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Apple's Growing Pains 375

Tyler Too writes "Is Apple having an unusually large number of quality control problems since its switch to Intel? Ars Technica runs down the litany of problems MacBook and MacBook Pro users have experienced since their launch. From the article: 'Is Apple's quality control slipping through the cracks with this Intel transition? Given the volume of available evidence that has appeared in such a short timeframe, it's simply impossible to say that Apple isn't having problems.'"
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Apple's Growing Pains

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  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:32PM (#15877442)
    I do not think it is as much as an issue that Apples Quality Dropped but just the fact their entire Macintosh Product Line is now Generation 1, systems. Normally Apple Spaces out their system releases and refresh their product line in 3 year cycles. This time they did major changes internally to their entire product line. Normally the rule of thumb is to wait for Gen 2 but with all their products Gen 1 there is little to choose from. The MacBook Pros seem to get some minor fixes.
    • by soft_guy (534437) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:35PM (#15877456)
      I have to second this.

      However, let me say that the new Intel Core Duo Mac Mini has been rock solid. I have two of these. I also have an Intel iMac which is also rock solid.

      We have a MacBook Pro that has had some problems, but Apple recently changed the motherboard. I don't use that machine day to day, so I would have to ask the guy who uses it all the time. The desktop machines are totally fine. This is a laptop issue - and the worst 80% of the problems are probably already over.
      • My Mac Mini seems rock solid so far. I mostly use it for a "media center," but I haven't had any stability issues with it.
      • by kabz (770151) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:41PM (#15877475) Homepage Journal
        Let me third this. My Mac Mini Core Duo has been absolute spectacular. Rock solid. Great to use.

        My wife's MacBook has been great. It did suffer the discoloration, but the local Apple store fixed it free in a couple of days. She's now recommending Macs, especially the MacBook, to her non-computer literate friends, on the basis of all the cool iLife apps.

        Posted from perhaps the best all-rounder machine ever, the 12" PB. Woot.

        Apple fanboi. Never!@!!
      • From past experience, can anyone guess when Gen 2 of the MacBook will be available? I assume they make internal revs 'on the quiet' without announcing version 1.1 or whatever it is.

        (I don't expect anyont to *know* - just is it 3months? 6months? a year?)
        • by mrxak (727974) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:37PM (#15877755)
          I've found this site [] to be a valuable resource in understanding product cycles. To save you the time of clicking the link (although you should anyway, to at least bookmark it), it says it's been 85 days since the last update. While there's no historical data to base a buying recommendation on, the MacBook Pro has an average of 104 days in a cycle. Since the MacBook is a consumer model it was unlikely to be updated at WWDC, but my guess is that the new MacBook will show up close to the Merom, which Apple should be receiving in the first week of September. I would not be surprised to see MacBook and MacBook Pro updates at the same time in September.
    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@y a h o o . com> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:39PM (#15877467) Homepage Journal
      Gen 1 breaking in period is what Apple Fan boys are for!
    • by 3D Monkey (808934) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:54PM (#15877560)
      I'd go for this reasoning except I happen to be one of the unlcky stiffs who bought the MacBook. Here's my tale of terror thus far:

      I purchased the upper tier MB in white to save some cash (black is a $150 premium). LCD had a stuck pixel, it wasn't dead, just stuck green. I had the MB for a bit under a week before returning it, and I realized why the black has a premium price. The white had already gotten several scuffs and was starting to become off-white. So I upgraded to the black upon returning the first purchase. Apple replaced it with no questions. It was also unbearably slow, but my 2GB of ram hadn't arrived in the mail yet.

      In great spirits with my new black MB and 2GB of RAM (which made an insane difference in performance) I did all the things I love to use my notebook for. I dealt with the 100 degree (F) plus heat with a lap guard or by placing it on the table... I noticed the "mooing" but it wasn't all that bad, but then it started randomly shutting down. At first it was inconsistant, but quickly became more frequent. 1 month old now and the thing siezed up on me 4-5 times. I was going to bring it back to Apple after I came back from my vacation, but then the thing shut down for it's last time. I rebooted it and this time I had a brilliant white screen with pretty pink and green virticle lines all over it. After several reboots, and returning to the stock memory, zapping pram, etc. I returned to the Apple store. This time there were questions asked... I had the 3 year warranty and well... they wanted to ship the thing out for repair. I expressed my disgust, and the option I was given next blew my mind. "You can just buy an open box MB and then when this one comes back you'll just return it for 100% the purchace price." So they obviously wanted some colateral... After some much deserved bitching the manager came to my rescue and swapped out my HDD to a new machine and sent me on my way.

