Monday 04 November 2002

MacDream

My mother is heading off to Morocco at the end of the month and I spent a few hours on Saturday helping her with some errands. As we were eating lunch at a Délifrance in Chatswood, I noticed an Apple store across the street. Leaving my mother to finish her iced coffee, I zipped over to have a look at the Macintosh I have no intention of buying.

Which model? Not an iMac (the swivel-mounted screen looks as though it’s about to topple off). So either an eMac or an iBook. I can’t make up my mind which one not to purchase.

With a spare battery and AC adapter plus an extra 128MB of RAM, the iBook (with a 20GB hard drive and a Combo Drive) will cost AU$4014 (US$2250). A similarly configured eMac (though with a 40GB hard drive and a G4 chip) costs AU$2460 (US$1380). Portability costs.

The sales assistant couldn’t show me how to switch on Japanese text entry but she did tell me that if I ordered a Macintosh before January 7th, 2003 I could purchase Microsoft Office at half the normal cost. I told her I’d pass on that offer, figuring that by then OpenOffice for Mac OS X might be shipping. But I was happy to see that I could replace the atrocious Apple mouse with a Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer. Not that I’ll be buying anything, anytime soon.

Later. I returned from my afternoon swim to find a letter from the computer rental company offering me a FREE $200 shopping voucher if I rent over $2000 worth of new business equipment before November 30th…

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Comments

Last year I bought one of the first titanium G4 powerbooks. I love the machine, really do.

However, I was very unhappy when I discovered this weekend that the reason why I wasn't getting an airport signal is because this particular machine didn't have an airport card. It would seem that Apple didn't put an airport card in the very first G4 powerbooks shipped. So we early adopters got shafted.

What's worse, Apple did advertise the machines as "airport ready", which, IMO, is misleading. When the person from Apple explained why my machine didn't come with a card pre-installed, all I could say was that this type of business practice was something I would expect from Microsoft, not Apple.

So as much as I like my powerbook, I'm not especially happy with Apple at the moment.

(Also follows on your MT posting and not being an early adopter, doesn't it?")

Posted by: Shelley on 4 November 2002 at 01:22 PM

I just checked the G4 PowerBooks at the Apple Store and the low end model is described as "AirPort Ready" whereas the spec for the two high end models says "AirPort Card Included." Airport Ready sounds to me like all you need to do is turn the computer on and you'll be able to use a wireless network. In Apple-ese it must mean there's an empty slot you can plug a card into. Not just misleading, dishonest.

Posted by: Jonathon Delacour on 4 November 2002 at 03:38 PM

Really, the two of you amaze me. If you're going to spend the kind of money it takes to buy a TiBook (Hell, even an iBook, or anything you're going to buy that costs "serious" money. I spent two weeks studying $149.00 DVD players, but maybe that's just me.), one would think you've done your homework. I bought an iBook last year and I knew it didn't come with an Airport card, even though it was "Airport ready."

And "Airport ready" is just a brief description to avoid saying it has a slot for the Airport card that doesn't use your single PCMCIA slot on the TiBoook, or your non-existant PCMCIA slot on the iBook, and it has antennas built-into the case. How you would market it? "This model doesn't come with an Airport Card!" Since when do marketers promote features the product doesn't have?

If it's dishonest, it's no more dishonest than any other bit of marketing nonsense, certainly less so than something like Microsoft and "trustworthy computing."

I hate coming off like a knee-jerk Apple apologist, but this just seems like the silliest bit of criticism. And an Airport card is what? $99.00? Less than the sales tax of the TiBook.

Jonathan, Apple is rumored to be announcing new iBooks with a minor uptick in the processor speeds and a price reduction. Don't know how long it might take for that to show up in Australia, but I'm guessing you could get a better deal fairly soon.

Posted by: Dave Rogers on 4 November 2002 at 09:57 PM

Dave, when you don't have 90.00 it's disappointing to turn on your Apple and find it doesn't work with the new wireless router you also can't afford. Especially in light of the fact that Apple's online site makes such a big deal of G4's inclusion of an airport card.

