Originally Posted by robbyx
Part of being an Apple customer (and I've been one for 25 years now) is accepting that Apple doesn't always deliver everything you want. You have a choice, though. There are plenty of PC makers out there who will satisfy your requirements. For a small niche of people, being part of the Apple product ecosystem means trading a few requirements for a much better user experience. And that's not about "listening to customers"; it's about market realities.
The thing is, I've been an Apple customer for nearly as long as you, and I can definitely see the argument about Apple being out of touch and not always listening to their customers. It's actually a continuing theme with them, in an on-again off-again sort of way, and its one of the few things that holds them back. And saying, "Don't like it? Go get a PC then!" is a decades-old, tired defense, and has never been particularly helpful.
I remember one year, under Spindler I believe, that Apple nearly bankrupted themselves, by trying to shove low-end machines down everyone's throats, when at that particular time everyone was screaming for high-end machines. Apple didn't listen to its customers, and wound up with some pretty horrendous losses as a result.
Things have gotten a bit better under Jobs, but let's be honest, Steve likes to think in terms of what 'should be', and not necessarily 'what do people want'. Hence the failure of the G4 Cube, for example.
Don't get me wrong, I think he's somewhat
interested in what the customer wants, but not as much as he is in what he
wants, aesthetically and otherwise. And sometimes it pans out... spectacularly well, even (I'd say the iPhone is a great example of this). But other times, it doesn't.
The 'market reality' is that Apple's margins have gotten a bit fat lately, and with that and their growing mindshare and marketshare, they're in prime position to expand their product line-up, which would be listening to both their existing fan base and their potential fan base, aka Windows switchers who are on the fence, but who'd hop on over if Apple only offered products more like what they're used to (15" notebooks that cost less than $2000, minitowers*) and more aggressive pricing in general.( * yes, desktops are still relevant. Apple still gets about 40 percent of their Mac revenue from them).
I think when Apple was struggling to survive (late '90s), Steve's very limited 'magic square' product line-up made a ton of sense. But its a decade later now, and things are changing.
Sure, Apple should NOT
attempt to become like Dell, and offer a zillion different generic-looking computers in a manic attempt to try to be all things to all people. Nor should they go after the low-end, 'eMachines/ ghetto' segment of the market (and no, the Mac Mini was really not in that segment).
But even respecting those facts, there's still definitely room to fill in some gaps in Apple's current product line up, such as a reasonably-priced 15" notebook, a subnotebook, a minitower, and a sub-$1000 notebook. And I'm sure their marketshare would improve more than it has as a consequence. Apple seems to agree, as there are credible rumors that they are indeed working on some of those products. But really, they should've had those things out awhile ago.
Apple, for all of its unconventional design brilliance, is actually quite conservative in a lot of its moves. And that does get frustrating for many of its customers and potential customers, who'd buy a new Mac in a heartbeat "if only" Apple would give them something even close to what they want.
Bear in mind here that we are differentiating between 'fanboy wishes' ("I'd like a CRAY please. And it should look like the Mona Lisa."), and reasonable product requests that are actually quite common, would do well in the marketplace, and are in no way 'niche'.
The G4 Cube, at what it was priced at, can't say the same. So, I guess its okay to be a niche Apple product, so long as your Steve's
niche product? Huh?
This is why I can't get too down on 'folks with requests'. Yeah, a lot of said requests don't make sense, but some of them definitely do, especially the ones that come up again and again and again (which should tell you something). And some of them make more sense than some of the stuff Apple has done in the past, eh?
Finally, don't tell people who are unhappy in some way with Apple's product line up to "go get a PC". Too many of them do already, out of frustration. Obviously, what they really want is not some 'consolation prize' PC, but a Mac that meets their needs.
So the real question then is, "Are those needs reasonable?". If you're very pro-Apple, its tempting to define as "unreasonable" any need that's not met by Apple's current line-up. "Apple knows best", and all that. But that would be short-sighted and inflexible.
\ Bad companies try to tell customers that what they happen to have to sell is what customers want, good companies adapt
to what customers want.
Sure, I can understand Apple wanting to have a conversation with its customers in which it tries to CONVINCE customers of what they really want, if Apple honestly believes that its way is better (and they do, its called marketing). But if you've tried and you've tried and you've tried to convince your customers that they don't want something, and they're still saying, "No, we really do want that", then you should very seriously consider giving it to them.
Unless of course, you, as a company, just find it really annoying to sell tons more product than you were before. Because, even as good as Apple's doing now, they could easily be doing even BETTER (as amazing as that is to contemplate).