      3rd MB, also in black, 2GB RAM. Very pleased again, until I received Studio 8 in the mail. I popped the CD in and... *GRIND GRIND GRIND GRIND Eject*... WTF... Inserted CD again. *GRIND GRIND GRIND GRIND Eject* I tried the CD in several other machines including a slot loading iMac and had no problems. So I tried another CD in the new MB. Same results...

      Needless to say I'm ging back to the Apple store again tonight to get a new one, but I no longer have any hope that I will get a MB that works flawlessly. I love Apple products usually, and I really want this to work out, but I'm just not able to believe that this is 1st gen jitters. There is something inherently wrong in either the design or the QC of all of these notebooks.

      Just FYI here's a list of the current reported problems. I've had 3 MBs and have experienced 4 of the issues...

      MacBook Issues []


      • by FuturePastNow (836765) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:38PM (#15877764)
        If a user bought two crappy Dells in a row, computer #3 would be an HP or a Gateway, but you're illustrative of the fact that Apple's established customers will just keep buying Macs. If Apple is satisfied with its current user base, quality problems are not a problem- people bitch on the internet and get another Macbook. However, if Apple is trying to create "switchers" and expand, quality problems will lead to single-purchase customers who go back to other brands.

        Then again, Apple's overall quality level is probably the same as any other computer manufacturer, and their customer support is better than average.
        • by klubar (591384) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:45PM (#15877790) Homepage
          I guess that's the advantage of competition. If Dell or HP makes a crappy machine, they know that their customers can easily switch to another vendor.

          With Macs, Apple knows that the customer is "stuck". Quality isn't as important, as the customer has already invested in software and training that is Mac-specific.

          The parent post is now stuck with buying Macs--and even worse really doesn't have a second-source for repairs as almost all the non-Apple Mac dealers have been put out of business by Apple stores.

          Apple has a de-facto monopoly among existing Mac users. Take it or leave it.
        • Then again, Apple's overall quality level is probably the same as any other computer manufacturer, and their customer support is better than average.

          You had me until that last sentance. It's pure speculation. I don't know what average is, and from the people who have posted about their problems it doesn't seem very good so I hope thats not true because if it is, then this sentance is going to run on forever without stopping, until I cover every possible thought about the various customer support levels
          • by mdarksbane (587589) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @07:02AM (#15879464)
            Every survey I've read from Consumer Reports and PCWorld puts apple close to the top in support, reliability, and customer satisfaction over Dell, HP, gateway, etc. IBM was the only manufacturer that ever seemed to beat them at anything, and they've now sold off their PC business.

            People aren't just deluding themselves over this. Sure there's some bias, but there's bias specifically because they're nice machines.

            Not that I would complain if their support record improved a bit... but I've done enough support on busted Dells and HP's to know that they have the problems, they just don't get publicized anywhere close to as much as apple's issues seem to.

        • by jimicus (737525)
          If a user is happy with Windows as their OS, it doesn't make much odds whether they buy a Dell, HP or a Gateway.

          If, however, they are particularly keen on using Mac OS, they don't have any choice in the matter.
      • "Very pleased again, until I received Studio 8 in the mail. I popped the CD in and... *GRIND GRIND GRIND GRIND Eject*"

        I'm pretty sure that Studio 8 only came on floppies. [] Trying to put a floppy disk in your CD drive is a bad idea... Besides, MacBooks don't support System 7 anyway, so how are you going to run it? :^) :^) :^)

        Seriously, though, I assume you've tried other CDs, right?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So we should excuse Apple for releasing faulty first gen products?

      If we were dealing with software that's one thing, since you can update software with fixes etc., which are free, easy to distribute, and can be done multiple times if needed to get shit working "right".

      But hardware is totally different. With the exception of updating firmware (which is sort of software), Apple can't exactly issue hardware fixes unless they're up for issuing a recall every 6 months. Since that's obviously too costly (to both
      • So we should excuse Apple for releasing faulty first gen products?

        I don't think anyone is excusing them, but it is a fact of life to a certain degree, regardless of what manufactured good you're talking about. The first product line off a new design will always have flaws, whether it is a new computer or a new car. You think it sucks to spend $1500 on a computer that has some issues, buy a new car model in its first year -- you'll get to pay $25k+ for the privlidge of bringing it back to the dealer several
    • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:14PM (#15877655)
      As a designer I tend to question Apple's practice of prototyping and testing hardware and software.

      It would seem that time constraints and secrecy overshadow the cycle of design > prototype > data collection > design (repeat).

      I can't imagine they're able to get enough real world data under such a vale of secrecy. They seem to test products in the market place... which means rev 1 Apple products are almost always questionable.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        vale of secrecy

        That's a pretty good name for Silicon Valley, given all the NDAs floating around.

