Monday, July 14, 2008

Apple after Jobs: give reliability a chance

Apple has given me good value for my money. That's why I buy their stuff.

They could do better though.

In particular, they could work on reliability. Their dotMac service (.Mac) has a long record of poor quality and unreliable service.

Even their retail service has been flaky. Today the iTunes store told me:
We could not complete ... An unknown error occurred (5002) ... There was an error ...
Apple's hardware quality is industry average at best. Their software quality has been nothing to boast about (design is good, execution is average).

After the iPhone 2.0 launch debacle I wrote:
Even Apple’s discussion servers are crushed …

...In an ideal world, Apple would do some post-mortem analysis of their culture and commit themselves to being a high-reliability organization.

In the real world, we shouldn’t expect Apple to deliver mission-critical services. It’s not what they do.
Jobs is a genius, but he loves innovation, elegance, grace and aesthetics -- not reliability. In time, perhaps sooner than later, Jobs will retire. The media will treat this as a disaster for Apple.

I'm not so sure. The transition will be very hard, but in the world of Software as Service, Data in the Cloud, and distributed memory, reliability matters even more than in the old days of local drives and static files.

If a new Apple can shift their premium price points towards quality and reliability, while preserving a love for elegance and innovation, they'll deliver even better value for my money.

Whether that will translate into continued wealth and growth is another question -- one I can't answer. If I could answer those kinds of questions, I've have way too much money.

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