Apple gets kicking for design failings

Simon Jary
2 August, 2012
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Apple, even when reporting 23 percent year-on-year growth and a quarterly net profit of US$8.8 billion, has been criticised for lackluster and disappointing results.

The fact that they’re coming up to a year since its messianic founder, visionary and spiritual leader Steve Jobs passed away makes these shortcomings look like major weaknesses.

Apple launched a new ad campaign based on its Genius Bar staff, which aired for the first time during US coverage of the London Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Reviews of the ads were damning, with Apple fans calling them ‘embarrassing’, ‘cheap’, ‘cringe-inducing’, and ‘dreadful’.

Ken Segall, the Chiat\Day marketing man Steve Jobs turned to for the best creative ideas both at NeXT and Apple, was another slamming the new Apple genius ads.

“It feels like something Best Buy would do. Maybe even Dell,” commented Segall.
It doesn’t get much more insulting than that for Apple.

Now one of Apple’s biggest fans in the media has laid into Apple’s new hardware.
New York Times technology columnist, Missing Manual publisher, and Emmy-winning CBS news correspondent David Pogue loves Apple’s new laptops but hates one little part of them.

Pogue, author of Mac For Dummies and many how-to guides on Apple’s hardware and software, is livid about the new MacBooks’ MagSafe 2 power connector.

That might sound like a minor gripe, but it’s the finer details that Apple nearly always got right under nit-picking perfectionist Jobs.

They’re a big part of what made Apple’s products stand above the copyist crowd.
“I think the MagSafe connector is one of Apple’s best ideas ever,” says Pogue in his New York Times technology blog.

“The beauty of the MagSafe connector was that Apple had found precisely the right balance between attachment and detachment. Strong enough to hold the connector in place, weak enough to detach if it gets yanked.
“The MagSafe 2 connector fails that balance test. Badly.

“The magnet is so weak it keeps falling out. It falls out if you brush it. It falls out if you tip the laptop slightly. It falls out if you look at it funny. It’s a huge, huge pain.”

Pogue explains that this “weakness is compounded by a second problem: a return to the “T” design of older MagSafe connectors”.

“This thing comes straight into the side of the laptop instead of hugging the side with the cord parallel, like the old “L” connectors.

“You can’t rest the left side of the laptop on your thigh. It’s constantly getting bumped. And since the magnet has all the grip strength of an elderly gnat, guess what happens?

“The poorly designed MagSafe connector is infuriating.

“It’s the worst Apple design blunder since the hockey-puck mouse.”

One Comment

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  1. T-Rox says:

    Now that Jobs is dead everybody is suddenly a smarter designer than Apple.

    The L-style Magsafe was a disaster, especially with MacBook Airs. It did not protect them at all. They are so lightweight, one out of two times tripping over the cord would send the MBA flying. With the cable hanging out toward the back, pulling it to the right would simply not detach it, due to the geometry of the arrangement and the force of the magnet.

    The Magsafe 2 connector on the Retina MacBook Pro holds on very tight, every bit as much as the original T-connector. But due to the weight of the machine and the leverage on the plug no matter which way the cable is pulled — the laptop will never be dragged off the table.

    I haven’t used the new Macbook Air myself, but I bet its magnets are weaker (which is probably the reason Pogue is complaining). This is necessary because the device is much more lightweight and requires a much smaller detachment force to be MagSAFE.

    The lighter the device the harder it becomes to design a plug that detaches when needed but stays on when harmlessly bumped. Give me the annoyance of a bumped cable over the headache of a broken laptop any day.

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