Home > Apple > Apple’s biggest problem Apple’s biggest problem Thom Holwerda 2012-12-05 Apple 30 Comments Patrick Gibson (via Daring Fireball): “My friend and co-worker Tom has a thesis about Apple’s biggest problem: Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services.” Apt. About The Author Thom Holwerda Follow me on Twitter @thomholwerda 30 Comments 2012-12-06 12:03 am Bill Shooter of Bul I only started using Google search because it was a nice, simple, clean design as opposed to yahoo, hotbot, lycos, excite, alta vista,etc that hid the search field in a vast sea of links, ads and digital garbage. 2012-12-06 12:09 am Carewolf That is oversimplified to the point of being stupid. A pundit being stupid, what a world! (sic) 2012-12-06 1:58 am WorknMan Apple buying Twitter? Why not. I’ve got no use for either one Maybe they could buy Instagram from Facebook as well, and then they’ll have a perfect trifecta of hipsterism 2012-12-06 7:30 pm Radio Apple and Twitter? Two companies comtemptuous of their users. A match made in heaven. 2012-12-06 2:04 am pooo “Being good at web services” means having a platform where 3rd party services can operate and, more importantly, cooperate, as 1st class citizens. Apple will never accomplish that because it is against their religion, not because they aren’t good at it. On android any service can integrate deeply with Android in a consistent and powerful way by simply registering themselves as handlers of certain intents. On iOS, Apple basically hard coded special support for Twitter and Facebook, a joke by comparison. So maybe what google is doing right is really *allowing* 3rd parties to be good at providing services. Again, Apple will never do that, so long term they are doomed to 2nd place (at best!) because they can’t provide all those services themselves. Edited 2012-12-06 02:05 UTC 2012-12-06 2:13 am pooo Oh, and Google is already *better* than Apple at design when you are talking about android vs ios. ios’ skeumorphic crap looks cartoonish compared to stock android 4+. Even OEM skins are getting very light, allowing stock android design to shine. On the other hand I will admit that hardware-wise, Apple crushes all android OEMs (and PC laptop makers) in the design area. But you can’t totally blame google for that. 2012-12-06 4:02 am unclefester On the other hand I will admit that hardware-wise, Apple crushes all android OEMs (and PC laptop makers) in the design area. Your choice of thin aluminium rectangles with rounded corners – totally amazing! /sarc 2012-12-06 5:57 pm Zan Lynx Hmm? I think Samsung’s Note 2 is a far, far better piece of hardware than an iPhone 5. I know not everyone agrees with me on that, but that’s the beauty of the Android phones: more choice. 2012-12-07 7:52 am pooo I was being generous. I also like the note 2. I think Apple devices, not just phones, tend to be at or near the top of the pack for hardware design. iPhone IMO is actually the weakest of apple products because of the silly tiny screen. Blows my mind the way apple fanbois act like they actually prefer it. I believe some do but 90% are just too in love with Apple to admit bigger screens are better. 2012-12-07 4:25 pm leos I was being generous. I also like the note 2. I think Apple devices, not just phones, tend to be at or near the top of the pack for hardware design. iPhone IMO is actually the weakest of apple products because of the silly tiny screen. Blows my mind the way apple fanbois act like they actually prefer it. I believe some do but 90% are just too in love with Apple to admit bigger screens are better. Put me down as someone that prefers a smaller screen. I wouldn’t want my device significantly bigger than it is. The Note 2 is useless to me because its so unwieldy. That said I fully appreciate how apple will have an issue with their screen resolutions in the future. The iPad is fine, but the mini will have to be upgraded at some point, and possibly the iPhone as well if they ever do want to make different shaped screens. 2012-12-06 11:33 pm jayvazz google started android but other programmers made android what it is today not google there are hundreds of developers working on android everyday all day ,if u gonna give credit to google than don’t forget all the developers that make android the software it is today, everyone one is quick to knock apple but fail to thanks them for pushing the envelope in technology they didn’t invent the touch screen or cell phones but they developed at the time the best phone with all the bells and whistles integrated while the so called phone manufactures were still playing with flips competition is good for all of us we can get better products all the time so be grateful to the companies who think out of the box before bashing them … 2012-12-07 7:49 am pooo Did you read the article? I was