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Apple plans Mighty Mouse makeover

post #1 of 165
Thread Starter 
Twenty five years after introducing the world to mouse-based computing, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is now hoping to deliver significant advances to the input device by applying the company's extensive research and development in multitouch technologies,*AppleInsider has learned.*

Apple's latest twist on the venerable mouse could arrive as early as this year, possibly in conjunction with the imminent release of new iMacs, the company's flagship desktop computer. Existing iMacs are reported to be in short supply in many locations, according to people familiar with Apple's retail channel inventory.*

The company's existing standalone Mighty Mouse product, which ships in both wired and wireless models, is also currently on a two week backorder through at least one of the Mac maker's direct fulfillment channels. Mighty Mouse availability hasn't been an issue within the past two years, people who deal in those channels say. This could be seen as further evidence that a*new mouse may be hiding*around the corner.*

Designing a mightier mouse

Apple's next mouse is expected to do away with the Mighty Mouse's problematic mechanical roller ball, using expanded touch sensitive housing and "multipoint touch detection mechanism" technologies described in recent patent filings.*

Given Apple's patented "inertia feedback" used on the iPod and iPhone, where item lists bounce when reaching the top or bottom and scrolling speeds accelerate in response to how the user touches the surface, the next Apple mouse is similarly expected to wed new hardware with sophisticated software to deliver an intuitive new feel in scroll navigation.

Should the new mouse arrive alongside revamped iMacs, it's also likely to drop the white plastic finish it formerly used to match previous Mac models. Informed speculation would suggest the new hardware could sport an aluminum appearance to fit in with Apple's current lineup of desktop computers and notebooks, though those familiar with the product have not commented either way. People familiar with the company's plans have indicated the new iMac will eventually receive a retooled IR remote that drops white plastic for an aluminum finish.*

Thinking outside the mouse

The majority of Apple's systems are now notebooks with integrated, multitouch trackpads. Apple's investments in touch sensitive navigation have shown up in products from the iPod click-wheel to the iPhone and the multitouch trackpads on recent MacBook models. The existing Mighty Mouse only offers rudimentary touch sensitivity in comparison, featuring a two sided virtual button top that can be configured to respond to clicks either as a single button device or as separate right and left clicks.*

Other types of Mighty Mouse navigation, including scrolling, require physical manipulation of the Mighty Mouse scroll ball button, a problematic mechanical device that appears to be salvaged from a previous decade. The soft rubbery button picks up dirt and oils and quickly becomes an irritating frustration to use, often losing responsiveness.

While Apple has recently delivered regular new advancements in sophisticated multitouch trackpad technologies for its MacBook line, its standard mouse for desktop users has only leisurely followed industry trends, picking up features such as Bluetooth wireless or optical LED and then laser tracking, for example. The arrival of a smarter mouse appears set to reverse that lagging pace of innovation.*

*

The modern, mundane Apple mouse

Apple's last several generations of mice have delivered disappointment, stretching back to the original iMac's "hockey puck" mouse introduced in 1998. While unveiling that year's iMac, Jobs called it "the coolest mouse on the planet." In reality, the round device was so impossibly difficult to orient in the hand that it helped spawn a third party flood of replacement devices, resulting in what many credit for kickstarting the shift to USB peripherals.*

*

Apple then stunned professionals by retaining the iMac's candy colored hockey puck mouse (with its old fashioned roller ball) for use with its high end Power Macs. In 2000, it finally shipped a more upscale version called the Apple Pro Mouse, using classier clear plastics in solid white or black, along with optical LED tracking that finally got rid of the dirt-collecting trackball.

A flat white Mighty Mouse appeared in 2005, with four independently programmable buttons: the top roller ball button, a thumb-and-finger pinch button, and two sensitive areas for right and left clicks, which could be combined to result in a simple one button mouse. A revised Bluetooth version shipped in 2006 with more accurate laser optical tracking.

On page 2 of 2: Steve Jobs: mouse advocate

Steve Jobs: mouse advocate

The new mouse design has Jobs' fingerprints all over it, according to those familiar with the initiative. While Jobs hasn't always hit home runs (his iPod HiFi was a simple flop, while the luxury-priced PowerMac G4 Cube hit the market squarely after the dotcom bubble burst and its clever technologies resulted in various reliability problems for users), he is broadly recognized to have an incredibly sharp perception for discovering future trends, particularly in the area of usability.*

The mouse is a good example.*It was first conceptualized by computing pioneer Douglas Engelbart, working with Bill English back in the early 60s. Engelbart's two wheeled "X Y Position Indicator" mouse was intended to be used continuously along with a one-handed chording keyboard, but that complex vision of a future of 'computer aided intellect' never escaped the lab.*

English brought the mouse idea to Xerox PARC in the early 70s, where he replaced Engelbart's wheels with a single ball that allowed a free range of motion. At PARC, the mouse was seen as an assisting pointing device to be used as needed, with both hands normally working on a standard keyboard. Despite public demonstrations of the technology, nobody brought the mouse to market commercially before the 1981 Xerox Star.

