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Apple Up or Apple Down?

Wayne Gretzky might know.


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Are things going good for Apple? Or are things going bad for them? They have a market cap second to one, surpassing Redmond; they're now bringing home more cash than Microsoft; they just introduced a beautiful MacBook Air seen on dazzling TV ads worldwide; they might soon start using Intel's Light Peak technology - what could be better?

But they're killing off their Xserve because they could never get it sold, their new MacBook Air's got kinks driving early 'rev A' adopters crazy, their iPhoto 11 has become a Destroyer of Worlds, and that iOS they're bragging about can't flip from summer time to standard time any better than Microsoft could fifteen years ago.

What's going on?

Xserve

Apple have a PDF explaining how existing Xserve clients should 'transition away' from the device, suggesting use of Mac Pro and Mac mini boxen instead. Apple never sold many Xserves as they don't speak 'enterprise' and evidently never wanted very badly to learn. In the understatement of the century, Agam Shah of IDG News writes:

Apple is dropping the Xserve product as it morphs into a consumer-focused company. The company has shifted its focus away from the enterprise with the launch of iconic consumer products like the iPhone and iPad.

Welcome to the planet Earth, Agam Shah.

MacBook Air

All new hardware - computers, automobiles, whatever - will have kinks. But Apple always have new hardware. Much more than other companies. They don't refine things - they change them. The transition to Intel - hurried up so they could get back to the iPhone project ASAP - didn't exactly go smoothly. And today with the dazzling MacBook Air?

'Every so often while using it, the screen has a ton of weird colors in vertical lines (extends the whole display) and the entire laptop has frozen. I have to force it off with the power button and reboot it. It happens at random times.'

'Just had this happen to me as well. I have a new 13.3. So far it's crashed three times on me. Two times with just a blank screen and the other time with the lines through the screen like you describe.'

'It's happen twice to me, and both times it has happened when I was opening a Mail message.'

'I installed the update and it happened afterwards.'

'I also installed the update and am still having the problem.'

Things can get pretty ugly.



The editors at Cult of Mac have also all experienced kernel panics - something all but unseen on the platform otherwise.

'I hate to say this, but my luck with Apple products may have run out', writes Dave Martin at Cult of Mac. 'Considering that I'm on my fourth iPhone 4, I had problems getting a Mac Mini repaired, and now I'm on my second MacBook Air (unibody cover on the bottom was warped on the first one) things are not looking so good.'

iPhoto 11 Destroyer of Worlds

This will sound familiar to Apple customers.

'I just installed iLife 11 yesterday. Today I spent ALL day taking photos of things that can NEVER be repeated and I just hooked up my camera to my Mac and had ImageCapture open the photos and it is set to import them into iPhoto and then delete them from the camera. Well, it deleted them alright, but then iPhoto comes up with a dialog saying 'There is not enough room on this volume to import these photos. OK?' NO, it is definitely NOT OKAY. I have 30GB on my hard drive still, but guess what I DON'T have now? I don't have ANY of the photos from my camera!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't find them anywhere on my hard drive either!!!!! Do you have any suggestions about where they might be or are they just gone forever thanks to the great new version of stupid iPhoto I stupidly put on my computer????'

'I had the same problem, I concluded that when iPhoto was upgrading my library it dwindled down the iPhoto library from 112GB to 14Gb. I am pretty sure it deleted my iPhoto library. There are other problems too that I am having. AND MANY others are too'

'Well I am one of those who didn't have backup, so thousands of pictures and videos of my kids growing up is gone. I managed to recover some of them with disc recovery, but most of them were partial deleted and corrupted. If I thought there was a slightest chance that upgrading would DELETE files from library, I would of course take a copy first. I bet that Apple wont do **** about this until the media starts putting pressure on them. iPhoto11 is a GIANT FAILURE and not anywhere near ready for release!'

Shades of the type of thinking that produced the 'massive data loss' scandal.

iOS & Summer/Standard Time

This is a classic boner Microsoft pulled back in 1995. Testing code for time zone switches shouldn't be difficult. And yet it's obvious (and outrageously amateurish) there is very little testing going on.

