It’s funny to see the media report along the lines of “The Sky is Falling” already. Since I am still using my iPhone 3GS, I cannot comment on Siri but for Maps, Apple’s strategic error to the “bass booster” called modern tech media was not releasing the product as a “beta release” and eliminating Google Maps outright since have used it since the original iPhone release since
1997 2007 (sorry, tired eyes). That said, Apple Maps hasn’t been that bad and I’ve never encountered any issues outside of missing “Street View” as a feature.
Apple’s strategic error with Maps was possibly a by-product of Steve Job’s ghost. His thermonuclear stance with Android/Google may have blinded the troops into following through with their spiritual leader even though he was gone. Also, it doesn’t help when Wozniak (Apple’s co-founder) is talking to the media with a lukewarm posture about Siri right now - and I can assure you, he is a brute-testing nerd as I’ve seen his posts on Facebook, Techcrunch and in the media. He uses everything which is an example of a good user.
Nonetheless, Apple announced the slaying of two executives part of the current management platform. One came as a surprise (not entirely, but still a surprise) — with a long history at Apple since he joined the company in 1997 with Steve Jobs as part of the NeXT acquisition.
Surely, this is a big blow for Scott. After Steve Jobs passed on, many articles dubbed him “Mini-Steve” with reports of ruffled feathers between Jonathan Ive and himself at times. Before Jobs died, he reportedly told Tim Cook that no one should interfere with Jonathan Ive and this included Scott Forstall. Jobs also said that his direct report should be Tim Cook and no one else. This is remarkable revelation given Scott came to Apple in 1997 with Steve Jobs under a strong history of support.
I will add, the other thing not mentioned in Apple’s release or in media reports is the lacklustre response to Apple’s passbook. Yes, some major brands are getting right behind it but out of the gate, the value proposition has been slow for consumers to grasp. I get the concept. But recently, I used my Starbucks app and was prompted if I wanted to add it to Passbook. So I said yes. After saying yes, going into Passbook does nothing with respect to the Starbucks app. I see categories and then upon selection, I am simply re-directed to a bucket of passbook-friendly apps. So what. Nothing seems to be connected — maybe I should watch the Apple event on Passbook. Cuz, if I don’t see any value now, its footprint on iOS6 and my old 3GS is a waste of space.
This just doesn’t feel like Apple. It’s like an empty shell of nothing promoted as something great.
John’s tour, on the other hand, was very short-lived at Apple. Joining January 2012 until this month, very little was heard about his efforts in the media but some reports suggest that this wasn’t a great exec boarding at Apple. Perhaps a cultural fit or execution matter, I’m sure we’ll find out more from leaks or insiders as time goes on. That said, Apple’s revitalization through retail stores was put on the map through a combination of factors — Jobs, focus, and someone who understood consumer retail. We know about the predecessor but we know very little about Mr. Browett. Based on John’s background, I don’t think his experience fit with Apple’s cultural platform. Most likely, a wise move.
That said, even as Apple’s press release praises the brilliant delivery under Cue’s online services group, let’s me be honest here. iTunes, while functional, needs a bit of an upgrade. I have a vague recollection about some minor aesthetic changes but what we’re using today has the feel of 2001. Further, Ping and MobileMe were failures and maybe not fully under Cue’s watch but my point is, more than ever, this new re-organization is going to place extra pressure on the online group. Honestly, I feel that iTunes feels like WinAmp 17 (what is the current number, lol?) which is my point. Where’s the evolution — don’t ask me what I want just tell me what I NEED in Jobsian-speak! :-) Also, iOS6 AppStore offers up a dramatic re-design but the verdict isn’t in on this one It seems much, much slower for on a 3GS and while unfair, it no doubt has far more utility on iPhone 5. That said, developers have rumbled that it’s much harder to get traction into the AppStore ecoystem now. We’ll see how this evolves.
I do believe Apple made another bad decision to deploy iOS6 support for the large installed base of 3GS users. Simply put, we’ve had 3 major iOS upgrades over three years. That’s fair and it is time to move on. Of course, Apple fearing a revolt probably went with some wrong assumptions. On 3GS with iOS6, I have no clear downgrade option and thus, am left with no option but to live through the iOS6 user experience on a slower iPhone..
Even Instragram’s camera feature works poorly with my 3GS now. It’s slow and non-responsiveness at times where I see a dark screen but no image most of the time. I can’t definitively confirm this is attributed to iOS6 and 3GS but it’s made the social photo app non-usable for me. I’m now relegated to taking a photo with Apple’s camera app, then launching Instagram to upload it to the masses. Not fun and it has all but killed my engagement with Instagram until I upgrade to the next iOS device.
Apple’s going to find it hard to keep pace with the new competition. Sometimes, it’s much easier to be innovative from the wine cellar and nip at the feet of slow, lumbering, and somewhat blind giants like minnows or piranhas. Perhaps Apple’s re-organization will shake things up leading to dramatic re-imagining of Cupertino prowess in the coming years. Apple is definitely not hurting but I will admit that market sentiment for recent quarter financial announcement was nothing short of silly (C’mon! Headlines like “iPad sales weak” because the market EXPECTED 15m units sold but Apple only sold 14m unit smacks of foolish tomfoolery). As it goes!
We’ll see in the coming year how Apple really is under Cook’s leadership. I do like Tim Cook. He’s done some great things. We can be sure that Cook will run the numbers like a tight ship (no squeaky leaky here and Jobs made sure of that) but let’s hope the vision, product direction and imagination continues in the absence of a laser-focused individual who lived and breathed Apple at the cost of a really enjoyable normal life.