Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

A Malfunctioning Roof Heating Element and the Broken Coverage of Apple’s Problems

Last week, a post caught fire alleging that there was a major design flaw in Apple’s new Chicago store: a large amount of snow built up on its roof, causing the area around the store to be closed off for safety reasons. Nick Statt of the Verge transformed this observation into an assertion that “Apple’s flagship Chicago retail store wasn’t designed to handle snow”. That would be a major oversight for Apple and Foster + Partners, which designed the store, but both companies have buildings located in snowy regions.

According to an Apple spokesperson, though, the cause was a technical malfunction in the roof heating system, which was installed to prevent snow buildup.

I get that stories about Apple tend to attract a gravitas that is associated with few other companies. Despite being the most valuable publicly-traded company in the world, they are seemingly always teetering on the brink. The story about the Chicago store’s roof came in at the tail end of a river of honestly-earned negative press for Apple: a series of pretty nasty bugs, a delayed HomePod release, and poorly-communicated device throttling when a recent iPhone’s battery has degraded.

In the rush to report problems and apparent controversies, though, it’s worth taking a step back and exercising skepticism. Could there have been another reason for the buildup of snow on the Chicago store’s roof? Adam Selby recognized that the roof could be heated, for example.

Rene Ritchie of iMore wrote about the biggest problems facing Apple in 2018:

Apple gets told it’s wrong all the time. Doesn’t matter if it’s iPhone or AirPods. The minute Apple announces anything new or different, some percentage of coverage and customers race to tell the company how limited, expensive, and just plain stupid it is. Then, more often than not, a few or many months later, that product breaks records in sales and satisfaction, and goes on to lead the industry for years to come.

[…]

When you’re told you’re wrong over and over again only to be proven right over and over again, you stop paying attention. You begin to think that if you just weather the initial storm, everyone will inevitably come to see what you saw, and then you can move forward together. You can get on with making faster cars.

But even if that’s true nine out of ten times — even 99 out of 100 times — there are those few times when it’s not true. When it’s just flat out wrong. And you never see it coming.

This is Apple’s risk when experimenting with each update, but it is also a risk for users and writers when controversy is seen where none exists. If everything is a top-priority grade-A indication of Apple’s failings, then nothing is.