Chuq Von Rospach: My advice for Apple

“If I could only offer one thing to Apple, it’s this: ‘it’s okay to slow down — a little,'” Chuq Von Rospach blogs. “The iPhone has to ship a new version ever year, and you can’t take your eye off that for a minute, but other parts of the product line don’t need that kind of continuous update. MacOS would be okay with a new release every 18 months or two years, or a feature release as a tick and a performance release as a tock in a two year cycle.”

“Same with Mac Hardware. I wouldn’t be upset at all if the Laptops were updated one year and the Desktops were updated the year after in a two year cycle: as long as we understood this was what we could expect,” Von Rospach writes. “And the watch: the series two hardware is surprisingly good and with current WatchOS software even my Series 0 works quite well. The hardware doesn’t need to be spun to a new version every year. There seems to be magic appearing in the watch software, so it’s still an annual cycle for the foreseeable future.”

My second suggestion to Apple is ‘talk to us more — at least a bit.’ The world has changed since Steve came back to Apple and clamped down into secrecy mode to kill all of the leaking,” Von Rospach writes. “If you want to manage and direct that conversation and minimize the uninformed speculation, you have to be more directly involved in it. At the same time, I’m not suggesting Apple stop ‘being Apple’ because culturally, it can’t. But it’s my belief that if they had added one slide, taken 30 seconds at the MacBook Pro announcements last fall, and said ‘we have new desktops being worked on, you’ll see them next spring, and I think you’ll really like them, but we can’t ship them sooner or we would’ it would have prevented most of the current unhappy chatter going on about Apple today.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote two years and one day ago:

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…

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

Sincerely,

MacDailyNews

SEE ALSO:
Apple cuts CEO Tim Cook’s pay after company misses 2016 targets – January 6, 2017

43 Comments

  1. You can’t announce that you won’t have a new product for the next six months. That’s idiocy from a business standpoint.

    Look, anything “Mac” is old hat. It’s not where the puck is going. Apple’s not going to debut an ass-kicking new Mac every year or even every other year. They will iterate every 2-4 years and bump specs in between.

    Why? Because the excitement, for them as creatives and for the market, is what’s coming. Wearables. Extreme instant communication and syncing between devices. Quantified self. AR. VR. Home. Vehicle. An OS for the future that is unhackable and perfectly protects privacy.

    So chill on the Macs. Apple planned to give you more sooner, but Intel got slowed down and so did everyone. Whatever. Within the year you’ll get a fresh iMac, fresh Pro (yes still), refreshed MBP.

    Meanwhile Apple is playing in undefined space. That’s where the energy is. That’s where the puck is. Not in lame normal displays. Not in Wi-Fi routers. Those are commodities. The development is happening at the edges. That’s how they keep the best talent and keep them sharp.

    1. LOL! You know, I hadn’t thought about it but can you imagine…

      YOU GOT HIRED AT APPLE! HOW GREAT! Are they gonna put you on the Watch team, or the Phone team? How about the iPad team? Or maybe you’ll be working iOS? What amazing thing are YOU gonna help get made!!!!

      Monitors. Yeah. Oh wait, sorry, you’re on the routers team.

      It was probably because they ran out of folks who WANTED to work on those. I liked them, still use them and will hate when they die, but there’s not many that are excited to work on commmodity products.

    2. Once upon a time Apple spent relatively little on R&D and produced some great stuff with reasonable regularity, and updated it when it wasn’t revolutionizing it.

      Now Apple spends crazy amounts of money on R&D, and we see very little fruit of that (besides annual iPhone updates). All the rumors and supporting evidence suggest that they have lost focus.

      The Apple experience is what brought us in, and it included the whole ecosystem, including routers, music players, computers large and small, and displays that were lovely to look at and pleasurable to use. Heck, I remember using Apple printers and Apple cameras, once upon a time.

      Almost a year ago Tim Cook told us we would spend all this year feeling like it was Christmas Eve, with great things to look forward to. He was half right.

