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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Consumer Hardware & Components > iPod's Fatal Flaw...

iPod's Fatal Flaw...
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Oct 23, 2001, 04:49 PM
 
Am I the only one who sees a fatal flaw with this "consumer" device... IT'S MAC-ONLY! For Apple to move a ton of these things off the shelf, it would have to also work well with PCs. Why limit yourself to selling a dedicated MP3 device to 5% of the PC market, when you could just as easily make it work with PCs and open yourself up to 100% of the PC market?

Especially at $399... Apple is selling into its existing user base without expanding to new markets, and by marketing an overpriced Mac-only MP3 player to the Mac audience, it will be inadvertently biting into future iBook and iMac upgrades because people don't have an unlimited amount of cash to spend on computers -- at some point, especially in this uncertain economy, people are going to make a choice and draw the line somewhere.

Yes, it's evolutionary as far as MP3 players go, but not revolutionary. You can't be revolutionary unless you can sell it to everyone (i.e. PC and Mac users alike) and make the brand pervasive.

If it really wanted to hit a home-run, Apple would have kept the 5GB HD and MP3 functionality while adding a color LCD screen and Newton/Palm front-end functionality. Check out this Sony Palm/MP3 player for $499:

Apple could have bested them by adding a FireWire port and a 5GB hard drive, iTunes integration, Entourage/OSX synching, etc., and keeping the $399 price point. Now *that* would have been truly revolutionary!

In its current incarnation, the iPod will fail because it's being sold into a relatively small market, and due to its limited functionality and high price. It's another Cube, and I can't understand why it's so plainly obvious to us but not to Apple.

[ 10-23-2001: Message edited by: Sonny Shrivastava ]
     
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Oct 23, 2001, 05:04 PM
 
total "agree-itude".

in olden times, befure USB and firewire, it was understandable that there was Mac-only and PC-but-not-Mac hardware; but whats up with this? you cant tell me that Apple is incapable of making a Win32 app to interface with this thing over FW. hey - how about an open-source app to tie in with X?

Apple could have done so much more with this device than they did. PDA, personal recorder, wireless, the list goes on.

i guess i, like every one else, was expecting a little more. when is the next real Apple revolution going to happen, and what are they doing to gain market share?

oh well - i'm not a stock holder.
     
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Oct 23, 2001, 05:14 PM
 
I agree with you, Sonny. Mac owners who have $400 to spend on an MP3 player are a tiny fraction of a tiny segment of the market.

They're positioning it similarly to the Canon Digital Elph camera and Nokia's 8X00 series phones... premium products that go after the same technophile segment of the general market. But by aiming it just at Mac users, Apple has seriously limited iPod's potential impact.

Its other fatal flaw is the same one that plagued the Cube: it's an extraordinary device at an outrageously high price.

There's no point in having a best-in-class product if it's priced beyond its competitors. It makes it harder to compare Apples to apples, so to speak. What makes the iPod superior to a 6GB Nomad Jukebox? Yes, the interface is outstanding, the ability to charge via FireWire is ingenious and it's a lot smaller than the Nomad. But are these factors worth a 60% premium?

I guess that's for the marketplace to decide. And we all know what the marketplace's verdict on the Cube was.

iPod will no doubt have a huge sales spike when it's introduced, and that will slowly taper off to nothing. Apple will have to aggressively drop the price ($199 to $249 seems to be the sweet spot) and add features to penetrate deeper into the consumer market.
     
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Oct 23, 2001, 05:59 PM
 
I actually think it is better this way!

We (Mac users) are an elite group, and i prefer that this kind of cool Apple gadgets stay for us only.
FireWire and iTunes sync are 2 of the main 'components' of the iPod workflow, and obviously this 2 (well, some PeeCess may have FW, but, how many??) components are the Mac Only parts of *our* Mac digital hub.

I just donīt imagine an iPod connected to a crappy-ugly PeeCee, getting synced with what..WinAmp? ...Hell i don't want that.

...I love the iPod!

[ 10-23-2001: Message edited by: ARENA ]
     
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Oct 23, 2001, 09:06 PM
 
Amen. The iPod is a truly breakthrough MP3 player. Sure, it's $400, but you get what you pay for. In this case, you're paying for the ease of use both external and GUI design, Firewire blazing speeds, compact size, and elegant design. Oh yeah, plus high quality head phones.

Sure, other devices may be cheaper and have bigger HDs, but are they really better in terms of ease of use and actually USING the product?
     
