With another Apple failure, it’s time to forget about hardware

“Last week we didn’t see Apple’s thinnest products ever, but its thinnest event ever,” Tom Goodwin writes for TechCrunch. “From a company obsessed with reductivism, we saw an event with little actual news and zero unexpected surprises — just simple linear iterations of devices we’ve seen countless time before.”

“And for a company that defined conventional marketing, we saw a lot of tricks like line filling and lifecycle marketing that used to only be used by lesser companies,” Goodwin writes. “Instead, we now have 77 SKU’s of iPad to chase ever dwindling sales.”

“Maybe the lesson is this: we shouldn’t be focusing on hardware anymore. Perhaps instead we need to focus on what happens when hardware and software come together,” Goodwin writes. “Traditionally, this is where Apple succeeded. Developing software and hardware together made Apple products ‘just work.'”

“Everything was simple, reliable, and easy. Yet from a totally nonsensical product like iTunes, to the unchangingly disastrous Apple Maps, to the bugs of botched iOS updates, to the clearly unfinished Apple TV software, that’s clearly no longer the case,” Goodwin writes. “In fact, it’s the failures of the Apple TV that shine a light into the future of products as a combination of hardware, software, and partnerships.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: And, after a detour fighting against U.S. government overreach, back we go, to the same old post-Steve issue about which we’ve been talking for years now: Attention to detail or lack thereof and accountability.

We are longtime Mac users. From Apple products and services we expect and demand excellence at the very least (excellence, not perfection). In fact, it was Apple themselves, under Steve Jobs, who conditioned us to expect the excellence of Apple-level quality. That is what we pay for. When it does not exist, we will complain vociferously.

Furthermore, something along the lines of Amazon Echo is what Apple should have done if run by competent, forward-thinking management. When Apple finally does do their version of Amazon Echo (and they will get around to doing such a product eventually) they will rightly be called a follower. The company had all of the ingredients to make their own Echo, before Amazon, except for the vision, it seems.

It’s one thing to be a social justice crusader, it’s quite another to be a visionary tech CEO. Tim Cook seems drawn to the former while, still, the jury remains out regarding the latter. Still, even a mere caretaker CEO should be capable of demanding excellence from his employees – or else.

Are those responsible for such things as botched iOS updates that brick devices or an Apple TV release where a “beta” tag would have been exceedingly generous being held accountable? Or are they just getting more and more RSUs, regardless of their failures to satisfactorily perform their jobs?

Can Apple get things back under control? – March 29, 2016
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015


      1. The fact that it is making so much money is a key factor in the number of complaints. Consider:

        In the “Good Old Days” when the Mac was in a fight for its survival, any given Apple model had a user base in the hundreds of thousands. A bug that affected 0.1% hit a few hundred users, most of whom waited quietly for the inevitable fix after the initial dozen complaints.

        Today, a bug that affects 0.1% still has a 50% chance of getting past 1000 beta testers, but could easily hit a hundred thousand users, hundreds of whom will go online to call for Tim Cook’s firing.

        Success is not always its own reward. The only way to get back to the Good Old Days when an Apple bug affected only a handful of people and created hardly any bad press is to cut Apple’s sales volume by roughly three orders of magnitude. I don’t think that would please Wall Street or Apple’s stockholders any more than the current situation.

        1. +10

          This may be the most insightful post here. “Back in the good ole days” there was only the Mac, and maybe the iPod, and there were a few million of them (maybe). Today, there are over ONE BILLION iOS and MacOS devices. If a problem only impacts .01% (1/10000 – one out of ten thousand), that means that 100,000+ users are affected.

          Adding to the problem are the multiplication of devices and OS versions. The localization to major markets other than the US (can you say C-H-I-N-A ?) also consumes huge resources.

          For those who imagine that it would be different if Steve Jobs was alive, let me remind you of cracks in the G4 Cubes, the hockey puck mouse, the problems with MobileMe, the crippling limitations in the first iPhone OS, the burgeoning issues in OS X until the clean-up in Snow Leopard, the dumbing down of iMovie, etc. etc. All under Steve. And that was in a MUCH simpler time.

          Yes, Apple needs to focus. I wish it would stop with the annual OS updates, especially for the Mac, and work instead on refining the software. But suggesting Apple is doomed is just juvenile.