        Of course, it might have been a typo and you might have meant "veil".
      • by NaugaHunter (639364) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:16PM (#15878307)
        As a designer I tend to question Apple's practice of prototyping and testing hardware and software.

        It would seem that time constraints and secrecy overshadow the cycle of design > prototype > data collection > design (repeat).

        I can't imagine they're able to get enough real world data under such a vale of secrecy. They seem to test products in the market place... which means rev 1 Apple products are almost always questionable.
        They could prototype the computers for a decade and it wouldn't help with issues from the production aspect, nor would it help with a bad supplier. A bad batch of batteries, screen connections, or even capacitors can give a good design a bad name.
    • Do you find it acceptable that there QA is so bad they feel the need to field test their designs on all of their early adopters?
      One of my coworkers who purchased the Macbook Pro when it was announced needed a motherboard replacement. Then last week we purchased one for a new employee. It died the after arrival. So now we have to wait two weeks to get a replacement in. Good thing I had an extra G4 desktop I could press into usage temporarily.
      I know the whole "don't by gen 1 Apple products" belief, but really
    • by admactanium (670209) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:47PM (#15877799) Homepage
      I do not think it is as much as an issue that Apples Quality Dropped but just the fact their entire Macintosh Product Line is now Generation 1, systems.
      the other thing that's not being factored in is that apple's marketshare for laptops has doubled in the last quarter compared to a year ago. so apple is simply selling more computers than ever before. even if the defect rate was exactly the same there would be twice as many people to experience those defects. also, many of those people in that group would also be new to the platform and therefore likely to have higher expectations of their experience than people who are coming from a previous apple computer.

      i won't go so far to say that their new computers aren't suffering more problems than previous versions, but the previous versions of these machines were already into their third generation and most of the kinks had been worked out. even as a mac aficianado i wouldn't ever claim them to be perfect.

    • by Lord Kano (13027)
      Like every other company, Apple sometimes gets a bad batch of parts. I was working at an Apple dealer and doing repairs when the Summer 2000 iMacs started popping analog/power boards like Orville Redenbacher's popcorn.

      I changed so many damned boards that eventually I could disassemble one, replace the board and reassemble it in under 15 minutes.

      These were not Gen 1 machines. It's just that sometimes bad parts make it through quality control. It happens to other big companies too. Big car companies sometimes
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is Apple having an unusually large number of quality control problems since its switch to Intel?

    Sheesh. EVERY product of Apple's has unusually large number of quality control problems. From iPod batteries, to laptop fires, to cracks in the cubes, to motherboard defects, on and on and on.

    Seriously, where does this idea come from that Apple never has problems? They have constant hardware problems.

    • OK, so the parent was written as a flame, but honestly all the complaints that people are leveling at these models are nothing new. It's possible that the failure rates are a bit higher than previous models, but complaints about heat, cracked hinges, peeling paint, cube cracks, iPod issues (mine even used to crash!), logic board problems (iBook), frayed power cords, etc...

      Honestly, I'm guessing that these complaints are the minority, since otherwise Apple would be going under paying for repairs. I'd say m
    • I'll grant you the iPod battery thing, although I've never had any problems personally with mine (mine being plural). However, I've only heard of one iMac catching on fire years ago (one of the lampshades, I think), but no laptop fires. The only laptop fires I've heard about lately were Dells. I have no idea where you came up with motherboard defects either. Overall Apple's problems have been largely cosmetic of late.

      The problems I've had were Harddrive (IBM made it), and graphics card (nVidia made it). Oh,
      • Yes, Apple does have problems, so does everybody else. But it's not constant.
        I should add, Apple also has a history of fixing problems rather quickly when they arise. Dell is still "investigating" the multiple battery explosions, aren't they?
  • Problems... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spytap (143526) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:34PM (#15877450)
    Is it that there are so many problems per capita, or just that the company is so high-profile?

    To me, it's arguable that these are no different than the other problems Dell or HP/Compaq have, there's just a somewhat higher profile when it's a Mac. Granted, no transition is seamless, and I know that there are a good number of people that are having issues, but I haven't spoken or interacted with anyone who's said that any issues they are having would make them rethink their buying decision.
    • Still Apple gives the impression that their products are better, then Dell, HP and Compaq, Part of this impression is higher quality in all parts, Design, style, usability... Having the same problems that the other guys doesn't look good for Apple, because they are supposed to be better. If Apple was targeting the Budget Market then these problems are more forgivable because they were supposed to be cost effective not better quality.
      • Honestly though, ANY and EVERY company tries to give the impression that their products are better in some fashion, that's kind of a principal of business. I think what you meant is that Apple has the perception of being better in some fashion like you listed (design, style, etc.) in which case the end user expects more because they are "supposed to be better."
    • Re:Problems... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:51PM (#15877545) Homepage

      I agree with this. I've said it before-- the main reason you hear more quality complaints from Mac users isn't that the quality is lower than Dell, but because the users expect more. Macintosh users tend to be picky, and Apple raises the bar for themselves by hyping their systems as being somehow "flawless".

