Is the ‘Walled-Off Garden’ crumbling?

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 The Apple Way ∧

 

Earlier today I read an article in Fortune and felt compelled to share it with you. One of Apple’s top developers, Marco Arment, had the following to say about the current situation at Apple-

 

“Apple’s hardware today is amazing,” he begins, “it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I’m deeply concerned for its future. I’m typing this on a computer whose existence I didn’t even think would be possible yet, but it runs an OS riddled with embarrassing bugs and fundamental regressions. Just a few years ago, we would have relentlessly made fun of Windows users for these same bugs on their inferior OS, but we can’t talk anymore.”

When one of your top developers starts taking shots from his personal blog I’d guess you’d say he might be frustrated.  He’s obviously hiding his head in the sand regarding the hardware – what about BendGate? What about the screens that are so prone to breakage they have literally spawned a new industry – iPhone screen repairs. Don’t even mention battery life.  Let’s read further-

“Apple has completely lost the functional high ground. ‘It just works’ was never completely true, but I don’t think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer. We now need to treat Apple’s OS and application releases with the same extreme skepticism and trepidation that conservative Windows IT departments employ.”

WOW- he just fired a scud missile into the headquarters of Cupertino – comparing Apple’s OS and apps to that of Windows! Furthermore he places the blame directly on the shoulders of Tim Cook and his Marketing Gurus. The core problem of designing new and innovative software every 12 months is too daunting a task, even for the battalion of developers employed by Apple. He actually went so far as to claim the reason people stay with iOS is not because they love it, but because they perceive other platforms to be worse (see definition of Cult).

Regarding the media Marco had the following to say-

“There seem to be two main factions covering Apple: people who dislike Apple, and whose opinions can thus be disregarded. And people who like Apple, but would rather talk about how wrong the first faction is, and how badly Samsung and Google are doing, than discuss the problems Apple’s own products have.”

Given this context, we can now understand the usual comments from Carriers, the public, or the media-

  • BlackBerry is still around?

 

  • do they still make phones?

 

  • they don’t have any apps

 

  • why would I want that when my iPhone/Android does so much more?

Unfortunately this is not really news, UTB has been aware of the media (and Carrier) bias and continues to write about it extensively.

 
Since John Chen took the helm over a year ago the ship has turned around and has made giant leaps in the right direction, from strategic partnerships (NantHealth, SecuSmart, Movirtu, Amazon, Samsung, etc), new software (OS10.3), new handsets (Passport and Classic), QNX, and more, these are truly exciting times!

If Marco’s comments are a sign of things to come, then it’s fair to say the tide is turning – isn’t it time to give BlackBerry a try and come BackToBlack?

 

You can read the Fortune article here

Rob

kayaker co-pilot Tucson, it's a dry heat!

  • Ouch! Well TBSS. I think that DEV was a little too smug when he said their hardware was so good. I appreciate you mentioning bendgate and the screen replacement cottage industry.

    My sister got an iPhone6 and before I could stop myself, I had blurted out that she should be careful cause the phones bend and the batteries explode. Girls seems to like to keep their phones in their back pockets. I guess they don’t have room in the front. Anyway, I was actually, genuinely concerned. I’m sure it’s not happening to the majority of devices, but I still want her to be real careful. My brother in law claims he’s already noticed a slight bend.

    I don’t associate Apple with innovation and quality anymore. I definitely used to. I had to give them their props when pressed. They really saw some unmet needs in the marketplace and capitalized on them. And all their consumer products from their MP3 player to their earbuds to their touch screen phones, seemed to be of good quality.

    Right now though, their quality is suffering in hardware and software. So is their marketing. Chen is outmaneuvering them and this will begin to be more obvious to the general public down the road a little. It’s like in Chess when you lay a good foundation before attacking. Their worst days are still ahead of them. I don’t want them to go out of business, I just want BBRY to have some respect in the marketplace and a deserving share of the market for handsets.