commenting on a very specific subject (the subject of the article) and I just reread both my comments and I never bashed Apple or Google. I just said I thought Apple hardware was better and Google software is better and I explained why Android was way better than iOS at supporting network services. Your point about other contributors to Android is interesting but I’m not sure what it has to do with my comment. I agree, other people have contributed. Good. 2012-12-06 10:04 am sisora Whoever wrote this piece forgot that Google has shutdown more Webservices than apple has ever created. Most of Google’s webservices remained Beta for years and years (Gmail!!) Does these mean Google is getting bad at creating web services? 2012-12-06 11:32 am MOS6510 I think the “beta” label is used by Google and others as some kind of get out of jail card. Or rather stay out of jail. If anything huge goes wrong they can always claim it’s beta and not intended for serious use. With a beta label they can do what they want. 2012-12-06 7:24 pm Radio That, my fiend, is called “iteration”. Also, contrary to Apple closing Ping at full loss, when Google closed e.g. Wave, they recycled huge chucks of it, in Android text input, Google Translate, G+, etc. 2012-12-06 2:23 pm alcibiades They are repeating the nineties. Not as badly, not as quickly, and from a much stronger position, but in the end this will be a retreat to the niche in tablets, phones as well as computers. In computers they are basically irrelevant. Same thing is going to happen with phones and tablets. All because they would rather have all of a smaller cake than a bigger piece of a cake which others have some of too. In the nineties they basically forced people who wanted Macs to buy Windows, because they could not or would not supply. They are doing the same thing with phones and tablets today. You can only have it if you are prepared to pay hugely and to buy in to the whole totally controlled Apple system. That means, in the end, retreat to the niche. There are huge sections of the market they are simply refusing to supply. These guys get their stuff from someplace. It drives them to the competition. The worst thing is Apple is then encouraged by their fans to keep doing this. The competition is not even acknowledged, and the fans keep urging them to stay at the high end and not worry about market share. It is an old story. The competition you have to worry most about is that which offers products to markets you do not want, and pretty soon you move from not wanting them to being unable to address them, and before you know it, you are Triumph motorcycles or the US auto industry, wondering how Honda or Toyota can make this really quite decent stuff so cheaply…. And sell it to your very own high end customer base. There is a reason why the shares are falling out of bed. They are turning into a bond fund which owns shares in an irrelevant computer company, and a peaking tablet and phone company. 2012-12-06 11:51 pm rklrkl This week, I borrowed an unused iPhone 4 from work to upgrade it from iOS 4.2.1 to iOS 6.0.1, no thanks to most apps ignoring the corporate wi-fi proxy that was configured on the phone. I was pretty appalled at the non-obviousness of many functions, how some functionality was either poorly implemented or not at all. Examples include: * Not being to rotate the homescreen. * No tethering until a recent iOS release. * Onscreen keyboard doesn’t reverse the case of letters on the keyboard when shift is pressed * Deletion of SMS messages/threads is hugely clumsy – done via the wrongly (IMHO) labelled clunky “Edit” button. * Rotation lock is hugely hidden – why isn’t it in Settings rather than double button click then left-to-right swipe (WTF?!). * A full factory reset wipe actually incredibly bricks the phone enough that it can only make emergency calls. *Only* if you hook it up to the dreadful iTunes prog on Windows or Mac (er, I have Linux!) can you unbrick it. * iTunes on Windows is a rancid piece of garbage – totally against all Windows GUI standards: menu bar, hello? Buttons nothing like any normal Windows app, multiple reboots of the phone when updating iOS, blank screen on phone for minutes with no progress indicator. * Registering your iPhone is hugely painful – lots of e-mails sent your account, prompted many times for username and password. Plus a disgraceful amount of personal info is needed to use the App Store/iCloud stuff. * Trying to download Chrome from the awful App Store app warned me it contained “age-restricted content” – so does Safari, but I never got a warning when I ran that! The content warning is for “the Web” of course…silly me. And that was what I found so far just doing an iOS update – if I looked further, I’m sure I’d find a lot more stupidities by Apple in there. Sorry, but functionally