A few days ago, prominent Apple developer, podcaster and blogger, Marco Arment published a strongly written article, voicing his frustration at the decline in quality of Apple’s latest software offerings:
Apple’s hardware today is amazing - it has never been better. But the software quality has fallen so much in the last few years that I’m deeply concerned for its future.
Strong words indeed. The resulting media storm forced Marco into in a follow up post where he admits he probably went too far:
Instead of what was intended to be constructive criticism of the most influential company in my life, I handed the press more poorly written fuel to hamfistedly stab Apple with my name and reputation behind it. And my name will be on that forever.
Had I known that it would go as far as it did, I never would have written it.
He had unintentionally fed the great “Apple is Doomed” internet troll.
The thing is, whilst Marco could be criticised for his choice of language, the basis of his article was not wrong. He might regret his temporary notoriety, but the attention that his article garnered means that his message has surely made its way to the ears of the influencers inside Apple. If Apple still value their age worn “It just works” credo, they should sit up, take notice and do something about it.
Apple have done this before. The Snow Leopard (10.6) release of OSX was heavy on bug fixes and performance improvements, and light on new features. As a result it was (and remains) the most stable release of OSX to date.
The problem that Apple face now is compounded because their OS footprint is getting significantly bigger: Mac OSX, iOS, Apple TV and now Apple Watch. I buy and recommend a lot of these products on the basis that perceived quality. My kids went through university with Macbooks and iPhones and I can count the number of support issues I had to resolve on the fingers of one hand. Apple set that standard and it is all the more frustrating when they fail to meet it. I buy Apple at home so that I don’t have to deal with same crap I have to put up with in work, supporting Windows systems.
One of my favourite sub £100 gadgets is the Apple TV. Every now and then it cannot find my iTunes content hosted on the Mac Pro upstairs - easily resolved with a reboot, but still bloody annoying. It will happily stream content via Airplay from an iPhone 4 or 5, but the same content from an iPhone 6 takes ages to stream. Whiny First World problems for sure, but hey, like I said, Apple set the bar.
It is time for Apple slow down a bit and repeat the Snow Leopard exercise across all of their current platforms. As Gruber says:
It’s not that Apple has lost the “it just works” crown to a competitor, but rather that they’ve seeded a perception that Apple’s stuff doesn’t work, either.