Monday, November 11, 2013

Setting Expectations

Jean-Louis Gassée on iWork ’13:

We’ll get into details in a moment, but a look into past events will help establish the context for what I believe to be a pattern, a cultural problem that starts at the top (and all problems of culture within a company begin at the executive level).

Readers might recall the 2008 MobileMe announcement, incautiously pitched as Exchange For The Rest of Us. When MobileMe crashed, the product team was harshly criticized by the same salesman, Steve Jobs, who touted the product in the first place.

[…]

Skipping some trivial examples, we land on the Maps embarrassment. To be sure, it was well handled… after the fact. Punishment was meted out and an honest, constructive apology made. The expression of regret was a welcome departure from Apple’s usual, pugnacious stance. But the same questions linger: What did Apple execs know and when did they know it?

[…]

First. Who knew and should have known about iWork’s bugs and undocumented idiosyncrasies? (I’ll add another: Beware the new autocorrect)

Second. Why brag instead of calmly making a case for the long game and telling loyal customers about the dents they will inevitably discover?

Instead, we are left wondering:

Were the execs who touted [these products] ignorant and therefore incompetent, or were they dishonest, knowingly misrepresenting [their] capabilities?

5 Comments

I think Apple cares about the press as a whole. So the iWork '13 news gets reported as Apple tells it, and then the true hard-core users are left to find out that there are some issues.

Since the issues really mostly affect only those hard-core users, that's generally fine. Apple succeeds in keeping discussion about how they're screwing with customers out of the news, because journalists are lazy and don't research much beyond what Apple tells them in the keynotes.

@Erik I think you’re right, but it’s a dangerous game to play. The “hard-core” users may be a small percentage, but they’re influential. And they will be once bitten twice shy. After iWork was pretty much ignored for four years, then updated so that previously created documents no longer open properly, I can’t see recommending it to anyone.

I still do, particularly to people who don't have previous documents, and now that Apple has clarified future plans.

I'd agree it's not the best strategy, but I don't think it's too big a deal either.

@Erik What do you mean by hard-core users? The users that run Keynote and Pages to make real documents instead of slideshow for a wedding or to share photos/jokes with their colleagues?

"The “hard-core” users may be a small percentage, but they’re influential. And they will be once bitten twice shy. After iWork was pretty much ignored for four years, then updated so that previously created documents no longer open properly, I can’t see recommending it to anyone."

But this is nothing new, no?

Any 'pro-sumer' using Apple apps is absolutely nuts, and this has been true for years now.

(It was true even before the FCP transition, but that should have been the final nail in the coffin for those not paying full attention.)

I mean, how many times have we seen this song and dance? Long-term backwards compatibility should be highly important for anyone who cares about their data, and it's been well-known for quite a while that you simply aren't going to get that via Apple apps.

Microsoft Office for Mac is problematic, but I've been recommending it for decades, and it's proved a good recommendation. And I started recommending Adobe over Apple for graphics and video several years ago, and it's proved a good recommendation.

OTOH, if you don't particularly care about your data, Apple apps are certainly the way to go...

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