      1. Good point that they got out of printers and cameras. Apple probably did that when the technology had matured to a point that there just wasn’t much left exciting about it. Basically they became commodities.

        That’s now happened with monitors and wi-fi. It’s probably why they were hesitant to get into the speaker market aka Echo etc.

        1. The library of emoji’s is huge and growing. Also, what company enables you to scrawl so beautifully in their texting app?
          As long as Siri spells my .mac address with mack, I know things are as sharp as a tack.

      2. Apple has ALWAYS had a larger percentage of their income going towards R&D than most other companies. The total amount may be more now but they’ve always been R&D heavy.

        1. This is not true. (Unless you’re talking about the cheap box makers)

          Even in the crawl out from the dark days when Steve Jobs loudly proclaimed that Apple was going to invest in R&D and innovate their way back to the top Apple was very frugal with their R&D dollars. The reality is that Apple was getting a much, much bigger return for its R&D investment because the R&D teams were driven to excel. Everyone was PUSHED to do their best. Virtually everyone had a personal interest in doing better than even they thought they could. We haven’t seen that from Apple in a long time.

          1. Agreed: I wonder if some of the R&D people just go to work and dink around of their computers and yell KEEEWL! about all of the cool things they make. The question is: does it actually lead anywhere! I have seen that situation.

        2. Sorry wrong again, you are wrong again.

          Until recent years, Apple was fairly far below most tech companies in the percent of revenue they spent on R&D. I remember because it used to frost me.

          Then I bought the RDF mantra that they were just more efficient and careful in how they spent it, rather than just throwing money in semi-random directions.

          It WAS true to an extent, so when I saw the spending increasing I did a little happy dance feeling they were about to really blow our socks off. But from what we read and see, it sounds much more like multiple prototypes of multiple product categories are now being cranked out with most going nowhere.

          Along with a lack of focus with no coherent vision emanating from the top.

          So now who’s just throwing R&D money around hoping to find SOMETHING that will reinject excitement into the Apple Community….?

          *sigh*

    3. The method you suggest is what’s killing Apple’s share price. While the rest of the tech companies are moving and their share prices are soaring, Apple has basically come to a standstill. Apple doesn’t feel the need to get consumers and investors excited about the future. What’s really sad is how much money Apple is sitting on that they think they’re saving for a rainy day. If Jeff Bezos thought that way, Amazon would be nowhere. He thinks its more important to keep pouring money back into his business in order to obtain growth and corner the market in every way he can. Apple has this idea that they can do anything they want and their customers will remain loyal instead of looking elsewhere.

      Apple thinks it’s just fine to put out an AppleTV without 4K support while ALL other streaming boxes are 4K. Apple is proud to be saving pennies while sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars. Also this nonsense of soldering memory and processors to motherboards in order to try to create the thinnest products in the world is ridiculous. Why stick ALL desktops with nonupgradeable mobile GPUs? Did customers really ask for that?

      Apple continues to do things that absolutely confound me. It’s like Apple doesn’t even try to outdo rivals in anything. Where’s Apple’s competitive spirit? You believe things are happening at the edges. That’s just your hope. No one, including Wall Street believes any of that is happening. Apple has had Siri for years and yet it’s Amazon’s Alexa stealing all the headlines. Apple didn’t even want to put Siri on its notebooks or desktops. It had to reserve Siri for only iPhones. If that’s isn’t a cheap-out then I don’t know what is. Where’s Apple’s Echo-type product? Oh, it doesn’t exist. Where’s Apple’s VR product? Oh, it also doesn’t exist. I don’t know if it’s true or not but Apple gives no indication of producing any of the products even non-hardware companies are pursuing. Apple can AFFORD to outdo any company on the planet but instead remains penny-wise and pounds foolish (or so it would seem). You can’t imagine how disappointed I am when Apple is considered to be behind Microsoft in terms of hardware. It’s freaking exasperating. Do you hear anyone saying Apple is ahead of anything that Microsoft does in terms of software? Not likely. Apple is arrogantly coasting along like some high royal mucky-muck.

