Apple, it’s time!

Some Time ago, I was in the Apple store at the North Shore Mall, in Peabody, MA. I’ve spent a fair amount of time there, and a good wad of cash as well. What can I say, I like the place. Anyway, while playing with a new G4, (yes, this did take place some time ago, almost a year, in fact.) this young couple came in, with that “first time here, and we have no clue” look. The young woman had the “big hair” look of a Camaro driver, and the young man, (husband or boyfriend, presumably) looked as though he had a more intimate relationship with Budweiser than with this young woman. No matter, they headed right over to the G4 next to me, and stared at it.

The boyfriend, looking sort of sappy said, “See? This is one of those Apples. They only have a one button mouse.” Big hair put her hand on the mouse, and started sliding it about, not really doing anything. She then asked, “Where’s the button?”
“I think the whole thing is button.” was the reply.
“Oh, well that’s stupid.” answered big hair, punctuating her comment with a loud snap of gum.

She played a little more, again not really doing anything. Then they left the store, as quickly as they came in. They did not ask questions of anyone, and they tried no applications or features of the Mac. I thought nothing of this, but I decided to remember it, filing it away in a corner of my mind. A more recent incident at work caused me to recall it.

I must now ask, what if that Mac, and every Mac in the store that day, had been equipped with a two button scroll wheel mouse? Would that couples have at least tried some features? Would a sale possibly have even been made? If there had been a two-button mouse present, would it have been “stupid”? Would anyone take a guess on just how many times this has happened, at the Apple retail stores, or at any other Apple retailer? Is the one button mouse really that much of a turn off for so many?

I work in a large R & D laboratory, 2300 employees at last count, give or take a few. While windows is dominant, as it is everywhere, our Mac community is growing. Shipping palettes of new G5’s and the occasional iMac are coming in all the time. So are new PowerBooks, including a lot of the seventeen inch models. Note to Apple: These are frequently being ordered by people who would have never considered the Mac platform prior to OS X. In my immediate work group, I’m known as “the Mac Guy”, a label I wear with pride, and a little bit of nuttiness. Don’t get me wrong, we have a computer service group that includes an Apple Certified Tech, and he solves some serious problems, (many of which are caused by people doing things they shouldn’t.) but for a lot of stuff, I’m the one they call. So, a few days ago, one of our secretary’s calls me, asking he how to “right click” on something, as her G4 is equipped with the standard Apple Pro mouse, and whatever she was working on had given her directions to right-click.

Of course, I told her to simply position the cursor over the icon, and press the control key, then click the icon. A small contextual menu will appear. She was overjoyed at the result. I then suggested she head to the stock room, as they stock a decent two button, optical mouse from Logitech, and the same company that makes the pro mouse for Apple. More joy; when she was informed that all she would have to do was plug this new mouse into the USB port on the keyboard. She had no idea you could do this, as no one had bothered to tell her. Last time I checked in, she was happily right clicking and scroll-wheeling all over the place.

If you have not figured out my point by now, here it is: Apple, it’s time to dump the one button mouse. There is no longer any reason, or defense for keeping it. A fine job has been done with OS X so far. In a few short years, it has gone from a jittery curiosity, to the release of Panther, which I believe is the envy of the rest of the industry, whether they care to admit it or not. OS X fully supports a two-button mouse with a scroll wheel, with no need for any additional software. I use the Kensington optical cordless, while my Apple pro mouse sits in my sock drawer, unused. The people who are using PowerBooks on the job all use a full keyboard, with a two-button mouse, when they’re using the PowerBooks as desktop machines. Everyone I know who has purchased a new Mac within the past year has quickly plugged in a two-button mouse. Most have bristled at having to spend more cash, after shelling out a good sum for the Mac, but they realize how limiting the single button mouse really is. After a few hours of nominal use with their new two-button mouse, they know it was money well spent.

Often, when a new G5 is unpacked at my company, the person receiving it will trudge down to the stock room, and sign out one of those Logitech two-button mice. (Not a bad mouse at all, I just prefer the Kensington cordless) Sorry Apple, but there are a lot of those single button mouse being stashed away in desk drawers, or just left in the shipping boxes. Understand what I’m saying here?

I have not tried one of the new, two button mouse from Mac Mice, but I hear only good about them, in terms of how they fit the hand, and how they track as well as the Apple Pro mouse. Perhaps this is what Apple should ship with new systems.

But whatever it takes, Apple, will you please get off the high horse, and include a mouse that will not be left in a drawer, or otherwise ignored? The Mac OS has entered a new age; it’s time for the supplied mouse to enter that age.

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