Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Jun 2006 15:24 UTC, submitted by Tom Dickens
Apple "It's not that I despise Apple or the wonderful products it showcases year after year, but the fact that almost every first generation Apple product has serious quality assurance issues bugs me beyond belief. Let's take a look at two of Apple's most successful products, the company's portable music player and its notebook series."
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illusion of more mac problems
by cesman on Thu 1st Jun 2006 17:12 UTC
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Things aren't always what they seem. There can be a perception that's false which is created because of the way some things get reported in the press and online, while other things don't.

The problems that exist on the mac side (with hardware or software) tend to be more repeatable and reproducible. The hardware and software is (on a given model) almost all the same. So the same defects occur, when they occur. There's a pattern that becomes immediately apparent with a given mac product that has a problem. Of course a problem occuring is more likely on a first-gen product. The problem gets flagged by users, posted up on the web and sometimes makes it to a news article or two (at least on internet news site like osnews or cnet).

On the PC side, there's hundreds or thousands of different combinations of hardware, with much more software variability. Models also are constantly being replaced. They all have some obscure designation like "optiplex 6220i". Next week it's "optiplex 6330i". As a result, the problems that occur are more unique to a given machine, or the model is replaced before the problem appears again. The problems don't repeat with a single given model of PC. They're more unique.

Another way of looking at it is this. When you have 1000 people with 500 different machines, it's a lot less likely for all those machines to have the same defect than where all 1000 people have the same machine (e.g., first-gen macbook).

There may be the exact same or even higher rates of failure on the PC, except what causes the failure is different on every different PC model. But those individual defects don't have a pattern. Without a pattern it doesn't become a news story. It's not news that a particular Dell model had a particular problem. The next day, it's a different HP model, with a different problem. That's not a news story.

In fact, if you look at the Consumer Reports studies (based on surveys of thousands of subscribers), the mac is not more likely to have hardware problems than PCs. It's the exact reverse. You have to subscribe to Consumer Reports to get the numbers (my subscription lapsed), but this has been pretty consistently the outcome the last few times Consumer Reports looked at this.

In fact, the greater hardware reliablity of the mac may be due to the fact that the same problems tend to repeat on a given model (or batch of a model). It's easier to eliminate problems when the same ones are occurring. When there's 1000 different PCs with a 300 different problems, that's a lot more work to figure out and fix than a 1000 given macbooks, 300 of which have a defect that is the same. So same failure rate (30 percent), but vastly harder to fix the problem on the PC side going forward.

Edited 2006-06-01 17:29

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