Apple’s 2015 Report Card
Jason Snell of Six Colors surveyed 24 Apple experts, including our own Adam and Tonya Engst, Rich Mogull, and Josh Centers, to get a sense of how Apple did in 2015. The grades that Apple earned were: A for the iPhone, environmental and social issues, and overall hardware quality; B+ for the iPad; B for the Apple TV and Mac; C+ for software reliability and quality; C for the Apple Watch; C-/D+ for cloud services; and D for developer relations and HomeKit. Head over to Six Colors to read the full report, including our comments.
The survey results were amazingly accurate, in my opinion. I've been complaining about Apple software for years (iTunes and Yosemite being the worst offenders) and I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks Apple has dropped the ball/lost focus.
On developer relations there is an obvious solution for the App Store blues: stay independent, or return to your roots outside the App Store. Developers should ask themselves, is the Store worth the trouble, given that Apple has apparently lost interest in their own project? Some developers continue to build good stuff outside the App Store, like Jon Gatow with Default Folder X, which was just upgraded for El Capitan after months of effort. Developers outside the App Store are still able to offer trial software and a reasonable upgrade strategy, neither of which is available through the Store. Which is to say, they are serious about customer relations. Developers hemmed in by the Store may be concerned about customer relations, but most of them don't care enough to offer their software outside the Store, given that it's a lot of work to do both. They have become prisoners of the Apple eco system and remain so even though Apple clearly could not care less about them.
Maybe if developers leave the App Store in significant numbers Apple will take notice. My favorite resource for software and updates is MacUpdate. Their web site has gotten more commercial and less user friendly in recent years, but developers can get plenty of exposure there. That's where I saw the Default Folder X 5.0 upgrade, the first paid upgrade in many years with a 50% upgrade discount—as you would expect.
Developers still in the App Store are in a rut. They should wake up and reward Apple appropriately for their neglect. They can restore a shopping cart to their web sites and pay a third party to process payments for a heck of a lot less than Apple's 30%.
As for cloud services, what is there to say. Apple has built huge, energy independent server farms to handle their services, but they haven't put nearly as much effort into the services themselves. This is perhaps the most glaring example of Apple's software failures.
If we're lucky Tim Cook will see this report card and take heed of what he sees—and then do something to resolve the problems. But I wouldn't hold my breath. Cook and his leadership team live in a bubble that's all but impervious to criticism and devoid of self-reflection.