<No Fatal Flaw>
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Oct 23, 2001, 09:23 PM
 
Stop and think about how many PC's "actually" have a firewire port in them? If I had to guess, 1% would be high.. What fatal flaw..
     
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Oct 23, 2001, 10:15 PM
 
WOW a $400 walkman, revolutionary WOW who is the sucker that is going to buy this?
At least at the Asylum, they treat me with respect.
     
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Oct 23, 2001, 10:21 PM
 
Originally posted by ARENA:
<STRONG>We (Mac users) are an elite group, and i prefer that this kind of cool Apple gadgets stay for us only.
</STRONG>
For me only, you're not elitist enough

[ 10-23-2001: Message edited by: Shekwan ]
     
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Oct 23, 2001, 10:30 PM
 
Mac-only platform is its the iPods fatal market share flaw. Price is its fatal flaw. They'd sell a ton if it was better priced to mac users...Iike i said before its cool just not a smart buy.

Barack Obama: Four more years of the Carter Presidency
     
<P.T. v 2.1b>
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Oct 23, 2001, 10:52 PM
 
Quote: "WOW a $400 walkman, revolutionary WOW who is the sucker that is going to buy this?"

&lt;Flame&gt;It appears 'mikithecrackhead' really is on crack. I have some tips for you: buy a thesaurus and a book on English grammar. You're making the rest of us look bad.&lt;/Flame&gt;

Seriously, though, I think that while it has a high price, the iPod makes some serious dents.

As a side note, I have a multitude of PC friends, many of whom recently have upgraded or bought a new Pile of Crap [PC], and none of whom got IEEE 1394[FW] ports with their upgrade/purchase. But, according to some on this BB, Apple is severely limiting themselves by making it Mac only. Uh huh.
To the rest of us who have actually stopped to think: "Let the bleeding hearts bleed; I'll do what I want."

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Oct 23, 2001, 10:55 PM
 
What makes you think that Apple can really pull off better for cheaper?

you know they cant and wont do that... They make things better, no matter if the costs are outrageous. And if it doesn't sell, so be it.

I quote steve: "If we don't miss once in a while, we aren't trying hard enough"

So, its hit or miss... like everything... But it wouldn't be like apple to comprimise design, innovation, and Apple-ness for price and a greater consumer money... I dont think its in their dna.
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jas
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Oct 23, 2001, 10:56 PM
 
I don't think the Mac only aspect is a flaw. Just the price.
IMHO Apple should have made the price point much lower. Even at the risk of taking a small loss on the product.
Why you may ask?
Build an incredible piece of hardware.
Sell it at an unbelievable price point.
Make PC users soooooooo want it.
Inform them they will have to buy a mac to use it!!!

Yes, I think if marketed well enough I think some PC users would actually buy a Mac just to use cool toys like this.
     
<The Price>
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Oct 23, 2001, 11:09 PM
 
IMHO, the price is to pace initial demand until they can determine demand and availability. Then they can lower the price. Who knows, perhaps they'll adjust it quickly, time will tell
     
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Oct 24, 2001, 05:22 AM
 
It does not make sense. It just does not make sense. Why would a wookie be on Endor? It does not make sense.

"Sing it again, rookie beyach."
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Oct 24, 2001, 07:49 PM
 
Well, just to point out the fatal flaw in this fatal flaw (other than being in the wrong forum -- the iPod is not a PDA):

From the presentation transcript:

"We have thought that when we get a little spare time, we will look at taking it to Windows. We know the experience won't be as good, but we will probably look at that down the road."

Apple are on the case!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the original Newton (ie, before they even started using the 100, 110, 120... monikers) Mac-only, then later offered PC connectivity after they'd shipped it?
     
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Oct 24, 2001, 10:02 PM
 
Apple isn't stupid. They know exactly who their target audience is, look at the commercial. Apple doesn't expect hordes of people to buy this product. The ipod is just another good reason to switch to Mac. Envy!
     
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Oct 24, 2001, 10:22 PM
 


Yeah, what do we know? We didn't do the market research, product design, etc.

I think we mac users actually like having PC/Windows users turn green with envy.

hee
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Oct 24, 2001, 10:43 PM
 
Another vote of agreement.

I will likely buy the iPod, but I am sure that most Mac users will not. When you multiply the small fraction of Mac users who will buy this thing by the (relatively) small number of people who are Mac users, you don't come up with a big number. Only time will tell, but I had a sinking feeling in my stomach when I read about the "revolutionary" device that Apple was releasing. I hope that they ultimately make money off of this kind of inovation, because that means other cool products will follow, but I keep seeing the word "Cube" float in front of my eyes everytime I look at the iPod. The price (US$400) for an MP3 player is really too much, regardless of its looks and added features.

