Look, I’ve got nothing against Apple, really. I think it would be fine if they did some cool things. But I can’t get around it – the new iMac is ugly as sin. The original iMac left me cold, too, but at least I could see where some people might find it appealing. But the new one is a table lamp! It’s a lump of clay with an arm sticking out of it! It’s retro 50’s science fiction futuristic in that way that looks embarrassing today, right?

A couple of odd design decisions. The one that really stands out for me – why in the world did they put all the connectors in the back? The new iMac is supposed to be the place where all your digital devices converge, but when you want to connect a camera/scanner/digital video camera/printer, you have to crane your neck and feel around the back. Eh?

An example of the interesting world of technology press coverage. Microsoft built software into Windows XP that pops up when you connect a digital camera. It offers to copy your pictures, print them, or send them to an online service for prints. If you choose to have prints made, a list of companies comes up that partnered with Microsoft to be listed there. Different software takes over depending on which vendor is chosen.

Kodak made a huge stink because it was going to be left off that list. The press dutifully reported every allegation that Microsoft was an anticompetitive monopolistic bully because it didn’t give the consumer the “right to choose” from an infinitely long list of photo products promoted by an infinitely long list of vendors.

Apple’s new iMac features photo software that gives you no choices. (I’ll take it back. You can choose to have your photos bound in a $30 hardcover book from a single vendor chosen by Apple.) And I’ll bet you a buck that tomorrow’s newspapers are full of articles praising the new iMac for making photos easy to work with, and offering an appealing alternative to PCs for working with digital cameras, and how Apple really solved a thorny problem by taking away all those nasty choices. Wanna bet?

Oh, incidentally, if you’ve read any articles about how gosh-darn wonderful Apple’s new OS is, you should know that not everyone agrees. The Apple community protects its reputation jealously; for the last decade, Macs were held together with baling wire and chewing gum, in far worse shape than Windows ever was, but people just didn’t talk about it. I think the same thing is true of OS X. (More feedback on OS X here.)


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