Saturday, February 09, 2013

Apple: What it would take for me to like you again.

I'm an Apple customer. If Apple makes a hardware product, I buy it from them. I use most of their Mac and iOS software.

That doesn't mean I like Apple. I just dislike them less than the alternatives.

Which makes me reflect on what Apple needs to do to make me like them again. This has nothing to do with APPL's share price btw, it's completely personal. As my friend Andy used to say, I'm not Apple's customer. (Though I do have influence on people who ARE Apple's customers. I still advise buying Apple if asked, but I no longer volunteer that opinion.)

  • iBook for MacOS. Not all books are novels; I want to be able to read textbooks and non-fiction on my Macs.
  • iCloud is a 1970s Jaguar. Shiny, expensive, and unreliable. Talk to me about this. Admit that there are problems and explain how the fixes are coming. Back off on driving everything and everyone to iCloud when it doesn't work (Mountain Lion default save to iCloud?).
  • Apple, stop basing all of your marketing on things that aren't ready. Just stop.
  • Fix your Apple ID problems. We all have multiple Apple IDs, and most of us don't know what they are. Our DRMd transactions and our product and support information is distributed among Apple IDs. Admit there's a problem. Work it.
  • iWork was never finished. I run across features that are half-completed or that cause big performance issues. I don't trust it to scale to serious projects. It doesn't need a big UI change or a lot of new features, but it needs serious investment.
  • Aperture crashes. It should never crash. It's too buggy. Apple is taking the right path to making Aperture 'iPhoto Pro' but they are only 80% done. They need to invest and fix it.
  • Calendar and Contact apps are a bit better in Mountain Lion than Lion, but they are not serious products. They don't scale to my life. It's crazy that Contact to Group relations is MacOS only.
  • I know how to use Google Calendar to share calendars across my family. I can even use Google Apps to share Contacts. I can publish calendars and others can subscribe to them. None of this works properly in the iCloud/MacOS world.
  • Detox on the luxury addiction. Remember how incredibly important the iBook was. The Mac Mini should have been priced under $300 -- even though that would have resulted in serious shortages. It's insane that the new iMac is so hard to manufacture -- nobody needed that super-thin edge. Personally, I still wanted the built in DVD. (I said I wasn't going to talk about share prices, but I think the Mini's price point had repercussions.)
  • If you're going to break the iOS connector ecosystem, then don't sell your A/D converter device with a fat margin. That's stupid greed.
  • Look at what worked with RSS (pub/sub) and what didn't. Come up with an open Apple solution.
  • Remember the AT&T and Verizon are not our friends. If you can find a way to shaft them, do it.
  • Think hard about the problem of bandwidth costs and net access. Look at what Google is doing with Google Fiber. Think big and think small - from partnering on fiber to enhancing iOS to manage bandwidth use.
  • Think about people who aren't wealthy. I can afford Apple products, but not all of my family can. Remember the iBook.
  • Support your damned developers. Damnit.

I'm sure I could come up with more examples, 

These are fixable problems. They come down to "Talk to me", and "invest in the hard things that don't return glory" and "remember we're not all rich". I've seen a lot of improvement in iOS, and it's encouraging that Apple has opened iOS to Google products.

Fixing the problems though may require a change to Apple's famously brutal internal culture. That may take some significant executive turnover. Cook's huge bonuses to the inner circle, and his secrecy obsession, are not reassuring.

So I'm only guardedly optimistic.


Unknown said...

Not that I necessarily disagree with the gist of your rant, but contact-to-group relationships are available on iOS. The basic Contacts app just doesn't allow you to manage groups or add to/remove from groups. Some third-party apps allow you to do this, though. I use Groups by Guided Ways.

mike said...

how about make iMessage an open protocol? sure would love to bridge the SMS, MMS world with direct windows client access too.

John Gordon said...

Nathan - yes, I should have been more specific. It was the editing I was thinking of, but I didn't write it that way.

John Gordon said...

Mike, I remember when FaceTime was supposed to be open -- Jobs promised us that. Didn't happen.

Yes, making Facetime or iMessage open would be a point in Apple's favor. The list of all the things they're doing to make me not happy keeps growing!