Cheers

[ 10-24-2001: Message edited by: Nephron ]
     
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Oct 24, 2001, 11:17 PM
 
Apple doesnt need to sell a bunch of them.. Apple is a multi-billion dollar company with a strong customer base and a well established line of products.. this is just another gesture from Apple that they really DO care about us, and want us to have a flawless experience with them
     
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Oct 25, 2001, 12:21 AM
 
Let me try and put a positive spin on this. Steve has figured out that the only way to get a Windows user to buy a Mac is to give them a very, very, specific, concrete reason why they should want one. People won't buy Macs just because of the intangible quality of being easier to use. So the iMac was marketed as allowing you to get on the internet in 15 minutes. iTunes and especially iMovie are easy to demonstrate in the store. The Cube was a work of art but that didn't matter much to people.

I would guess that there are at least 10% of Windows users who would be willing to explore the possibility of learning about Macs. Not that they are heavily interested, but that might switch if given a really good reason. And maybe 5% of computer users would be interested in a great MP3 player like the iPod. So the intersection is 1/2 per cent. But Apple only has 3% marketshare now.

For that 1/2 per cent, the iPod with iTunes represents a very, very specific and large reason to buy a Mac. iMovie demoes might impress people but they know that they can always buy a PC to make movies. It's also hard to figure out how good iMove is unless you've used something else. iTunes is cool but it is just one piece of software of several a person will need.


But for this 1/2 per cent, iPod has specific advantages they can relate to, and hopefully the salespeople will point out that only iPod has these. Everyone knows that a small, 6 oz device is cooler and better than something bigger. Automatically synching with the computer and Firewire charging are obvious benefits. Knowing how to use iTunes and the iPod interface and knowing they were made for each other and are structured the same means less learning and memorizing.

The iPod is the most specific reason Apple has ever given a Windows user to buy a Mac based on usage rather than just cosmetics. Even if it's just a small group of people willing to pay for an iPod, Apple might be able to have a high hit rate within that small group. Even if they only grab 1/4 or 1/8 of a per cent of the market with this, that would be a victory showing that if Apple did a specific thing overwhelming better than PCs, that they could grab some Windows users.
     
<captnfun>
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Oct 25, 2001, 01:44 AM
 
I have to agree, the iPod is the first bad move apple has made in a while. They would be wise to stick with industry standards

But the introduction of a super slim Hard Drive is intregal to a new product that might have a niche.

iTablet

1" thin
SIze of a typical Paper Day Planner
8" Color TFT LCD
(640x480 or 800x600 Resolution)
400Mhz G3
5GB Superslim HD
Airport
Stylus input
Full OS X (no classic compatibility)
128 MB Ram
Firewire, USB, Modem, Network, Headphones, S-Video Out, Microphone

The problem with palm is it needs to do more,and data needs to be easier to enter. This thing could do almost everything, plug in a USB keyboard and actually enter data. Stylus input on the road. Play full screen video, Actuaolly browse the web with a screen big enough to use it. Use regular apps. Plug in your USB game controller and play games on th road. Use speakable items to control your itablet. Use Via voice to dictate to your word processor. Voice recognition is the key to this device.

I only wish there was enough space in this device for a DVD/CD-RW drive then it would also double as one of those portable DVD players, and you could burn your docs for a friend on a moments notice. Maybe they could include a small CD-RW like in the new Sony Digital Cameras??
     
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Oct 25, 2001, 01:58 AM
 
I have to agree, the iPod is the first bad move apple has made in a while. They would be wise to stick with industry standards

But the introduction of a super slim Hard Drive is intregal to a new product that might have a niche.

iTablet

1" thin
SIze of a typical Paper Day Planner
8" Color TFT LCD
(640x480 or 800x600 Resolution)
400Mhz G3
5GB Superslim HD
Airport
Stylus input
Full OS X (no classic compatibility)
128 MB Ram
Firewire, USB, Modem, Network, Headphones, S-Video Out, Microphone

The problem with palm is it needs to do more,and data needs to be easier to enter. This thing could do almost everything, plug in a USB keyboard and actually enter data. Stylus input on the road. Play full screen video, Actuaolly browse the web with a screen big enough to use it. Use regular apps. Plug in your USB game controller and play games on th road. Use speakable items to control your itablet. Use Via voice to dictate to your word processor. Voice recognition is the key to this device.

