Letter to the editor: The dark side of Apple's power of 'No'

While Apple's discipline for saying "No" has been a big part of its current success, there's a dark side to that phenomenon. Here's one example, explained in a letter to the editor.

I often brag about the quality of the comments here on TechRepublic, but there were a lot of boneheaded responses to my article White iPhone debacle shows why Apple is winning. Apple is one of those topics that triggers emotional responses where people lose all sense of perspective.

However, in addition to a smattering of intelligent responses in the discussion thread to that article, I also received an email from the folks at the MacMatte blog, who made an excellent point about how Apple's discipline for saying "No" can also lead the company to ignore overwhelming customer demands. In this case, we're talking about the debate over glossy vs. matte displays.

Here's the letter:

I refer to your article on Steve Jobs saying No.

There's two sides.

This approach can cause Apple to make great products - which it does - or it can also make Apple totally deaf to customer feedback. Take matte screens. Recent PCPro and Which magazine polls show 75-80% want matte.

Apple's insistance on glossy-only iMacs can be regarded as a focus thing, where Apple decided to focus on glossy, and to say NO to matte.

Alternatively, it can be regarded as a design flaw, where Apple said YES to the iMac, but designed it in such a way that it is great for some people, but has a design flaw for others.

Glossy screens are a design flaw for: people whose eyesight suffer from glare, and people whose work requires non-reflective screens, e.g. photographers, designers and people who stare at screens for 8+hours a day.


This article below had a 89% poll majority preferring matte.

This article had a 75% preference for matte.

These 89% and 75% polls also correlate with earlier surveys, which gave matte preference at 44%, 44%, 48%, 68%, 50%, 57%, 72%, 66%, 86%, 45%, 86%, 74%, 85%, 70%, 66%, 56%


Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

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