Tuesday 25 October 2011

Did Apple finally get hitched?

[Image by Roberta F.]

Thanks to Peter Hicks for inspiring me for this title

Lately I've noticed quite a few complaints regarding the upgrade to Apple's iOS5. A few examples of that: the upgrade itself failing to complete, having to restore factory settings and lose all apps and files, battery draining like mad, Twitter failing until after complete deinstall and reinstall of Twitter, all iTunes lost, all images lost, being unable to SMS, and many, many more complaints when you search for "ios5 fail" on Twitter

Coincidentally, this the first time I've heard fanbois complain about their Precious. And no, relating that to the passing of Steve jobs wouldn't be funny

I've worked within multinationals for all my working life, over 15 years now. Before that, I've worked with my hands and redecorated quite a few rooms and homes. Not extreme makeovers, but building or redoing bathrooms, student rooms, living rooms, doing the odd paint job or replastering walls even. Ever since, I've ripped apart our current house and redone that from scratch as much as possible. After 5 years, that is entirely finished, including the vast garden. 5 years? Yes, f-i-v-e years it took

Similarities? Legacy

Many words can be spent and even wasted on Apple's successes and failures. They failed often, and had a few successes, if you look back three decades. Still, the progress they made in the last 7 years is chilling to say the least - increasing revenue by a factor 8, and profit by a factor 50, reaching 65 and 14 billion dollar respectively in 2010

Yet, Apple's highway to success - the iWay as I name it - seems to come to a stutter now. Have they reached the end of their runway? Have they finally created their own legacy?
What's their best product so far? Their oldest one? Many products: iMac, iBook, iPod, iPhone, iPad - all running on their own proprietary operating system OS X - in place since 2002, with iOS being based on that and serving the last three since 2007

Microsoft Windows started with DOS in 1981 which they bought, and after 4 years they built their own: Windows 1.0. Windows 3.0 was developed 5 years later and concluded backward compatibility with earlier versions. Windows 95 made its entry another 5 years after that, and another 5 years later, Windows XP saw the light.
Windows Vista (released another 5 years after that) was a disaster - and no one will deny that - and now Windows 7 (relatively quickly released just 3 years after) seems relatively stable, although I've never had as many BSOD's as I'm having right now, but that may be related to my hardware

4-5 years seems to be the full life cycle for an operating system then? Even given that, Apple has done miraculously well so far until now - until now.
Legacy - I've run into that for decades. Starting with the rooms I used to redo, rebuild and redecorate: there's only so much room in a room. I used to create space by making a raised bed: basically a bunk bed without the bed underneath, leaving room for a desk or a coach underneath. Still, you have to do with what you have

Apple has created so many products from scratch, all proprietary, in splendid solitude: they (didn't want to) had nothing to do with outsiders and could dictate their own requirements and come forth to them. Now, a decade later, it seems like their legacy is slowly catching up with them, and biting them in the ankle for now.
Is that a surprise? Not at all. So far they've marvelously well handled the mix of marketing, product and after sales. But their user base has exploded since they went mobile (iPad included here), and so has their app store, as carefully managed and censored as it is. Yes, it's the same old functions they deal with but the parameters have increased tenfold. Feeding a household of 4 is so much more easy than doing so when you have 10 to 12 children

The world has changed and the biggest change is in the pace it's changing at: if we take Moore's Law we might as well invert that when it comes to mobile operating systems until the year 2020, when I expect them all to settle down and obediently serve the Cloud as mere utilities. The number of mobile operating systems that have been born, reborn, crippled and died in the last 5 years is blinding.
Yet, Apple's iOS is now 5 years old, and due to revision it seems, looking at the number of frustrated users who lost precious data by just simply upgrading from the previous version

So, Apple, how about reconsidering the relationship you have with your customers? You haven't started taking them for granted, have you?

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