I only wish there was enough space in this device for a DVD/CD-RW drive then it would also double as one of those portable DVD players, and you could burn your docs for a friend on a moments notice. Maybe they could include a small CD-RW like in the new Sony Digital Cameras??
     
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Oct 25, 2001, 02:29 AM
 
On PC compatibility:
It would be real nice to sell this to PC users and have the manual do the reverse that gets done to Mac users:

Every screenshot shows the Mac example, and at the end of the book there's a little footnote saying "not all functionality may be implemented in the Windows version."

Although, if you wanted to show off part of what makes Apple so good, they should do the best job possible of bringing it to Windows, so that Windows users realise how good Apple stuff can be.

The other thing, (and I hope the thing is Apple Scriptable) is synchronization. In offering a token to the RIAA, they simplified synchronization so that you sync with a primary computer, and any sync with another machine either destructively syncs and makes that new machine the primary computer, or, you can sync manually. Now, this is my understanding from the FAQ. If it proves to be incorrect, so much the better.

What I'd like are the following options:
On next synch, overwrite iPod from desktop
on next synch, overwrite desktop from iPod
and
non-destructively synch (meaning, don't delete any existing files on iPod, or desktop, and copy any songs that are missing from either.)

Victor Marks
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Oct 25, 2001, 03:23 PM
 
vmarks--
absolutely not. usability, which documentation is a facet of is NOT the place to get into pissing contests. If Apple did this, they would be placing platform allegience ABOVE usability. And it is the latter to which they should aspire. Effectively telling Windows users that they're not welcome goes against the humanist ideals that made the Mac as good as it is. The goal is for everyone -- even the other side -- to enjoy powerful, easy to use, enabling things, and not for anyone to suffer unduly.
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Oct 25, 2001, 04:30 PM
 
For those of you who think that it is merely an overpriced MP3 player you best read the specs first. So you can only use it on a mac. Well that sucks for Apple as far as revenues our concerned but it doesn't affect me. Secondly since you can also upload data to it that makes it a handy external HD. Not only that but you can boot from it if you put an OS on it. To me that is pretty darn cool. Imagine putting on a system folder custom tailored with your settings walking into a public place that has iMacs or G4's and plugging in your "MP3" player. Booting up from it and having all you typical mac programs right at your fingertips. Pretty cool I think. Do that with the rest of the MP3 players out there.

     
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Oct 25, 2001, 04:59 PM
 
The fatal flaw is that the iPod is not the Newton that so many people have been hoping for. The potential is there. Room enough for the AV cable of the iBook. A 5GB drive capable of booting a Mac and perhaps capable of supporting both PocketPC and Palm in emulation with the addition of a touchscreen and stylus.

Let's see:

Audio in
Digital Out
Microphone
a 4" Touch screen
Stylus
A fast booting version of OSX.1 light
Airport Card (perhaps a PC card slot)
AV out ala iBook in the space where the earbuds plug-in
Palm and/or PocketPC emulation
Synch with Entourage and iMovie as well as iTunes2
USB port or a Firewire passthrough for a portable or desktop keyboard and access to digital cameras
A PC version of iTunes2 (for a nominal fee of $10 download) or Synch capability with WMP
a target price between $400-$600US

Luckily I have an iBook for most of these needs and the screen is larger too. But a pen-based iPod (newton-sized or smaller) could have its place in plenty of areas.
     
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Oct 25, 2001, 06:30 PM
 
Originally posted by John B. Smith:
<STRONG>Apple doesnt need to sell a bunch of them.. Apple is a multi-billion dollar company with a strong customer base and a well established line of products.. this is just another gesture from Apple that they really DO care about us, and want us to have a flawless experience with them</STRONG>
Apple could make the iPOD a little cheaper. Sell 1000 units @$400
or sell 5000units @$300 and make a little more profit. Why should it be OS9.2 only? Wipes out even more of the market that might have bought it.
     
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Oct 26, 2001, 12:22 AM
 
Originally posted by DNA man:
<STRONG>Why should it be OS9.2 only? Wipes out even more of the market that might have bought it.</STRONG>
iTunes and iPod are symbionts. (Obi-Wan Kenobi taught me that word!)

And not only 9, it's also Mac OS X 10.1 for those of us living in the future.

I think the OS 9.2 requirement is because iTunes 2 makes use of all those funky CD burning extensions that the 9.2.1 updater installed. If those were moved to 9.1, it'd probably work on that too. But definitely not 8.6, because iTunes never officially went back that far.



Edit: Obi-Wan never taught me how to spell it!

