back to article You know what your problem is, Apple? Complacency

When several "leaked" reports appear to show that Apple is focusing on quality, not features, it's reasonable to conclude that Apple is concerned the world perceives a quality problem. We heard the message via Axios in January that Apple was focusing on reliability rather than new features. And again at the weekend. But wait …

  1. djstardust

    Just more BS

    From Apple. All they want to do is make as much margin for as little cost base as possible.

    I have a £400 GPD pocket laptop that has USB-C, USB3, a headphone socket and micro HDMI out ..... so what's Apple's excuse for not including these ports on a "pro" laptop at many times the price?

    Add to that a non-removable SSD, non-upgradeable RAM, still no touch screen or "yoga" tablet form and a shocking keyboard and it really makes you wonder why anyone would by one.

    Apple will be the next Nokia. Tick tock tick tock .......

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Just more BS

      All they want to do is make as much margin for as little cost base as possible.

      Is true of pretty much any manufacturer. But you forgot to throw in the walled garden, where they have even higher margins.

      But the hardware is generally excellent. Last year I bought a new MacBookPro and went with the 2015 model which isn't full of stupid. At the time, there was nothing with comparable hardware specs (particularly battery and weight) for the price and I currently use all the ports with the HDMI suprisingly producing a signal good enough to survive transition via a DVI KVM to drive a 4K monitor. It's the hardware and the UnixOS without a relatively stable UI that makes it an attractive proposition for developers.

      But I've never had and I-Phone or an I-Pad. I love my Kobo Aura One, my Samsung S5 and my new Planet Gemini, even if the latter could do with some of Apple's fit-and-finish.

      I do think that Apple does need to up their game and get back to innovating, but with the money they're making they must be doing something right.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Innovation

        Charlie - from my perspective (others are available) Apple innovation just means headphone sockets, USB connections, memory card slots and a host of useful features disappearing with nothing new that I need or want. I won't update my 5 year old MBA because the new Macs have got no connectivity other than USB C and I won't buy a phone later than an SE until I retire and only need a big-button phone. I understand innovation, but the only concept Apple seems to have is to make stuff smaller and thinner at the expense of useful connectivity, fragility and battery power. I can't think of a single useful HW or SW "improvement" they've made since my mid-13 Macbook air and my iPhone SE that I'd pay money for.

        I fancy a new Macbook, but they can fuck off if it means that I've got to throw away and replace 4 PSUs and a bag full of network and video adpaters and replace them with new ones.

      2. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Just more BS

        I am with you there. I liked the 2015 form factor (for me, good compromise between weight, battery life and ports). But my favourite OS is still Snow Leopard, I am not sure if I can think of much worthwhile added since.

        Perhaps I reclaim my 2010 MBP (with new battery) from my son when he is off to uni...

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Just more BS

          But my favourite OS is still Snow Leopard

          I found that to be awful initially with lots of issues related to switching to x86_64 as standard and it seems they've continued to fuck up Bluetooth since then on a regular basis. The few releases have been pretty smooth except for the dumbing down: I switched to BusyCal atfer Calendar became too clever and the Disk Manager thing has become a toy.

        2. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Just more BS

          Just replaced Snow Leopard with Fedora on old iMac (approx 2007 model I think - Snow Leopard was highest OSX it could run as not enough RAM rec for later versions)

          I liked Snow Leopard, but needed an OS that was more up to date (bonus of more recent security patched) as there's only so long you can keep an unsupported OS & browsers going even when you take care to avoid malware

      3. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

        Re: Just more BS

        I do think that Apple does need to up their game and get back to innovating, but with the money they're making they must be doing something right.

        Apple have not been innovative since they came up with the iPhone. And even that was just a obvious transition from the iPod touch.

        They are constantly behind on implementing new technology and even then they wrap it up in a fancy package, give it a new i name and tell the world you can only get it on apple...

        What they have done "right" as far as a company is concerned is customer retention. Once you are in the apple garden, wallets do not tend to leave, no matter how poorly they treat customers. For example, a few years back, they had an issue with the GPU. It was coming away from the mainboard. After a lot of pressure they decided to have an extended warrantee repair for affected customers. Woohoo, they were going to fix it! Well not so simple. they limited it so the only actual computers that were eligible would have to have been bought in the last 3 to 6 months of it being on sale. Then to add insult, you had to take the affected computer to the apple store (tough shit if there was not one local or even in your country) where they would stuff a diagnostic disk in and start the computer. If it did not boot, then you were out of luck, no repair for you... but they would sell you a new computer with a 5% discount.

