Tech Series Intro

B.O.C. correspondent Nick Renfroe
B.O.C. correspondent Nick Renfroe

* Potentially necessary disclaimer. I receive no money or other compensation from Apple or any other company for product reviews/endorsements. These are simply my views about products I use and in most cases, that I wish worked better.

This tech series comprises 6 posts and covers mostly Apple products with a little from the Google camp, some from Mozilla, and a smattering of Microsoft. I will discuss issues with Safari, iPads for Business, iTunes and iTunes Match, iOS, and at least one OSX “feature”. I am not going to deal with the issues in strict chronological order because iOS dips into the problem pond more than once and I want to keep those together.

To provide some thematic context, in addition to airing specific grievances, I believe that looked at together, one can see a change in Apple’s corporate attitude about software development and the timing of releases vs completion of the code. Does this spell the end for Apple? Maybe, but probably not “soon”. It could, if an existing or dark-horse rival pops up and executes in the way that Apple’s long standing core customer base has come to expect. Sadly for us, the end users, I do not see evidence of either a successful rival filling that need, nor do I see Apple reverting to prior business models that catered to its “old” base.

To flesh that out a bit further, it looks to me like Apple is beginning to adopt many elements of the Microsoft business model. From a purely corporate, profit/units sold basis, I get it. It is impossible to deny that side of Microsoft’s business and success. But that has not been the Apple model and in many cases is in diametric opposition to the Apple model. This exact issue used to be the biggest delineation between Microsoft and Apple.

Microsoft: Put it (whatever product) out there fast, cheap (relatively), sell lots of units, and worry about finishing and fixing the code later. This is actually a fairly standard business practice and is taught in MBA programs and business books throughout the world. It is not a bad model. However, it is generally intended for use in the beginning phases of a start-up or small business to get from the planning and early development phases to the first round of major funding after your initial release has done the final work of validating your product and your market. The principle was never intended for large, well-established firms to continually release sub-par products. I am going to stop on this here for now. We can come back to an exploration of Microsoft’s business practices in a later post.

Apple: It just works. This was their guiding principle for most of the company’s history – make stuff that works and trust that people will want to buy and use stuff that works. It took a long time for Apple to grow their niche market population, to begin poaching from other customer pools, and to capture newly emerging markets and consumers, but they did it. They proved their model. If you make quality products that just work, people will buy them, use them, and develop a kind of brand loyalty not found in many other places.

Next we will look at several specific flaws in Apple products. In the concluding post, I will spell out what I see as the new Business Model at Apple as evinced by the specific examples in this series, and what impact that model has had and could have on the company and its customer base. It is my contention that Apple can turn the corner on these trends and my hope that they will, but honestly, I don’t see it happening.

I will leave you with that cheery thought until next time.