The Xerox Star was targeted toward businesses as part of an overall package (including networked laser printing and a file server) that started around $75,000. Xerox didn't anticipate the market for personal computing, and was bound by a 1975 FCC consent decree mandating compulsory licensing of Xerox’s patents, intended to prevent one company from dominating the tech industry.*

Combined with the fact that Englebart's original mouse patents had expired, that left the door open for third parties to run with the mouse, but few saw any potential in it.*When Apple employees saw the Star, they immediately recognized the future of graphical computing. Jobs in particular pushed to develop a mouse-based computing environment accessible to consumers. He hired a variety of Xerox engineers and allowed Xerox to invested a million dollars into Apple stock in exchange for a technology preview of various advanced ideas brewing in the Xerox labs.

Moving the mouse from the lab to market*

While other Xerox technologies flowed out of PARC and were commercialized by Adobe (PostScript), Microsoft (Word), 3Com (Ethernet) and many others, nobody pushed mouse-based graphical computing as quickly or as completely as Apple did. It invested $50 million into developing the 1983 Lisa, and then produced a consumer version of the technology in the 1984 Macintosh, dramatically bringing down the cost of mouse-centric computing to a price point affordable to individuals.*

Convincing the conservative computing establishment would take longer. In 1984, columnist John Dvorak wrote, "The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes*the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. [...] The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to*use these things. I don't want one of these new fangled devices."

Apple continued to improve the mouse. While the Lisa's mouse was designed by Hovey-Kelley, an outside firm, Jobs pushed to make the Mac's mouse easier to use, with a larger button and a rubberized ball to replace the original's slippery steel ball. The boxy design of the Mac's original mouse was later flattened out for the Apple IIGS in 1986, where it also adapted use of Apple Desktop Bus, a flexible new cabling scheme designed by Steve Wozniak. Apple computers used ADB mice over the next decade.

Jobs adopted ADB ports at NeXT for his two-button mice, but Apple staunchly maintained the use of a single button for its Macs, based on research that showed entry level consumers were often confused by multiple buttons. In 1993, Apple issued an ADB II mouse with rounded sides, but made no further changes until Jobs returned and approved the USB hockey puck mouse for the iMac in 1998.*

In between, however, Apple was largely focused on the growth happening in mobile systems, both with its PowerBook line and the stylus-driven Newton MessagePad. The PowerBook popularized the trackball on notebooks at a time when the vast majority of PC laptops were still running character-based DOS. Apple then pioneered the use of trackpads on notebook computers with the 1994 PowerBook 500.

It makes sense that Apple's engineering efforts would focus on its notebooks both then and now, as that's where the company has made most of its money. Still, the iMac's outdated Mighty Mouse with its physical scroll ball provides a significant opportunity for revising the desktop experience and bringing multitouch technologies already deployed on notebooks, the iPhone and iPod touch to the company's desktop users.*

For more on Apple's upcoming Mac hardware announcements see:

Apple ready and waiting with redesigned iMac line

Apple close to unveiling all-new MacBook line

Apple to retain, redesign plastic MacBook family

Apple's next iMacs rumored with compelling new features

Apple may extend antiglare display option to more Macs

Briefly: more affordable iMacs from Apple expected by fall

Apple to introduce more affordable Macs, sources say
post #2 of 165
"Apple introduces the all new 'Minnie Mouse'"
"Who are you going to believe, me or your eyes?"
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post #3 of 165
Hopefully they will wipe Steve Jobs' fingerprints off before shipping as greasy finger marks would not be a very compelling consumer experience.
Believe nothing, no matter where you heard it, not even if I have said it, if it does not agree with your own reason and your own common sense.
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Believe nothing, no matter where you heard it, not even if I have said it, if it does not agree with your own reason and your own common sense.
Buddha
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post #4 of 165
The quicker they replace that shitty clog-ball the better.
post #5 of 165
$50 says it's going to suck, like every mac mouse shipped by apple in the last 10 years

That's one of the reasons Logitech is so profitable... maybe they pay Apple to ship crappy mice...

... nah maybe not.
post #6 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In 2000, it finally shipped a more upscale version called the Apple Pro Mouse, using classier clear plastics in solid white or black, along with optical LED tracking that finally got rid of the dirt-collecting trackball.

