Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better

This subject was addressed by us in a MacDailyNews Take on the Monday before Christmas and also last October.

Of concern is the quality of Apple’s operating systems, software, and services.

In case you missed it, we post them here, combined as an open letter and with certain additions, subtractions, and language adjustments, to Apple CEO Tim Cook:

Dear Mr. Cook,

“It just works.” That’s getting tougher and tougher for us OS X and iOS users to say with straight faces lately.

Apple, while certainly still the best when it comes to desktop and mobile operating systems, needs to do better. Our expectations, some of us as users of Apple products since the early 1980s, are not being met when it comes to the quality and reliability of operating systems, software, and services. Used to be, you could pretty confidently install brand new operating systems from Apple. Recently, we’re more inclined to wait for a few point releases than not. It’s downright Microsoftian. Lately, for the past couple of years, your software seems rushed. Is “rush job” really the impression you want to give your customers?

Slow down! Getting it right is far more important than getting it out.

Frankly, we don’t need a new Mac or iPhone/iPad operating system every year and Apple Inc. doesn’t need it, either. Annual OS releases shouldn’t be mandated. What we all really need, customers and Apple Inc., are operating systems that are rock solid and do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it. Why not just add new features/services to existing OSes with continued point releases that refine and extend the experiences and services you want to deliver? Why not just release new operating systems only when they are rock solid and ready?

In other words, take a step back, take a deep breath, and focus on making sure that what you have now just works. Because too much of it doesn’t (Wi-Fi connectivity for one ongoing, glaring, vexing example). Getting it right is far more important than having two “new” free OSes to release each year. Seriously, nobody outside of Cupertino very much cares. We do, however, care very much that Apple’s software and services work as flawlessly as possible.

We occasionally hear things about the company from Apple employees.

Some of those things lead us to wonder if perhaps you should rethink some aspects of the culture at Apple? Specifically, what really should constitute a badge of honor at Apple? Working all day, all weekend and all night in order to squat out iOS 8.0.1 and then have to turn around and do it all over again, in a panic, to get iOS 8.0.2 out the door in order to clean up the mess? Or taking the time necessary to do the job correctly the first time?

People with proper sleep and lower stress levels do better work. Many major medical studies prove these facts. Shouldn’t quality, not quantity, of hours worked be the utmost badge of honor at Apple?

Working long hours simply for the sake of working long hours is counterproductive. It really doesn’t prove anything except that you have no life and that, despite all of their work on Apple Watch, Apple executives still do not understand basic human health requirements and are incapable of properly staffing their departments so that they can function without requiring sleep-deprived, mistake-prone employees who feel that it’s a job requirement to be able to reply to emails from managers at 2:00 am. That’s idiocy.

Driving too hard, too fast, and for too long leads to accidents.

We speak from experience, albeit at a far, far smaller level than yours. We’ve tried and been exposed to several methods as both managers and employees in the television, financial, and online media industries. Regardless of the size of your department or company, people are people. You can push people to a point that’s very productive, but when you exceed that point, it’s all downhill for everyone involved. It’s not a badge of honor. It’s not an “I love this company!” statement. It’s simply mismanagement. It’s verifiably unhealthy and it leads directly to diminished quality, increased turnover, and productivity declines. And customer satisfaction ultimately suffers. Hence this letter.

Bottom line: We long to again be able to confidently say of our Macs, iPhones, and iPads: “It just works.”




  1. Agree 100%, MDN!! Read you daily, and your articles are well thought out and clear.
    My thoughts exactly..and I fear “Apple” is losing their touch, talent, and senses!! Ever see a company this size crash and burn? Their loyal customers are!!
    And what were they (he) thinking when introducing “softer tones”?? I can’t read the bloody minuscule letters in iTunes!! Light gray on white? Elegant? Noooooo..crossed eyes and eye-strain!! NOT elegant. Idiotic!! Leave well enough alone!! You ARE going to lose your trusty loyal apple eaters, if you don’t fix it, and NOW!!
    Thanks..I needed that. 😜

  2. > … customer satisfaction suffers …

    As a measure of customer loyalty towards Apple operating systems software: a Net Promoter® score for Yosemite was around sixty-six percent lower than the NPS for Mavericks. places those two versions of OS X on a radar chart alongside two prior points of reference, and iOS 8.x.

    Figures were based on results from polls in MacRumors Forums. Those results should not be treated as conclusive, so there’s a shared wish for better measurements. Amongst my efforts to realise that wish:

    If MacDailyNews can host a reasonably well-attended poll – or steer me towards a willing publisher with polling capabilities – I’ll be most grateful.

  3. This ain’t 1984, everything is a lot more complex these days, you got be on the move these days or get left behind.
    Yes there a few bugs here and there, but how does it compare to other tech companies.

  4. Thanks for the great open letter. It clearly expresses the need to get it right.

    The missing item which MacDailyNews is very quiet about is the list of more than 30,000 signatures of people with Mac Book Pros made in 2011 with a known graphics card defect.

    I have bought many Apple products for my family over the last 7 years and this is the first time I have felt angry about an Apple product. As everyone knows it is a global problem not just one isolated court case in the US.

    So MacDailyNews …. How about some push from you to help all us loyal Mac owners?

  5. When they finish their space ship headquarters and are able to start using those alien binart programers, then everything will be working smooth again. 😉

  6. The great OS upgrade cycle is part of the hardware replacement strategy that drives Apple sales.
    Gradually they pull up the minimum spec for hardware – although too many times it appears to be a result of bloat in the software department.
    I have been using an iPad 1st Gen since initial release and eventually stopped upgrading the software at v 5.1. Since when it has until recently continued to work just fine. But now the App upgrade cycle has left me behind. And some old apps won’t work anymore. Even the BBC iPlayer app no longer functions and I have to load from a web page. This then crashes too often. So I’m being forced to upgrade even though the device is working perfectly well, the battery life is still very good and the tasks I’m using it for have not changed one iota.
    Bottom line is the OS change is part of the policy to force you to re- purchase the capability you already own every few years.

  7. Still waiting for the Apple Remote App to work with iOS 8 on Apple TV, but hey, it used to Just Work, so good enough apple! Take another year to make it Just Work, ios 9 will be out by then. And if the Apple TV is possibly going to be the hub for home kit, eh, we’ll just continue to use the little silver remote that takes forever to enter emails and passwords on instead of using our iOS devices that speed that process right up when they actually Just Work!

  8. Should Apple concentrate on making sure software releases are rock solid and as bug free as possible? Yes of course. The same needs to be done for hardware as well. And firmly believe they do this.

    But I completely disagree that quality control is slipping. I’ve been a long time user of Apple products and I have to say, today’s operating systems (all of them) are much, much more stable than they’ve EVER BEEN.

    I think what’s happening is that Apple’s user base is an order of magnitude larger than it used to be, which means there are more people noticing more issues and bugs and reporting them.

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