and technically, Android is clearly superior now. It’s only the shiny images and transitions that Apple leads in and Android is gradually better at those, so the prettiness gap isn’t that far apart. What galls is me that Apple seem to think their hardware+software combo is the best out there – it might have been 3-4 years ago, but now *all* Apple hardware+software is beaten by the top-end Android devices and those Android devices are cheaper than Apple kit too! Edited 2012-12-06 23:56 UTC 2012-12-07 5:49 am leos * Not being to rotate the homescreen. This is a good thing. The home screen does not make sense rotated. By the way I’ve never used an android phone that does this. Maybe some third party home screens do? * No tethering until a recent iOS release. Recent? I’ve been doing tethering for ages. Interwebs says it was a feature of iOS 4.3, or two major versions ago. That’s not recent. * Onscreen keyboard doesn’t reverse the case of letters on the keyboard when shift is pressed This is a good thing. Large changes like that are annoying. Not once have I been confused about whether I just pressed shift a microsecond ago or not. * Deletion of SMS messages/threads is hugely clumsy – done via the wrongly (IMHO) labelled clunky “Edit” button. Edit-Clear All. Yes, that sure is hugely clumsy! The “Edit mode” functionality is a standard mechanism for any list view in iOS. If you spend one minute using it you would know that. * Rotation lock is hugely hidden – why isn’t it in Settings rather than double button click then left-to-right swipe (WTF?!). The app switcher is not a hidden part of iOS. Much less hidden there than somewhere deep in the settings. * A full factory reset wipe actually incredibly bricks the phone enough that it can only make emergency calls. *Only* if you hook it up to the dreadful iTunes prog on Windows or Mac (er, I have Linux!) can you unbrick it. Complete and utter lie. Nothing on an iPhone requires iTunes anymore. * iTunes on Windows is a rancid piece of garbage – totally against all Windows GUI standards: menu bar, hello? Buttons nothing like any normal Windows app You mean just like most other Windows software include microsoft’s own? * Registering your iPhone is hugely painful – lots of e-mails sent your account, prompted many times for username and password. Plus a disgraceful amount of personal info is needed to use the App Store/iCloud stuff. Registration is not required. You’re doing it wrong. * Trying to download Chrome from the awful App Store app warned me it contained “age-restricted content” – so does Safari, but I never got a warning when I ran that! The content warning is for “the Web” of course…silly me. You didn’t install Safari so it didn’t warn you. Really that one message annoyed you so much? 2012-12-07 6:07 am MOS6510 Deleting text messages, downloading Chrome? It seems more like a “WTF are you trying to do” than an iOS upgrade. 2012-12-07 3:09 pm BluenoseJake People don’t do those things on an iphone? Really? You make it sound like the guy is trying to install Visual Basic or something. Both of these things are normal tasks that an iphone user might want to do. Edited 2012-12-07 15:17 UTC 2012-12-07 3:19 pm MOS6510 He said “This week, I borrowed an unused iPhone 4 from work to upgrade it from iOS 4.2.1 to iOS 6.0.1” and then tells all the horrors he encountered to do that. First off it’s strange a Linux user and apparently non-iOS owner takes the initiative to “borrow” an company iPhone just to upgrade it to the latest version. After all this time no one else had time to do this for unknown reasons. He then lists a number of things that have nothing to do with upgrading to iOS. The moment a new iOS version is out millions of people start upgrading. I doubt they would if they first had to delete all their text messages, try to rotate the home screen, install Chrome, type capital letters on the keyboard, tether the phone (to what and why?) and all others kinds of dubious stuff. And yes, it is related to him upgrading it because he ends it with “And that was what I found so far just doing an iOS update“. When iTunes was still needed I just hooked up the iPhone it said a new version was available and I’d hit the upgrade button. Now you can do it OTA (or via iTunes). So either he doesn’t know what he’s doing, a troll, insane or all three. 2012-12-07 5:42 pm sisora You’re spot on. Going thru his comment its obvious he is a troll. 2012-12-07 4:19 pm leos People don’t do those things on an iphone? Really? You make it sound like the guy is trying to install Visual Basic or something. Both of these things are normal tasks that an iphone user might want to do. Yes and both of them are dead simple to do. 2012-12-08 12:00 pm MOS6510 It’s interesting that people that point out the obvious BS get voted down, while the troll and someone who misses the point get voted up. Trolls travel in packs it seems. 