        You may think this was an isolated issue, but no, across the whole MacBook and iPhone range there are plenty of issues where they just tell you to bend over and lube up...

        even though they treat customers like bitches, they go back and scoop it up by the bucket load handing over the wallets and first born.

        they do need to change the way they treat customers, (and its not just apple) or they will go the way of others like nokia....

        1. Giles Jones Gold badge

          Re: Just more BS

          I think you meant iPad not iPhone. The iPad was the "big ole iPod Touch". The iPhone invented the OS and GUI that the iPod touch used.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Just more BS

            Apple started the project for iPad in 2002, before that work ultimately resulted in the iPhone. So technically the iPhone was a "little iPad" :)

          2. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

            Re: Just more BS

            if i remember my apple history correct, they had actually come up with the concept of the ipad before the iPhone, as in a large version of the iPod touch....

            but they used the iPhone to develop the customers into using a online app store to buy small cheap apps. the user-base of the ipod touch was too small to grow it, so by adding a phone to the ipod, therefore cutting down the amount of gadgets people use to carry, (iPod, PDA, phone), would make the phone very desirable, and after the success of the original iPhone 3G and 3GS, with people buying apps , this opened the market up for the large iPod Touch iPad.

            I said the iPhone over iPad, because the combination, although an obvious progression of combining three gadgets, was more innovative than putting a large screen on an iPod touch.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Just more BS

              They did come up with the iPad size first. However, the first touch product they released was the iPhone. The iPod touch was released after the first iPhone, so it was more that they removed the phone part and made the iPod touch.

        2. Mark 65

          Re: Just more BS

          even though they treat customers like bitches, they go back and scoop it up by the bucket load handing over the wallets and first born.

          To be fair, for mainstream users that require paid apps / creative suites most will only have a choice of Windows 10 or OS X. On that basis I know which one I'd go for. Very much a "pick your poison" contest.

          I like Linux and the BSD variants but for some things it comes back to either of the above. It is changing but unfortunately the pace is slow.

    2. alpine

      Re: Just more BS

      I've been using an iPhone recently. After Android, it's like going back into the 20th century. All the fiddles and loops one has to jump through to actually do things with apps because of the rigidity of the elderly iOS. It's quite an eyeopener how they've managed to get away with it for so long.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Candybar Anybody??

    The mobile market today reminds me of Nokia's peak when every phone was a candy bar and then the razor phone came along and changed the market.

    I wonder what the iteration that kills the rectangle of glass will be?

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Candybar Anybody??

      The implant?

      This icon because that's where the implant will go >>>

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Re: Candybar Anybody??

      That's a bit like saying every TV set looks much the same. There's a reason, people use mobile web and apps and they're designed for such a screen.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Candybar Anybody??

      The RAZR style flip phone beating out the Nokia style candybar was mostly about fashion, or maybe fitting better into pockets. It didn't improve the functionality of the phone in any way. Going to a rectangle of glass wouldn't have improved the functionality if it remained primarily a phone, but once it could browse the web it needed to grow in size - especially in the display - to make it useful in that role.

      I remember when the iPhone came out I thought "that thing is monstrous, I could never carry around something that big" but I ended up getting a 3gs two years later. That never would have happened if I wanted to buy a "phone", but when I wanted to buy something that I could use to run apps and browse the web suddenly the form factor of my KRZR become quite inadequate.

      What form factor would increase the usefulness of a modern day smartphone / pocket computer? The only thing I can think of is an even larger screen - i.e. folding or even a tri-fold (to maintain the 16:9'ish dimensions) The only other thing would be something that could replicate a "large" screen in a small space - i.e. something built into glasses or contact lens. I wouldn't want to wear glasses all the time, nor would I want to carry them around, so for me at least it seems a non-starter but then I said that about the now-puny 3.5" iPhone back in 2007 so maybe it can be made useful enough that I change my mind as happened eventually with the iPhone...

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: It didn't improve the functionality of the phone in any way.

        Bollocks. Flip to answer and close to hang up are great features that I still miss. A small phone that opens up to one large enough to put a speaker by your ear and a mic by your mouth is functionally better than one where the mic has to filter out loads of extraneous noise. A flip phone can't be accidentally activated in your pocket because it's locked till it's opened.

