Case closed: Apple’s dud might do alright


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Apple released a new product last week so that means it's time to hear how far they’ve strayed from what it means to be Apple. Because if anyone knows what that is, it’s people who write on the Internet. It certainly isn’t Apple.

Writing for Slate, Will Oremus smacks Apple on the nose with a rolled up newspaper and says “Bad Apple.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Evert Jan Boon.)

That's OK. You know what they say about one bad apple.

The company’s ugly, underpowered new iPhone battery case is a sign of trouble in Cupertino.


Arf! Arf!

What is it, girl?!

Arf! Arf!

Apple’s released a new battery case and has fallen down a virtual well of poor design that speaks volumes about the company’s ability to focus?!

Out. Out! Out into the yard with you!

If only other companies’ design ethics were as closely critiqued as Apple’s are when it releases a peripheral, then we’d live in a glorious world of impeccable design.

Apple’s battery case costs as much or more than those offered by third-party accessory makers like Mophie and Incipio, but provides less power.

An Apple device that costs more and isn’t as powerful? This can only mean we’re reached the End Times.


…there’s no external battery life display, and no way to control whether you’re drawing battery from the case or the phone itself.

This case has no fingjammer? No hamgobbler? No cartoofler, canfambler and frandingler?

Here’s John Gruber on the matter:

If your iPhone is in the case, it’s charging. That’s it.

Whoa, back up, Neil deGrasse Tyson. You gots some sorta chart ta explain the technical whatsits?

Remember, the point of this piece by Oremus is that this case is devastatingly un-Apple like. That’s kind of hard to remember since so far it sounds exactly like an Apple product.

In fact, the only thing that’s not quite Apple-tastic is this:

Far more surprisingly, for Apple, the case is garishly unattractive.

Well, every generation gets the iPod Hi-Fi it deserves.

The Macalope doesn’t find the case particularly attractive, to be sure, but even the case that’s widely considered the best looking merely has all the good looks of a Motorola Droid and is made further gag-inducing by having “ANKER” emblazoned on the back. At least it gives you more power than the Apple case and costs way less.

What it doesn’t give you is the integration with iOS, a Lightning port and an all-in-one design, all of which are kind of cool and real selling points that we should totally ignore because battery hump, battery hump, battery hump.

The verdict from the tech press was swift and harsh.

Criticism of an Apple product on the Internet?! This piece is more full of shocking surprises than the Illuminati’s “Welcome to the Illuminati” handbook!

The case “doesn’t measure up,” proclaimed the Verge. Forbes called it “an angry, ugly mess.”

Uh, when you say Forbes you mean the Forbes “contributor” network and irregular waffle clearing house.

Cult of Mac—not exactly a bastion of anti-Apple sentiment—called it “butt ugly.”

Cult of Mac might not be a bastion of anti-Apple sentiment but it’s certainly a halfway house for the anti-Apple addicted, having been home to Mike “Google+ is the greatest thing ever” and “Facebook Home rules!” Elgan for years.

Those are actually his two middle names. He had his name legally changed. True story. You can look that up. On Google+.

Perhaps you could write this off as a rare and relatively insignificant stumble on the part of a company whose hardware routinely draws raves. But those stumbles are not as rare as they used to be.

We know this because you have now read it on the Internet. QED.

To be clear, a battery case for the iPhone isn’t an intrinsically bad idea.

Oh. Phew.


Oremus says one of the signs that Apple’s in trouble is that it now makes more than one size of iPhone and iPad. He’s mistaken product maturation for focus. At first there was only one iPod, but how many did Apple end up with? Eleventy? Sixty McSix?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these products have drawn mixed reviews and failed to ignite the popular imagination—nor that some, like the battery case, appear to be outright duds. 

The iPhone battery case is a dud because someone from the Forbes contributor network and hot dog water reclamation plant who never has a nice word for Apple didn’t like the way it looks. Next you’ll tell us droid4life267 in the forums doesn’t like it, either.

The Macalope doesn’t think it looks great, but it has some advantages, not the least of which is having an Apple logo on the back. Anyone who’s ever gotten that “This accessory may not work with this device because we might not have had time to shake the manufacturer down for Lightning licensing fees this month” message might think they’re better off buying the Apple case. And they might not be wrong. The horny one expects this case will actually sell just fine. Let’s just hope it doesn’t sell well enough to usher in a chunky esthetic in design a la the candy-colored theme of the late 1990s.

The point is, not every item Apple ships is the flap of the butterfly’s wings that brings doom to Cupertino. Sometimes a battery case is just a battery case.

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