Pattern-making: Any three Apple problems


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There is an unwritten rule of punditry that says that anything that happens to be Apple must be put on the big conspiracy board covered in red string and containing every problem it has ever had so it can be fit into a larger narrative about how everything is going dreadfully wrong for the company.

The company’s financials do not appear on this board. There just wasn’t enough room.

Writing for Fast Company, Mark Wilson says “This is Apple’s come-to-Jesus moment.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Aaron.)

Pundits have never met a religious metaphor for Apple that they didn’t like. FACT.

The company’s response to a new throttling drama shows it can ignore public sentiment no longer.

No longer! As opposed to all those time there were flaws in Apple products and they just kept shipping them anyway, in some cases coming to peoples’ houses and forcing them to buy them.

In what is becoming an all-too-familiar trend for Apple…

There was a problem with a product and people all over the internet freaked out about it and then Apple fixed it and it’s over now except for the punditry.

…the company was called out on social media for an apparent throttling issue in its new Core i9 MacBook Pro.

There’s a trend of the company getting called out on social media for an apparent throttling issue in its new Core i9 MacBook Pro?

You’re reading this column so you’re probably someone who keeps up on things Apple, so you’ve probably heard this. But if you were knocked unconscious about a week and a half ago and spent the intervening time lying on the floor of your apartment in a blissful stupor as your cats wandered over you arguing over which of them should get first dibs on your delicious face meat, YouTuber David Lee discovered his new i9 MacBook Pro was throttling when trying to perform certain tasks. This is not a good thing particularly when the certain tasks are the tasks you bought the MacBook Pro to perform.

In response to the video, Apple released a software patch and a statement explaining that there was a “missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro.”

Dave Lee tells me that the patch seems to work.

Ah, so we’re done here.

If the story sounds familiar, that’s because thermal issues are a recurring theme for Apple.

Ooookay, so we’re not done here.

It’s just that The Macalope…

…The company admitted its eye-catching obelisk Mac Pro has been thwarted by thermal management.

…had a brunch thing…

Over a decade earlier, the company discontinued its gorgeous Power Mac G4 Cube because the electronics were notorious for overheating inside the 8-inch box.

…he was going to go to and…

…The new MacBook Pro problems may simply be a hiccup for Apple, which has weathered similar issues before.

OK, FINE. You’ve ruined brunch. There. Hope you’re happy.

Yes, “over a decade” ago in 2001, the Power Mac G4 Cube did have thermal cooling issues. And then in 2013 the Mac Pro did, too. So, three incidents in 17 years. Is that a lot? With the computers and such?

One thing is for sure, only Apple is having problems with laptop quality.

What seems different today is the way in which these bugs and design flaws are surfaced by the public.

What is also different is that this one was fixed with a software patch, whereas the other two issues were related to hardware design, which Apple has yet to figure out how to fix with a software patch.

Issues that would have once been topics for message board rants read by a few Apple geeks are now fast-moving, mainstream problems for Apple…

David Lee has a very popular YouTube channel, but The Macalope wonders how many “mainstream” computer users are tuning in to videos detailing the thermal limitations of the chassis in the 2018 Dell XPS 15 9570. The Macalope will check with his dad but he’s pretty sure dad’s watching golf.

Apple has always faced lawsuits, run repair programs and discontinued problem products. The company does have a lot more customers than it did in 2001, but that doesn’t mean average Joes are suddenly interested in whether or not Apple is throttling CPU speed for thermal management on a high-end laptop when using high-end video production software.

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