Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why The !@&% Doesn’t It Do That?


In 2008, MobileMe had some problems out of the gate, and according to a new “Inside Apple” piece that Fortune magazine will publish later this week, that resulted in a sharp reprimand from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, an immediate change in executive leadership for the project, and changes in the team’s membership.

According to the magazine’s sources, Mr. Jobs called the MobileMe team into a town hall meeting in one of Apple’s auditoriums after the service launched with problems and garnered unflattering reviews from noted tech commentators like Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Jobs reportedly asked the assembled engineers and other MobileMe team members, “Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” When one of those employees then volunteered a satisfactory answer, Mr. Jobs followed up with, “So why the fuck doesn’t it do that?”

He then spent some 30 minutes berating the team, telling them that they had “tarnished Apple’s reputation,” and that they, “should hate each other for having let each other down.”

He added, “[Walt] Mossberg, our friend, is no longer writing good things about us.”

According to Fortune, this sort of straight talk and personal accountability is at the heart of how Apple does what it does. The magic we see as users is due in part to the reality that, “[Apple] is a brutal and unforgiving place, where accountability is strictly enforced, decisions are swift, and communication is articulated clearly from the top.”

Fortune is also cleverly using a piece about the inner workings of Apple to promote its iPad app. The article is part of the May issue, and will be pushed out to iPad (and Kindle) on May 11th. The iPad app is free, and users can buy the May issue for US$4.99. Print subscribers can access the iPad edition for free.

Fortune also posted a related video interview with former Apple engineer Andrew Borovsky on what it’s like to work inside the company.

Wow, with all the accountability, strict rule enforcement and iron fist of Steve Jobs demanding perfection, it's incredible how something like the iPhone still came out with a defect.


  1. "it's incredible how something like the iPhone still came out with a defect."

    I assume, as a non-user, you are trying to claim antenna gate was the defect? For the vast majority of real users - another 18.7 million of them last quarter - it was a non issue.

    It must be doubly scary that the old model - the 3gs - is outselling all individual Android phones on ATT last quarter too.

  2. The iPhone "defect" you refer to is undoubtedly "antennagate", a problem that was overblown and exaggerated by haters who tried to kill the iPhone 4 with bad publicity. But it hasn't worked. Millions of people continue to buy and happily use iPhone 4 with its external split antenna design. It is the single best selling smart phone, even though it is now a year old.

    ALL cell phones can drop a connection in low signal areas. ALL phones exhibit reduced signal strength when held a certain way. (Some competing phones even include a warning sticker indicating where not to touch them). Yes, the iPhone 4 may require a protective bumper or case in order to get the best performance in low signal areas. Nice iPhone 4 cases can now be found for less that $5.00, and are a good idea for protection anyway.

    The iPhone 4 antenna is hardly the scandal that some would like it to be, and certainly not a fatal flaw in the design. Give it a rest already.

  3. iPhone is a retarded device for retards. Apple programmers are idiots, and SBJ was right for the first time in his life berating them. For what you pay, the quality of the products hardware and software is unbelievably awful.

  4. I am a former iPhone user. I originally purchased 2 iPhones, one for me and one for my wife. I noticed the antenna issue after a few days and since they gave me a hard time about getting an exchange, I returned it. I got an EVO 4G the same day and so far no problems. My wife still has the problem and does not want to use a case. She got the free bumper but from time to time it falls off or peels off and she loses it. I liked the iPhone for the most part but I feel that the EVO is a much better phone. I can hold every which way and I do not experience any signal loss at all.
    For the guy named "---" I don't think that the programmers are idiots. I do, however, think Apple does overcharge a lot for their products.

  5. No phone is perfect, and the carrier's coverage is also a factor unrelated to the phone. Everyone must decide what phone works best for them. I'm willing to bet that despite individual negative iPhone anecdotes such as Jason's, iPhone owners (as a group) are more satisfied than other phone owners (including the EVO).

    I'll also never understand people who claim to have problems with the iPhone antenna, yet steadfastly refuse to use a case. There are loads of cases available (superior to, and much less expensive than, Apple's minimalistic bumper). For example:

    There is simply no excuse to be miserable.