Yeah -- I should have done my homework. Silly me.

Posted by: Burningbird on 4 November 2002 at 11:24 PM

I don't dispute your disappointment, Shelley, and I'm sorry your present circumstances preclude getting a card. I do silly things all the time, it's a human trait. For instance, I paid something like $1200.00 for an "extended warranty" for my new car that essentially just paid for my oil changes for three years.

Once I sat down and read what it covered and didn't cover, and compared it to the manufacturer's warranty, I discovered I'd been had. Of course, I hadn't been forced to buy it, but I'd been worn down by the whole process and just made a silly decision. I went back to the dealer and pointed out the clause that said I could cancel it at any time and that I wished to cancel it at this time. It was kind of amusing watching them try to explain how I was making a mistake, especially when I pulled out the manufacturer's warranty and began pointing out how it covered _more_ than the _extended_ warranty.

So, do I criticize the dealer? Hey, they're trying to make a buck. Like nearly every other person selling something out there, they will exploit every human tendency we possess to make that sale. It's no accident that caveat emptor is in Latin. I just don't think Apple was being especially devious or underhanded in how they marketed the TiBook.

But then, I thought the whole Palm "colors" class action suit was silly and stupid. I think they advertised the Palm screen displayed something like 65,000 colors. It turns out that a few thousand of those are duplicates, so it really only displayed something like 62,000 colors. Now there's the basis for a lawsuit! And Palm either lost or agreed to settle, I've forgotten which. I think they must have settled since it would have taken years to get that thing through the courts. Or the whole 17" monitor (16.1 inches visible) nonsense. "Package sold by weight, not by volume. Contents may have settled." "Your mileage may vary." "Professional driver, closed course."

I've just learned that I need to pay very close attention to whatever it is I'm buying, because the chances are the marketing materials are presenting a skewed picture of reality. And Steve Job's Reality Distortion Field is the stuff of legends.

It's a Zen thing, we've got to pay attention.

Posted by: Dave Rogers on 4 November 2002 at 11:50 PM

And Jonathon, when you are delighted when you don't not buy the Mac which which you're not thinking of buying we won't not say we didn't not tell you so!

:-)

Posted by: Euan on 5 November 2002 at 01:46 AM

Dave, I agree -- one should check. But when I was trying to find out information about why my airport signal wasn't showing, without having to take off the back, at the Apple site there was nothing about G4's without an airport card.

There is a difference between a buyer needing to be aware, and deliberate seller obfuscation.

Regardless -- my Titanium G4 is the sexiest machine on earth, even if it is dead to wireless waves.

Jonathon, if you don't buy a Mac, make sure you're not aware of checking to make sure all implied parts are actually present.

Posted by: Shelley on 5 November 2002 at 01:29 PM

Dave, I thought about this long and hard today, because I found your argument persuasive. But, as I was plowing up and down the pool late this afternoon, the answer popped into my head. All they needed to say was "Airport Slot." Just like they say: "One FireWire port. Two USB ports."

In retrospect, I'm surprised that the salesperson didn't try to sell Shelley an AirPort card. With her mind made up to buy the PowerBook, I'm sure she would have shelled out (heh!) the extra ninety bucks. Though maybe they weren't available then.

Posted by: Jonathon Delacour on 5 November 2002 at 05:47 PM

I purchased it online at Mac Zones. Perhaps if I was informed that no airport card was present in the machine I would have 'shelled' out the extra money. Then.

Posted by: Burningbird on 6 November 2002 at 12:29 AM

Please let us all know when you finally don't buy a Mac.

Posted by: Norm Jenson on 6 November 2002 at 08:58 AM

Jonathon: wise salesperson. He/she could've ruined the sale offering the airport card. "What do you mean? Isn't it airport ready?!"

Posted by: Alan Johnston on 17 June 2003 at 04:50 AM

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2002-2003 Jonathon Delacour