Symptoms

In some regions, shortly before or after the daylight saving time (DST) change, repeating alarms created in the Clock app may work incorrectly.

Products Affected

iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (3rd generation), iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch (2nd generation)

Resolution

To resolve this behavior for existing alarms, set the repeat interval to Never. You will need to reset these alarms for each day you need them.

After November 7th, 2010, you can set your alarms to repeat again.

This document will be updated as more information becomes available.

Open Letter

Dave Martin of Cult of Mac thinks it's time to address quality at Apple.

'Not long ago, before Apple became big and popular, your company was loved by many of us without hesitation. We still love Apple, but it's getting harder to feel that way. Apple is clearly loosing a foothold on quality', writes Martin.

'It's obvious you've noticed quality problems too. That's why you just appointed Jeff Williams as a Senior Vice President of Operations, and gave him the job of ensuring the highest standards in quality for Apple products. He's got his work cut out for him. So we hope he'll hit the ground running.'

Martin then goes on to cite - for Jobs and Williams both - a number of classic systemic bloopers Apple have been guilty of over the years.

  • MobileMe Crash of 2008. They were going to do everything at once and nothing worked. Of course not. Rixstep wrote about the 'Perspicacity of Worms' at the time.
  • White iPhone 4 Delays. Is there a white iPhone? Really?
  • iPhone 4 Rollout. Oh. What. A. Mess. Apple's first abortive press conference fiasco in years. And none less than Steve Jobs running it to boot. And flaws weren't limited to the dazed antenna design - they included proximity sensor issues, Bluetooth connectivity issues, camera issues, and display issues, to name a few. This for a device that's supposed to be tested professionally before release.
  • iPhone 3G Rollout. Another good one with activation issues, server meltdowns, long lines, and angry customers. Things became so chaotic that Apple Store staff sent customers home without activating their devices.
  • iMac 27-inch displays. Oh yeah. Glitches with the screens back in 2009 caused major shipping delays until Apple rooted out the cause of the issue. Customers had cracked screens, yellowish screens; great fun.
  • Time Capsule. The original model design was flawed. Heat built up and fried internal components. This for a product that's supposed to secure one's data. To make matters worse: Apple keep on replacing faulty units but refuse to admit the issue, something that doesn't exactly build up consumer confidence.
  • iTunes. Enough said: 'iTunes'. The all-time Bloat Monster of the Universe™. All that bad code also means the sorry thing's very very slow. Even Spotify can beat iTunes - and Spotify's song tracks are 'in the cloud'. Who is managing this project? Why does this person still have a job?

Martin seems to think everything with Apple was roses before 2008 but unfortunately that isn't so. Search this site or the AppleDefects Wiki to brush up on history. There might have been a time when Apple deserved a reputation for quality, but that time isn't in the new millennium.

'What do you say Steve?' asks Martin at the end of his screed. And Steve Jobs is probably staring bug-eyed at the article, silently articulating 'WTF - our products are insanely great and they just work'.

Given the way Apple have already perverted the course of enterprise computing and FOSS, they could end up being in a lot of trouble. 1.5 billion Internet users already are.

I skate to where the puck's going to be, not to where it's been.
 - Wayne Gretzky

See Also
Industry Watch: The Gozerian Returns
Learning Curve: Apple's All Time Low
Hall of Monkeys: Perspicacity of Worms
Dear Steve Jobs, What Happened To Quality? [Open Letter]
Apple Discussions: WHERE Are My PHOTOS?????
Apple: iOS 4.1: Repeating alarms may trigger incorrectly before or after DST change
Cult of Mac: Video Problems & Kernel Panics Reported By Early MacBook Air Adopters
Apple Discussions: MacBook Air 11-inch Screen Flicker and Freeze
Apple: Xserve Transition Guide November 2010
Industry Watch: Latest OS X Update Causing Wireless Problems?

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