  6. Hello dorks and cheap arses. There is nothing wrong with the pursuit of perfection and someone who demands it. if you don't like it start your own company and compete with the rest of the world and see how it is. If you don't like how your spoken to the start your own company and go hire idiots like you to make you look like an arse and see how you like it when they make you look like a fool in front of the world

  7. Perfection? That simply is impossible and if you think Apple is even CLOSE to perfection, you're high. A perfect product would make everyone happy and Apple seems to go out of their way to make people LESS happy. So go F yourself....

  8. Brett (my hater namesake) wrote:
    "Apple seems to go out of their way to make people LESS happy"

    Yeah. That's why they are kicking every other company's butt right now-- because of all the "less happy" customers who keep recommending Apple to their friends.

  9. Apple is kicking who's butt right now? What numbers are you looking at? Between XP, 7, and Vista Windows dominates by far over Mac's 5-7%. XP is on a decline but that's due to the major surge of Windows 7.

    Oh, wait, I get it! Apple is kicking butt over all other OS's sold in an Apple store. Now I understand.

    Brett is right, Apple is far from perfect and I agree that if they want perfection they are going about it the wrong way. They're trying to make things TOO simple, that's part of where it hurts them.

  10. Apple's market cap is second only to Exxon. Other tech companies only wish they could be as consistently profitable as Apple

    The iPhone is the number one selling smart phone. The only way Android comes out ahead is if you add up all the fragments of its market. Even then, developers and advertiser prefer to support iOS apps.

    Nobody yet makes a tablet that comes close to threatening the dominance of the iPad.

    Apple customer satisfaction and brand value are as high as ever.

    Macs are the only brand of computer that has been constantly gaining market share recently--no doubt from the halo effect of successful iOS products, and stellar Apple retail stores.

    Apple is the leader in design. Everyone looks to Apple to decide what to copy, be it portable music players, ultra-thin laptops, multi-touch smart phones and tablets, computer OS user interface, music store, app stores, retail store, and so on.

    Apple is being "hurt" all the way to the bank. Yes, Apple products are simpler than the competition's, but it is not at all clear that this is significantly impacting sales. Apple is smart about including features that appeal to the majority of customers. Of course people on the fringes of the bell curve will bitch about things on their wish lists being omitted. So be it.

  11. Wow dude, I don't even know where to begin. Most of what you say is completely fabricated. That's what Apple people do. At least some of the other people here post links to statistics or some kind of proof. Even in the case where someone "copies" Apple, they make it better. Oh and, by the way, Apple was not the first company with a smartphone, a small laptop or a tablet. Did Apple steal those ideas?

    The Apple retail stores aren't "stellar" either. I've been in them before and the "geniuses" there were so stupid it was embarrassing. I would ask about ports, compatibility and upgradability and all I got was "I'm not sure, lemme go check." Then the person they went and got basically said if I had problems I could call customer service and they could help me over the phone. If you ask me, that's terrible customer service.

  12. Your anecdotal experience at the Apple retail stores, while unfortunate, is certainly not typical.

    As for your straw man argument, I never said that Apple totally invented the product categories in which they compete. However, only a person in total denial (like yourself) fails to acknowledge that Apple has been a major influence in product design. In several cases (for example: mp3 players, tablets, online music stores), the entire product category was languishing until Apple entered the market. Once Apple shows everyone how it should be done, the competitors start their copy machines.

    The Mac revolutionized personal computers by popularizing the graphical UI. Windows is, and has always been, an inferior ripoff. Apple's original PowerBook design introduced the keyboard setback/ forward palmrest design which is now standard on every laptop computer. Before that, people hung trackballs off the sides of their Windows notebook computers. The iPhone completely changed the direction of smart phones from tiny screens and chicklet keyboards to multitouch UI. Android had to go back to the drawing board when iPhone was released.

    You haters are like a little kids who close their eyes and stick their fingers in their ears shouting "la la la la la la" to block out the real world. The days of effectively marginalizing Apple are over. Too many people have experienced the excellence of Apple products for themselves.

