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Apple’s Biggest Problems

February 16, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I recently read an interesting article where a commentator listed the 10 biggest problems with Apple. As an Apple “fanboy” (I have 11 Macs at home and a lot more at work, an iPhone, 4 iPods, and will get an iPad some time this year) I thought I needed to comment on this.

Problem 1 is Steve Jobs. Does Apple need Jobs for it to be successful? Well maybe. There certainly seems to be a link between Jobs running Apple and its success. During the time he was away from the company it almost failed, so maybe this is true.

They say no one is irreplaceable but Steve must be about as close as you can get! He does seem to know what people want and when they want it. There must be other people who could also do this but are they potential candidates for CEO of Apple? During the last time Steve was away Apple opted for traditional management and marketing types with predictably disastrous results!

Problem 2 is AT&T. This clearly isn’t such a big an issue because it only affects the iPhone and even then only in the US. Still, I agree that it was a stupid idea to trust one company which (according to opinions I have read because I’ve never used their network myself) provides pretty awful service and doesn’t seem to be too concerned about trying to fix it.

On the other hand we have several networks here in New Zealand where an iPhone can be easily used and all of them have significant problems, so maybe all cell service providers need to improve their ability to handle the needs of modern smart phones.

Problem 3 is computers. Specifically this is the conflict between the existing Apple laptops and the iPad. I disagree because, unlike the conflict between the Apple II and the Mac, we aren’t really talking about two products with the same functionality here. All of the people I know who use a computer would still need one even if they had an iPad. Many might be able to use an iPad as well but the people who will only use an iPad probably don’t have a computer at all now.

Problem 4 is the app store. There is a problem there, especially for developers who find the approval process frustrating. But users benefit from it in many ways: first, they can be reasonably sure the apps they buy are safe, compatible and of a reasonable quality; second, they only need to look in one place to find stuff; and third, the payment system is easy and safe.

So the app store is both a good and a bad thing but from most users’ perspectives it is good. The same applies to a related criticism: the lack of openness of Apple’s products. A purist might criticise this but to most users its an advantage for similar reasons to those I mentioned above.

So moving on to number 5 we have security. There’s no doubt that in the real world Apple products suffer very little from security flaws compared with Windows PCs. That might be mainly due to the size of the installed base or it might not, but either way it is real.

Security hasn’t been such a significant issue for Apple so far, and Windows 7 does have some security features Mac OS X lacks. This might turn into a big problem in the future and it might not. I think it is a point Apple should address now before the (almost inevitable) big security incident does happen.

Mobile Me is problem number 6. I use it and it works brilliantly for me so I don’t really agree about this. I don’t find that the web apps are very useful but I don’t find any other web apps useful either so that could be just the whole class which is at fault.

Problem number 7 is backup. Well if Time Machine isn’t easy enough for most people then I don’t know what is. Sure backup to the internet has some advantages but it has a lot of disadvantages as well. Plugging a cheap USB hard disk in and clicking a button is about as simple as I can imagine to get good backups so I don’t see this as a real problem.

For some reason Apple TV is problem number 8. This has never really been a mainstream product which Apple has put a lot of effort into so I don’t see how it can really be thought of as a major problem.

Problem number 9 is rivals, or lack of them. Does Apple need competition to succeed or does it succeed simply because it wants to create great products? The Mac, the iPhone and the iPod were all produced in an environment with no obvious big competitor producing comparable products. It was only after Apple showed how to do it that the competition did occur. So I would tend to reject this idea as well.

Finally we have the “about box” credits. The about box is the window which appears when the user choose “About this program” on a Mac. The lack of the programmers names there is seen as a problem but really, can we take that seriously? I didn’t see any programers’ names in Microsoft Word either (on the other hand, if I worked on that piece of junk I would want to remain anonymous).

So really these problems aren’t exactly disastrous! Most aren’t real problems at all or they are just the sort of thing that all similar companies have. I guess if this is the best list of problems an expert can come up with then Apple’s future is looking pretty good!

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