How To Destroy A Company

October 25, 2017

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.