updated 01:34 pm EDT, Tue July 10, 2012
Could be harbinger of wider problems for Apple
San Francisco will soon stop buying Macs for the city's 50 agencies, according to Department of Environment officials speaking with the Wall Street Journal. The officials say that within the next two weeks it will send out letters to agencies explaining that Macs "no longer qualify" for city money, following Apple's request to have 39 desktops, monitors, and notebooks pulled from a list of EPEAT-certified products. Workers will still be able to buy Macs, but only through a process described as "long" and "onerous."
Only about 1 to 2 percent of the city's computers are Macs, or about 500 to 700 systems. For Apple, though, the loss of orders could be a harbinger of things to come, since more government bodies could choose to exclude Macs. Legally, 95 percent of all US federal government purchases must be EPEAT-certified. Until recently Apple had slowly been gaining acceptance in government circles.
The decision to backtrack from EPEAT -- which Apple helped establish in 2006 -- is linked to the Retina MacBook Pro, EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee tells the Journal. He explains that the computer wouldn't qualify under EPEAT standards because the computer's battery is glued to the case; an Apple staffer, in fact, is said to have informed EPEAT in June that it was leaving the registry due to a new "design direction." The organization's rules mandate that it must be easy to separate toxic components such as batteries from those that can be recycled.
The battery issue is believed to be a consequence of Apple's focus on making products as thin and efficient as possible. The Retina Pro is significantly thinner than its non-Retina counterparts, something that was achieved only through design decisions that made the notebook extremely hard to repair or disassemble.