  • web99

    Awesome post razrrob! locco_smiley_10 locco_smiley_10

    Apple developer Marco Arment have said what many of us have known for years. Apple products have been plagued with problems for years and instead of acknowledging it and fixing their problems, they just sweep it under the rug and bash other platforms. If you go to the Apple Support pages, there are tons and tons of issues that never seem to get fixed with each software update,

    Their fans are just as deluded as they are and keep on defending the product even though many of them are putting up an array of bugs and inconveniences that they would never tolerate from any other company.

    “It just works” no longer applies to their company or their products.

    • razrrob

      Their day of reckoning will come. It may be as soon as the 2015 10-K (annual report – which is due the last week of Sept 2015)

  • BB Racer !!

    My apologies but once again ” Watching iPhone 6 / Plus users use iOS 8 email and email attachment is like watching useless work in progress “

    • razrrob

      No need to apologize for iOS weaknesses that are not addressed year after year after year

  • web99

    Comment by ‎tzmljm from the Forbes article which really hits the mark:

    Perhaps for a single home user doing basic browsing and playing with iPhoto on a new machine with an SSD they won’t encounter much issues. They may not even know it if they did.

    But as a Mac IT consultant for SMB’s past 20+ years I can without doubt say Mac OS X has been going downhill since 10.6.8, the last stable lean release. It is laced with bugs in their server software and in clients using it for real work and Yosemite is a complete failure. I won’t install it on any business computers.

    I’m not going to list all the issues as I don’t have the time to waste. But I can tell you this….when a CFO asks me “Maybe we should switch to Microsoft” that is not a good sign.

    Apple makes good hardware but their entire software side is a shame. They should not be on a yearly release. Instead, focus on fixing all the bugs in one release and stop layering all the graphics on top of poorly written code.

    Amazing a company with so much money is lost. The only positive thing I can say is at least I’ve made some money being a shareholder for the past 7 years.

    • bartron

      He’s right about OSX going downhill. It started 2-3 years ago when Apple decided to make it more like iOS. But I thought Apple stopped selling server software years ago when they stopped selling servers.

    • razrrob

      When the developers become disgruntled, things can head south pretty quick

      • bartron

        The developers have been disgruntled for years. Third-party iOS developers hate dealing with Apple and have said they only develop for iOS because they can make more money on iOS than they can on other platforms.

        Early last year, Apple hired several devs to develop major improvements to Maps. Just before iOS8 was released, those devs quit because they were being shuffled from one project to another. The improvements ended up not making it in the iOS8 release.

        I agree that things will head south. Although, IMO, things should have headed south much sooner than they have. I’m not sure why it took so long. Perhaps luck. If there’s one thing I’ve learned working as a developer for over 15 years, it’s that software companies are the luckiest companies around. I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve seen code that shouldn’t work, but, for some reason, did. Incredibly lucky.

    • razrrob

      I’m happy that tzmljm and other stockholders have made money, but unless there is a major shift in focus from the top on down, their profitability will shrink as global market share continues to retreat.

      According to their 2014 10-K the annual net sales from the iPhone was $102B (pg 27). If their problems continue with hardware, software and competition (WP, BlackBerry and inexpensive android phones) a 1% drop in net sales equate to a decrease of $1,000,000,000. If that continues the shareholders will demand accountability.

  • bartron

    Arment’s comments about the hardware were clearly aimed at Macs, and most of his comments (the ones quoted in the article) were about desktop tech, not mobile tech. And in that respect, he’s right.

    The Mac/OSX teams have been one of the only good teams in Apple. They’ve been going in the right direction and have done well, with the exception that they’ve been slow in responding to security flaws. They’ve focused on productivity, workflow, performance, innovation and ease of use — they developed the UI into a gesture-based UI — and have succeeded in that respect.