      Take the example of the Powerbook Ti, which had a tendency for a small amount of paint to flake off. If you looked at the forums on Mac news sites, you'd think it was the end of the world. On the other hand, how many models of Dell/Sony laptops have had some sort of problem where you could scrape off some paint, or the casing became discolored at some point? Pretty much all of them.

      So what's the difference? When Apple user's computers have the smallest problems, they get together on their little forums and compare notes about every little flake of paint. When Dell users computers have small problems, they either ignore them, or they call some guy in India and try to get it replaced.

      I don't see any Apple people, however, complaining about the quality of their hardware/software and wishing they'd bought a Dell running Windows.

      • I dunno -- after the constant logic board problems with my iBook I got a Dell. I expect exactly the same amount (small downtime), but I've been much happier with the Dell.
      • the main reason you hear more quality complaints from Mac users isn't that the quality is lower than Dell, but because the users expect more.

        While I believe this is true, it doesn't fully cover the situation. There is a very vocal segment of Mac users, and they also tend to be the kind that upgrade to every new product. Seriously, if you go to the Apple Discussions Board and read the signatures, there are people there that have bought upwards of 5 machines in the last year or two. These people tend to

      • Re:Problems... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dfghjk (711126)
        Funny, I'd say just the opposite. Mac users are constantly in denial over issues and pretend quality problems don't exist. It isn't an Intel mac thing, it's an iPod thing and a software thing as well. Mac users tend to BELIEVE they are picky but they are, in fact, oblivious. Yes, they hype their systems as being somehow "flawless" and they buy into their own hype.

        How many models of Dell/Sony laptops have had some sort of problem where I could scrape off some paint? None that I've owned (and I've owned
    • Re:Problems... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheGavster (774657) * on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:57PM (#15877576) Homepage
      If you're going to run commercials where some loser pretends to be a PC and some hip dude is the Mac, you're held to a slightly higher standard. Dell, HP, etc say "we will sell you a computer for $500", and do this well. Apple says "We will sell you a better computer". If they have the same problems as Dell does, then they aren't coming through.
    • Wasn't it a few years ago PC makers products had a 11% defect rate. I wonder what the percentage is for the full Intel Mac line, and what was it during the PPC years?

      I never buy the first off the line. Rev B or C is usually worth waiting for.
  • 1st Generation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:42PM (#15877476) Homepage

    Isn't Apple notorious for having issues with products that are "1st Generation"?

    I thought it was pretty common amongst macheads to always wait until at least the 3rd iteration of a product so it becomes stable

    • This does seem to be the conventional wisdom but as a Mac fan(boi if you like) I always get the first gen - can't help myself. I've been like this since the first PPC. (6100/60)

      I know it's supposed to be foolish but I can't help it. The fact that every product (including this Mac Book Pro I'm typing on) has been flawless has not persuaded me to stop.

      Guess I'm lucky though and "Apple user happy with 1st Generation products" does not make headlines.
    • Buy refurbished. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by apflwr3 (974301)
      It's pretty obvious why you shouldn't get the first-gen machine out of the gate. When Apple announces a new machine they are flooded with orders and they care far more about filling them than quality control. Hell, you should expect to take it back at least once or even swap it out and consider yourself lucky if your computer is problem free.

      Wait a few months and get a refurb. I've found their refurbished products to be rock-soild, and from what I've heard from a few, ahem, "genius" friends they go throug
  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:44PM (#15877486) Journal
    ... then they knock you down. Dvorakitis is spreading IMHO - Ars will get a lot of page-hits (and hence ad revenue) from people wanting to read about this. Sure, Apple have had problems, but not as many as Dell, and I doubt Dell are any worse than any other random manufacturer.

    Apple actually have it worse than most - to an extent they sell on style, and "shiny goodness". People are *more* vocal when something goes wrong with something they like, rather than some random notebook work gave them to use at the weekend... I'm actually surprised the vocal minority haven't been louder. Perhaps Apple ought to release the figures for their return/repair rates - I seem to recall someone saying they were well below industry norms - even *with* all this hullaballoo.

