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Apple's Biggest Problems

Entry 1160, on 2010-02-16 at 13:13:23 (Rating 1, Computers)

I recently read an interesting article where a commentator listed the 10 biggest problems with Apple. As an Apple "fanboy" (I have 11 Macs at home and a lot more at work, an iPhone, 4 iPods, and will get an iPad some time this year) I thought I needed to comment on this.

Problem 1 is Steve Jobs. Does Apple need Jobs for it to be successful? Well maybe. There certainly seems to be a link between Jobs running Apple and its success. During the time he was away from the company it almost failed, so maybe this is true.

They say no one is irreplaceable but Steve must be about as close as you can get! He does seem to know what people want and when they want it. There must be other people who could also do this but are they potential candidates for CEO of Apple? During the last time Steve was away Apple opted for traditional management and marketing types with predictably disastrous results!

Problem 2 is AT&T. This clearly isn't such a big an issue because it only affects the iPhone and even then only in the US. Still, I agree that it was a stupid idea to trust one company which (according to opinions I have read because I've never used their network myself) provides pretty awful service and doesn't seem to be too concerned about trying to fix it.

On the other hand we have several networks here in New Zealand where an iPhone can be easily used and all of them have significant problems, so maybe all cell service providers need to improve their ability to handle the needs of modern smart phones.

Problem 3 is computers. Specifically this is the conflict between the existing Apple laptops and the iPad. I disagree because, unlike the conflict between the Apple II and the Mac, we aren't really talking about two products with the same functionality here. All of the people I know who use a computer would still need one even if they had an iPad. Many might be able to use an iPad as well but the people who will only use an iPad probably don't have a computer at all now.

Problem 4 is the app store. There is a problem there, especially for developers who find the approval process frustrating. But users benefit from it in many ways: first, they can be reasonably sure the apps they buy are safe, compatible and of a reasonable quality; second, they only need to look in one place to find stuff; and third, the payment system is easy and safe.

So the app store is both a good and a bad thing but from most users' perspectives it is good. The same applies to a related criticism: the lack of openness of Apple's products. A purist might criticise this but to most users its an advantage for similar reasons to those I mentioned above.

So moving on to number 5 we have security. There's no doubt that in the real world Apple products suffer very little from security flaws compared with Windows PCs. That might be mainly due to the size of the installed base or it might not, but either way it is real.

Security hasn't been such a significant issue for Apple so far, and Windows 7 does have some security features Mac OS X lacks. This might turn into a big problem in the future and it might not. I think it is a point Apple should address now before the (almost inevitable) big security incident does happen.

Mobile Me is problem number 6. I use it and it works brilliantly for me so I don't really agree about this. I don't find that the web apps are very useful but I don't find any other web apps useful either so that could be just the whole class which is at fault.

Problem number 7 is backup. Well if Time Machine isn't easy enough for most people then I don't know what is. Sure backup to the internet has some advantages but it has a lot of disadvantages as well. Plugging a cheap USB hard disk in and clicking a button is about as simple as I can imagine to get good backups so I don't see this as a real problem.

For some reason Apple TV is problem number 8. This has never really been a mainstream product which Apple has put a lot of effort into so I don't see how it can really be thought of as a major problem.

Problem number 9 is rivals, or lack of them. Does Apple need competition to succeed or does it succeed simply because it wants to create great products? The Mac, the iPhone and the iPod were all produced in an environment with no obvious big competitor producing comparable products. It was only after Apple showed how to do it that the competition did occur. So I would tend to reject this idea as well.

Finally we have the "about box" credits. The about box is the window which appears when the user choose "About this program" on a Mac. The lack of the programmers names there is seen as a problem but really, can we take that seriously? I didn't see any programers' names in Microsoft Word either (on the other hand, if I worked on that piece of junk I would want to remain anonymous).

So really these problems aren't exactly disastrous! Most aren't real problems at all or they are just the sort of thing that all similar companies have. I guess if this is the best list of problems an expert can come up with then Apple's future is looking pretty good!


Comment 12 (2643) by SBFL on 2010-04-07 at 15:08:04: (view earlier comments)

You really do miss the point. For example first you say "netbooks (which are a different thing again) [from laptops]" then in almost the same breath you also say "Previous netbooks are just scaled down laptops running a standard OS,". Clearly you're just a guy who loves to argue, to the point where you contradict yourself since you'll just throw anything out there in order to disagree with the other person.

You keep thinking in terms of hardware, I am trying to talk about functionality.

PS Do you know what this emoticon means? ;-)
You reaction didn't exactly match the tone.

Regarding new product category and ability for mainstream programs. Many people like the idea of the iPhone/iPod simple interface, and I like the idea of extending this and having the technology and design of the iPad put to greater use. I think the iPad (obviously with some work) could revolutionise the laptop industry. For those in the former category (simple interface), I already suggested a configurable option to maintain the simple interface for that market segment (or alternatively there can be different streams of iPads for different segments just like there is with the iPod already).


Comment 13 (2644) by OJB on 2010-04-07 at 15:44:19:

No, I don't always deliberately disagree with others although I do enjoy playing devil's advocate some times! Moving ahead I just want to say that making the iPad just like a small computer would be a mistake. I agree that the functionality of laptops would be useful, and the iWork programs will do that. If that's what you were trying to say as well then we agree.

Apple have succeeded by keeping things pure. I don't think there will ever be an option to turn the iPad into a "power users" mini laptop. But assuming the iWork programs, and third party software, and future enhancements to the OS (multi-tasking) all work the way we hope then I think we will have all the functionality we need anyway.


Comment 14 (2645) by OJB on 2010-04-09 at 10:22:30:

Multitasking has been officially announced: summary here.


Comment 15 (2754) by SBFL on 2010-07-24 at 07:43:48:

I warned ye!
India showcases iPad-like laptop costing $35


Comment 16 (2758) by OJB on 2010-07-24 at 10:18:56:

You just don't get it, do you? Why do you think Apple products are so popular despite their price and occasional defects? Why is Apple now the biggest technology company in the world (bigger than Microsoft)? It's because they create beautiful, carefully designed products.

Anyone can slap together some random collection of hardware and software and call it a tablet. Companies have been doing that for years. It didn't work. Apple products are different. All the parts are designed to work together. Apple don't want to compete in the cheap junk market. Not saying there isn't a place for cheap stuff - there obviously is - but I would rather have the best than the cheapest or the most popular.


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