Smug Ugly: Taking A Joke Too Seriously.


In case you hadn’t heard, the picture above represents the icon used by Apple to depict Windows shares on the network. A BSOD machine. Most people think this is humorous, as do I.

However, some people think it’s less so, and still others decided (incorrectly) it’s all about smugness. The post is ridiculous. For example, we get this:

“The disdain here isn’t for the unfortunate unwashed who have to suffer through Windows because they’re so clueless — it’s a snide shot at the other computers you own, or of your family’s other machines around the house, or of the computers of the peers you work with. In short, the derision is likely aimed at people who care a hell of a lot more about you and your boundless Mac-enhanced creativity than, say, the OS X team does.”

Anybody who reads “disdain” in this is trying way too hard. The idea that Apple used this to take potshots at our (and our peers’) “other machines” is ludicrous. What’s next? Is he gonna accuse Apple of calling my sister stupid because she’s got a Windows box? Oh, and I’m supposed to be up in arms because the cold truth is that the OS X team doesn’t love me as much as my family and friends do? NOOOOO! Say it ain’t so!

It’s a little joke at Windows’ expense. You don’t have to like the joke — heck, you can even think “joke” is a dirty corporate word — but that’s all it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

I subscribe to Anil’s blog because I usually enjoy what he has to say, even when I don’t agree. But this article is just wrong. One icon, and he’s built an entire blog-case of smugness around a lack of perfection that no one claimed Apple possessed, least of all Apple themselves.

“And all that is assuming the image is even accurate. Plenty of Linux and other Unix machines show up as Samba file shares, meaning they’ll be presented as unstable blue-screening machines, despite the fact that they’re likely more stable than OS X.”

Ah, but as Microsoft and the bashers of all things non-Microsoft are so fond of pointing out, 97% of them will be Windows. Apple went with the odds. It’s a joke, a little generalization is normally par for the course. As for Linux and other Unix machines being “likely more stable” than OS X, where did that come from? I’m not saying they’re less so, but how are they more so? Maybe given how weak the article is he figured such a “fact” might help his case.

“Perhaps most disturbingly, it’s not at all implausible that this little easter egg was, at least implicitly, approved by Steve Jobs himself. It’s a whole ‘nother post to explain why that level of meddling megalomania is kind of pathological for a multi-billion-dollar global corporation, but let’s not digress too much.”

Too late. Heck, he’d already digressed too much in the first item I quoted. Aside from the actual raving in this new quote, it most concerns me because I’m afraid he’s threatening to write that “‘nother post”. Just what we need, another junior shrink giving us a dissertation on what makes Steve Jobs tick. Spare us, Anil, please.

“Suffice to say, the presence of this image means that there’s permission to be this passive-aggressive and, well, lame at all levels of Apple’s organization.”

No, Anil, but the presence of your blog post means you gave yourself permission to rant needlessly about a company — whose chief you obviously do not like — for an incredibly trivial thing. Keep in mind the reason the joke works is that Windows is ubiquitous and rather notoriously known for the BSOD. Sucks to be them, but I’m sure Microsoft doesn’t mind that ubiquitous part. Microsoft could depict Apple shares on a Windows network as kernel panics, but no one would get the “joke”. See the difference?

“But this level of sneering arrogance, at a time when a little humble appreciation of success is well in order, would go a long way. You’re succeeding. Act like it.”

What? I don’t want Apple “humble” any more than I want Microsoft “humble”. And what the hell does being a “humble” company mean anyway? Fifty people could define it and none would agree. I don’t know about humble, but I say that when Apple makes a joke it shows a “human” side that most companies don’t reveal nowadays. Anil wants to kill that? What in heaven’s name for?

As for the comment that Apple is succeeding and should “act like it”, it sounds like an excuse to rest on their laurels and continue charging the same prices 10 years from now. In other words, the Microsoft approach. Apple keeps moving; improving their products and lowering their prices. I don’t want them to act like they are succeeding, I want them to act like if they don’t keep busting their asses then tomorrow they won’t be succeeding. That’s what Apple is doing.

Anil can keep searching for that “humble” company (that he’ll never get agreement on); I’ll admire the one that continually makes great products, with customer ratings for both those products and support that are the envy of the industry.