    Can I also just say I bought an MBP pro, and it hasn't exhibited any of the problems mentioned in the article... because normally you never hear about it when it works fine - only when it's broken in some way. As a software developer, I knew all about that :-)


    • by monopole (44023) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:53PM (#15877824)
      So the new Apple Slogan is "Slightly less crappy than Dell"?
    • That was one of teh justifications I always heard from Maccies aobut the cost. "Oh well Apple makes higher quality products than PC makers." Ok fair enough, quality is a justification of price. However if the best that can be said for quality is "Well it's not any worse than Dell," that's not saying much. I'll forgive Dell some quality flubs given their low prices. Well these days, quality is really all Apple can use to justify the price. They use the same processors, graphics cards, memory, etc as PCs so t
    • I'd also be pretty sure that Dell would not offer to give you a new case for your Dell Notebook because of discoloration.
  • by QuantumFTL (197300) * <.justin.wick. .at.> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:45PM (#15877497)
    Unlike Microsoft, which has a lot of customers that are concerned about legacy application support, Apple has a customer-base that generally uses newer software, and tends to be more forgiving to these kinds of problems. OS X updates have frequently broken all kinds of old applications, but their market share continues to go up.

    By now most folks know that purchasing Revision A hardware is a gamble - to be honest I think that some of the fun that comes with living on the "bleeding edge" is the knowledge that if things work, you've really survived something.

    The biggest problem I have with the apple transition was that they had a 32-bit intel architecture that now must be supported for years to come. I honestly am not quite sure why they did that, as there will undoubtably be some support headaches for apple developers for the next few years.
    • by nine-times (778537) <> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:56PM (#15877573) Homepage
      They probably went with the 32-bit architecture because they wanted to make the transition ASAP, and 64-bit wasn't quite ready. Will it really be such a headache to support? Xcode, for example-- can't you just write the program once, and have it compile into a Universal Binary? I can't imagine supporting 32-bit and 64-bit Intel will be harder than supporting 32-bit PPC, 64-bit PPC, and 32-bit Intel.
    • The biggest problem I have with the apple transition was that they had a 32-bit intel architecture that now must be supported for years to come.
      I have yet to see a 64-bit chip that will fit in a notebook computer and not weigh 15 pounds, have a battery life measured in minutes, etc.

      Remember, that's where these chips went first was into Notebooks. Apple makes good money off of Notebooks and needed to bring those up-to-par ASAP.
  • by Rob86TA (955953) <Robert.Atkinson@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:45PM (#15877499)
    It's Apple's supplier that's having the quality problem's. Their CM (Contract Manufacturer) is like all other companies in the EMS industry and suffering under the demand for price concessions and supply fullfilment. Like all OEM's Apple wants their product now, perfectly built and cheap, and like all OEMs doesn't realise they can only have 2 of the proverbial 3.

    Working in the industry I can tell you that as the OEM demands you meet shipments, units that should stay behind for debug or rework tend to float out the door to meet revenue/demand numbers. Apple's resurgence in popularity probably has everyone in the supply line getting every possible unit out the door to meet demand.
    • Yes, but Apple products are by no mean the cheapest around the town. In other words, most Apple customers eager to paid a premium for nearly perfectly built machine with the latest components now. Everyone uses contract manufacturer. No one has any doubt or problem with that. But, it is the responsiblity of the company who owns the brand to enforce the quality control (and improve the design). I can see no reason to allow Apple from escaping its responsibility.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:46PM (#15877504)
    I work in an operation where we service about 300 new Mac computers per month (and, of course, many more PC computers). At this time, about one-third of our service involves brand new Intel-based Mac computers. I can say that the amount of problems coming through related to these brand new machines is no different from the amount of the problems we have had over time with PowerPC-based Macs. My personal experience is that there is no basis for any claim of any increase in problems. I have, however, observed Apple being more responsive to problems than ever before in their history. Our PC's are generally Dells and it looks like Apple is taking on the leader of the Windows makers. I can only expect good things from vigorous competition.
    • i love the smell of fresh astroturf in the morning
    • by zerocool^ (112121) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:11PM (#15878289) Homepage Journal

      The key here is to lower your expectations. (well, not you, but the public).

      I've been a tech for years now, and for a while I was a ground-pounder (on-site service). No matter where I was, home, office, or elsewise - people ask "What's a good computer to buy?". Appearantly, when you do it for a living, people value your opinion. Even though the shop I worked for sold (relatively solid) computers, I always gave the same answer:

      "Figure out what features you want, then pay the lowest price you can to get those features. Plan for the computer to have problems and don't expect any service from the retailer or the manufacturer for free."

      That's it.

      It saves you from paying too much or too little, and it saves you from the shock of "it's going to cost how much?!? What about the warranty?!?".

      If your feature list is "I need to get onto the interweb tubes", then.. pretty much anything will work for you. If your wishlist is a Micro-UXGA TFT 1900x1200 screen and a Centrino setup, then look at those models. If your wishlist is "looks good on the coffee table and is powerful and easy to use", then there's nothing wrong with buying a Mac.

