Is Apple the new Microsoft?

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.Dave Rogers [permalink isn’t working, sorry]: “My tech obsession with modern Apple and its current products is definitely and completely over. There’s little “special” about Apple anymore. They’re simply the latest incarnation of the 600-lb gorilla. First there was IBM, then there was Microsoft, now there’s Apple. Eventually it’ll be either Google or Amazon. Apple today is just another Microsoft, and there’s little that’s going on there that’s exciting, or even very good. Siri is a joke. Photos is a cruel trick. I actually stuck up for Apple Maps in Colorado, using it to navigate whenever it was my turn, as none of my traveling companions trusted it. I was rewarded for my loyalty by a total mapping clusterfuck on our last day, as Siri tried to get us to ‘take an immediate right’ from an interstate at 70mph.”

Scrappy companies, like Apple pre-iPhone, are able to move a bit more quickly than big companies. IBM went through its own growing pains, so did Microsoft, and now it’s Apple’s turn. From the inside there is probably a bit of grumbling from the ranks, but nothing too bad. I’m sure there are folks on the ground, in multiple groups, that would like more time to improve their efforts. This ties right into something I spotted on Twitter last night.

Steve Frank is a Panic co-Founder and by all accounts a fantastic software developer, just look at their well regarded lineup of applications as proof. I have a great deal of respect for Panic and its team, just as I do for Apple and its teams. I’m a nobody but I have worked on a couple complex software systems through the years. When you’re working on a system with dependencies on other teams it slows things down and introduces strange behaviors and bugs. As much as everyone cares about the end product, it happens.

I’ve never worked at Apple and I don’t know how it works on the inside. But you can bet it’s full of software engineers that know their craft and care deeply about shipping a quality product. Big systems are inherently difficult to maintain and change.

Apple has been making moves over that last few years that introduce greater complexity and deeper integration between their own hardware and services. These are the same moves Microsoft was making in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Deep integration. When this stuff works, it’s like magic, when it fails it’s often times extremely frustrating for the user. You have no idea where things went sideways. Was it the client, the service, or somewhere in between? Which piece of hardware blew it? Why did my notification arrive an hour late, or not at all?

Like other big companies that take these deep dives Apple will work itself out of the weirdness.

Is Apple the new Microsoft? That’s a question for you to answer.

P.S. – I completely understand the place Steve is coming from. He wants to dig in and not come up for air until he’s solved big problems. That’s very admirable.