    And you want some citations? Here ya go:

    iPhone 4 remains top-selling smartphone, Android sales down in Q1

    Where in the world are Mac sales growing? Everywhere

    Apple is #1 most admired company

    How Apple Stores rewrote the rules of retailing

    Secrets of Apple's customer success
    For the seventh straight year, Apple has topped its competitors in the PC industry...

    Go suck a lemon.

  13. One more (This is just too easy):

    Mac makes big 66% stride in business while Windows declines

  14. That's a good one Brett. Apple's having some good growth but, come on. Apple any percentage increase under 1000 is no threat and down-right pitiful. I don't feel too worried with Windows being the OS of choice for, I don't know, about 94% of the world.

    Now THAT's too easy...

  15. Apple doesn't represent a threat- only a realistic option. I don't expect Macs to displace Windows machines any time soon, if ever, but I do think it is a good and healthy thing that there are viable alternatives to the Windows monopoly.

    It's impressive that Apple was able to make gains despite the long held perception (or perhaps misperception) that they are overpriced. Apple has been systematically boycotted by business IT departments for years. Windows isn't as much the OS of choice as much as it is the OS of mandate in many companies.

    If people prefer to use non-Apple products (and there are valid reasons for doing so in many cases), it's fine with me. I'm just sick of the haters trying to rain on Apple's parade.

  16. More evidence that Apple is the leader, while others follow...

    Apple notebook computers sweep Consumer Reports ranking

    Meanwhile, Dell shamelessly tries to fool suckers with a Macbook Pro knock-off. (Dell should be glad that stores won't be displaying them side-by-side)

  17. Leader? That's a laugh. Apple leads nothing but all you fanboiz will simply deny it. Any company that has less than 10% of marketshare is probably the furthest thing from "leading" anything. If they're so great why doesn't everyone own one? Why do 90+% of people in the WORLD choose Microsoft based systems? Maybe you're heard of them, you know they're the real LEADERS while Apple gets the crumbs on the floor.

  18. Apple does better than the crumbs on the floor. They sell the most profitable and highly regarded products while the competition races to the bottom with cheap generic devices. That's why Apple has billions in the bank, and their stock is doing exceptionally well. Everyone else, not so much.

    Apple is a leader in innovation, profitability, and user satisfaction, as cited preciously. While Microsoft is leader in what? Being a convicted monopolist? Saturating the market with an OS that is forced by IT departments on employees?

    If market share were the sole determinator of merit, we would have to consider McDonalds to be the finest restaurant.

    Microsoft probably wouldn't even be here today if not for its shameless copying of Mac OS.

    I guess if you are determined to deny Apple its due, you will define "leading" as you see fit. Who's the real fanboi?

  19. Look, people buy what they want. Aside from the IT depts that "force" people to use MS, home buyers obviously prefer Windows to Mac. The numbers clearly show that. And Jobs stole the "windowed" design of the OS from Xerox, btw and from what I've heard Gates was working on a gui OS before the first Mac OS was released.

    And you are the real fanboi, why else would an Apple lover visit a "hater" site so often? :P

  20. Microsoft gained its monopoly by forcing all the IBM compatible PC makers to bundle its OS (or still pay for it, even if the customer wanted a different OS installed). People who were forced to use Microsoft at work naturally wanted compatibility when it came time to purchase their own home computer. (The last thing most people want is to suffer through another learning curve.)

    The important thing to realize is that the choice had nothing to do with a fair evaluation of the merits of a competing OS and everything to do with expediency. McDonald's food is fast and convenient, not necessarily good for you.

    Steve Jobs didn't steal anything. Xerox was well compensated for showing Apple their GUI (Xerox never revealed their code). In designing the Lisa and Mac OS, Apple made significant UI changes and enhancements, and wrote all original code. Apple's computers were certainly not clones of the Xerox Star.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, as an early Mac app developer, had privileged access to all Apple's underlying APIs. It is only because of a poorly drafted contract on Apple's part that Microsoft was able to get away with copying the Mac OS so closely.

