MobileMess fallout: Is Apple’s rapid growth really a curse, putting ‘it just works’ at risk?

“Apple has staked its reputation on tight control of a few carefully designed, faultlessly executed products,” Brian X. Chen reports for Wired.

“Now, as Apple expands its reach from computers into music, video, consumer electronics and phones, it’s getting harder and harder for the company to make sure all of its products ‘just work,’ as its marketing slogan goes. Its growing army of customers is getting more difficult to satisfy, and they’re finding a host of new problems, ranging from tapeless camcorder issues to buggy iPhones,” Chen reports.

Chen writes, “The list of customers Apple needs to keep happy is ever-growing: iPhone users, iTunes shoppers, iPod owners, MobileMe subscribers and Mac users. And the items all add up to one question: Has Apple bitten off more than it can chew?”

More in the full article here.

53 Comments

  1. Brian X Chen hasn’t got a clue. The Tsunami is just pulling back. It’s too late to run for the high land! Here comes Apple!

    Why is it that Apple gets no credit for 25 million flawless App Store downloads in a week? They didn’t expect that much traffic, but they pulled it off.

    The only way “too many customers” is bad is if you never planned for them. Apple embraces them with open arms.

  2. Apple could have easily avoided most of the problems by spreading out the introduction of 4 major products over four to eight weeks instead of three days.

    1. MobileMe
    2. iPhone 2.0 upgrade
    3. App Store
    4. iPhone 3G

    In three months, no one will remember 95% of this crap.
    Still Apple screwed up, no doubt about it.

  3. I see it more of Apple finally crossing the chasm into mainstream adoption of all their products as they did a few years back with the iPod and almost did with the Mac in the 80’s. This is a difficult move and it is turbulant. All technology companies go through it, and if Apple makes it through they will be a force.

    One good thing is that they are now opening up the communication dramatically. This is important to do with angry customers, let them know that you are doing the best you can to serve them, even though they are still not happy.

    Crossing the Chasm Book: http://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Chasm-Geoffrey-Moore/dp/0060517123/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1217346936&sr=8-1

  4. Synthmeister:

    I don’t think the 4 major products were introduced by the same people. I think each had it’s own group. I don’t an eight week introduction would have helped Apple, and they would have lost a lot of marketing BANG.

    Like you said, in three months, not one will remember the bad part.

  5. I think by tapeless camcorder issues he means some import issues with some HD cams, mostly resolved with software updates now.

    Re Mobile Me, yes well… I’m not sure it’s a problem of growth as such, just not having the right backups on line – ie – management incompetence on that particular product line.

    Haven’t got my MM mail yet, so I’m getting kinda itchy grmph!

  6. I don’t think tapeless camcorders are an Apple issue. I just bought a Canon camcorder and iMovie 08 imports from it just fine. I would note that I don’t think Windows Vista can import from tapeless camcorders without additional software.

  7. “In three months, no one will remember 95% of this crap.” – Synthmeister

    Let’s hope Apple do remember this, and learn the lesson ’cause this is not their last product roll out.

  8. What Apple was attempting to do with the iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software, iPhone SDK, App Store, and MobileMe was incredibly ambitious. Really the only big issues were incredible demand on the first weekend, so activations were very slow (not terribly unexpected), some bugs in iPhone 2.0 (although many problems may be caused by 3rd party app bugs), and MobileMe.

    MobileMe has been a big disaster for Apple. Not because it has had problems, but because Apple has its reputation of “it just works”. Therefore, when something doesn’t just work, people get upset.

    And with MobileMe, people have a right to be upset. This should have been much more thoroughly tested or the rollout should have been delayed. Apple simply wasn’t ready, whether it was software issues, hardware issues, or other. MobileMe was pushed out the door too soon.

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