Why only Apple can promise a better experience to customers every year

“It doesn’t matter what your opinion of Apple is. It’s the only tech company in the world that can make a specific promise to its customers,” Ben Bajarin writes for TIME Magazine.

“The promise is that every year, without needing to buy new hardware, your experience will get better. The way it delivers upon that promise is by releasing new software innovations for all its hardware (Macs, iPhones, iPads, etc.) on an annual basis,” Bajarin writes. “If you’re an Apple customer you can expect that every single year Apple will look to solve current and future problems by making your computing products more useful and more functional through software updates.”

Bajarin writes, “This is not something that we can say about every company with a software platform. Google struggles immensely with this promise: Even a year after its most recent software release, less than 10% of Android devices are running the latest software. Microsoft has had a better history of getting new software in the hands of its customers at the time of release but its software updates come every three years or more when it comes to Windows, and every two years or so when it comes to its mobile software… In the end, I believe the market will appreciate Apple’s attention to detail and its desire to bring customers the most innovative software on an annual basis.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Maybe Apple should have an ad campaign done cleverly, along the lines of “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” where IOS vs Android can elaborate on how a IOS device becomes more useful and actually improves each year, while Android becomes more and more obsolete.

  2. I’m torn on a yearly upgrade cycle.

    I love that I can get new features and there is always something to look forward to installing on my mac but its not always ‘better’.

    I run Lion and I’ll upgrade to Mountain Lion but in some ways Lion has not made my computing experience better, just different. For people who relied on Rosetta in SL I would not call upgrading to Lion making things better either.

    I’m on the fence. Excited about new software and at the same time wondering if a constant upgrade cycle is worth it when stability and workflow are important factors to consider also.

    1. I know what you’re saying, but the same can be thought of the move away from optical drives, preceded by the move away from cassettes, preceded by the move away from records. Usually, the legacy formats find us with a great deal of financial and emotional investment, and a reluctance to move to the next thing. We would not have imagined the next thing, since we were comfortable with the old way.

      No doubt the move away from Rosetta is painful in the short term, but is necessary for the move ahead.

      1. I think you should be disappointed with the software provider (Quicken????) who after many many years, still hadn’t updated their software to work natively in OSX.

        As an Apple user, I really don’t want the benefit of Apple’s innovations being held back by 3rd parties like Intuit and Adobe. I truly understood Apple’s stance on Flash and wholeheartedly agree with their position.

        1. A lot of non-mainstream software, particularly for education, is never upgraded. It’s still useful, but abandoned by Apple. The solution is to keep a bunch of old Macs running.

          1. “The solution is to keep a bunch of old Macs running.”

            Thankfully, this is easy. I currently have an iBook, MacBook (2007), and a MBP (2011) all running well. This is actually due to having software that never make the transition to the next level and I have to occasionally go back and update the document to a more open standard so I can use it today.

        2. Actually, I am. I use Quicken Home and Business, and have yet to find a suitable Mac-native alternative, so I run the Windows version in Parallels. It’s okay, I guess, because the software that runs some of my plotters is also Windows-only. But if I had to run Parallels for Quicken only, I would probably sacrifice some functionality and go with a different app entirely.

  3. Yes, by all means, tell all those people who were arbitrarily forced to spend thousands of dollars to upgrade to the “new software innovation” that was Lion about how much “better” it made their experience.

      1. Since “thousands” requires a minimum of 2000, and it costs 30 and works across all Macs on the same Apple ID, so you could have it installed on up to 5 Macs:
        (2000/30)*5 = 333.33 Macs, or 333 rounded down.
        If you own 333 Macs, I doubt you’re worried about the 2000 cost to update them all to the latest version of the OS.

      2. Let’s review, shall we? Do you understand what TCO is? Good. Now let’s remember how the loss of Rosetta in Lion forced us to abandon perfectly good software such as CS3, FileMaker 8, Office 2004 and Deck (my multitrack audio editor. Now let’s look up the cost of replacing these applications with ones that will work with Lion. Now let’s factor in the cost of my time to install and get up to speed on all this new software while still trying to run my business. Now do you get it? This is why large numbers of people will be sticking with Snow Leopard. This is “better”? I think not.

        1. Wow, your really diluted, trying to justify yep the use of a 6 year old OS, let’s see…. It was fine when it was purchased, it had received 2 OS Upgrades after the purchase, and then what is the issue, did OSX stop working, Did Apple twist your Arm to upgrade, no…

          And if your updating a business, every time a new OSX comes out then you have a problem. No features where that important to have that made any Hardware or OSX obsolete.

          It’s just a lame excuse to complain, how long have you really been using Windows. This is one of the most pathetic excuses I have seen in a very long time.