    It warms my heart to see Apple coming back from its "beleaguered" status of the '90s, and to see Apple's innovations widely appreciated. I have every reason to expect that Mac market share will continue to slowly grow, as more recovering Windows-sufferers come to their senses and make the switch.

    I come here because I like setting the record straight.

    The hard core haters clinging to their outdated myths will be become fewer and more isolated as more people will refuse tolerate their shit.

    Back in the Microsoft heyday, there were no Apple hater websites. The entire mainstream press served the function of propping up Microsoft and tearing down Apple. The agreed upon "wisdom" was that Apple only made toys and was not long for this world. (Close your eyes, take a deep breath and bask in the memory of "the good old days").

    Nowadays, however, haters (like smokers) are finding themselves becoming an ostracized minority -- as well they should. They put up websites like this to try to reenforce their disdain in the face of Apple's success.

    I love coming here to watch Dave post his articles: "Oooh, look. Apple's not perfect". As if that somehow improves the experience of using non-Apple products.

  21. It does seem to be a little of the "Apple's not perfect" and a little "Wake up Mac users" as well. I have used both PC and Mac and I have to say, most of what is said about Mac seems to be true. It does need AV or some sort of security package. Most Apple users I know think they can never get a virus no matter what I tell them. Apple makes fine computers and the OS seems pretty solid but I usually revert to my PC for most things. It is easier (for me) to use and I can't find a Mac version for some programs I rely on.

  22. What outdated myths? That Apple can get malware? True. Apple delivers products lacking in certain features? True. Less software is available for the Mac? True.

  23. In case anyone still has doubts, Apple will not be going out of business any day now. All the so-called iPod killers, Mac killers, iPhone killers, and iPad killers du jour, are not killing anything. Let's get that nonsense out of the way up front.

    Apple computers are more powerful and capable than most PC users have been led to believe. Nowadays, there are plenty of available Mac programs to satisfy the needs of most users. Macs can even run the occasional Windows program in a pinch, if one is determined and willing to install Windows.

    Macs can use many standard PC peripherals including USB printers, scanners, multi-button mice and keyboards. Macs support sharing documents with PCs including all common Adobe and Microsoft files. This is all news to some people who haven't bothered to look at Apple in the current millennium.

    Macs are not as outrageously expensive as has been accused. They are competitive with similar configurations of other name brand computers. They have lower total cost of ownership, higher resale value, and give greater user satisfaction overall. That they look cool is an added bonus.

    Even considering the recent trojans, Macs are far and away less susceptible to malware than PCs. I never claimed that Macs were totally invulnerable to malware (no computer ever could be, especially against trojans), only that they are much less likely to be attacked. And I still believe it to be true. As it has the huge market share you are so proud of, Windows will remain the juicier target.

    I'm certainly not saying that Apple has the best answer for everyone-- only that buying a Mac is not necessarily the terrible mistake that haters like to portray.

  24. Getting back to the subject of the posting, MobileMe and Apple's past attempts at cloud services were horribly flawed. There I said it. I never was tempted to use them myself.

    Now Apple is preparing to launch iCloud. Some things about it look attractive, for instance: the basic service being free, automatically syncing of email, contacts, calendars and your most recent 1000 photos to all your other devices, and the optional $25/ year MusicMatch service that makes your entire music collection (even non-iTunes purchases) available wirelessly.

    I'm more skeptical about the automatic document syncing feature which requires the explicit support of developers and all new versions of programs.

    Most of all I'm disappointed that there is no option for setting up your own computer at home to provide the same services and user experience as iCloud without having to rely on Apple's servers. As much as I defend Apple, I'd rather not have my data to reside on, or even travel through, their servers.