      Apple is just finally getting around to putting a fingerprint reader on its notebooks because for all these years, they wanted to keep it exclusive to iPhones. Would that have really hurt Apple’s pocketbook to do it a couple of years ago when they had great scanner technology even then?

      Apple’s product line-up just isn’t that deep for them to only need the whole company to work on one product at a time and then take years to finish it. It’s obvious Wall Street doesn’t think Apple products are that good when they’re constantly labeling each Apple product as crap for all sorts of reasons. A great product should not be considered crap by anyone.

    4. “Apple planned to give you more sooner, but Intel got slowed down and so did everyone. Whatever. Within the year you’ll get a fresh iMac, fresh Pro (yes still), refreshed MBP.”

      Hopefully some day people will stop spouting this Bullshit!

      There have been three generations of newer CPUs from Intel since the last version’s of the current Mac Pro’s chips. How is it that it’s Intel’s fault that Apple hasn’t shipped newer Mac Pros? Apple announced the current MBPs almost five months after the Intel chips they use started shipping in quantity while Windows based PC vendors were shipping laptops within days or weeks of Intel shipping those chips. How is that Intel’s fault that Apple hasn’t shipped newer MBPs sooner? There have been MacBook ready Kaby Lake Intel chips shipping for a couple months now and Windows based laptops based on them already shipping, but there are no new MacBooks based on them. How is that Intel’s fault that Apple isn’t shipping new MacBooks? You could go on down the list with virtually every Mac in the line up.

      So, if Apple is playing in this “undefined space”, where are the products? The most recent thing we’ve seen is the Apple Watch and other than as a moderately good extension for your phone, I don’t see it as breaking any real boundaries (certainly not like the early Macs and certainly not like the early iPhones).

      As just one thing (of many) that withered: CarPlay was heralded as being truly ground breaking. CarPlay was supposed to be the first truly “hands free AND eyes free” interface for your car. I have yet to see an implementation on ANY care that is “eyes free”, and most are very, very far from “hands free”. What happened? Apple could have convinced everyone from Ford to Toyota to Tesla to include CarPlay as their interface. Apple failed and the interface is a failure.

      And, let’s just touch on the home integration market. Several big players are moving in and staking out the territory — getting a lot of very positive press for their products with a great deal of integration across many, many devices. Apple is nowhere to be seen. Could Apple do what it did with the iPhone and jump into the market with a *RADICALLY* better implementation? Yes. But no one has seen any indication that this will happen. To the contrary, Apple has repeatedly shown over the last three or four years that Apple’s “innovations” are evolutionary at best (and sometimes taking a step backward).

  2. What idiot comes up with these artificial time tables?

    If you want to be a player, you have to run as fast or faster than the competition. Apple is not. The answer is not to relax, it is to get moving on new products. And replace all the essential products that Timmy let die on the vine.

      1. Eugene, with an attitude like that, it’s no wonder that I will never have any grandchildren. Your misogyny will keep women away from you as well as your personality. Don’t give up hope though, you can always be good compost for the garden.

      2. You may be right. I for one would like to see Timmy return to supply chain management exclusively. He makes the toy trains run on time. But for a savvy CEO we need a smart woman with a proven track record as a turn-around CEO, an innovator, a China expert, someone who gets fashion, can twist Jony Ive’s jewels, and also runs her R&D engineers out on a long leash. That’s Angela Ahrendts, already on board delivering the retail profits, clever enough to keep her head down, and owning a potential majority vote for accession on the Apple BOD. What could go wrong? Nothing that already has, that’s what.

