What motivates a company? Well, turns out it might be the same thing that motivates someone to write a diatribe about Apple.
Virginia Heffernan gives us an object lesson in this principle, writing for Yahoo in "Machine Politics" (whatever that is): "Apple's Map app non-apology: We're sorry you feel that way" (tip o' the antlers to Matthew Smith).
Non-apology? Here's what Cook said:
At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.
Now, the Macalope knows what a non-apology looks like and this isn't that.
The point of offering a non-apology is to artfully avoid any implication of personal blame. "I'm sorry you feel that way. It certainly isn't because of anything I've done, but I'm sorry you feel that way. Possibly it's because you're a tremendous reactionary who takes everything the wrong way and has a lot of personal issues. Are you in therapy? You should be. I'm sorry you need therapy because of what I'm guessing was a bad childhood."
That's a non-apology. In Cook's actual apology, however, the "this" in third sentence is "we fell short on our commitment." It's not "your stupid feelings are so sensitive," it's something that Apple did. What he's saying is "I'm sorry what we did caused you frustration." It's a little odd that Cook splitting it out into two sentences seems to have confused a former New York Times staff writer who has also worked at Harper's, The New Yorker, and Slate and has a fricking Ph.D in English Literature from Harvard.
And it's really odd that it takes a comic drawing of a mythical man-Mac-antelope hybrid to explain it to her. But that seems to be where we are.
What bugged users about Apple Maps was not that it was imperfect.
Really? That wasn't it? Because the Macalope's followed this rather closely--admittedly, maybe not as closely as someone who covers "Machine Politics"--and he's pretty sure that's it.
Every app we use is imperfect.
Indeed. Then why the uproar, doctor?
Instead, what was maddening was that you, Apple, turned so petty, arrogant and spiteful that you tried to drive the renowned marvel that is Google Maps--which since 2005 has tested, refined and made stunningly useful its high-res aerial and satellite images of virtually the whole planet--off your dumb new operating system, iOS6.
Wait. You're actually saying that if the data in the Maps app had been perfect, people would have still been mad because of a business decision Apple made?
Uh, no. Really, people don't care where their map data comes from, as long as it's good. The data Apple used wasn't as good, and people expect better from Apple. And some people sit around waiting for Apple's rare mistakes so they can make a big deal about it. That's what this is all about.
You pushed out a free, great thing...
Stop. Stop. Google Maps is not free. It certainly isn't free to Apple, and ads are a cost to users. Heffernan completely neglects to mention this anywhere in her extended hyperbolic rant, but one of the major reasons Apple couldn't come to terms with Google was because Google wanted more user data. Apple didn't want to give it to them because Apple's customers are people who buy iPhones. Google wanted it because Google's customers are advertisers. That's not crazy Apple fanboi talk, that's Business 101.
...and jammed in your amateur dimestore one, only because you were feeling afraid and grasping, and in so doing you showed a sicko side of yourself (one we all suspect has always been there).
You know Apple isn't actually an individual, right? And certainly not a serial killer or pervert or whatever it is you're implying? Because someone here's got issues and the Macalope's pretty sure it isn't the giant corporation that's being over-anthropomorphized.
It's exciting, sort of, when Titans clash. In the mythical Californian kingdoms of Cupertino and Mountain View, Apple and Google dramatically have at each other. They show no mercy. As arms resound...
Wait, is this whole column a viral ad for Game of Thrones? Because that would make more sense.
Actually, if you're looking for the real reason for Heffernan writing this ridiculously overbearing piece, look no further than the end of the author blurb:
Her new book, Magic and Loss: The Pleasures of the Internet, will be published in early 2013.
Oooh, there's still time for the Macalope to make the section about how mean fanbois can be to people who are very reasonably pointing out how evil Apple is!
Sorry, Virginia, you were saying something about companies making poor choices that reflect badly on themselves just to make money. Please continue.
We should maybe be grateful, then, for incidents like this latest dustup over Apple Maps. It lays that greed and pettiness bare.
Not bare enough, apparently, as we're 500 words in here and you haven't brought up even one of the very real business reasons on the part of both Apple and Google that led to this. There sure have been a lot of dramatic allusions to mythological warfare, though.
The company's aesthetic of purity and perfection--however fascist in nature--...
Paging Mr. Godwin. Mr. Godwin to the white courtesy phone, please.
...is irresistible. But we shouldn't forget that Apple is everywhere--in our pockets, in our brains, all over our credit-card bills--for a reason. And it's not because the company loves us.
No. You're right. It's because they make awesome products.
Yes, Apple is a company and companies don't love. They don't feel empathy or compassion. They don't have hopes and dreams.
Neither, however, are they "narcissistic." They do not "feel afraid" and they most certainly do not have an "id."
So what was your point again?
Oh, right. Book sales.
[Editors' Note: Each week the Macalope skewers the worst of the week's coverage of Apple and other technology companies. In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]