The classiest input device I've ever held in my hand, absolutely impractical, though.
(Ummm... Indeed. We all were black, like Steve, in those distant days.)

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We mean Apple no harm.

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post #7 of 165
have two buttons.

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all day.
post #8 of 165
hehe i misread the headline as "Apple plans Mickey Mouse makeover".... could happen since Steve is on Board
post #9 of 165
...product announcement of the year. I *love* the scrollball idea; I *hate* the implementation.
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post #10 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post

The quicker they replace that shitty clog-ball the better.

I hear you! I have tried alcohol, compressed air and swearing at it. My tiny roller ball remains unable to scroll anywhere but sideways and that is sporadic at best. Helpful suggestions welcome.
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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post #11 of 165
What took them so long? Hopefully the new one won't be a flawed execution of a good idea like the current Mighty Mouse.
post #12 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I hear you! I have tried alcohol, compressed air and swearing at it. My tiny roller ball remains unable to roll anywhere but sideways and that is sporadic at best. Helpful suggestions welcome.

Alcohol on some toilet paper.
put the toilet paper on a hard table
and rool the ball on it really fast
all the dirt will come out of the ball
p.s use a lot of alcohol
post #13 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by super8sean View Post

Alcohol on some toilet paper.
put the toilet paper on a hard table
and rool the ball on it really fast
all the dirt will come out of the ball
p.s use a lot of alcohol

Repeat daily, use alcohol on both mouse and yourself.
post #14 of 165
After getting a 13" MacBookPro for the wife a few weeks ago, I have really come to like the multitouch pad. I'd be happy with a similar stand alone multitouch pad for our iMac. I understand that many still love their mice, but it would be nice to have a choice of input devices.
post #15 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by super8sean View Post

Alcohol on some toilet paper.
put the toilet paper on a hard table
and rool the ball on it really fast
all the dirt will come out of the ball
p.s use a lot of alcohol

OK thanks. After a lot though I tend to drop the mouse.
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
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"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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post #16 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by JS29 View Post

After getting a 13" MacBookPro for the wife a few weeks ago, I have really come to like the multitouch pad. I'd be happy with a similar stand alone multitouch pad for our iMac. I understand that many still love their mice, but it would be nice to have a choice of input devices.

I have to agree with you. I would rather have a new keyboard with a pad built in or standalone bad than I would a new mouse.
post #17 of 165
Sad to say but, a standard two-button mouse for the Mac and a macbook keyboard having standard PC navigation keys would revolutionise my Mac experience for the better.

Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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post #18 of 165
The puck mouse was great... but only if you held it delicately with two fingers and shove it lightly around. Maybe I'm the only one on the planet who liked it.
The only real revolution would be to introduce something completely different. Not a "mightier mouse" that'd just be a mouse with touch gestures and better laser sensor or something. Still plaguing the citizens with stress on their wrists etc.
No, invoation would be something like:
- A keyboard that senses and tracks your hands hovering above it.
- A dedicated touch input display with some kind of hinting tactile feedback.
- A bluetooth ring for your index finger that tracks your movements like a "Wii Motion Plus" when you touch it with the thumb. Clicking would be done with air-flicking the index finger...

... yeah, hire me Apple, and I'll help you out with the inovation
post #19 of 165
I would like something like my mouse mat, soft but with a harder, slippy surface.
I'd slide my finger around to position the cursor, flick to gesture/scroll, and press lightly into the surface to press or drag.

Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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post #20 of 165
I HATE the Mighty Mouse scroll ball button. It makes that piece of hardware unusable. This news can only be good, but I wonder would it be available as an upgrade for existing iMac owners?

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15"MBP 2.66GHz Intel Core i7, 24" iMac 3.02 dual, 4GB Ram, Logic Studio, Apple TV (3rd Gen), 16GB iPod Touch (4thGen), Airport Express.

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post #21 of 165
IMO the very best mouse alternative for a laptop is the Trackpoint, executed perfectly (well, almost perfectly) on ThinkPads and the number one reason I prefer - way prefer - my ThinkPad to my MacBook.

They take a while to get used to but once you do - well, I prefer the trackpoint even to a physical mouse.
post #22 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by super8sean View Post

Alcohol on some toilet paper.
put the toilet paper on a hard table
and rool the ball on it really fast
all the dirt will come out of the ball
p.s use a lot of alcohol

IT WORKED ... MY MIGHTY MOUSE SCROLL BALL IS FULLY FUNCTIONAL AGAIN!!!