[ 10-25-2001: Message edited by: michaelb ]
     
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Oct 27, 2001, 07:45 PM
 
Originally posted by michaelb:
<STRONG>

iTunes and iPod are symbionts. (Obi-Wan Kenobi taught me that word!)

And not only 9, it's also Mac OS X 10.1 for those of us living in the future.

I think the OS 9.2 requirement is because iTunes 2 makes use of all those funky CD burning extensions that the 9.2.1 updater installed. If those were moved to 9.1, it'd probably work on that too. But definitely not 8.6, because iTunes never officially went back that far.



Edit: Obi-Wan never taught me how to spell it!

[ 10-25-2001: Message edited by: michaelb ]</STRONG>
Fair enough michaelb, but it is a shame that they (Apple) couldn't have made it at least 9.04 onwards. But you do have a point with iTunes2. I would just like Apple to soak up the best possible market share for the product. I don't think that they need another Cube.

DNA man

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Oct 27, 2001, 09:11 PM
 
Just one flaw with comparing the iPod to the Sony Clie, is that adding 5gb of storage would cost a small fortune. I mean, as standard it only comes with 8MB of memory which is basically pathetic!

But then, if you like listening to the same two songs over and over, with NO Mac compatibility then it's just for you!
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Oct 27, 2001, 11:44 PM
 
Originally posted by cpt kangarooski:
<STRONG>vmarks--
absolutely not. usability, which documentation is a facet of is NOT the place to get into pissing contests. If Apple did this, they would be placing platform allegience ABOVE usability. And it is the latter to which they should aspire. Effectively telling Windows users that they're not welcome goes against the humanist ideals that made the Mac as good as it is. The goal is for everyone -- even the other side -- to enjoy powerful, easy to use, enabling things, and not for anyone to suffer unduly.</STRONG>
I write documentation for my income.

I use PCs and Macs. Anything I've bought that claims PC and Mac support invariably has great PC support, and lousy Mac support, with very few exceptions.

It seems that if Apple is going to write an app for the iPod to communicate with on a PC, they're either going to end up writing iTunesPC, a hook into winamp, or a systray (think docklet) app that would handle synchronization.

I suggested lesser support for PCs, only because it's what I'm used to seeing in the opposite manner. I agree, it wouldn't reflect well on Apple, and goes against the grain of what Apple was founded on, but then- lots of Apple's current behavior goes against that tradition, both in design, and corporate/customer relations decisions.

Well, we're in agreement, but hey, better I introduce a cockamamie notion like that here among the mac faithful than elsewhere- here we can discuss it rationally- at ZDnet (!!!) it'd be flamewars and nothing useful at all.

Thanks

Victor Marks
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Oct 28, 2001, 12:20 AM
 
I've always liked technical writers. It's good to keep in mind that Jef Raskin, creator of the Macintosh, and a few key people involved, were technical writers. The notion that UI which is easy to use is generally easy to explain, and vice versa really helped the development of the Mac in most respects. Documentation is the sort of thing that should be hand-in-hand with UI design, and both deserve important positions at the very beginning of a project. You can't do a good job if they're both slapped on at the end.
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Oct 28, 2001, 12:42 AM
 
I think Apple should only make the iPod work in windows if the port iTunes 2. HOWEVER it should NOT be free for windows users. I think should charge $49 for it and have some serious copy protection on it (a la Microsoft) and maybe even try to work with Microsoft to get the copy protection to be a good as possible. They should also limit the features on the Windows version and have tons of ads on it reminding windows users that it's free on a Mac. Also they should bundle it with the windows version of the iPod + a FireWire card for $450.
     
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Oct 28, 2001, 02:53 AM
 
waffle--
I think that my objection to vmarks' idea applies here as well. How does Apple promote good computing experiences by deliberately making some (indeed, those for a vast majority of users) harder to use than dictated by inflexible circumstance?

I don't think that a single person would appreciate it if MS decided to significantly impair IE, or Office. And I think that we all know all too well that Apple would be in incredibly dire straits if they were simply discontinued. If we would be upset to be treated as second class citizens (e.g. Word 6) we should be very sensitive to it, and never advocate it under any circumstances.

Like I said, if users are involved, if it is real people who's lives would be made unnecessarily difficult, it's inappropriate to hold a pissing contest.

Frankly I could care less about who's name is stamped on my computer, I merely want it to be the best possible computer. All comers are welcome. I think that you are letting foolish brand loyalty outweigh actual design principles and ethics, and I think it is exceedingly dangerous. Certainly it is not a competition that Apple could win anyway.
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