Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Apple Needs to be Perfect

(CC) Lon Koenig "Taken with My iPhone"
I might be "over" Apple.

I've been an Apple fan since the days of the original Apple Computer. My reasons for being a fan have changed over the years. Originally, it was the immense flexibility and openness of Woz's designs. The Apple ][ came with ROM listings, schematics and pinouts - and you were expected to use that information. We did magical things with those computers. Together with Apple we changed the world.

But after the world changed, real people who didn't program or solder were using computers. And a new sort of device was needed. The Lisa/Macintosh made great strides in bringing computing power to people who didn't have a technical background. Unlike most other computers, it gave up flexibility for simplicity. It Just Worked.

In my opinion, personal computer operating systems still aren't suitable for use in the home. To use them responsibly, you need to understand where the files go. You need to understand security risks. You need to understand applications and updating.

I have stated a number of times that I believe the first acceptable computer operating system for the home was XBox 360. Flexible. Simple. Stable. Unfortunately, a whole generation of the hardware wasn't stable, but that's a different discussion.

Now we have iOS and Android. Both are stable, simple, and easy to use. Apple's iOS has an advantage in the consumer market because it limits the device and keeps things as simple as possible. The iTunes mechanisms ensure that the device is backed up. The App approval process attempts to ensure that the device will Just Work.

But recently, my iPhone has let me down. The alarms aren't going off at the right time. My position in podcasts isn't being recorded properly. My audio hiccups when I use the GPS.
All trivial things.

But if I'm willing to put up with little problems, then I don't need Apple.
I use Apple devices BECAUSE they don't have those little problems.
Without the requirement of perfection, Apple loses its market differentiator.
Apple becomes just another device manufacturer.
There's plenty of competition in the "good" device category. And Apple may not be able to compete there.
But more importantly, it leaves the door open for someone else to come in and be "best."

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