      But, expect it to break, and expect to pay someone to fix it. Software, hardware, whatever. If it never has a problem, congratulations you won the lottery. They're all made from the same parts, folks*


      *the SOLE exception to this is computers with those magical letters on them - IBM. Granted, one: I haven't worked with post-Lenovo IBM, and two: IBM sells a lot less computers than dell and they cost a lot, but in my time of hands on groundpounder tech work, I never once saw an IBM thinkpad with a hardware problem. I'm sure they existed, but... those computers just wouldn't give up.
  • the hell knows? They won't say, and the public isn't likely to find out the truth. In reality, most rev1 products have problems, and laptops take a hell of a rough beating, especially compared to stationary computers. Does Apple have more problems than any other OEM? Not likely, considering Apple contracts the manufacturing of their products to the same people that make everyone else's products also. If Apple were experiencing massive quality control problems, we would see it across the channel, not just at
  • by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:47PM (#15877515) Homepage
    One of the original and most widely covered issues with the MacBook Pro was the mysterious "whining" noise.

    That's weird. I thought that problem went away when you let the design department buy the macs in the first place?
  • Meme du jour. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rational (1990) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:47PM (#15877520)

    Apple is the most closely scrutinized hardware company *ever*. If my MacBook appears to make an elusive noise beyond the hearing range of the average dog, it makes the cover of Time. If my Packard Bell shitbox releases its magic smoke and dies, it doesn't even get on Digg.

    It's just the story of the month, and people will get bored of it eventually. The alternative conspiracy theory, of course, is that it could keep being fuelled by Microsoft's astroturf budget.
    • Re:Meme du jour. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zerocool^ (112121)

      As has been noted around here: If Macs cost $500, people would expect eMachine or Packard Bell or HP's level of service.

      When you charge $2200 for something that everyone else charges $1700 for; and you parade yourself on being the company that "really gets computer users" (commercial with old fogie representing windows crashing and young hip guy representing a Mac and how well it works), you're held to a higher standard.

      Other companies make PC's and sell PC's.

      Apple claims to make better PC's. If they're no
  • From the comments of other, long-time Mac-users, I'd conclude that the current generation of products is not too bad, especially not for "Gen. 1" products.
    Talk to long-time Mac-Addicts and they will relay horror-stories about virtually any Apple-product in the last years.
    But who cared about Apple notebooks 3-5 years ago?
    It's only recently that they moved themselves into the limelight.
    One reason why they moved so slow on all the Macbook-motherboard-issues may be that they first wanted to do a complete assess
    • products is not too bad, especially not for "Gen. 1" products. Talk to long-time Mac-Addicts and they will relay horror-stories about virtually any Apple-product in the last years.

      Even before the Mac! Remember the Apple ///? Good. Few people do, because they didn't sell make of them. Why? Because Jobs wanted it to be a quiet business machine and ordered that it not have a fan. Result: the chips popped out of their sockets due to overheating periodically. The apocryphal fix was to lift the machine a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:57PM (#15877578)
    No "Could this be the end for Apple?" question at the end of the description?
  • by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:58PM (#15877585) Journal
    (See subject.)
  • by linguae (763922) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:01PM (#15877600)

    I bought a MacBook almost two weeks ago (this is the first OS X Mac that I've ever owned; I have an old Mac SE and Performa 6220 that I received 2 years ago from a teacher's friend). I've dreamed of owning a Mac for over two years now, and when the MacBook came out, it was the Mac notebook that I've always wanted. It had OS X, was the right screen size for me, and did everything that I wanted. I was a bit worried about the purchase, due to some of the problems that I've continued to hear about on the Internet (heat so much that it can cook an egg, discoloration within a few days, mooing noises, etc). I was also a bit worried with some technical details (integrated graphics and OS X performance, plus glossy screen).

    However, once I bought the machine, I couldn't be happier. I have no problems with my Mac. I've never heard the fan (it is silent), I see no discoloration occurring at all (although I should clean it often in order for it to continue looking new), and the heat is warm enough for me to feel confortable on a cold day (it's even confortable on a lap), but not hot enough to burn myself. The glossy screen is never an annoyance for me (I forget that it is glossy whenever I am working in a non-floursecent environment), and the integrated graphics do a great job handling OS X's graphics and video playback; quite better than the Voodoo 3 in my old PC. Since buying my Mac, I haven't turned on my desktop PC (an old 950MHz Duron with 384MB RAM, running Windows XP and FreeBSD; a generally trouble free computer) once.

