Home > Software Engineering > When great Apple software becomes a bad apple and what to do (whether Apple listens or not)

When great Apple software becomes a bad apple and what to do (whether Apple listens or not)

In February 2010, I wrote about the importance of negative testing and the biggest impact of insufficient negative testing:  customer’s confidence in your software.  ”If this simple functionality fails, what else may broken”.

https://agilesequent.wordpress.com/2010/02/07/plan-for-negative-testing-or-your-customers-will-make-the-plan-for-you/

Apple is a very successful company by almost every financial and non-financial measure.   I have been an early adopter of Apple products and still use Apple products every day.   However, Apple is beginning to exhibit early signs of trouble, the kind of trouble that every leader begins to lose sleep over because the issues are broad enough to involve the three elements of success:  people, process,  and technology.   When all three appear to be broken , it’s no longer business as usual.

In the past, Apple software update has been simple and uneventful.   The update appears as a notification.   Few minutes later, the update process is done and the user continues to be productive while enjoying new features.

Why Apple should be very concerned:  from https://discussions.apple.com/message/20205638#20205638

“I’m really only here to complain. I have learned not to expect a response from Apple or timeline for fixing the issue. I just want Apple to know that it’s alienating some of its most loyal customers. For years, I used your products to keep myself and my media organized. I don’t want to change that and do not look forward to changing it. Still, I was a PC user once and I can certainly go back to being a PC user again. The inconvenience of attempting to organize my files on a PC will be offset by the time saved not having to deal with features you introduce that only work some of the time. I’m begging Apple to STOP BREAKING THINGS THAT ARE NOT BROKEN and to GO BACK AND FIX THE THINGS YOU BROKE. I would much prefer that you concentrate on fixing these glitches than introducing useless new UI features like different shades of color at the top of the iOS task bar.”

The problem could not be stated any better.

People

The departure of Scott Forstall has been discussed in detail, including possible reasons.    Scott’s departure highlights a much bigger problem at Apple.  If senior executives, like Scott Forstall and Sir Jonathan Ive do not collaborate effectively to develop products which should – by design – work perfectly in Apple’s’ own ecosystem, what does it say about Tim Cook who – as a leader – could not recognize this problem early enough and its impact on products, quality, and customer good will?

http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/scott-forstall-and-jony-ive-refused-attend-each-others-meetings?t51hb&hpg1=mp

Process

There are many complaints in Apple discussion forums about iPhone 5 and battery drain problems and Contacts disappearing after upgrading to IOS 6.

How long does it take for a quality engineering team to create a soak test where iPhone 5 – and 90% of popular apps – would be subjected to a 72 hour typical usage tests?   This simple test would most certainly produce some results worthy of discussion and corrective action – for the benefit of the customer.

Technology

iPhone is a platform where greater value for the customer is enabled by new software-based capabilities.   Get it right – and Apple gains new customers.  Get it wrong – and at some point revenues and margins will be impacted.

What to do

If you are an Apple user, you may want to slow down the adoption of new IOS and OS X releases.   And always have good backups – several backups.   Sharing my own experience:

– OS X Lion reached a stable point with 10.7.3 release
– Do not plan to install OS X Mountain Lion until 10.8.5 release and only on an external bootable clone of my hard drive to perform extensive testing
– Still using iPhone 4S and IOS 5.1.1;  will not upgrade to IOS 6 in the foreseeable future
– Do not plan to purchase iPhone 5 for the same reason why iPhone 4S is a better iPhone 4
– Will however purchase iPad Mini

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Categories: Software Engineering
  1. February 8, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Your entire blog, “When great Apple software becomes a bad apple and what to do (whether Apple listens or not) From the front lines
    of building great software products” ended up being truly worth writing a comment on!
    Merely wanted to mention you actually did a tremendous work.
    Thanks -Willis

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