  4. Sometimes, I wonder about this scenario:

    Someone with a feature phone walks into a store because they’re two-year contract is up. All they ever care about phone-wise is price. If there’s a free phone, they’re on it, no matter what. They never use any of the crappy feature-phone games or other random stuff. Well, back before the $.99 3GS, only Android smartphones were free or close to free. There’s some dismal $30 Android phone in the line-up, so they say, “Oh, for only $30, I can play Angry Birds [possibly] and have maps.” They get their $30 phone w/contract and go out the door. They never, ever got software updates for their feature phone, so they never expect — or even know about — updates for this one. To them, it’s just a cheap phone with a bigger screen, and they couldn’t even tell you what Android is. If it even crosses their mind, they assume they’re stuck with the software the phone had when it was purchased. They only reason they even know you can get “apps” for it is because they guy at the store told them you can download some games. If they can figure it out, they’ll go for some free whatever app, but they’re not going to spend money on that sort of thing.

    This scenario lines-up a lot with the low value / ad-driven Android Market (now Google Play) and a lot of MDN takes that say people are too stuck on sticker price to see how much more value they get with Apple products. You can put yourself in this person’s shoes by thinking about something you, yourself don’t care about.

      1. Did you dictate this into Dragon or some other dictation software…? (they’re their there)

        The Android platform has grown so big in large part because of this type of ignorance. However, with iOS being so omnipresent, it is very easy for all those Android users to actually hear, once they have adopted the smartphone paradigm (with downloadable apps and multi-touch display), the significant advantages of having an iOS device (vs. their Android). This is why the platform loyalty among Android users is significantly lower than among iOS users; a first-time smartphone user on Android will likely very seriously consider switching to iOS (and many ultimately do). For an average Android user, this is a fairly painless proposition: most of his apps were free anyway, and literally every one of them is available on iOS, and usually has a richer feature set and is more polished. Meanwhile, first-time iOS user may look into Android, but will quickly dismiss it for several reasons (current investment in apps, current integration with iTunes store, lack of comparable quality apps on the other platform, etc).

        Android seems to be an excellent cheap gateway, a stepping stone, to the world of smartphones (i.e. world of iPhone). Those who are coming from the feature phone world and really don’t know if they really need a smartphone, can cheaply get an Android device (free with contract, or $100-200 without), get hooked on the concept of mobile computing, and quickly graduate to the real thing — the iPhone.

  5. I’m running the original iPhone with an old version of iOS. It’s still awesome, has a long battery life, and getting better software every year (thanks to app developers an the jailbreak community). It’s going to be crazy when it finally breaks – It will be kind of sad, but it will be replaced by an iPhone that’s exactly the same except thinner, a hundred times faster, quadruple the resolution, and with millions of new features.

    1. For your sake, I hope you are not paying AT&T the same money you did when the phone was under two-year contract. If you are, you’re donating cash to AT&T every month. The monthly plan (even if it was the original, $20 unlimited EDGE data add-on to whatever voice plan you had) includes subsidy that gets paid off within 24 months (the amount of that subsidy is somewhere around $18 per month). AT&T does have prepaid plans, but they are not meaningfully cheaper than the contract ones. For EDGE speeds, T-Mobile is by far the cheapest carrier ($30 per month unlimited text and data, plus 100 minutes of voice, or 1500 mins or texts, plus 30MB of data). Even their unlimited-all plans are cheapest, starting at $50 (throttled after 100MB).

      1. I am on T-Mobile, and using the cheapest data plan ($10 a month). It’s monthly cap is tiny, but I find I never get close to it, using WiFi at home and work, and consuming data at Edge speed everywhere else.

  6. The pull quote of, “The promise is that every year, without needing to buy new hardware, your experience will get better” is slightly misleading. Just ask any original iPad owner about the just announced iOS 6. And my 2006 iMac has reached its limits at being able to handle newer Mac OS releases. It has SL and might qualify for Lion/ML, but the machine is just acting up too much as it is now to push upon it a new OS or anything else for that matter.

    1. When iOS 6 comes out, original iPad will be almost 3 years old. While your argument may be somewhat valid (in that the promise of continuous and perpetual software updates isn’t quite true), there is no comparison to the Android world.

      In today’s Android markets, there are many brand new Android phones, offered by carriers, that have version 2.2 (FroYo) on them. For those not counting, that is three versions behind latest (Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich). Almost none of Android phones offered by carriers is EVER updated. There are no security fixes, bug fixes, features updates, system upgrades, nothing. When you buy an Android phone, you are stuck with what comes out of the box for the life of that phone. The only possible exception are high-end models that retail for $500-700 (as much as the iPhone), for which you have to fork over at least $200 upfront. And even those updates/upgrades come months after Google officially releases new Android versions.

      The platform is at serious disadvantage to iOS, and as soon as an average Android owner finds this out, they switch.

  7. Apple commits to iterative 200 or so changes to the iOS and about 1000 changes to the Mac OS per year. Instead of whacking people over the head with full re-eginering of the GUI, every 5 to 3 years, they take annual small steps to nudge you along into the future. These iterative changes also cost less, making you feel good that you are getting newer better features for cost of chump change.

    Apple is sitting on the pulse of what works currently. It’s taken a long time to get there.

    It’s pleasant.

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