        3 functional improvements right there.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: It didn't improve the functionality of the phone in any way.

          I had a Nokia 8860 which was slide to answer / hang up, fit the ear/mouth distance pretty well and the 8260 (similar but without a slide) had a way to 'lock' it to prevent butt dials. No need for a flip to get those features.

    4. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Candybar Anybody??

      Not sure RAZR was the global success that the we see with the modern smartphone leaders. Think it was a US-centric thing. I certainly don't remember much about them or seeing many of them.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This may all be true

    but I bet Apple has one of the most woke, diverse workplaces in the valley.

    1. Naselus

      Re: This may all be true

      You're right, nearly 4% of engineering staff are women. It's a goddamn meat market compared to the rest of the Valley.

  4. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Quality, not features

    Here are a few things that have been problems for about ten years, which I don't think would be difficult to fix by a company which focused on quality instead of features.

    Mac- contacts - the street address is pre-formated so you can't cut and paste in or out and it only has one line for street address, so those places whose address is xxx house, xxx trading estate, xxx road, xxx bourough before the city name are a pain to put in and get out and use with mailing lists.

    Mac contacts auto formats phone numbers to US format.

    iPhone - set a custom ringtone and watch it revert to the default one every few months.

    Podcasts in iTunes and on iPhone: designed by cunts who clearly hate people who listen to podcasts.

    Just a few off the top of my head. All bug-reported, all ignored.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Quality, not features

      You're mistaking their meaning of quality. When they say they are focusing on quality what they mean is they are trying not to let quality slip further while they strip down their costs. If that means getting rid of 50 cent ports that you may find useful then so be it. There's no money in designing spaces for ports to go or making data fields customizable. It's pretty clear their mantra is one size fits Apple and it's your hard luck if it doesn't fit you.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Quality, not features

      I'll see your Podcasts point and raise you one intensely irritating problem with the Music app. (Podcasts wasn't too bad in iOS 10, but when they made it more "Music App like" in iOS 11 the hell really started)

      When iOS is short of RAM it boots apps out of working memory - they're supposed to shut down gracefully such that they pick up in the same state when reopened (where this makes sense). The Podcasts app can be force killed and still reopen on the same podcast at exactly the same point. Ideal - exactly as it should be.

      If the Music app gets closed for any reason (force close or RAM shortage) it forgets everything - playlist, track, position. "Not that big of a deal", you're thinking? I listen to radio shows that are usually 2-3 hours long so I have to remember where I left off as this happens on a semi-regular basis even though my 6S has 2GB of RAM. This has existed since I went iPhone in 2013 and despite reporting this I've been similarly ignored. If they can do it in the podcasts app they can surely make it work in the music app!

      Then there is the "Delete a track in iTunes, then sync and get a duplicate version of the playlist in iTunes and on iPhone" bug which has persisted for about two years now (since about iTunes 11.2?)

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Quality, not features

        paulf - I haven't used the iTunes music player directly for a while now because it doesn't shuffle albums - for which I'm tempted to whinge at Apple, but it appears that I'm the only person in the world who wants to do this because my current and last cars won't either.

        Anyway - on the phone I use an app called Smart Shuffle to do this (not affiliated). It can be a bit temperamental but it usually remembers where it's got to in playlists and tracks when the music player craps out. Like I said, it's mainly for shuffling albums, but it might work for you.

        Now - if you want to talk about track order in smart playlists when synched to the iphone I'll have to go and put my ranting trousers on.....

      2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Quality, not features

        paulf - or, you could change the radio shows from music to podcasts then play them with the podcast player. Go to <Info><Options><Media Kind>

        If you want to save the radio shows then remember to mark them as saved or convert them back otherwise podcasts will delete them.

        Note that you can also use this method to turn podcasts into music so you can use the "play next" functionality in iTunes. It's a bit of a pain because iTunes and synched devices will download the podcast again - but Podcasts are so fucked up that it doesn't make much difference unless you're paying for bandwidth by the bit.

        1. paulf Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Quality, not features

          @ Headley_Grange

          Thank you for the suggestions I'll see if I can get those to work as they may be suitable. It all sounds a bit convoluted but that's SOP if you want to deviate from the way Apple has sanctified (as I know from my own experience of trying to make a ring tone from a standard MP3 file). It didn't help that His Steveness decreed that apps in the app store should not duplicate standard system functionality otherwise the many talented iOS developers out there would have happily competed the standard music and Podcast apps out of existence.