2012-12-09 4:03 pm zima I think you’re misreading him – the upgrade part is just he mentioning the background of how he got to play with an iPhone – what follows are his experiences after that… 2012-12-09 6:34 pm MOS6510 No, he states: “This week, I borrowed an unused iPhone 4 from work to upgrade it from iOS 4.2.1 to iOS 6.0.1” It starts of weird. Why borrow an iPhone for the single purpose of upgrading it? Not playing with it, not wanting to check out iOS 6, just to upgrade it. Weirder still: he has no Mac, no Windows, no iTunes, no iOS experience. He’s the least qualified to perform an upgrade. Than he lists of number of points that are either complete wrong or just silly. He ends this list with: “And that was what I found so far just doing an iOS update” So all the strange stuff he did was related to just upgrading. iOS, Android and WP upgrades are just a matter of hitting the “okay, let’s do it” button. They don’t involve installing Chrome or deleting text messages. Also he mentions: ” Registering your iPhone is hugely painful – lots of e-mails sent your account, prompted many times for username and password. Plus a disgraceful amount of personal info is needed to use the App Store/iCloud stuff” Remember he borrowed the iPhone. Why register it and whose information is he using? His own? That doesn’t sound like borrowing. Someone else? Hey, it’s an UNUSED iPhone. There is no user assigned to it. Then how the hell did he install Chrome? He didn’t have an iTunes account (remember he’s a Linux user with no iTunes and obviously has no iOS experience). So he either bought an iTunes card or entered his credit card info. Why the hell would he do that if he is borrowing the phone? I’ve upgraded iOS a number of times on a number of devices and I have never installed Chrome on any. Let’s go through his list: 1. Why try to rotate the home screen? Which phone does this? Not needed to upgrade iOS. 2. No tethering. Not needed to upgrade iOS. 3. Something about the onscreen keyboard. Not needed to upgrade iOS. 4. Deleting text messages. Claims it’s clumsy, turns out it isn’t. Not needed to upgrade iOS. 5. Hidden rotation lock. It isn’t hidden and why lock rotation when at point 1 he complains you can’t rotate the home screen. Does or doesn’t he want to rotate? Again: Not needed to upgrade iOS. 6. Full factory reset brick the phone. It doesn’t. Not needed to upgrade iOS. 7. Complains about iTunes in Windows, yet at point 6 he said he doesn’t have Windows. 8. Registering the iPhone. It’s easy, doesn’t involve “many” emails and: Not needed to upgrade iOS. 9. Downloading Chrome gives a warning, downloading Safari doesn’t. Safari is already installed, it can’t be removed or downloaded. A lie and: Not needed to upgrade iOS. So it’s a pack of lies, BS and my guess is he never borrowed an iPhone. 2012-12-10 2:41 am Soulbender Why borrow an iPhone for the single purpose of upgrading it? Not playing with it, not wanting to check out iOS 6, just to upgrade it. Forever Alone. 2012-12-11 12:09 am zima It starts of weird. Why borrow an iPhone for the single purpose of upgrading it? Not playing with it, not wanting to check out iOS 6 But he did just that, and describes it. Perhaps in a clumsy/weird way, but who hasn’t written such posts on the internet? Maybe you are focusing too much on analysing word-for-word a possibly sloppily written post. His main point – those things not being very discoverable (and he complains about iTunes on Windows, that sounds like having experienced it…) 2012-12-09 3:21 am robojerk Apple should just take the time to upgrade their services on their own. Purchasing Twitter would be a huge financial cost, and their users could at any moment flock to a competing service. Apple would undoubtedly make changes at Twitter if they acquired, making the “possible” exodus more likely (I’m not saying it will happen, just a possibility). Apple has the cash to update their web service. Just hire some recruiters, pay more than than the competition, and get to work. Not sure if they have the balls to let go of WebObjects though. It’s their baby. Quicktime is another product that I feel Apple needs to let go of. Their supposed commitment to HTML5, yet the only site that streams video (movie trailers) requires their dumb plugin. Edited 2012-12-09 03:23 UTC 2012-12-09 9:58 am siraf72 “Anecdotally, Iâ€™ve already heard of quite a few key engineers leaving the nest.” And yet, he wants Apple to shell out billions to buy the company just to get talent, which allegedly, is already leaving. I’m sure there’s a universe out there where this makes sense. There are better and cheaper ways to hire and retain talent without buying a company that has nothing to do with your core business and isn’t turning a profit.