An open letter to Steve Jobs

Dear Sir,

I can well imagine how much you must wish for a day away from your busy schedule for every single e-mail you receive, from one of your users, demanding this and suggesting that – but I think I speak for a lot of OS X users when I say that I am just not happy with Leopard.

Apart from the general, almost unspoken feeling, among the Mac community, of being somewhat side-lined of late, in favour of the iPhone and iTunes, movie downloads and notebooks, those of us who have owned a desktop Mac for the best part of 15 years now, simply can’t understand why so many bugs and general stability issues still remain completely unfixed, especially now that Leopard is well into it’s first full year of general availability.

When I was running Tiger, on a slower machine, applications like those in Apple’s own iLife suite and the Safari browser, thought nothing of happily running alongside Mail, iCal and Photoshop and other usual suspect productivity titles, like Digital Performer and Final Cut. Under Leopard, however, there is general feeling of instability

It’s as if, in the back of my mind, there is just another spinning colour wheel of death lurking in the shadows. I find myself writing e-mails and forum posts, comments and blog articles in TextEdit, constantly saving every step of the way, for fear that if I were to use Safari (such as in Google Office or WordPress), as before, it might crash and loose everything, before I finish typing and click ‘send’.

Inexplicable Safari hangs aside, there is also a great deal more disk activity than before. As if virtual memory is in more demand than it ought to be. Under Tiger, 2GB of RAM almost felt like over-kill. Now it seems as if your customer service representatives have been trained to obliquely suggest that buying hundreds of dollars worth in extra memory is the best way to solve these problems, rather than address the software issues which clearly lie at the core of the problem.

There is also the red halo problem with the glossy screen finish, on the 20 inch iMac – which seems to over saturate certain colours in a way that I can’t imaging your hard-core graphic designer customer base find at all comforting when doing precision operations. Yet three different technical support agents have insisted to me that they have never heard of this fault before, despite the fact I am sure it is not just my eyes imagining it – and I am beginning to notice it more and more, as if it is getting worse over time.

Back when I first became an Apple Mac user, it was par for the course that every hour or so, OS 7 and 8 would need to restart. My Windows using chums laughed and laughed. I stayed loyal. You came back to Apple. Microsoft released ME. Apple released OS X. I laughed and laughed. They ate their words. Everyone was happy!

Many of my friends in graphic arts, music production and other traditionally Mac based areas of the creative industries, now feel that Apple’s apparent disinterest in what was once the main focus of its innovation, appears to have taken a back seat. It has been noticed, among many of the people I talk to in recording studios and print studios everyday, that there has been an undue emphasis on releasing updates and bug fixes which are almost exclusively focused on iTunes and the iPhone of late. Meanwhile the underlying stability and performance of what should be Apple’s flagship product, seems to have been almost ignored.

It is further disconcerting to see the amount of postings to Apple’s own support forum, along these lines, which get deleted, altered or completely ignored. I would respectfully remind you that, without such customers, who have been flying the Apple flag since before the days it was commonplace to bash Windows, Apple would not be the company is has become today.

Apple enjoys the kind of customer loyalty other companies dream of. Unfortunately I now feel that without your personal intervention in these matters, we ordinary users have nowhere else to turn in asking for help in turning these issues around.

Once the little things, which Apple used to get so right-on, start being allowed to slip and go so wrong – but for good old fashioned attention to detail – there is, I feel, a real chance that the bad old days might return and all of the good work the iPod and the iPhone have done, to put our Apple back where it belongs, might be undone.

Thank you for your time. James Gardner.

3 comments on “An open letter to Steve Jobs

  1. Obviously, your experiences are yours, and I am in no place to naysay, but myself and everyone I know using Leopard loves it. I hope the issues you are having get resolved.

  2. Mm, I’ve never used Leopard, but my friends that do were whining about that red halo effect as well. Maybe someone will pay attention and go back to the traditional desktop and laptop computers, which have yet to be wiped out entirely.

    -Shona

  3. Hmm… I run 3 macs in my own family and admin another 22 at work, as well as three in a recording studio. Haven’t seen or experienced any of the problems you mention. Upgraded all of them to 10.5 in the past months and other than a few minor settings tweaks, everything is great. I love the Leopard improvements, and our office seems to as well. Sorry for your hard times, though.

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