Thanks you Thanks you Thanks you Thanks you Thanks you Thanks you Thanks you
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
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"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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post #23 of 165
I don't understand why Apple cannot get the scroll ball to work properly to be honest. I think the idea really is very good just badly implemented. In it's current design, the Microsoft solution of a scroll wheel that can be tilted works better (but is not as flexible).

So why does Apple seem to have so many problems with this? I've had a couple different Blackberry's now with the little scroll ball and they work great. Only once did I ever get something in there and it was easy to clean (and I did not even have to take out the ball which you can do on a Blackberry (Apple stop being so concerned with sealing everything up so people cannot open them). If RIM can do it, why not Apple?

That being said - RIM no has moved to a mini trackpad instead of a scrollball on their newest models (also very cool) which also would work nicely on a mouse.
post #24 of 165
Strange that despite the mouse debacles Apple has made impressive advances on the trackpad.

I can't stand a one button mouse, but one button is way better on a multi-touch trackpad. They took a stagnant technology and moved it along.
post #25 of 165
I love my Bluetooth Mighty Mouse as it is, though I occasionally have the problem where the trackball needs a vigorous cleaning to get it scrolling right again. Plus it absolutely devours batteries, so I use rechargeable to try and alleviate it... just means I (literally) have to keep ~20 rechargeables around.
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post #26 of 165
http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum....cfm?t=1275768

Maybe that guy's not making a bunch of stuff up after all?
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post #27 of 165
Apple hasn't made a good mouse since the ADB II Mouse. That was a great mouse. It was only one button, but it was the perfect shape. Everything since has been horrible. I haven't used an Apple mouse in over a decade.

HATE the Mighty Mouse:
  1. Stupid little ball
  2. Flat shape (same height in back and front so you can't easily push it around with your palm)
  3. One giant button with TEENY TINY little side pads. To lift the mouse with the button clicked you have to stop and think about your grip and make sure your thumb and outer fingers are positioned just so.
  4. Side "buttons" are useless as buttons are are accidentally "clicked" far too easily
  5. Touch sensitive two button idea sounds cool in principle but without tactile feedback it's easy to send a regular click when you meant to right-click. And you should just see computer illiterates try to use the thing as a two button. Their heads explode.

It's like Apple never even tested the thing with... you know... humans. Total garbage. I really hope this new mouse is an improvement. It would be nice to go back to using an Apple mouse instead of Logitech and Microsoft. Much as I dislike MS in general... they make great mice. The Laser Mouse 7000 is awesome. Awesome shape. Nice thumb button. Light as a feather.
post #28 of 165
Quote:
Apple may extend antiglare display option to more Macs

You're welcome.
post #29 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I hear you! I have tried alcohol, compressed air and swearing at it. My tiny roller ball remains unable to scroll anywhere but sideways and that is sporadic at best. Helpful suggestions welcome.

There's a kbase article with a video that shows how to properly clean the clogball:

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1537

http://www.info.apple.com/images/kba...7/302417_1.mov
post #30 of 165
I still don't fully understand the hatred so many people have for the Mighty Mouse. I've loved my Mighty Mouse since day one and I've never had any of the usability problems so many people complain about. What little dust or whatever gets into the scroll ball chamber is easily, and quickly, removed by rolling the ball on a white sheet of paper (no alcohol required). Having said that, I'm eager to see what improvements/innovations SJ and Apple are bringing to the "indispensable" desktop rodent.

Honestly, I'd like to see Apple go the full Monty and introduce a touchboard that would replace the traditional keyboard and mouse combination in favor of a single multitouch input device roughly the size of the current Apple extended keyboard. Like the versatile interface of the iPhone and iPod touch, the touchboard screen could adapt to the needs of the application being used and the user's preferences; it could even have multiple "home screens" like the iPhone and iPod touch.

Right now, the concept is admittedly more high-end than many users would be able to handle (at least initially) and it certainly wouldn't appeal to everyone. It would also probably be limited to professional workstations and be really expensive (again, at first). But Apple did just order a lot of touch screens if I'm not mistaken, so maybe the cost for such a device won't be too prohibitive.

I dunno. It's a thought. Maybe one day. As long as we keep heading toward a Minority Report level of input, I'm cool with it.

"Be aware of wonder." ~ Robert Fulghum

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post #31 of 165
As I have said before, picking a mouse is like buying a pair of gloves or even mitts. A special glove for golfing, playing baseball, hockey, or even for protection from the weather or work, it is a matter of function and fit.

Whatever Apple introduces, it will never suit everyone. Although millions are more than satisfied with the mouse that came with their pc, there are those that immediately go back to the one they are used to or search for a 'new' replacement.

Whatever Apple introduces, it will probably restart another evolution in design. Not that it doesn't work, but the technology behind the device will instill the Logitech's, MacAlly's and Microsoft's to update their own barn.

