September 12, 2011
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There are always problems

Macgasm is apparently trying to drum up traffic by running articles critical of Lion. Joshua Schnell writes

You know I’m right, Lion still needs a lot of work, hopefully the 10.7.2 update that is almost ready for public consumption fixes most of our problems. We’re not alone either, just search for #blamelion on Twitter. It’s kind of becoming a thing.

This sounds dire, but I did search for #blamelion. Two people had twittered it this week. Two.

Whenever an operating system ships, everybody always runs around in circles to complain about it. Operating systems are big. They interact with everything. And they're new, so they are a blame magnet. If you have an application bug, people will blame the operating system. If their disk is wearing out, odds are the operating system installation will push it over the edge and they’ll blame the operating system. If their network is wonky, what sort-of worked before might not work how – or might still sort-of work – and either way, some of them will blame the operating system. Support fora and twitter tags tell you about user morale, not about the system.

Underneath this, there’s a very interesting question: when should you ship an operating system? If you take an extra month, you can fix more things, implement more features, tweak more graphics – and you also defer revenue for a month, delay hardware releases for a month, and make people use older, less powerful, and slower software for a month. Rational economics is hard enough without a hysterical trade press distorting the costs.

An additional factor merits consideration here: in their retail operation, Apple has built the largest and most effective tech support operation the world has seen. The caliber of cheerful expertise in store personnel is astonishing, and their training is remarkable. I don’t know how they’ve managed to scale this, but it’s consistent.

Go to a mall. Visit Nordstrom’s – once the gold standard for customer service. Look at the sales people. Are they cheerful? Are they busy? Are there people who are just standing around, waiting for something to happen? Now try the Apple store.

While I was writing this, another #blamelion twitter appeared – from an Android expert at PC World. Not sure what his problem is, but he definitely blames Lion. The whole thing suggests that people who want Lion to get into trouble – journalists who cover the competition, speculators who shorted AAPL on the Jobs retirement – are trying to launch a meme.

I blame a corrupt trade press. The way you get attention and make money – not much money – in this game is to start flame wars, and so “Apple ships lousy operating system! Scroll bars backwards! Apple doomed!” gets links and traffic and sells ads for off-brand iPad cases. And of course some of the financial press try to launch memes to manipulate stock prices – either because they play the market or simply to show what big lever-pullers they are.

Specialist sites should be written by specialists and should interpret actual information intelligently. The pretext for this article was an EFI update. What’s an EFI? The article doesn't say. An Extremely Fragile Isolator? (It’s the Extensible Firmware Interface, apparently – and so it actually isn’t part of Lion at all.) #blameTheTechTrolls