          In other news, I got home this evening and opened the lid on my Mid-2010 17" MacBook Pro (10.11 El Capitan) to get a cheery message from Time Machine telling me it's deleting my entire 1.6TB of backup history for the second time this year. Fuck you Apple - fuck you with a massive rusty spike. Software is difficult, good quality software more so, but you control the entire Hardware and Software stack, and employ 115,000 people so you have no excuse.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Quality, not features

            Can I suggest to upgrade to Carbon Copy Cloner? I have been using it for years on 2 machines, and whereas going back picking files is not as flashy as TM it has not let me down.

      3. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
        Trollface

        Re: Quality, not features

        When iOS is short of RAM it boots apps out of working memory

        what's this boots out of working memory you talk about when it runs out of ram..... it does this for all third party apps, no matter how much working memory it has....

        I can switch from a large collection of open apps on my android and each is in exactly the same state as it was when the previous app was brought to front... I can even have two apps on screen at once....

        apple close apps down all over the place to conserve battery power so they can get away with using smaller batteries, but then, you always see a iPhone user carrying a phone in one hand and charger in the other...

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Quality, not features

      Mac contacts auto formats phone numbers to US format.

      You can at least set this.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Quality, not features

        Charlie - I wasn't clear. The problem (for me) is that I can't set it to ignore the formatting and have the number like I like it. Why can't I just type in 01234 567 890 or 010 56 52 58 and the app accepts the spaces for what they are instead of deleting them. That's how I like my phone numbers and I don't need someone in California telling me where I can and cannot put spaces.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Quality, not features

          Why can't I just type in 01234 567 890 or 010 56 52 58 and the app accepts the spaces for what they are instead of deleting them.

          It doesn't actually delete them, which I would understand and it definitely does some normalisation so that it can check them against I-Message (which I never use because I'm never logged in). But more control would be welcome: options for as entered, country standard, personal standard would be my preference.

  5. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Quality probably isn't equal to bloat

    Sadly, no OS maker (be it desktops, phones, etc.) has much interest in getting rid of the old dead stuff, etc. inside the OS. So for them, or any other maker, to yell about quality and how they're improving it, leaves me thinking that marketing is running amok and engineering is buried.

    1. HolySchmoley

      Re: Quality probably isn't equal to bloat

      Getting rid of bloat isn't an easy choice. People will be affected.

      Linus managed a good choice today. (e.g. ditching two-wheel mouse support).

      Apple has different criteria: maximise profits and lock-in and users-be-damned. (They only exist to feed us more).

  6. DrBobK

    They last a long time

    Said it before and I'll say it again. I have had two iPhones, a 3GS and a 6. The 6 is still my phone. The 3GS never broke but eventually it wouldn't run some stuff I wanted. Both had batteries replaced but that is all. For a small complicated thing that is used constantly to last 5 years seems pretty good quality to me. BTW, not a fanboi - I absolutely hated the Macs I had to program in the 80s and 90s, but I would give them credit for the phones being good (unless you feel the need to buy a new phone every year, in which case you are a sucker, whatever kind of phone it is).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there Applestuff that refuses to work through proxies now?

    I saw a dazed project manager with a new deployment two networks deep inside the walls, with a pile of nonfunctional Applefoo, who was told by Apple to provide an Internet line of sight, because they 'would not support' proxies.

    1. Giles C

      Proxies

      You can’t blame Apple for that, virtually every software developer seems to think they have a direct internet link, I could probably strip out half the firewall rules I maintain if developers accepted the system proxy settings on their software.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Proxies

        I can blame Apple for that, because they're not meant to be as security/infrastructure-illiterate as every software developer out there. They run the whole walled garden.

        Proxies were developed after IP was invented, for real reasons. Try hop-scotching around multiple different 10.*/8 networks resulting from years of continuing corporate infrastructure mergers/divestments, and private links to supplier networks. Proxies make it all just work, securely. The equivalent packet rules would be a continual living hell.

        I know I can't stop the 'Make the Internet Simple Again' masses, but I'll keep plugging away until the poor router admin is forced to swallow every last planet in order to somehow regurgitate one single Flat Earth equivalent.

  8. HolySchmoley

    "...pat itself on the back for reviving the iPad"

    No need to exaggerate.

    I have to try to remember to plug in my iPad 2 every couple of months to charge it. It's the only use it gets. My work-supplied newer one gets plugged in about twice a year for the same purpose. It was fun for a while. I've reverted to a decent laptop (Lenovo / Linux) and the irritation that is a 'smart'-phone.