    The iOS/iDevice teams, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction, and thus suck big time. They’re now relying on lock-in, marketing and their users’ ignorance of other platforms to maintain a customer base that is far greater than the products deserve. The iOS/iDevice team has followed the same path that the desktop Windows team did. Unfortunately for them, the iOS/iDevice team doesn’t have the protection (high cost of switching platforms) that the desktop Windows team did, which means their market share is precarious.

    2015 will be a watershed year for the iOS/iDevice teams. The fire was started in 2014 with the reports of how they manipulate the media, the BBC report on iPhone workers in China, and the poor quality of the iPhone6/iOS8. Whether or not that’s enough to really hurt the iPhone sales, depends on how much free PR and help Apple gets from the media, bloggers and so-called “experts”.

    • razrrob

      I agree that the general content was referring to the Mac side of the house but the same philosophy has started to pull down the iOS side. Look at what happened to iOS 8. They’ve had what, 5 releases and they still can’t get it right? The resources needed to flawlessly execute a new and innovative software release on a 12 month cycle is more than they can handle. If this persists they will see their market share continue to slip.

      • bartron

        Quality software releases (feature releases, not just maintenanThe issue with Apple is not resources. BlackBerry has proven that by coming out with higher quality software than Apple when BlackBerry has only a fraction of the resources Apple has (e.g. $3.1B vs $155B).

        The issue with Apple’s software quality is related to how their software development is managed. The development community has known about the poor management of Apple’s software development for years, ever since former Apple devs started talking about it. The most frequent criticisms have been:

        1. Apple does things at the last minute.
        2. Apple doesn’t truly test their software, they just use it.
        3. Apple moves devs from one project/product to another at the last minute, expecting the dev to hit the ground running.

        I’ve worked in places that have done things like that, and they ended up with the same kind of bugs in their software as Apple has in iOS. It’s not a matter of how many resources Apple has, it’s a matter of how their resources are managed.

        Besides, fixing the software quality won’t solve all the problems causing the decline in market share of iOS/iDevice (Mac/OSX has been gaining market share the past several years, though I admit I haven’t checked the 2014 numbers). More and more people simply don’t want to pay such high prices for a phone and they don’t want to be stuck in a walled garden, both of which are business decisions unrelated to the quality of the hardware or software.

        • razrrob

          I agree wholeheartedly bartron – just want to clarify by resources I meant people as opposed to money. This makes your point even more relevant – throwing people at a project does not insure its’ success. There has to be leadership, clear goals including timelines and deliverables with quality baked into the DNA of the project. A true leader cannot expect to shuffle headcount and expect the timelines to hold up.

  • Anthony

    I like Yosemite but there are a few bugs.
    – maps won’t locate me
    – I can’t watch iTunes shows I bought because there’s some kind of “HDCP” error

    Otherwise I like Yosemite.

    I’m using email though Blend. BB10 email is faster.

    I agree, iOS is POS compliant. locco_smiley_20

    • razrrob

      From what I hear Anthony, Yosemite is a slight improvement but unless there is a major shift in philosophy they will become less profitable

  • TRUENORTH

    It is typical of a cult to expel and shun former believers who have lost their way. It should not be long before these former well known and respected members of the Apple cult find themselves shunned from the cult and scorned by the remaining members. When that happens the end will be near. And once the trickle of defectors starts it will not be long until it is a torrent and then a flood and finally a tidal wave. As the phone side of the business is the profitable side of Apple, it’s fall from grace will signal the end of the empire.

    “Hello. I’m an apple and I will work for food.”

    • razrrob

      I think you are on to something Truenorth – once the devs become disgruntled it becomes a cascade that’s hard to stop. Even if Apple were to fix the Mac side of the house the iOS side will become a weight dragging them down unless there is a 180 degree change in philosophy

  • ray689

    Apple’s downfall will be the attitude of arrogance and thinking they can do no wrong…and if they do, it’s the consumer fault/problem. Even the most blinded isheep will eventually wake up to this, I think.

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