In 2005 Apple introduced the worst product in its history. Never has an Apple product shown such disdain for its users. Never has an Apple product been based upon such false assumptions. (And I’m including Quickdraw GX in that assessment.) It looks like this:
From its appearance you’d probably think it innocuous, but you’d be wrong. It’s a Mighty Mouse, and it’s Apple’s answer to those who have been clamoring for Apple to add a right-mouse button, Windows-style, onto the Mac. Even Walt Mossberg hates it.
The Mighty Mouse is allegedly innovative because it can function as both a one-button Mac-style mouse, and a two-button Windows-style mouse. Why someone would want such a thing is as confusing as the Mighty Mouse is over-designed.
There’s a now-ancient reasoning behind the Mac’s single mouse button, and that reason seems noble enough: users shouldn’t ever be confused about which button to push. But Windows 95 taught users–and taught them well–how to use two mouse buttons, and I can feel safe in saying that because of the overwhelming popularity of the Windows platform, the Mac mouse has become harder to use because it bucks such a pervasive trend. (I don’t know if anyone at Apple has watched Windows users–even fairly inexperienced ones–use their mice, but they do it with aplomb.)
After a decade’s worth of users clamoring for a two-button mouse from Apple, they finally obliged–haltingly–with the Mighty Mouse. Why did Apple put up such a fight? It’s a complete mystery to me. My only thought is that the fossilized one-button reasoning turned into legend, and Apple has come to believe it as religion. Why did Apple think the Mighty Mouse was the answer? Again, it’s a mystery.
The first time I used a Mighty Mouse I had quite a bit of difficulty pulling off a right-click. It turned out my index finger wasn’t resting in the proper position on the mouse; once I completely altered how I click mice it started working. The thing that struck me almost immediately was: “how would I ever tell someone over the phone how to use this thing?” Well, my perverse fantasy came true today. My wife and I bought an iMac for her mother, and the confused user in question wasn’t my mother-in-law, it was my wife. I was describing over the phone how to right-click. “It’s not working,” she said. The first problem–there were many–was that right-clicking on the Mighty Mouse isn’t even enabled by default. A quick trip to System Preferences changed that. But then it still wasn’t working. My wife, since she couldn’t see the “right mouse button,” was clicking on the little button on the side. Even after correcting that issue, it still wasn’t working. Since I wasn’t there to see what she was doing I have absolutely no idea what was going wrong; however, after about thirty more seconds of frustration she finally got it to work.
This is a mouse we’re talking about here. It took a phone call, a trip to System Preferences, and about three minutes to figure out how to use it. It’s a case of Apple putting up a ridiculous barrier to Windows users learning the Mac, and it’s as silly–though more confounding–as their refusal to put a second button on their laptops. (By the way: the day they do that, I know a lot of Windows users who are going to buy their first MacBook.)