.

The Macalope isn’t going to sit here chewing alfalfa and tell you that Apple hasn’t screwed some things up. But experiencing difficulties in unannounced products is simply part of the process. And reports of the company’s design and innovation death are greatly exaggerated.

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