Some Apple customers complain of cracks in the Cube

By : |September 29, 2000 0

By Andrea Orr


PALO ALTO: As its earnings outlook eroded on Thursday and investor confidence shattered, Apple Computer was also having to answer to loyal customers who complained that its computers were cracked.


Several Apple enthusiasts who have plunked down $1,799 for the shimmering new Power Mac G4 Cube computer said that cracks were appearing in the the machine’s clear plastic casing, ruining the sleek design that they had paid for.


Apple moved quickly to assure them that what they were seeing were not product defects but harmless little lines that appeared inevitably whenever you poured plastic into a mould. “It is how the plastic adheres and bonds together,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s vice president of worldwide product marketing. “The refraction of light where the plastic bonds together creates the appearance of a line.”


Not all customers were buying the scientific explanation – or cared. Apple consumers are famously style-minded and will often make a purchase decision based on a computer’s colour rather than its storage capacity. “I bought my Cube thinking it would be as pristine as the ad photos,” one unhappy customer wrote on an Internet message board. “It is my genuine belief that the lines are minor stress cracks caused in the assembly process.”


“These are really cracks and not mould lines,” read another comment. “They weren’t here when the machine arrived and they are getting bigger.”


Apple insisted that it was impossible that cracks would show up for the first time or expand after the machine was purchased, but suggested the so-called mould lines were so faint that they might not be noticed initially. “They are very tiny, very faint,” said Schiller. “It’s like complaining if wood has grains in it. Wood does have grains in it, and it is still beautiful.”


Coming on the same day that Apple warned of a steep shortfall of its fourth quarter earnings, the complaints about the Cube raised questions over whether the irregularities in the machine’s casing had actually affected sales.


Although the Cube has received generally rave reviews, Apple said on Thursday that its initial sales have been slower than expected. It offered no comment on whether the visible lines in the plastic had been a factor.

(C) Reuters Limited 2000.

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