Where’s the Beta?

There have been several recent instances of Apple releasing products that have flaws that are found in a found in a few days by civilians in the wired community. Although this is the kind of practice that is expected from other companies, the recent rush to market of Apple products is undermining confidence with those users who rely on Apple quality the most those without the technical skills or desire to solve or remedy the problem.

Instantly on download of the new QuickTime 4.1, and the “bugfix” 4.1.1, I had problems playing some of my saved movies–including, of all things, the sample movie that ships with QuickTime itself. It wasn’t a mere matter of corruption of the file; the Oni trailer on the Bungie “Total Codex” CD wouldn’t play anymore, although it did in the past. Although I did a clean install of QuickTime, and experimented with some extension conflicts, it turns out to be an elementary problem, with an elementary fix–some investigation on the QuickTime support boards on Apple’s own website not only indicated that others were having the problem, but that they had already determined the solution: turn ‘millions’ of colors off in favor of ‘thousands’ of colors. Why wasn’t this problem, and solution, found in Beta testing? If I was my grandmother, and not familiar with the Apple Support Boards, what would I do? Before you answer that, consider what the market of the Mac is–what market is left, in fact, for desktop computers.

Why didn’t the iMovie keep the sound in sync? I didn’t purchase an iMac, DV or otherwise, so I haven’t seen iMovie or experimented with its advertised revolutionary features. (Although, now that’s for sale on eBay, I’m interested.) But if I had been, from most reports, I would have been disappointed. The sound going out of sync with the picture after a matter of minutes wouldn’t live up to my expectations from the deluge of TV and print ads. I don’t want my home movies to look like bad Kung Fu flicks, and I don’t want to pay $1000 for Final Cut Pro to make them look like the way that they’re advertised to. If I was my grandmother, again, and I had purchased an iMac to make iMovies of my little grandkids and my cats, I would have been seriously disappointed.

Why did it take an OS revision for iBooks to wake up properly? Why have there been consistent problems with iMac’s power supplies? In the iMac lab down the hall, the art teacher installed 20 new iMacs-of which, 4 have burnt out their power supply within 3 months. Now, computer problems are understandable-they happen. They happen on PCs and on Macs alike. But they shouldn’t be so transparent, and hardware problems shouldn’t really happen on Macs. Equivalent PCs cost 1/2 to 2/3 less than an equivalent Mac-and I’m happy to pay the difference, because I like the interface more. Also, I have been told that Macs are more reliable. This may have been true in the past, but in Apple’s rush to acquire desperately needed market share, they have evidently been rushing products to market before all the kinks were worked out-which undermines one of their strongest selling points. When my grandmother asks me which computer to buy, with the stipulation that she wants it to work like her toaster, can I still encourage her to buy a Mac?