Well, minutes after posting my Apple iPod Touch article, I came upon a bunch of threads about how crappy the screen is.
I find it amusing that people like to claim that Apple would not skimp on quality. Really. Actually, the numbers tell exactly otherwise. Time for a basic business lesson in gross margin.
Gross margin is the total revenue of a company minus the cost of that revenue (i.e. the cost of making whatever you sell), divided by the revenue. It tries to measure percentage of money that's profit on each widget sold. It's one of the better indicators of how much money a company is making on its product.
Apple's gross margin has gone from 29.2% to 36.9% in the last 4 quarters.
Therefore, Apple must be reducing costs somewhere. Either the parts they build computers with are getting cheaper on their own, or they are seeking out cheaper parts, or they are cutting costs in producing those goods.
Based on all of the complaints about Apple's hardware quality -- and there have been dozens of cases over the last year on all levels of their product lines -- the only logical conclusion is that two out of three, possibly all of the above, must be true.
That's not to say that all vendors aren't dropping quality. You think Dell is any better? Lenovo? I'm not sure when the last time I bought a truly high quality computer might have been. Maybe my Centris 650 in 1993? Even that machine blew up in the first 10 minutes of use with a bad power supply. Maybe it's when I bought a SparcStation 1 on a whim at Weird Stuff in Sunnyvale. That machine was solid (though old).
In reading these threads, I learned a new term today: iTard.