Back in early 2007 Apple announced that Mac OS X Leopard would be delayed until October. Why? iPhone. Think of it as an all engineering hands on deck issue because Apple’s engineering resources were not able to get iPhone out the door on time and release a new version of Mac OS X at the same time. Here we are again.
I have long had an image in my head that Apple had a few hundred well paid, highly capable engineers and designers and programmers on staff that simply wandered around working on various projects, and since they cannot work on everything at once, some products would take a back seat to other products.
That is exactly what happened in 2007.
While Leopard’s features will be complete by then, we cannot deliver the quality release that we and our customers expect from us. We now plan to show our developers a near final version of Leopard at the conference, give them a beta copy to take home so they can do their final testing, and ship Leopard in October. We think it will be well worth the wait. Life often presents tradeoffs, and in this case we’re sure we’ve made the right ones
Translation: We have finite resources and too many highly technical projects to get them out the door at the same time.
Remember all those security bugs and problems in macOS High Sierra and iOS 11? Apple thinks quality control is suffering at the hands of feature bloat.
Apple has been criticized of late, both for security issues and for a number of quality issues, as well as for how it handles battery issues on older devices… Apple has shaken up its iOS software plans for 2018, delaying some features to next year in an effort to put more focus on addressing performance and quality issues… Pushed into 2019 are a number of features including a refresh of the home screen and in-car user interfaces, improvements to core apps like mail and updates to the picture-taking, photo editing and sharing experiences.
Translation: Apple has found it is hard to walk and chew gum at the same time.
Well, the world’s most valuable company cannot find enough engineering, design, and programming talent to make macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS work the way the company wants them all to work and work together, so something has to give.
While a renewed focus on quality and performance might ease some outside criticism, some inside the team question whether the approach will actual lead to higher quality. Plus, customers tend to pay for features more than security and reliability, which are tough to assess at the time of purchase.
Such a strategic change should not be surprising given the breadth and width of Apple’s still growing product line, but have we heard of similar issues and adjustments at Google, or Microsoft, or Samsung, or any of Apple’s other competitors? Are we able to view the inner workings at Apple easier and with more detail than competitors?
And, importantly, why can’t Apple walk and chew gum at the same time?
Think about Apple’s situation for a moment. All the company’s products could fit on top of a conference room table. Apple has massive resources spread all over the globe. No company has more cash on hand which could and should be used to grow engineering, design, and programmer talent. What prevents Apple from being able to walk and chew gum at the same time? Or, put another way, ensure that products ship with fewer security problems, fewer bugs, and yet still have the bells and whistles customers expect.
Name a technology company with more customers than Apple. Samsung? No, Google, Facebook, et al do not count because you’re a user, not a customer. To be fair, Apple is made up of plenty of moving parts. But so is Samsung. So is Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and other technology companies. Yet, a growing number of Apple products languish on aging vines (Mac mini, iPad mini, Mac Pro, among others), while new products remain in short supply or are delayed entirely.
Yes, for some, walking and chewing gum at the same time can be hard. But isn’t that capability what you would expect of the world’s most valuable, cash-rich technology gadget maker?