  9. HolySchmoley

    "...which gives Apple a genuine advantage in products as diverse as earbuds"

    Only a 'genuine' advantage in the context of people who stuff dangley white things in their ears and don't realise what pratts they look.

  10. SVV Silver badge

    Hurrah!

    Hopefully this means that I won't need to suffer yet another round of people I generally consider intelligent boring me senseless by droning on about how amazng the new iPhone is.

  11. Lorribot

    if they are bored....

    Since they are doing diddly squat with the iPhone and there is all those engineers sitting around, perhaps they could finally implement a dark theme for those who have preference such a beast or requirement for their visual impairment (my most missed feature of my Windows phone, no wait that was the active tiles, no wait it was a mail client that worked, no wait it was...).

    Or they could just come out with a phone with two notches to be better than all those Android wannabes.

  12. OffBeatMammal

    M'eh

    I used to look forward to Apple events to see them pushing innovation and keeping the race - both PC and phone - moving forward.

    In recent years... I kinda don't care. Improvements are incremental and the hype-vs-value meter has swung so far it's not really going to make any change to my user experience.

    macOS still works fine on my mid-2012 Macbook Air (which I switched back to after 3 attempts to get a Surface Pro3 that worked) and while I'd like a faster CPU/GPU, more RAM, a larger SSD and a better battery I'm not going to do that at the expense of a keyboard that dies if it gets any dust on it

    iOS is an incredibly frustrating walled garden, and while I did get briefly excited to see CarPlay will now allow Google Maps/Waze to be used it looks like they're still not "brave" enough to open up the default handlers for mail://, maps://, etc to allow developers to actually compete on the experiences that make Android my go-to for a phone [ https://medium.com/@offbeatmammal/apple-are-a-design-company-so-why-is-ios-so-annoying-d40530dce8d9 ] ... and I'm not sure a red-headed emoji is enough to make me want to switch...

  13. doublelayer Silver badge

    I certainly hope so

    While I don't have much of a problem in IOS (a result of not using most of the built-in apps at all), the last few mac updates have been terrible. I have seen nothing good since El Capitan--I still run this when I can. They've been breaking things, dropping support left and right (no, I'd not like to pay you again for the next version of the app I just bought when this version still runs or at least would if you hadn't put a kill switch in it), and is filled with security holes and UX failures. Frankly, I'm usually good with every release focusing mostly on reliability--you can choose a system that does 100 things rather badly and has a chance of blowing up and hurting someone or a thing that can do 70 things well. I'm usually team 70.

    However, I did see this nice part of the article:

    "Google is still troubled by the fact the installed base lags far behind the latest code, "

    Whose fault was that, google? You see, apple gets to update all their stuff because they made it; that helps them. But you don't see that many people having trouble updating their Linux machines, and windows updates can be run on hardware without having to throw it away and buy another one [1]. Maybe, if you thought of that, you could have put some basic rules into the android system deployment guide such as "your add-ons have to sit on top of the OS so it can be updated", "you are not in control of the OS and everything on it in perpetuity", and "security updates come from us and you don't have the right to block them, nor the possibility of just doing it by uncaring accident". If you had done that, I'd have android as a viable platform.

    [1] Windows updates install well on all computers already running windows. This offer valid only if the computer is functioning and undamaged. This offer is also only valid if no programs were installed to the windows folder, no registry entries were edited, group policies changed, command prompt sessions initiated, unsafe sites browsed to, nonmicrosoft software installed, user files placed outside user's directory, microsoft software installed, settings changed from default, computer isolated from internet, files stored on internal disks, computer connected to internet, or keys pressed. However, if these conditions are not available, windows updates are still available to those users who are willing to take the risk. Sometimes they work.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem: Tim Cook is not a visionary like Steve Jobs

    He likes to play it 'safe', coasting along on Steve Jobs' work. Investors and shareholders don't want to rock the boat.

    Unfortunately, in the tech world, that is slow suicide.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The problem: Tim Cook is not a visionary like Steve Jobs

      I wouldn't say Steve was a visionary in himself, but he was able to say "no" to 999 out of 1,000 of the product ideas pitched to him and had a great ability to pick that one idea that would resonate with "normal" people to create a hit product.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The problem: Tim Cook is not a visionary like Steve Jobs

        Yep, he worked out saying NO was the way to get things done, in a world where everyone thinks saying YES is the way to get things done.