        2. Comparisons are odious, especially when playing fields are not level.

          The good old days didn’t have The Internet with its anonymising culture of drive-by snark attacks, social media for like-minded trolls to coalesce in banana slug trails, and the devolution of journalism into a toolset for corporate manipulation of consumers and voters.

        3. As if journalism wasn’t manipulative before the internet. LOL 3-4 TV stations and a half-dozen major newspapers, ALL liberal-left, that was good? I’ll bet you think Walter Cronkite was objective and moderate too? Laugh riot.

        4. Walter Cronkite was – for many years – identified by Americans as the “most trusted man” in the country. Interestingly, CBS never used that as a marketing slogan – it was just a fact that everyone knew and agreed with.

          You, Nick, are just an ignorant reactionary who wasn’t even born when Cronkite signed off for the last time.

      2. MS makes money. Beats made money. Conclusion: making $$ isn’t the marker of excellence.
        MDN’s words are right-on. The conversation is all about excellence and honest criticism is absolutely needed. Gone, or seemingly slipping away, is the Job’s pride in saying “no” to a creation b/c it didn’t cross into excellence, or meet the Apple ideal.

        1. While I agree that we should not just fawn over everything Apple, I find MDN and the above UNREGISTERED blogger seem to think if we are not pissing and moaning constantly, then we are fan-boys…

          The key is being reasonable. WHAT, NO antigravity.. Apple must be doomed, doomed I say…. LOL

          Just a thought.

      1. It’s what HomeKit or AppleTV should be doing, it would have been the killer App. Indeed leaving up to both we were led to believe a combination of the two would be doing something very similar. What worries me most is that surely Jony Ive should be fulfilling this role but as mother thread suggested is dignifies the by his absence even behind the scenes.

        1. What worries me the most is this sentence – “… as mother thread suggested is dignifies the by his absence even behind the scenes.”


      2. Echo is doing more TODAY…but it’s one object in one room. My phone, and esp. my watch are there all the time. I don’t need to buy one for every room or change the way I act because I’m not in the kitchen — I can be in the bedroom, on the deck, in the car, or at a restaurant and have the same solution. Siri will catch up, and when it does, the fact it’s on your wrist will be a huge advantage.

    1. The Amazon Echo relies on constantly listening to you while at home. Privacy is too important to Apple for them to ever make product with such a requirement.

  1. “It’s one thing to be a social justice crusader,”


    How did we get to the point where we are PROUD of being contemptuous of people who want social justice?

    1. If your job is to be the CEO of a company, to lead the company in developing great products and services, and you’re running your mouth on social justice issues, you’re not doing your job. You may be absolutely right on every position you take, but none of them have a bloody thing to do with improving products and services and introducing products and services. So you fail.

      In addition, what you call “social justice” is what many people call meddling in the affairs of others.

      1. Apple has its largest cluster of U.S. facilities in the San Jose/San Francisco area, where there are a lot of people who find those “social justice” issues far from irrelevant. Apple’s second largest domestic site is in Austin, where similar values prevail in the tech community. If Apple were perceived as hostile to LGBT issues, it would be at a serious disadvantage in hiring.

        So, it is simply not the case that the perception of corporate attitudes on those issues has nothing to do with the quality of products. It has quite a lot to do with having the widest range of qualified applicants for every position to design, test, and make those products. For his time, Steve Jobs was even more adamant than Tim Cook about maintaining an inclusive company.

      2. I don’t see the conflict between doing one’s job and having a social persona. How exactly does one detract from the other? Also, Thelonious Mac, social justice is clear, despite objections from traditionalists immemorial who decried it as meddling.

    2. Exactly. Everyone should applaud Tim Cook for laying the groundwork where we can finally have American public bathrooms where young girls and men of various ages and sexual identities can intermingle and get to know one another.

      1. I suppose, then, that everyone should applaud the North Carolina Legislature for laying the groundwork where young girls are forced by statute to mingle in public restrooms with big, hairy individuals who identify as male, dress as male, have reconstructed male genitalia, and prefer women for sex, but who were assigned to the wrong gender by the hospital that prepared their birth certificate.

  2. Every single Apple issue can be traced directly to Tim Cook:

    New product flops

    OS update bugs

    500% RAM markups in 2016

    16GB devices in 2016

    Spurious use of the “Pro” moniker

    Regurgitated products from spare parts lying around in inventory

    New features not making it into newer products

    Ridiculously priced, yet underpowered products

    Executive Managment hiring/firing issues

    Stockmarket woes

    Activism while on the job issues

    The list goes on and on. Cook has been nothing short of an unmitigated consumer and PR nightmare for Apple across the globe!

