A worm belies Apple's perfection

Apple has a very high opinion of itself, but reality may take a bite out of that
Written by Leader , Contributor

As the UK feverishly awaits the opening of Europe's first Apple Store and the inevitable Ohio voter-style queues, chilling news arrives from the virtual world. Apple's online store, like the bricks and mortar version, offers a wide variety of appropriate goodies from other manufacturers alongside the company's own. The American version also has a ratings system, where buyers can award stars for the stuff on offer – a perfect example of the user-empowering schtick that has helped Apple make its fanbase one of the most virulent on the planet.

Except when it comes to the products Apple makes. There, it doesn't matter what you think – the company awards them top rank ratings. Five stars, by default. "Why, you wouldn't expect us to make anything that's less than great, would you?" the company purred.

Actually, yes. We do. Pricing, supply, reliability, OS upgrade policy – we can pick bones with all of these. Even Apple's wunderkind iPod doesn't look too hot against the opposition if you look at things like battery life and feature set. Apple does make lovely kit – but it has never and will never achieve perfection. Sometimes, it falls far short. Pretending otherwise is a dangerous and damaging flirtation with illusion, and ignoring what your customers say is damaging to all.

That reality distortion field starts at the top. Steve Jobs is famous for his aura of invincibility and omniscience – it's only after you've left the great man's presence that you start to have doubts, and by then it's usually too late. Such charisma is a like a nuclear power station: fantastically useful but when things go wrong the fallout can lay waste entire countries. Dangerously, the whole company has bought into the idea that it is by definition perfect – evidence to the contrary is not welcome. Those aren't cracks in the coolant pipes, those are design features to allow for future expansion.

We know this all too well. Last week saw one of the first malware exploits for OS X. As good journalism demands, we called Apple for a statement. Apple really couldn't be bothered – a week after the story broke, it roused itself from contemplation of its own gorgeousness (or whatever it is that Apple's PR does all day) to say 'not a problem'. Not what the rest of the world thinks, but does that matter to Apple? Apparently not.

When anyone refuses to engage with reality, refuses to admit mistakes and asks you to sign up to faith over facts: beware. It is a heady club to join, and self-righteousness combined with glib certainties engenders fierce support. None of this will help you when the cracks get big enough for the edifice to crumble. We take note of what our readers think – you can find this out for yourself by using the Talkback below. It's time for Apple to learn to listen.

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