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The Macalope Daily: Motivations

The Macalope | Oct. 2, 2012
What motivates a company? Well, turns out it might be the same thing that motivates someone to write a diatribe about Apple.

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?


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