          1. Fiddlesticks. If Tim Cook is to be replaced as CEO, the Board of Directors will do it. They will nominate internal candidates and deliberate over them, only going outside if the pickings are inadequate. Ahrendts is more than adequate: she was a highly successful former CEO, and brings fresh ideas to a largely male engineering culture that has become stultified and bereft of ideas. As CEO, she’d have more degrees of freedom to combat the complacency that Apple silently broadcasts today. She’d force the organisation to stay hungry, as Steve Jobs once did.

            You see, it isn’t at all about sexism, but about opportunity and timing, and harnessing the goodwill an incumbent Vice President already has in place.

            1. Yes, botvinnik, I knew that, but I felt other parties to the exchange craved a riposte, so I supplied it. One must cater to one’s followers, provided one has any.

        1. But does she have a coherent technology vision that values the foundation that Apple – and equally important the Apple mythos – was built on?

          I’d listen to evidence she does.

          But if her vision is “Apple the Lifestyle company,” there’s lot of us who’d say, “no thanks” – and move to a company that promises to place our needs for our machines, software and services to meet our increasing needs in effective, reliable, innovative and stylish ways – in THAT approximate order of priority.

          Because if the target is something vague and ineffable (as seems to be the case) and the real users start to move away, these people are the fan alphas, and the wannabes will soon go where they are now.

          Being a successful “lifestyle company” is a result of achieving a whole series of concrete goals that work together seamlessly to bring great usefulness and enjoyment to users – not a “product” in and of itself.

          I.e., a result of an executed vision, not one in itself.

    1. Chuq Von Rospach worked for Apple for nearly 20 years, starting in 1989. In the mid-1980s, he landed first at Sun Microsystems and worked on the launch of early Sun workstations. Thanks to that work, and his boss going over to Apple, Chuq followed. At Apple, they developed Apple’s first paid technical support organization for Apple’s A/UX (Unix) system for the Motorola 68K Macs. Chuq has great stories to tell about Apple’s ill-fated but legendary Network Server, Mac executive Jean-Louis Gassée, the disastrous Apple CEO Michael Spindler, the failed attempt to sell Apple to Sun in 1996, the acquisition of NeXT and return of Steve Jobs. You want Apple stories? Chuq has ’em!

      In other words, he’s forgotten more about Apple than most of us will ever know. Easy to be a troll.

      1. The dig was a reference to Barack Obama. This type of comment has “kick ’em while they’re down” written all over it. I understand and sympathise with that state of mind. I might even agree with it. But I agree more strongly with you — it’s easy to be a troll. Too easy.

      2. Right NOW he’s not working, Linked in says he’s looking for his next gig. Doesn’t matter who you used to know way back when, have you done anything with that OR are you unemployed?

        If his claim to fame really is just “I spent a long time at Apple…” then maybe he still holds shares and just doesn’t need to work, so he writes this.

    1. It’s the software stupid, not the hardware that makes the Mac. Quit chasing specs and look for user experience. You remind me of Spinal Tap because you want an amp that goes up to 11.

      1. when you don’t have hardware that can take full advantage of the software what’s the point? Like Mac Pro’s over 3 years old with no updates, non upgradable GPU’s several generations old etc. No matter the software changes your machine still won’t be able to do some things you want it to.

        We can sometimes forgo a new Gee Whiz feature (like ‘Force Touch’ on iOS) but hardware is often a roadblock. If your Mac Mini dies, would you buy another Mini (not upgraded also for years) ?

        1. You don’t seem to get ‘well written software’. Clever software makes use of the hardware – true but it can use wonderful methods to make it run quicker if you write good clean code with very clear algorithms. Compare Apples video editor software to Adobe’s. Day and night.

          1. “… use wonderful methods to make it run quicker if you write good clean code with very clear algorithms.”

            Although this is true , they should just update the hardware as well.
            A one year newer GPU can have double the performance for some tasks, try tweaking that with software. Also won’t tweaks RUN FASTER on NEWER HARDWARE?

            Apple has so much resources, their leaders are making Christmas trees and Coffee Table books, surely they can keep ALL their stuff at the Highest Level?

