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How To Destroy A Company

bitario profile image Mo Bitar Originally published at listed.standardnotes.org ・3 min read

It’s fun to hate on things we love. Humans tend to have a sort of fetish for violence when things are too easy. Utopia will never exist because Marco Arment won’t like a minor detail, and will ruin it for everyone. I love and respect Marco, and use his name only as the most common example of behavior that, when inspected, really doesn’t seem to be in our favor.

I get frustrated by usability bugs as much as anyone. And as someone who like Marco runs a company, I understand what it feels like when someone criticizes your product. It is by far one of the worst feelings of this strange existence. I can only imagine Apple, made up of humans just like us, has the capacity to feel the same.

Now, this isn’t some Apple-apoligist party. But I would like to plea with our natural desire to complain when we are frustrated. I’m just the same. I draft so many tweets that are complaints, but try not posting any of them. My only rule when tweeting is not to complain, since no one really benefits from it, other than to see how many other people I can get to agree with me.

But, Apple sucks, right? They’ve lost their way. They’ve lost sight of the big picture. Marco is wont to say, “who’s the product manager now that Jobs is gone?”

And, Google sucks too, right? The Pixel 2 XL has major screen issues. They’ve lost control of their hardware.

The behavior I find most strange is that we tend to root for these disasters. While we want the nicest new products every year, a sick little part of us wants Apple to slip up. Wants Google to ship a failing product. So that they can learn, and get their shit together. And the natural extent of this behavior, whether we realize it or not, is destruction. We have the power to bring down these companies. There’s no question that consumers have the power to destroy consumer companies. But why are we constantly utilizing this power against companies we love?

Can you imagine a world without Apple? No new iPhones every year. No new super-slim laptops (I for one am a fan of thinner laptops. Portability is what they're made for.) No new Apple TV, which has completely changed the way I watch television.

Can you imagine a world without Google? As far as I can tell, Google is the internet. They may not have invented it, but they definitely define it.

Call me insane, but I think we should root for companies we love. Understand that at large scale, things only get more difficult, and that if we want more nice things, it takes not just monetarily supporting a company, but emotionally supporting it too. You might say, I don’t want any more new products. I just want my existing ones to work better. And that’s fair. It’s ok to question if a company is moving too fast. But when they slip up, I think we ought to allow room for apology, and not immediately take it to its most destructive end.

I was asking a friend the other day if he had any issues with his new MacBook Pro keyboard. He asked me what I was talking about. “You didn’t see all the rage over Apple’s sticky keyboard issues? He had no idea what I was talking about. He loved the new keyboard. I filled him in on what was being said, and ever-wise he said, “Sure, when you compare Apple to objective-utopia, they suck. They're pathetically imperfect. But compared to almost anything else in 2017, they are the best thing in existence. They are the best part of my life. And overall, they've made my life drastically better.”

I thought that was worth reflecting on. Next time I find myself wanting to say, Apple sucks, or Google sucks, it’s helpful to add “compared to…”. I think that makes things more fair. Apple sells the image of perfection, so when there are obvious bugs, like the calculator bug in iOS 11, it’s sort of embarrassing. And I think rather than taking that as a sign of “Apple has lost their way, we ought to allow room for forgiveness, if we want to see Apple and similar companies continue to push new products that we, overall, love.

Discussion (7)

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widow profile image
Ido Weinstein

We lost our way and are moving too fast as society, wanting shiney new objects every year.

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Nicholas Orr • Edited

It depends how the companies deal with the public.

There have been some disasters in the tech service provider arena and the companies that went public and laid everything out and what to expect next were cheered.

If a company says "lol, don't put your hand all the way around the phone when you use it, you muppet" well, the public is going to respond unfavorably... This is where the public gathers it ammunition, hiding and telling the public they are dumb.

Sure I said when transparent the public are happy, there will always be a group of people not happy and grabbing pitchforks. Not much to do about that group, as long as they are minimal compared to the rest, that is probably the best a company can do.

Dismantle criticism by being upfront instead of hiding.

Google really suck at the support side of some of their products and instead of addressing issues they simply ignore them by making sure everything is sent to /dev/null. I get why they do this, much simpler to stick to the plan then deviate, especially when the data says things are fine. It totally sucks when you are in a difficult situation and have money leaving your account quicker than it used to, one soon learns that this is how Google operates and factor that into future decisions.

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Ben Halpern

The “Apple has lost their way” meme is sort of tired at this point. Saying that an entity as complex as Apple has lost its way because of some narrow gaze of it is like arguing about macro economics based on some simplistic view of some micro example. People do both of these things all the time.

But I would say that there is value in criticism of near-Monopolies which may use their position in the market to extract value instead of providing it.

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bitario profile image
Mo Bitar Author

True. It's definitely good to find a balance. Say too little, and they might grow complacent. Say too much, and you suffocate progress.

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Arden de Raaij • Edited

I fail to see how this destroys companies though. People, and especially tech-lovers enjoy complaining a lot but afaik it rarely results into any real action or boycott. So the complaints are pretty hollow on most part.

And from the other side, companies don't have any love for you!

They've got shareholders to think of, and it's expected that they make more revenue every single year so they're always on a fine line between selling the cheapest shit you don't need for the highest price you don't have and weigh that out against possible backlash for selling a shit product. Apple doesn't sell quality products because they love you. They sell quality products because they found a great intersection of quality products, high prices and great publicity. It's working for them but they're constantly walking the tightrope, trying to keep the balance right.

And again, there's no love involved there. Every single time a Macbook or iPhone series turns out to have a widespread problem like a high pitched whine, keyboard imprinted on the screen, heat or GPU problems, Apple refuses to acknowledge there is a systematic problem until they can't possibly deny it anymore. At times it has taken more than two years for them to acknowledge a hardware problem. People go to the genius bar with a systematic problem and are told they're nuts. That is not showing respect towards your customers at all, let alone love.

We all suffer from partial Stockholm Syndrome because of these companies. They pimp us and we accept because we deserve that shiny new device and their marketing department is pretty damn convincing. But these companies should not go uncriticised if their 2500 bucks device can be rendered worthless by a piece of dust under the spacebar.

NB: I chose Apple as an example as they seem to have the most worshippers. Personally I have a Macbook and a Macbook pro and I think they're great products. I've had a keyboard imprinted on my Macbook Pro screen, which was a well known problem acknowledged by Apple and had it replaced and fixed in no-time. I've got the same thing with my Macbook but it's not acknowledged so I'd probably have to pay for that myself. WHERE IS THE LOVE IN THAT APPLE?

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rkfg

Absolutely love this comment. This is what companies truly are, especially the big ones. You can consider love talking about small indie companies but among big business sharks there's no place for compassion. It's all bout the money and only that. The only way to change them is voting with your wallet and getting bad practices heard. Paying them means you wholeheartedly agree with what they do and say. You can't pay part of the price if you mostly like it but not absolutely. And if you can't signal them with the price, all that's left is criticism and it has to be really loud for them to hear you. Nothing's gonna change from showing them respect and love, these things don't matter where money talks.

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Тимур

We've never found our way