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Apple fixes Mac Pro sleep issue, but won¿t admit it

A firmware update apparently has rectified the reboot-on-wake problem that has dogged the 2008 edition of the Mac Pro since its introduction just prior to the Macworld show in January.

I use the word "apparently" because Apple does not mention the issue in its explanation of the update's benefits. Instead we get only a vague statement: "This update fixes several issues to improve the stability of Mac Pro (Early 2008) computers."

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Owners of the affected Mac Pros can obtain the fix by running Software Update. It shows up as "Mac Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.3."

(I have blogged about this before, since I own an affected Mac Pro. Other owners concocted all manner of solutions, none of which worked consistently.)

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On the main thread on Apple's support site where this issue has been discussed, everyone who applied the update reported success in eliminating the reboot-on-wake problem. It's only been a few days since Apple released the fix (March 27), but so far so good.

Users are still talking to each other because Apple has failed to clarify whether the update includes a fix for the reboot-on-wake issue (although it did lock the discussion thread Sunday to prevent further comments, if that means anything).

If Apple has fixed the problem, why not say so in the update's documentation? Why leave users guessing?

For the past three months, Apple support has told many Mac Pro owners (me included) they knew nothing of widespread sleep issues. I suppose it would be bad form to admit you solved a problem that you previously refused to acknowledge.

I have never understood why Apple so often denies issues that affect thousands of users.

Sometimes if the issues are severe enough and generate significant Web chatter Apple will make amends publicly, as with the MacBook random shutdown and discolored palm rest incidents in 2006. Even then, affected customers were told only to "contact AppleCare for service."

But in many cases, particularly problems that it can fix with a software or firmware update, Apple never admits anything.

Perhaps the company fears bad publicity would follow from admitting to its problems. After all, one of Apple's Mac marketing angles is superior reliability over Windows PCs.

But you don't retain the customer loyalty by jerking them around when things go wrong.

Apple might worry that owning up to its product flaws will damage its reputation for quality, and maybe it would a little, but that couldn't be worse than the damage the denials are doing to the relationship with its customers.

Honesty, on the other hand, would build trust between the Apple and its customers. People are more likely to forgive problems with a product if the company that makes it resolves those problems quickly and fairly.

It's virtually impossible to build technically sophisticated products such as those Apple makes without suffering a few mishaps here and there. Product flaws are not a sin, but ignoring them is.

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Apple would be far better off coming clean whenever such issues arise. If a software update can rectify an issue, just tell us you're aware of it and will have a fix out as soon as possible. If it's a hardware problem, issue a recall – sooner rather than later.

Understand me, I'm thrilled that Apple has fixed my Mac Pro. I just wish Apple could be more candid with its loyal customers.

Is that asking too much?

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