            R.Check you seem to be a regular and probably know you stuff but even long time Apple fans have to admit — dropping iPad and Mac sales prove it — higher standards from Apple today on some areas are needed.

            Jobs made mistakes but they seemed to be fixed much more quickly.

  3. The won’t have to make pre-announcements if they upgraded their products on a more stable basis like in the past.

    Now the entire product line is in confusion, both Mac and iPad. The schedule is unpredictable , some units not upgraded for years. (you really have to wade through the specs to see which wants are reasonably current).

    The most glaring is the Mac Pro. If unit sales do not allow regular updates like in the past why did they make it so that you can’t upgrade the GPU yourself (like all the other old Mac Pros?). If you did that pros won’t be complaining so much.

    if you want to make SEALED boxes then upgrade them on a more regular, predictable schedule like in the past. The onus for falls on Apple.
    (btw They made the Mini non upgradable– even the RAM is soldered — so that it can be THINNER. Why does a DESKTOP need to an inch or two thinner anyways? )

    (btw Macs make more money than iPads and TWICE the revenue of the ‘other products’ category which holds Watch, iPod, accessories, Apple TV etc so Apple’s squandering opportunity )

  4. I do sincerely believe that Apple is changing from a company that used to service professional creatives, into a company that simply wants to be a dumbed down, lowest common denominator, lifestyle company.

    We’ll see what this year brings, from what I can see it’s just minor updates to the iMac.

    Next year we are promised more – new processors and a big jump ahead in terms of performance.

    After that, 2019, we’ll all know what company Apple wants to become, because by then, they will certainly be there.

    Whether the pro market is with them remains to be seen – I not that hopeful.

  5. posted this to other Macdaily threads on the same subject

    Mac user since 1988
    It’s the best out there, but has more issues than ever. Those two ideas don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

    Time was when things like the Apple Human Interface Guidelines were the basis of how well Mac operating systems AND software worked, and that made Apple what it is.

    Now, the apps that are built for both Mac and Windows generally work equally well, depending on the quality and experience of the app developer. Windows developers are nearly as likely to have an interface that matches the old common sense guidelines that made Apple successful.

    I am waiting for one critical app used in my business to develop for Windows. When I do, ALL of my dozen or so critical apps will be available on both platforms and will operate in the same way. Will I go for sure? No, but I will not rule it out.

    NEVER thought I would say that.

    AND DO NOT prove your ignorance by saying: just use an iPad. For the thousandth time, you iPad users out there must be painfully unaware that most of the apps that you “consume” your content on are produced on apps that can only be developed on a an actual Mac computer….or on an actual Windows computer.

    Get it straight and get your head out of the sand! The system requirements for my apps are far beyond the capabilities or any tablet without a (dare I say it?) ……… keyboard!!!!!!

    It’s’s now the app developers that determine how well things work, not so much OS developers. Apple could get that advantage back by going back to those guidelines in the OS and ESPECIALLY Apple apps.

    Will they? I don’t know. When you (Apple) are so engaged in self-worship, its hard to see or hear the train coming down the tracks that will change your day…..to put it mildly

  6. Routers and Displays may be commodities but Apple should have their own for at least two reasons. To provide one stop shopping so everything in your home/office says Apple, not a mix of brands. This conveys a subtle, but important message. A second reason is to provide Apple’s clear and simple instructions in a consistent Apple style. I have had many different routers and struggled with some of their instructions (I am rather techie with several engineering degrees). The average homeowner could not setup most of them and would have to get someone to help, tarnishing their Apple experience. My Airport Time Capsule was so easy to install and set up, including time machine, that almost anyone could do it following Apple’s clear instructions. Apple needs to manage the user’s total experience, even if it means having a few commodity products that do not make great profits.

