Dead iBook owners take protest to MacWorld show

What Quality Control?

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Faithful Apple users plan to put Quality Control issues center stage at the MacWorld show in San Francisco next week, to highlight a problem that Apple refuses to acknowledge.

iBook owners have been plagued by display problems and logic board failures this year; more than 300 have signed up for a potential class action suit.

Apple insists there are "no known problems" with the iBook, despite hundreds of incident reports to to the contrary. We can vouch that this is an issue from our own experience, as both of The Register's US iBooks have died this year, one after only ten weeks.

Reader analysis over at MacFixit suggests that both cheap shielding materials and basic mechanical design flaws are to blame.

"It seems Apple really needs to improve Quality Control and more stringent review of design issues. If I put out a product with these flaws I would expect to lose Quality Assurance Certification," writes one sleuth. Here's a discussion on Apple's own boards that the company hasn't deleted yet.

Apple overhauled the iBook range this Fall, with a revamped motherboard that supports the G4 processor and DDR memory. But failures persist.

Apple's quality control has suffered an annus horribilis in 2003. Poor design of the 15 inch aluminium PowerBook led to white stress spots appearing on many models, although Apple has at least acknowledged the problem. Of six PowerBooks sampled by MacWorld magazine, three had to be returned. The problems aren't simply confined to hardware. A catastrophic OS update, 10.2.8, was yanked after only a few hours when many users lost their networking. 10.3 Panther was rapidly updated to fix two severe bugs, one of which trashed data on some FireWire hard drives, while the other caused issues when using the encrypted home directory feature, FileVault. And a Bluetooth update in June which trashed users' address books could easily have been averted with a minimum of public beta testing. Opting for a closed, secretive testing program, Apple failed to detect the elementary bugs. ®

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