Perhaps, though, maybe it is time for the mouse to fade away.

Why could't the next mouse be your own 'naked' hand.

Why couldn't Apple's multi-touch technology be the basis for an 'external' bluetooth-trackpad?

Or better yet, why a trackpad at all? Could not the 'multi-touch technology be integrated into the keyboard keys themselves where our fingers are already positioned?

Hmmm. An Apple Multi-Touch Keyboard. Hard-touch for input, light-touch for navigation.

Works for me.

P.S. But it still wouldn't be for everyone. Like those who would never buy a new car with an automatic transmission.
post #32 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post

I still don't fully understand the hatred so many people have for the Mighty Mouse.

Once you get used to using a good mouse with good ergonomics and normal buttons... the Mighty Mouse is aggravating to use for anything other than casual internet use. In my experience.
post #33 of 165
The intro video is great. It is amazing that they are still doing the same basic presentations today, just with better graphics and a wardrobe change.
post #34 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shintocam View Post

I don't understand why Apple cannot get the scroll ball to work properly to be honest. I think the idea really is very good just badly implemented. In it's current design, the Microsoft solution of a scroll wheel that can be tilted works better (but is not as flexible).

So why does Apple seem to have so many problems with this? I've had a couple different Blackberry's now with the little scroll ball and they work great. Only once did I ever get something in there and it was easy to clean (and I did not even have to take out the ball which you can do on a Blackberry (Apple stop being so concerned with sealing everything up so people cannot open them). If RIM can do it, why not Apple?

That being said - RIM no has moved to a mini trackpad instead of a scrollball on their newest models (also very cool) which also would work nicely on a mouse.

I love hearing people bitch about the scroll ball on the mighty mouse like its the one thing that makes it or breaks it. I consider it a pretty decent OEM mouse although I find it a little small for my hand. I use it at work and like most people that use it I've had the ball get clogged with debris. I found a easy way to get rid of the obstruction. While the computer is off, or the mouse is unplugged or you kick on the desktop so that no window is active, while pressing down hard on the scroll ball spin it with your finger in one direction for a few seconds then do the same thing in the other direction. Doing this kicks out whatever particle that happens to be causing the obstruction pretty much all the time. I'm more frustrated now when I need to clean the underside where all the dust builds up along the ring than I am with any scroll ball issues. It'll be interesting to see what this new touch enhanced mouse is like.
post #35 of 165
Quote:
In 1984, columnist John Dvorak wrote, "The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. [...] The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a mouse. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I don't want one of these new fangled devices."

I love that quote. It's up there with the guy who said no one would want a computer in their homes and the boss of Decca records who refused to sign the Beatles because guitar bands were "on the way out"
post #36 of 165
The history of the mouse is very interesting and well covered here.

Unfortunately it has been a long time since Apple has shipped a useful mouse. As someone else mentioned it appears that Apples goal is to keep Logitech in business. We should not discount Apples failures when they try to innovate. It is sad that many are so vocal about other Mac defects but openly accept the need to buy a mouse for a new Mac.

Apple really should be more responsive when consumers reject it's innovation. The current mouse should have been replaced long ago. I worry that this next attempt to innovate won't be any better than the rest. Sometimes it just isn't possible to take a concept any further after a certain arraingement becomes accepted. Sort of like sockets and ratchets or Hobart mixers for cooks.


Dave
post #37 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1337_5L4Xx0R View Post

$50 says it's going to suck, like every mac mouse shipped by apple in the last 10 years


I'm a complete Apple apologist, but...

While the first part may not be true (hoping Apple is determined to improve their mouse reputation) but the second definitely is.
post #38 of 165
This is like having a discussion on what types of casette tapes do your prefer in 1990.
The mouse will soon be a thing of the past. It's dead.

A wireless track pad is the thing Apple should have next. Especially for the new idustrial designed iMac.

I already have own one on my iPhone- fantastic App- the AirMouse. Works by WiFi not bluetooth.
post #39 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by gimpymw View Post

I love hearing people bitch about the scroll ball on the mighty mouse like its the one thing that makes it or breaks it.

You want my two dead wired MM ? : ) I spent $$$ on replacement mice for each that still work years later. Never needed cleaning either.

But my MMs are bricks, not dirty.
post #40 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1337_5L4Xx0R View Post

$50 says it's going to suck, like every mac mouse shipped by apple in the last 10 years

That's one of the reasons Logitech is so profitable... maybe they pay Apple to ship crappy mice...

... nah maybe not.

Last I checked, Logitech does well selling Mice to 95% of the computing world...who use PCs.
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