I never thought I'd be writing a line like this about Apple. I have an original Mac. It still works. Since then I've accumulated 6 more Apple computers and a dozen or so peripherals and other devices...like a couple of ipods.
Within the past few years I've taken the 17" Powerbook 1.67 with 1.5 ddr2 SDRAM (the most recent) in for repairs more than all the others combined. Bad motherboard - bad battery - jacks not working - sounds playing with lid closed - CRASHING repeatedly- hard drive failure warnings - ridiculous for an Apple computer. They were bulletproof.
I began to realize that I had been taking only their newer products in for service - something I'd only done once with the original "Smiley-face" Mac by comparison.
What I noticed as I looked at the chronology is that the repair cycles coincided with the growth and popularity of the brand. I used to tout Apple to everyone, having fierce debates over the superiority of Mac vs. PC. Gradually the debates lessened as friends moved over to Apple. I gloated.
Now, after a dozen trips to the Apple Store with my laptop (which is probably the most that I've traveled with it) over the past few years, and getting the same sort of friendly but ineffective service for as long, I began listening instead of talking.
People were having problems with the gear.
I don't know if the ratio of defects and breakdowns have remained the same over the decades, but it's clear from the forums that problems abound.
More disturbingly, the shared experience is that Apple has put up a wall to defray the hordes of dissatisfied users (many of them former loyalists) much like the rest of the corporate world. Need Help? Go to the forums and get advice from some of the "Veteran Apple Users" who give endless blogs of advice to frustrated users. From Apple? Nothing.
That wasn't Apple. That wasn't what made us loyal. That wasn't what kept Apple afloat in a PC world holding only a fraction of the market share.
My personal experience is having written endlessly to Steve Jobs, including pictures of all the computers and peripherals that I've acquired of Apple, supporting them over decades. Never a note back.
From the Genius Bar? Smiles. Expressed good intentions...but a hard drive replacement that started failing after a few months, jacks that still don't work from day one, a machine that crashes daily, both software and hardware driven, lots of angst and the realization that the Apple that I knew has fallen.