    Now, it is less than 2 weeks old, so it is probably too early to tell. However, I advise people looking into getting a MacBook or MacBook Pro to just buy one (unless they want to hold out for a Core 2 Duo Mac). Everybody that I know who has one has a wonderful experience with them. They are wicked fast, quite elegant, and comes with all of that OS X goodness. Plus, since these are of a later generation of the first generation, all of the problems should be generally fixed.

    And, no, I do not work at Apple, nor do I get paid by Apple to make this. This is my personal experience. I'm just a computer science student, that's all.

  • I think it might just be a small, vocal group of people having problems.

    The only "common issue" I have with my black MacBook is the "mooing" which isn't even noticable with headphones.
    It runs much, much cooler than any other laptop I own, and it's infinitly quieter.

    The only quality control issues I've had are that the hinge is a bit squeaky and the power brick makes odd noises.

    That's *it.*

    Maybe I just got lucky. Who knows?
  • by bananaendian (928499) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:03PM (#15877616) Homepage Journal

    No, these are not growing pains or any other phenomenon with a common unusual cause. They are all unrelated QC issues that could've happened and do happen with all products of such complexity. The only correlation due to a common cause related to Apple the company is the fact that these are all first generation products with radically new engineering compared to the old Macs all released within a short period of time.

    Most of this apparent correlation is due to the fact that the Intel macs are getting unprecidented attention. The attention and scrutany is also amplified by the fact that forums and things like flickr are more popular now then they were during the previous launches of Apple's producs such as the original iMac and iBook lines - both of which had their share of QC issues. I would argue that Apple's Intel Macs have received orders of magnitude more publicity and attention then any of their previous products, as well as their competitors. I mean when was the last time a Dell product was featured in /. WITHOUT it having to first explode or something...

    So, no, ars technica - your article is a non-story about a non-issue.

    PS: Not that this is suprising - /. has been featuring many [] of these lately...

  • I'm not being my regular Apple fanboy self here; Consider that these are the first generation of a major architectural change. I'm not buying a MacBook -because- of this alone. My 12" PowerBook will do me fine for the next two years at least. I'd even give MS the benefit of the doubt if they were in the same position (and I'm giving them LOTS of slack on Vista, even when I raz them).
  • Still they have gotten to the migration 210days pretty slick. Quality and customer support should be a higher concern. They could easily lead in that area.
  • I deliberately bought a 20" iMac PPC a few days after the first intel model shipped. I figured it would be my last mac for a few years because it always take them a long time to get a major change right. The same thing happened on their Motorola to IBM transition.
  • by Paska (801395) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:37PM (#15877761) Homepage
    I work for a major, major, Australia Apple authorised Reseller with a service center that services many, many Macs.

    Is Apple having problems? Nope. They did with the first batch of MacBook Pros, but since then, it's been smooth sailing.

    Apple's biggest problems are the iBooks.

    You also have to remember Apple are selling, a lot more Laptops then they have ever done in the past. Sales in Australia have skyrocketed so high that almost no-one can keep up with demand.
  • Here's my experience with my MacBook...

    I bought it.

    It works.

    I know that it's in vogue to criticize Apple now, and I know that Apple is high profile, but their QC issues are no different than they've usually been. The first-gen products have a higher lemon rate.


    Anyone remember the first-gen TiBooks, where the antenna design sucked so much that getting beyond 50 feet of Airport range was a miracle? Or the cubes with the power button that was so sensitive it would sometimes trigger
    • Anyone remember the first-gen TiBooks, where the antenna design sucked so much that getting beyond 50 feet of Airport range was a miracle?

      Not only that, but the alloy used in the screen hinges was poor and brittle. I broke my hinges by dropping the computer onto a desk about 6 inches. When I removed the hinges and replaced them, I found that I could snap the remaining parts of the old hinges in my hand. Not bend first. Snap.

      The TiBook wasn't the first Apple quality debacle. That was the Apple ///,

  • by proxima (165692) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:47PM (#15877797)
    From the article:
    [...]are there quality control problems at Apple? We've wondered about that before and now we're raising the quesiton again.
    (emphasis mine)

    It's pretty funny to read a sentence about quality control followed up by something spellcheck could catch. Then again, this is Slashdot.
  • Got my macbook a few weeks ago. Started to shut down randomly even after VRAM (I think that's what is reset) and PMU resets. I narrowed it down on other mac forums that it might be a Logic Board problem. Supposedly, similar probelms plagued some earlier iBook models, but this is my first Mac. Overall, I'm still satisfied, but from the looks of it I may have to utilize my Warranty to get the issue resolved.
    • My wife had the same problem with her iBook. But in her case, everything was fine and then she tried to upgrade to Tiger 3 months after she got it. She thought it was Tiger, and then Panther wouldn't run (i.e. it wouldn't run after being restored to factory). Turns out she had a bad hard drive AND a bad board.

