I predict the end of Apple. It is not finished yet, but this is the story of how, thanks to my friends Janine and Aarran, I realised ‘the music had died’.
First, a full disclaimer. I am an Apple nerd. It started in 2002, when I bought my first Mac, the beautiful G4 flat-screen iMac with it’s dome base and screen on a stalk. Steve Jobs said it was a daffodil, with its face turned to the sun. I loved the machines so much that I thought about buying some stock when it was $30; if only I had.
That was 10-years ago and I have had a wonderful, 10-year love affair with Steve and Apple. The G4 remains proudly on display (how many ten-year old PCs still work?) and we now have a few MacBooks, loads of iPods in all shapes and sizes, Mac Minis, iPhones, iPads and an Apple TV.
But my passion is more than the products. I follow the gossip, watch the Keynotes, which I eagerly await like a Harry Potter novel. I discussed Apple with colleagues, friends and family; I am an evangelist. I am personally responsible for converting dozens of non-believers to the cause. And once joined, I am on-hand for 24/7 support, to answer questions, to teach the shortcut and to share the features that only the secret inner circle of devotees are supposed to know.
And this is how I know we are about to see the whole thing implode.
Last week Janine came round with the whole family; her husband Aarran and four daughters: Georgia, the twins (they do have names) and Mika. Janine and I were boyfriend and girlfriend a life time ago and, as fate would have it, we now live with our own families, 5-minutes apart. Her girls say that she still fancies me …
They are a five iPhone family; not a real Apple family because they still use PCs, but they recently added an Apple TV so they are making progress. They popped in for an unscheduled Genius session – with SMS problems. Janine was not receiving her text messages, but she was receiving Aarran’s. The twins were getting the wrong texts and Georgia was getting everyones’. I knew the problem and was very confident we would have the whole thing sorted quickly. I poured two measures of Bruichladdie and something sweet and brown for the girls.
Like many families, Janine and Co. use the same email address as their Apple ID for all iTunes purchases; it’s Aarran’s email. Apple then created iMessage, a great tool for sending unlimited, free, text messages to other iPhones, which also needs an Apple ID.
As I expected, they were all using the same Apple ID for iMessage. But … and this is a big, scary, poorly thought out ‘but’; if different people use the same Apple ID, they see each others messages. I will pause while all of you conducting illicit affairs take several deep breaths!
Needing two different Apple IDs, one for iTunes and one for messages is not simple nor intuitive, it is not clear in the instructions and is a poor user experience.
The story get worse. We tried to create new Apple IDs for each of them but it would not work. For Janine, it said she did not know her own birthday. To use iCloud, Apple’s tool for storing music, photos and files in ‘the cloud’, Aarran needed a new Google Gmail address. The twins were still struggling with SMSs.
All frustrated, Aarran tried to set the Notes app to work with iCloud. But, he needed yet another, new email. Not his iTunes Apple ID, nor his new Gmail Apple ID. He had to create an iCloud Notes email address. He just didn’t bother. And by now, we’d now drunk half the bottle of whisky!
“It just works.” Steve Jobs boasted over and over again, the last time he was on stage. But it doesn’t. It’s a mess. It’s complicated, unintuitive and frustrating, when you need three different email addresses for iTunes, iCloud and Notes, all on one iPhone.
In the short time since Steve died, there are worrying signs that Apple has changed. Political infighting, huge pay awards and poor innovation. The anecdotes of relief that employees no longer work weekends to deliver products or return from vacations to meet deadlines. But surely it was this unimaginable pressure to delight Steve Jobs that made the last 10-years the success it was.
All this while we see real progress from Apple’s competitors. They learned how to make insanely great products from Apple, and are now doing so. Maybe the unequivocal proof is that I, a self confessed Apple nerd, have a Google Nexus 4 smartphone waiting for me. My first non-Apple phone in 4-years. I think Apple is broken, the music has died and you heard it first here.
I still wish I’d bought Apple shares at $30 and I wonder who has been seeing my text messages to Janine.
What do you think about Apple? Do you have any stories about them? Am I premature forecasting their demise? Please let me know in the comments section below.
Jon Sumroy is a Digital Mentor – he studies and scrutinises how businesses succeed in today’s digital world. Then he finds the best ways to teach these insights to others; using his experience to help companies succeed. He consults to large and small companies, coaching teams, individuals and entrepreneurs. Jon specialises in Online Reputation Management – the impression people get of a company/brand/individual when searching for them online; what he calls the ‘Digital Footprint’. Jon is writing a book about this: “Big Foot – Influence, Reputation and your Digital Footprint”. See more at www.jonsumroy.com.