Larry Dignan makes a spirited argument as to why Apple should be working much harder on getting Mac kit into the enterprise. I know it's a Friday (afternoon for me) and we've already had one false alarm earlier today that got everyone a-Twitter. Only the other day I managed to spark off a furious debate when I suggested that Mac might make a suitable alternative to Wintel.
But this morning (my time) a friend and fellow Mac Fanboy IM'd me in a blind panic about an issue with his MacBook Pro. "Black screen on boot - apparently common problem where video logic board is hosed and apple is unresponsive." Common problem? The one I am most familiar with is the mysterious 'just-out-of-warranty-and-the-battery-fails' classic that requires me to shell $129+ tax to get a new one.
My friend pointed me to this thread on Apple discussion forums. Started on 9th April, it goes on and on and on to the point where a moderator steps in, locks it down on 26th September and it promptly starts all over with the last post 2nd October. The first post goes like this:
Let me explain the setup first. 95% of the time, my MacBook Pro (2.2 GHz Santa Rosa) is running lid closed connected to an external 20" Cinema Display, keyboard and mouse. Normally, the laptop will go to sleep after 5 minutes of inactivity, noted by the glowing light on the latch.
I restarted my MBP last night, and it proceeded to go through the shut down process and restart. The starting chime can be heard, but there was no image on the monitor, just black. I opened the lid to start troubleshooting the issue. Blank screen on the MBP as well. I held the power button down and forced another restart, to no effect. Still a blank screen. I disconnected everything from the MBP and tried again. Still a blank screen. I've reset the PRAM, and also the Power Management setting. Still not working.
From as best I can tell, the MBP is booting up with no problem, I just have a black screen, so the computer is currently unable to be used in any capacity. I let the computer start up, and run for several minutes. I then sent the keyboard command to log off, and I could hear the computer activity increase.
I have not installed anything recently, I did note that there was a firmware release yesterday, but I've yet to install it.
One thing to note is that the light on the latch is very bright when the lid is closed, but grows much dimmer when the lid is opened. Maybe I haven't noticed this before, but it struck me as unusual.
I've not attempted to count up but there must be hundreds of similar complaints. What makes it worse is that Apple doesn't seem to understand the real nature of the problem in that there is no clear solution on offer. Worse still, its Genius staff are just as clueless in reported cases. Or at least that is what my reading of the threads suggests.
Now before floods of Apple folk come piling in with counter arguments, I'm the first to acknowledge this is a self selecting group and that once a problem is amplified in this way, it takes a life of its own then snowballs rapidly. This is especially true among those who are passionate about their equipment. Heck - I'm one of them. I love my MacBookPro.
Even so, it begs the question as to whether Apple is making laptop equipment that is fit for purpose, and, in the event of something going wrong capable of responding in a positive manner. Forget Larry's discussion about standardization. This is about break/fix or replace in business critical situations. No company is going to forgive a supplier that is consistently incapable of solving problems. In this case, if we assume it first surfaced in April, 2008 then a full 6 months has elapsed and there is still no concrete solution. If that was Microsoft, they'd be hung out to dry.
Perhaps the more important question is not whether Apple can get into the enterprise. Does it want to? If this example is typical - the battery issue has been well understood for some time and remains unresolved - it would appear not. If so then why would any CIO put his/her faith in Apple?