About Those Reports that Apple is in Dire Trouble

August 4th, 2015

Quarter after quarter, Apple Inc. reports record sales. More iPhones are being sold than ever before, and Mac sales are rising while most PC makers are confronting lower sales. The PC industry may be on its last legs, but Apple has managed to carve out a growing share of the market segment that matters. That’s the higher profit segment. They are leaving the low-end, where profits are difficult to achieve, to the bottom feeders.

Now it’s true there are trouble spots for Apple, such as lagging iPad sales. While Apple CEO Tim Cook puts a positive spin on the situation, it’s fair to wonder whether it’s just a spin, and what Apple hopes to accomplish Obviously improving iPad multitasking in iOS 9 will make the device more useful for productivity, and that, along with the IBM deal, may indeed improve sales. And don’t forget the delayed upgrade cycle. Maybe this year will be the charm.

The Apple Watch is a question mark. Without actual sales figures, the rumors and widely varying industry analyst estimates dominate the news cycles. Nobody knows Apple’s internal targets, but it’s easy to take the lowest numbers and suggest it’s not doing so well. This despite Apple’s statement that sales for the first nine weeks overshot those of the iPhone and iPad during their first nine weeks on sale. Isn’t that supposed to a good thing?

But the excuse that Apple wants to keep the details out of the hands of the competition doesn’t wash. If they are skilled at targeting the sales and production channels, they already have a pretty good idea.

Now a recent story about Apple’s alleged predicament used the standard nonsense about non-existent scandals to make a point, among other things. So the so-called “bendgate” issue, where the iPhone 6 Plus was supposedly more prone to bending in your back pocket than the competition, was accepted as a fact. But Apple never admitted to a problem, and third-party tests from Consumer Reports magazine and SquareTrade, an extended warranty provider, indicated Apple’s phablet performed acceptably when subjected to severe abuse.

Still, there’s an unconfirmed report that Apple will use a stronger aluminum alloy for the next iPhone, referred to as the 6s and 6s Plus, so it will be even less susceptible to damage. Regardless of the facts, to some tech pundits and other columnists, it doesn’t matter.

Of course, when a claim is partly accurate, it’s easy to extend the claim to encompass more than it should. So there’s the somewhat ragged condition of OS X Yosemite. An irritating networking bug, which resulted in unstable Wi-Fi connections and other ills, did indeed cause trouble for some Mac users (but not me). It was finally fixed by replacing a new networking component with the old one in the recent 10.10.4 update. That appears to have cleaned things up for the most part; it appears that a 10.10.5 update is now being tested by developers and public beta testers.

However, the critical article in question also made a big deal about alleged serious bugs with OS X El Capitan. Now I’m not mentioning the source, since it doesn’t deserve the publicity. But citing problems with an operating system that’s still in beta condition simply doesn’t make sense. How anyone can take this seriously boggles the mind, but it’s an example of how facts and logic can be twisted to prove a point.

This doesn’t mean that everything is necessarily hunky dory at Apple. There are still arguments that Apple’s quality control, and the ease-of-use factor, have taken a step backwards since Tim Cook took over as CEO. That’s part of the “Cook is bad” meme that’s been perpetuated by some Apple critics.

To be sure, Apple has lots of things going on, and first releases of anything are apt to be buggy. Apple is not free of such problems, but you could go back to the early days of the Mac to find OS releases quickly replaced by maintenance updates because things went badly.

However, Apple is doing so much more these days, and getting far more attention, that any possible slip up, even if it’s nothing unusual, gets extra coverage. But what about the first release of Windows 10, which is reportedly in fairly shaky condition? The excuse is that Microsoft promised rolling updates, so things would get fixed. But is that an excuse for a release that wasn’t ready for anyone beyond power users and early adopters?

Consider an article at BetaNews entitled “Windows 10 will be a great operating system — when it’s finished.” The subject matter is implicit in the title, that Microsoft let that beast out prematurely. Far too much is wrong with Windows 10 to recommend it, certainly not for business use. It’s fair to suggest that the stench of Windows 8, and the poor reception by the public, might have forced Microsoft to make moves that it might otherwise have done with more precision.

There was also the initial rollout, such as it was, for Android 5 Lollipop, which was quickly replaced with a working update to fix some serious bugs. And I haven’t even gotten to the well-known and very serious security lapses with Android that, for the most part, will never be fixed on most handsets running Google’s OS. The most recent problems have gotten some publicity, but tech coverage is still heavily dominated by the latest scuttlebutt about Apple. As usual.

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5 Responses to “About Those Reports that Apple is in Dire Trouble”

  1. Old Coot says:

    All it can do is go up,but get someone in there that has a vision on future products, Cook doesn’t.

  2. Dfs says:

    Probably the worst one can say about Apple is that Yosemite was a disaster. It’s okay, I guess, that it had serious and highly publicized wireless connectivity issues in its first version. What shook our faith in Apple is that these problems went basically unaddressed in the second and third, and have only partially been fixed in the fourth or even in El Capitan (running the public betas of that and iOS 9 I still can’t pair my Mac and my iPhone). “It just works” is so central to the Apple mystique that when things don’t work and when Apple seems content to let problems linger so long, the whole edifice begins to crumble. If Cook hasn’t a feeling about this deep in his gut and if he lacks Steve’s capacity to get mad and kick some butt, then we’re all in trouble. As I recently said about the Apple Watch’s prices being so out of step with the rest of the smartwatch marketplace, Cupertino seems seriously out of step with reality under his leadership.

  3. Woochifer says:

    Not in dire trouble, but I’m starting to see Apple increasingly turn its attention away from the user experience and let its products get driven by external agendas. To me, the focus on the user experience has been primarily responsible for its envy-of-the-industry customer loyalty. The foundation of Apple’s success is that customer loyalty.

    More recently, it seems that Apple is taking steps to ensure its status as an aspirational brand. That’s all well and good, but it cannot come at the expense of the user experience. Status and aspiration can generate sales, but it will not sustain loyalty if the user experience falters.

    Maps is the easiest target to pick on. To me, that was clearly a case where Apple released the product well before they should have. However, the pending expiration of the mapping data deal with Google drove the timing of when Apple would release iOS Maps, not when the product is ready.

    Subsequently, the increasing integration between iOS and OS X has created its own compromises, as functions are merged.

    Now with Apple Music, the quest to integrate prior iTunes functions with the new streaming service has created an unwieldly and confusing mess. With iOS 8.4, users who subscribe to iTunes Match are basically screwed. The Radio function tries to funnel everybody into Beats One, while everything else has been functionally deprecated. iTunes libraries are getting corrupted. Previous offline functions are now unreliable or inaccessible.

    The Music app just reeks of licensing compromises that had to be made to launch the streaming service. And in the effort to merge Apple Music together with iTunes, the limitations of Apple Music (with the DRM restrictions) have been haphazardly applied to iTunes Match functions.

    I get that Apple makes changes and end users have to accept them when they upgrade to a new OS version. But, iTunes Match is a service that I paid for, and its functionality is now diminished. That kind of compromise to the user experience is what can and will erode customer loyalty. For now, Apple is counting on the uptake on Apple Music making up for whatever frustration existing iTunes users might feel.

  4. Dfs says:

    In response to Woochifer, somebody recently put it in a nutshell by saying Apple is letting Marketing design too many of its finished products. iTunes has become too much of a portal to various Apple moneymaking enterprises at the expense of performing the functions we end users expect. There areo one or two third party alternatives for managing music collections, which don’t seem especially good. But what if somebody put out a good one?

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