Apple and the 1%

 ~  1 min read

This Pencil isn’t working.

How do I—I plug it into the lightning port, right? Bluetooth’s on… Pencil’s charged…

Alright, I’ll pair it manually. Hmm, I have to navigate three menus to do this?

I’m no Luddite

But this encounter with the Pencil was frustrating. Apple products are famous for “just working.” Since I expected the Pencil to pair flawlessly, I wasn’t prepared for it to fail.

If we believe something will work properly 100% of the time, 99% isn’t good enough. The 1% of failure is totally unexpected and stings hard. This is Apple’s conundrum—self-imposed by their vision of seamlessness and possibly a losing race.


Android manages expectations

Android doesn’t “just work.” Instead, it exposes popular settings for easy access. When I need to pair something, the bluetooth menu is one swipe and touch away. And if there’s a glitch, I know exactly how to toggle the bluetooth on and off and repeat the ritual. By setting expectations low, Android thrives on all sorts of imperfect hardware. The tradeoff is a less sexy and more hands-on interface.

I’m not advocating for either

Both approaches to user interaction have their challenges. That being said, Apple gets pretty close to nailing that 1%. And if any company could do it, it’d be Apple, with their iron control of hardware and software. The journey to perfection is high-stakes though—a 0.1% failure rate will feel exponentially worse than 1%, and so on, until they succeed in squashing it to zero.