      She got that one sent back, it came back in a week, and has been running fine now for over a year. I just upgraded her to Tiger last week (after many assurances that the last time was a fluke) and
  • by Kostya (1146) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:21PM (#15877914) Homepage Journal
    I'm not saying that all the problems people are having are made up, but I'm just not seeing any of them. Then again, I custom ordered my MacBook from Apple and I did not buy one from the Apple Store.

    I bought mine at the beginning of July. It arrived on the 17th. I have been using it non-stop since then for software development, and I haven't seen any problems at all. No yellowing. No heat issues. No scuff issues (although I'm not tossing it in a backpack--I have a satchel I use with all sorts of nice padding). It works fine. As a matter of fact, I love it :-)

    Does it run pretty hot? Sure. But no worse than my PowerBook (same really). Battery life? Same. Screen? Soooooo much more beautiful ;-)

    My understanding from talking with one of the store guys is that they had some assembly issues at first with the MBPs in terms of heat. They were apparently leaving the plastic on the parts even when they were put together--thus blocking the vents. But that was apparently resolved.

    I have seen scuttle butt around about not getting machines direct from the Apple store and getting a custom build through Apple. The idea is that they have to assemble one fresh from China for you (well, that is where they ship from--I can dig up my shipping label from around here somewhere). I guess the thinking is that there were some kinks in the assembly line/supply chain, and that "fresh" systems don't suffer as bad.

    In my case, that seems to have worked--no issues here.
  • It's well known what the whine is. When one of the cores is not in use, the MacBook Pro puts it in a low-power sleep mode. The mode Apple picked was a bad one and it casuses the processor to whine. When both cores are being used, no sound. It's trivial to kill the whine too. Just install the Apple CHUD tools, which includes a CPU preference pane and menu. Using the menu, select "Single CPU" instead of "Dual CPU", which disables the CPU entirely.
    • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @02:40AM (#15878957)
      But if what the know is what you know, then no one really knows.

      The problem is plain and simply coil buzz.

      Laptops use switching power supplies, because linear ones aren't efficient enough. Switching power supplies use wire wound inductors to store energy while converted it from one voltage to another. These switching power supplies are constantly filled and emptied of energy. This often causes the coils to vibrate slightly. It's the same thing you hear from a power substation, only in a power substation it is at a fixed 60Hz as the coils in the transformers constantly empty and fill as the AC voltage dips above and below 0V.

      In a laptop, the frequency depends on the switching power supply design. There are fixed-frequency switching power supplies, but these are not efficient across a wide range of power draws. So they have to use a variable frequency switching power supply. The problem is that the frequency ranges the power supply uses include the range 300Hz-3KHz, where the ear is very sensitive to the buzz.

      When the power draw is high, the frequency is high, when it goes down, the frequency drops. If the frequency sweeps through the audible range, you hear chirps, like the G5 towers exhibited or moos (although the moos are often a 2nd order effect). If the frequency stops in the audible range, you hear a whine, like the laptops can show.

      If you modify the power settings to keep the power supply outside the audible range, then you either limit your CPU speed (by going single core) or significantly increased your power draw (by turning off CPU napping). There is another whine which comes from the backlight power supply, it will also change frequency (to often be inaudible) if you change the backlight to be higher or lower.

      Apple didn't pick the wrong mode, they need to go to that mode to save power and reduce heat.

      Apple should do everything the can to reduce the whines. But it's not practical to remove it completely.
  • Only Apple would be so self-enamored as to refer to their techs as "geniuses" and not mean it sarcastically. Especially considering the fact that most store technicians aren't above the level of such stunning detecrive work as "Your processor is smoking and giving off a burning smell. I think it's dead."
  • No problems here.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by adrew (468320) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:38PM (#15878380)
    We've purchased 18 Intel-based Macs at work over the past couple of months and haven't had any hardware issues. Most software works fine, too. At first we had a few issues with PowerPC software (MS Office, naturally) but recent system updates seem to have fixed 'em. We do have one custom OS X app that flat-out refuses to run through Rosetta.

    We bought 16 Mac Minis, a MacBook and a 15" MacBook Pro (2 GHz). All are great machines, 'specially the MacBook Pro. The Minis are perfectly happy with Dell Ultrasharp monitors (15", 19" or 20" widescreen) and Microsoft mice (5-pack is $60!).

    Performance is outstanding. I ran XBench and the MacBook Pro is slightly faster than a full-size dual 2.0 GHz G5 desktop in most categories (aside from hard disk speed, of course).

The clothes have no emperor. -- C.A.R. Hoare, commenting on ADA.