Apple’s Mouse Curse

Why can’t Apple make a good mouse?

OK, that may be a bit strong. They have made some great mice. But every mouse they’ve produced has always had a fatal flaw. Never the same flaw mind you. But they seem to be incapable of making a mouse without some major issue.

Apple was the first to introduce a mouse into the consumer computer world. It was great, so much better than the keyboard commands everyone else, from MSDOS, to Commodore, were using to get your computer to do things.

 The trouble was, the original AppleMouse was, to be honest, the shape and size of a pack of cigarettes. It was about as comfortable to use as sliding a box of smokes around the table. But, hey it was the first and you have to expect some flaws with groundbreaking technology.

Apple came back with the AppleMouse II

The AppleMouse II was a great improvement. Vastly more comfortable to use. OK it was still a ball mouse, but optical mice were some years in the future. The problem with it was, at that point most mice in the Windows world had two buttons. Primary click and then an assortment of special “right-click” functions. You could get the same functions by holding down the, if I remember correctly, the Open-Apple key. But wasn’t the point of the mouse to get away from keyboard commands? And I haven’t even mentioned the other workstations, Sun for example, and aftermarket mice that had several buttons.

Later Apple moved over to optical mice, but still with one button. Most mice had, in addition to two buttons, also adopted the Windows scroll wheel. This was a vastly useful device for moving up and down through a document or graphic. It was great. It was very conspicuously not from Apple. It was during this period that I started buying my mice from MacAlly. First just two button mice. Later on I was getting two button USB mice with a scroll wheel. They were inexpensive, durable, two buttons and a scroll wheel, and you could even change the cover so they glowed in red or blue or green or smoke. They were great. It just felt weird that I would buy a new Mac and as soon as it arrived replace the brand new mouse from Apple with one from somebody else.

Then Apple decided to get really creative. They came up with the Puck Mouse.

I have to admit that when I first saw pictures of the puck mouse I thought it was cool. One main button and those two coloured things on the sides were Alt-Function buttons, and then the Apple Logo at the top was a track ball for scrolling. Only they weren’t. The colours were just decorations. The Apple Logo was just an Apple Logo. It was still a one button mouse, still without a scroll wheel. Keep in mind that by this point mice had evolved into a huge variety of forms. Two-three-four-five-even six button mice. Trackballs had appeared. The first trackpads appeared. And yet Apple was still selling a one button mouse. Worse yet the Puck Mouse had a huge ergonomic issue. The cord would push it around. You’d grab it only to find the cursor going crazy because the mouse was sideways and you couldn’t tell what direction it was facing without looking. Functionally the Puck Mouse worked adequately, despite it’s limitations. The fact you ALWAYS had to stop and look to make sure it was facing the right way however made it a royal pain. After a few days of really trying to like it, it went into my unused Apple mouse box.

Apple made a number of mice in the following years. I didn’t follow them too closely to be honest. I had moved from desktop Macs to PowerBooks and then MacBooks. The TrackPad worked very well and on the rare occasion I needed a mouse I’d just pull out whatever generic USB mouse I had in my parts bin.

Then last fall I retired my MacBook Pro and bought an iMac. It came with a Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse II.
 As a mouse, the MagicMouse is fantastic. It has two buttons. OK you can’t see any but you can both right and left click. And in place of a scroll wheel it has a touch space so you can scroll up and down AND side to side. This is the best mouse I have ever used. Well, mostly. Functionally it’s great. I love working with it. But the thing is, it’s a BlueTooth mouse. Don’t get me wrong, I love not having a cord. The freedom is great. It does mean however, that it requires recharging, and that’s where the problem lies.

Who in the hell thought it was a good idea to put the plug on the bottom? It means that the mouse is unusable while charging. The Magic Keyboard has a plug on the front. You don’t have to lay it down its back to charge. You can keep using it while it’s charging. Why the hell didn’t they think of this with the MagicMouse?

I’ll tell you why. It’s because Apple is cursed. Apparently, many years ago, Apple offended some all-powerful being who cursed it with being unable to get a mouse right. The Macs are great. iPhones are great. MacBooks are great. Their keyboards and other accessories are great. But Apple cannot make a mouse without a fatal flaw.

It’s Apple’s curse.