  3. This is one thing that upset me about the Apple TV. With every iOS product they make they usually make an app to show it off and show the potential. With the new Apple TV they really didn’t do that. It would have been nice of them to make an app that showcased the full potential of the Apple TV.

  4. If Apple launches that product and sells a few million, it is a failure. The size of Apple changes the dynamic. They have an overall plan, and they are sticking to it. The Echo is an example of the Steve Jobs “No” to some good ideas.

  5. Who cares?

    How many people actually read the article? Not you, you’re smart.

    Now out of all those people, how many gave a shit about what this guy has to say?

    Now ouyt of that many people, how many actually paid attention to an ad on the page?

    Now out of those people, how many clicked the ad?

    Now out of those people how many bought what the ad was selling?

    Now, out of those people who cares?

  6. Thinnest event ever? Thinner than the iPod Hi-Fi event Steve Jobs held in the same auditorium on the Apple Campus? Remember that? Apparently not. Nobody remembers thin events, product flops and buggy software that happened under Steve Jobs’ reign. Under Steve Jobs every event was a major new product release, every new product was an instant runaway smash hit, and all OS and software releases were bug-free on the first try. Always. Right?

    1. No intelligent person would have expected a major product announcement to be made in such a small venue.

      What we saw was entirely as expected and the scale of the presentation was entirely appropriate too. Both the iPhone SE and the 9.7″ iPad pro were incremental, but significant developments of what was already available. Basically, both of them were existing products repackaged in a smaller form factor to address a different sector of the market.

      The products announced warranted more than an on-line press release, but didn’t warrant a full-on Yerba Buena big production.

  7. A particularly tough and straightforward Take by MDN.

    The examples mentioned are clearly just examples that point to a more pervasive issue over the past few years. For one to blame Cook for the issues may be shortsighted. Sure, he’s the CEO. But do we really expect ever CEO to be a Jobsian visionary? So the question would be…who with that vision is actually out there should TC be replaced? That’s the tough question.

    While I think Cook has done a good job, for Apple, good may not be good enough. But again, who else could provide vision beyond 99% of other run-of-the-mill CEOs?

    Apple is made of many others at top levels. They, too, can bring vision and a renewed emphasis on quality, on getting it right. So Cook is not alone. Where are the others at Apple? Has vision lost an open field for being brought to light?

    What is going on there.

    Still, having said all that, Apple is still the best out there. We’ve just come to expect something beyond the best.

    Well done, MDN.

    1. Gedankenexperiment:

      Replace Tim Cook. Do supply chain logistics and security improve, or degrade? Remember they are key to delivery of massive shipments on short time scales.

      Suppose they stay the same. Is that a result of Cook’s ineptitude, or of his canny appointments?

      Do Tim Cook’s environmental and social policies deviate from those of the esteemed Steve Jobs? (Pretending for a moment he was esteemed non-posthumously. Feared and mocked, perhaps, but not that esteemed, I’d venture to say. When he died the vitriol was acidic.)

      Suppose Tim Cook bows out and Steve Jobs’ acolyte Scott Forstall, a genius in his own right, returns to take the helm, with the concomitant departure of his archenemy Jonathan Ive. Las Vegas is calculating the odds that he would take the same amount of flak as Tim Cook. Without Ive, iPhones would come to resemble Soviet walkie-talkies, but at least they would have a battery life of three years.

  8. Thanks for reminding me why I stopped regularly visiting this website for Apple-related news.

    I truly don’t understand MDN’s persistent antipathy for Tim Cook, which doesn’t seem to have changed appreciably in the years I’ve been away. Unconvincing examples (such as the Amazon Echo, of all things), lead me to believe that these rationalizations are little more than convoluted window-dressing to cover a “No Steve, No Apple” mindset.

    Honestly, if you’re not going to be happy with Steve’s hand-picked successor, then who are you going to be happy with?

    1. I had kind of an idea about that, please see my comment just before yours.

      Welcome back. In any crowded street one can encounter blowhards, panhandlers or dunderheads but also rich human connexions. MDN isn’t headmaster, only traffic controller.

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