    1. Definitely agree on the routers. And for the displays, why not simply work with LG and have them make Apple branded displays.
      Saying that, I do buy Apple routers but haven’t bought an Apple display in 20 years. Of course now most of our Macs are laptops.
      I think Macs are where Apple have royally dropped the ball. Sure most people prefer laptops (I do) but there still is a market (albeit small) for stand alone desktops. I understand the lack of upgradability for the laptops but it makes no sense for the desktops.

    2. Yes. But I sense Apple drifting from their core principle of providing exceptional user experience. Some of their design choices have degraded the user experience. In software, removing complexity in the UI created a frustrating problem with discoverability. In hardware, removing ports led to dongle city. It seems that Apple’s need to innovate inevitably disturbs a user’s comfort zone.

      Apple’s mission, according to Tim Cook: “To make the very best products in the world that really deeply enrich people’s lives.” Had he been more candid, he might have admitted that his evolving products place a certain burden on the user, who must adapt to them, rather than the other way round; and that the “people” whose lives are enriched are increasingly likely to be those working at Apple; users, not so much.

      1. ” It seems that Apple’s need to innovate inevitably disturbs a user’s comfort zone. ”

        And there are many things in the world that become comfortable because they actually work, yet somehow we have lost our ability as thinking members of our society to keep the good when it works.

        Good change is good change and bad change is bad change.

  7. Sure, Apple should have a more organized hardware updating schedule, sure.
    But more important is how to show the new hardware (and soft).
    No one can make better, or even similar, keynotes than Steve (Jobs).
    The same small improvements of the recent MBP family presented by Steve would be a real hit in magazines, TV, news, people….
    He had this distinctive way of making presentations that created a perfect atmosphere. After a keynote people were in love with the products. People thougt Steve’s solution was the ‘real’ solution, the ‘perfect’ solution. This was the reality-reinterpretation-field Steve created, and that neither Tim (Cook) nor any of the other presenters know how to create.
    Tim is more enterprise-and-finance oriented. Jony Ive and his crew, were revolutionizing at first, now he is elegant but a bit boring (people in other PCs aren’t boring, they are only bad designers, so Ive is also now the best, only a bit boring).

    So
    Apple MUST make better keynotes and presentations!

    Emilio

  8. Whoa, with a few exceptions (hey, this is the internet) – while critical – more than in most threads on any Mac site, the above are mostly posts by folks who clearly really care about Apple and have really put some experience and knowledge-based thought into trying to figure out what’s wrong and offering sound (if various – but at least thought-provoking) approaches that could still help keep Apple from a possibly rough patch of years.

    And a rough patch is what they’re gonna have if people start to quit believing in the company Apple was becoming and start to desert the company it IS seemingly becoming.

    Ask IBM how easy it is to come back from some big wrong turns after enjoying being top dog for a lot longer than Apple was.

    And MS after Ballmer squoze all the sales juice out of it without giving it a defining vision.

    This often happens especially after a charismatic founder is gone. It’s even called the “founders’ dilemma” in B-School books I think.

    The dilemma is you either pick a decent custodian of the founder’s existing practices to try to continue what he had done (but who are unable to come up with what insanely great thing he might have done) and let them manage what is until they bog down in lack of direction and then execution as competitors start outflanking on speed and quality of execution, functionality, design, “buzz,” etc. etc.

    The second choice is to bet the company on rebirth: bring in a new possible visionary from outside who – not being Steve Jobs (and Apple 2017 not being Apple 2006) – is going to do kind of what happened when Jobs came back to Apple – a complete pivot and betting the company shots at the next big thing (and there will be one or more from some company or companies).

    So far (and likely for quite awhile because this team wants to hang on their jobs while their stock option grants mature) they’ve gone with door number one, but eventually (and the sooner the better to stop the bleeding and start the healing) they have to go to strategy #2.

    Not easy to find or hire either – as they tend to be self-created people, not really hired help.

    Anyway, one can only hope the Apple Board members and staff who still get it are reading the forums in MDN and especially this one.

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