Troubling analysis: The iPhone’s overstated problems


One of the primary rules of Apple punditry is that if Apple has a problem, then that problem must be existential.

Writing for Computerworld, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols says “Apple is not as good as its bottom line.” (Tip o’ the antlers to @designheretic.)

How can I say Apple is in trouble when it’s selling 10 iPhones per second?

And not burst into flames? Uh, say it while lounging in a bathtub full of industrial strength firefighting foam? That might do it.

This is a company that just recorded quarterly revenue of $88.3 billion, an increase of 13% from a year earlier and an all-time record.

Surely it will go out of business any minute now.

So how can I diss success like that? Easily.

For a long time Pauly Shore got new movie deals easily, too. That doesn’t make it right.

For starters, sales of Apple’s top-of-the-line smartphone, the iPhone X, have been lagging.

Vaughan-Nichols quotes the rather misrepresented report claiming Apple will “kill” the iPhone X and the two reports claiming the company slashed iPhone X part orders for the current quarter from an absurd 40 or 45 or even 50 million units to a reasonable 20 million. Pundits are falling over themselves like pandas trying to stop a zookeeper from cleaning their enclosure to push this rumor without evaluating whether or not it makes a lick of sense, which it kinda does not.

Then he supplies his own reasons.

First, I think some people who can afford to spend $1,000 on a phone finally realized after the phone-slowdown brouhaha that Apple is ripping them off.

Sure, people are not buying the iPhone X (despite the counter indications that they are that no one ever seems to mention) because the company slowed down older phones instead of letting them just shut down. Nnkay.

Second, even the most loyal Apple fanboi knows that iOS is a mess, with iOS 11.x plagued by one bug after another.

Dear reader, let the Macalope tell you, it is antler-bangingly maddening to have to respond to the same arguments three times a week. But here we are. Let us get to the paragraph that the Macalope has had to just slightly rewrite three times now.

Does it make sense that customers will dump iOS to run willingly into the arms of the platform that collects the user’s location even when location services are turned off and has had a long-standing problem with security, one exacerbated by continued problems delivering security updates? Not much sense, no. Negative sense, really. Is that a thing? Are we finding out right now? Ooh, this is very exciting. We might be on the edge of an ontological breakthrough.

The latest bug is a doozy.

The fix for this bug was released on February 19th, a day before Vaughan-Nichols’ article was published. The article does not mention the fix.

Are we going to go back and drag out all the Android bugs that have cropped up and subsequently fixed, too? Because, if so, the Macalope hopes you brought a chair.

But let’s say that Apple is finally facing its internal problems; its external enemies aren’t sleeping. Besides the ones you know about, such as global smartphone leader Samsung…

Which certainly has never had any quality assurance problems worth mentioning.

…the Chinese smartphone OEMs, such as Xiaomi, Huawei and Oppo, are growing their sales at double-digit rates.

Well, Huawei only until last quarter when sales actually declined. And who cares if the U.S. intelligence community recommends against buying their phones over fears that it’s beholden to the Chinese government? Why even mention that?!

I think the company would be wiser to do a better job of cleaning up its software before customers finally realize that Apple’s luxury brand has become second rate.

That’s… literally what it’s committed to doing this year (an effort Vaughan-Nichols is rather dismissive of). And while the company does have problems and possibly even more problems of late, their stuff is still better than the competition’s, so it’s still technically first rate.

Again, because some people seem to think the Macalope is saying “APPLE IS PERFECT! THERE ARE NO PROBLEMS!” let him assure them that he has noticed and experienced some of the problems! And he does not like them! The company is not perfect! The point is, unless you’re suddenly going Amish, you have to choose between platforms and the grass really isn’t greener on the other side. Yeah, Apple needs to clean up its yard, but the mess isn’t nearly bad enough yet to cause it any real trouble.

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