        The reality is saying YES to everything for fear of being labelled just drains resources from the great ideas that ensure they never happen...

    2. wolfetone

      Re: The problem: Tim Cook is not a visionary like Steve Jobs

      Tim Cook is an accountant.

      And like every other company, the companies that are ran by the accountants die.

      1. Mike 125

        Re: The problem: Tim Cook is not a visionary like Steve Jobs

        >>And like every other company, the companies that are ran by the accountants die.

        The Big Four - four big exceptions.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The problem: Tim Cook is not a visionary like Steve Jobs

          @Mike 125

          Accounting firms? Those are run by crooks. The accountants are their minions hired to do the dirty work.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The problem: Tim Cook is not a visionary like Steve Jobs

        I thought Tim Cook was a logistics guy.

        Side note: the new CEO of Sony is an accountant (CFO, a.k.a bean counter). Expect Sony to head for some tough years. The beloved Playstation franchise might be affected.

  15. PGj

    Bye bye Apple

    Having been a proud Apple supporter since my first Macintosh back in 1984/5, this year the last Apple device (an iPhone) left the building. Fond memories of queuing for the various luggable => laptop improvements and then iPhone/iPads. For nostalgic reasons, I have kept the original 'silverback' iPhone. Two of Steve's beliefs was to "Eat your own babies, or somebody else will’ and 'I never want to be the richest stiff in the cemetery'. How disappointed he would be if he were to observe the current management's obsession with releasing 'shoddy upgrades to extend product life' and profitability. So sad.

  16. Nimby
    Angel

    Apple Optimist (Or is that optometrist?)

    Personally, I don't like Apple. I build PCs. I write software. For friends and family I design to last. For myself I fiddle about and monkey around. I am an engineer in both the best and worst sense. And I absolutely detest walled gardens. So to pay double for the privilege of a gilded cage and connectors that no one else uses/wants sits so very poorly with me. I will never buy an Apple product. "However comma", for untechwise friends and family whom I never want to have to spend time supporting, I do so love the existence of Apple. (Especially when I can say, "Sorry, I don't use Apple, so I can't help you.")

    So for the sake of my not-their-day-job fam and friends, I like that Apple has (almost) never innovated. Apple does one thing and one thing "well", which is to take 2nd or 3rd generation technology, after it has proven itself, and only then refine it and add it to their products, so that the Apple Experience is (almost) problem-free, and (almost) never uses dead-end technology. (Unlike cutting-edge innovation which is typically chock full of problems and the me-too standards that never make it.)

    So it seems to me that Apple focusing on quality over innovation is not only the right call for Apple, but is the essential core of what Apple has always done and should always do. In a world that moves too fast for most people to keep up, it looks like Apple innovates because they generally stay current-ish, but they do it in a way where their products are stable and easy to use. This is perfect for the layman. (Except for the cost.)

    Sadly, that Apple, in their well-trimmed, expensive, and small walled garden with so many tending, should still suffer upon the world so many large *gates (antenna to security, hardware to software) is nothing short of ridiculous. For that reason alone they really should try focusing even more on quality. What is the Apple tax for if not to ensure that you do not have to suffer from such blunders like you frequently do with cutting-edge tech?

    IMHO that is where the Apple complacency problem lies. The best news day for Apple is one in which they are not mentioned. "I never had a problem with..." would be the best logo Apple could ever hope to achieve.

  17. NerryTutkins

    Out of ideas

    Focusing on quality might be a sign that they'd produced some half-baked code over the past few years. Or it could be a sign that Cook and co have run out of ideas.

    I'm leaning towards the latter, considering they're still pushing animoji as a feature. They have a high profile iOS 12 event watched across the world, and they devoted some of this precious time to 'improvements' to animoji!?

    The world needs lots of things, but cartoon animations that I can select by gurning at my phone is really not one of them. It's the kind of feature that I'd expect to be knocked up as an app by a 14 year old in a bedroom, which would go down a storm with 12 year old girls in the playground and get the lone developer bought out for a silly amount of money. But it's really not something that should have any place as a core feature in an OS that is trying to focus on quality and performance after quite a few well publicized problems.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Out of ideas

      I think that part of the problem is that the "market", whatever that is, demands killer innovation every year or so. As a result companies tinker around the edges and dress up evolution and stabilization as innovation. I imagine that Apple has a list of stuff that needs doing and "fix street address format in Contacts" has been in there for years, but scores very low in the "how do we sell this off as next season's killer innovation." column, and hence never gets done.

      I'm clearly not a typical user; I want functionality, compatibility and stability, OR real innovation. I'll jump into the next garden when something comes along that makes a step change in how a phone or PC helps me get on with my life, but I'm not going to get excited because a phone camera does 50MP instead of 20MP or because some perfectly good function keys are replaced with a touch-bar.

      When the iPhone came out I was an early user (3GS) and have been ever since. But unless Apple really (REALLY) innovates then I want my next iPhone or Mac to be like my current one but maybe a bit better (bit more rugged, longer battery life, more.... erm, struggling here.....). Taking away connectors or making it too big to fit in any of my pockets is neither innovation nor incremental improvement - it's just a bunch of engineers being driven by marketing and finance to do something that can be given a page of its own in next September's Powerpoint presentation.

  18. Brennan Young

    The real quality problem is they don't know which qualities are important any more

    Drink splashes, crumbs and dust are completely mundane accompaniments of human life. Products made for humans should therefore be able to resist these everyday 'hazards' for the life of the product. That's a perfectly reasonable design criterion that Apple seems eager to ignore.

    If they're going to charge such eye-watering amounts, the hardware has to be impeccable and robust. Why should I have to shout at my kid when they come near my Mac with a glass of juice? This is *such* a stupid and wholly avoidable design failure.

    Apple build quality used to be very good, with a few 'hilarious' exceptions. Even the obviously flawed hockey-puck mouse was solidly built. It gathered crud, like all ball mice, but you could clean out the crud yourself without going to a "Genius Bar". And there was even a time when you could put your Apple keyboard in the dishwasher for a freshen-up with no ill effects.

    Now Apple's hardware is worse than average because the cost *hasn't* gone down to match the various compromises that have crept in over the years. Most of those compromises seem to have to do with some kind of insane quest of diminishing returns based on a possibly imaginary market desire for 'thin' devices with minimal bezels. This is a desire that Apple's marketing department, and legions of fans has played no small role in whipping up. And it has had an almost wholly negative impact on build quality. I don't need thin. Thin is flimsy. Thin reminds me of cheap. I need solid, I need robust. Apple failed.

    Most unforgivable of all is the lack of replaceable components in stuff labelled "pro". No surprise that the pro lines are struggling to stay relevant. Someone is being utterly stupid in this market, and it's not the buyers.

    So yes, Apple has a quality problem, and apparently their PR department wants us to know that they know it. Bless.

    But the real quality problem is that they don't seem to know or care which qualities *really* matter in high-end hardware: I venture three to start with: Reliability, longevity, flexibility⋆. Apple used to deliver in all three areas, and this formed the foundation for Apple's brand equity. Not any more.

    So Apple, instead of relying on PR to reassure us that you're not actually slacking, despite appearances, why not just, you know, actually *improve the quality* in an obvious way? Spend a percentage point of your massive margins, for goodness' sake. Spend half a point. Dammit.

    That way we can tell it's good by the simple mechanism of using it as intended, for extended periods, and maybe even let our kids sit on our laps with a glass of juice as we do so.

    ⋆granted, Apple's "flexibility" was mostly about ameliorating compatibility issues with the then-dominant Wintel ecosystem

  19. nautica
    Holmes

    No need to read the article...

    If this has been touched upon in other comments, there's a reason: they have not been read. Just as, has not, the article.

    When the entire message of the article--"Apple's Problem is Complacency"--is in the title, why waste time on "amplification"? "Amplification" of the title's very succinct and complete message is a fool's errand; it is not possible.

    (Oh, and here's a 'freebie' for you, Register: simply replace the word "Apple" in the above quotation with the name of most any organization extant, of over twenty-five employees, and you have a virtually unlimited supply of titles for future articles.)

  20. nautica
    Holmes

    No need to read the article...

    If this has been touched upon in other comments, there's a reason for the duplication: those comments have not been read; just as, has not, the article.

    When the entire message of the article--"Apple's Problem is Complacency"--is in the title, why waste time on "amplification"? "Amplification" of the title's very succinct and complete message is a fool's errand; it is not possible.

    (Oh, and here's a 'freebie' for you, Register: simply replace the word "Apple" in the above quotation with the name of most any organization extant, of over twenty-five employees, and you have a virtually unlimited supply of titles for future articles.)

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