    While I'm sure a geek could cobble together something, it would never have the level of elegance and integration that Apple could provide. I guess they figure that their typical customers wouldn't want to manage a server, no matter how easy they made it for them, (sigh)

    (Oh, and about Dave's parting comment about the iPhone having a defect... Dude, give it up. Antennagate was a manufactured controversy. Only a few people had real problems with reception, and Apple gave them a free case which eliminated the "deathgrip" effect. The iPhone 4 has been sold (antenna gap and all) for a year and a half, and is still hugely popular. Apple's customer satisfaction is still the best in the industry)

  25. I agree with you a little here. I'm not a fan of having my stuff on any cloud. I do have a few Google docs and some pics online, nut that's it. I just don't fully trust it and probably never will.

    About the defect, in all honesty, it really was more than just a few people. I know a few people with the iPhone 4 and they all have the problem. My major gripe was basically this: If it was such a small problem, just replace the few broken phones and make your customers happy. They ended up saying it would be too costly to do so. That kinda proves my point that it was more than just a few.

  26. Dave, you still don't get it.

    Your friends' iPhones were not "broken". A replacement phone wouldn't have solved their problem. Cell phones in general can't achieve reliable connections where reception is below a certain threshold. Reception problems with the iPhone 4 are exacerbated when used bare-handed, and in particular if held tightly while shorting out a particular spot on the edge. All cellphones can be made to drop a connection if held a certain way when the signal strength is already at the cutoff threshold.

    It was a small problem not because a small number of iPhones have an actual hardware defect (that replacement might cure), but rather because relatively few iPhone users are located in areas where signal strength is so poor as to actually result in dropouts which can not be remedied by using a case or bumper.

    Apple didn't refuse to replace phones because it would cost too much (If I'm wrong, please show me a citation where they claimed this). They refused because the phone was determined to be within spec, and a replacement wouldn't have solved the problem. They did however offer a free case, and if that didn't fix it, a complete refund, to anyone who asked.

    I suppose that someone who was really determined to get a replacement could have simply returned their phone for a refund, and then turned around and purchased a new one-- not that it would have made a difference.

    By the way, people who bought the Verizon iPhone were able to get acceptable coverage in areas not well served by AT&T.

    While I feel sorry for the few who couldn't get an iPhone to work satisfactorily in their area, the overwhelming majority of iPhone owners don't have problems.

  27. Sorry but you are the one that doesn't get it.

    A device that does not work out of the box as advertised when others of the same model do work, is the definition of broken or defective. I have tried on 5 different kinds of phones entirely covering the phone with my hands and I did not drop a bar. My friends iPhone had full 5 or 6 bars and dropped all the way to 0 bars in a matter of 10 seconds. Now, if Apple advertised that this might happen before people made the purchase and warned them, that would be a different story.

  28. If you are saying that two otherwise identical iPhone 4s behaved quite differently when used at the same location when held in similar ways, then I agree that a replacement might be warranted. But your anecdote speaks of comparison with 5 different kinds of phones. Were all the phones using the same carrier? Did your friend try to use a bumper or case on his iPhone?

    Also, "Bars" are not a linear representation of anything (Apple even revised their bar display algorithm in a subsequent software update to have a more gradual cutoff), and bars certainly don't correlate between phones of different manufacture. Apple even posted videos of various competing phones dropping bars when held in specific ways. They didn't make this shit up.

    The vanishing bars made for a spectacular negative video, and a PR nightmare for Apple, but that doesn't change the fact that replacing the phone wouldn't have helped if the device was simply exhibiting its natural behavior under adverse signal conditions.

    Regardless, I have to say it sounds like your friend had tough luck. But he is not representative of the majority of iPhone 4 owners.

  29. We did not have 2 identical iPhones in the same exact situation, no. But maybe I should clarify some. When his bars dropped his call dropped, that equates to a complete loss of signal. My brother-in-laws phone drops no bars when held without a bumper and he does not drop the call. It's very simple. That is absolute proof that some were defective and some were not. As for the other phones, it was a little while ago and I couldn't swear to each carrier but I know 2 of them were AT&T and 1 was Verizon. The point is, they never lost bars, signal or the call they were on no matter how they were held. And yes, Apple does make shit up, we all know that. As for the "tough luck" we'll go back to CS. If Apple is so great satisfying customers, why not do replacements? They would have to come clean about the obvious design flaw and they would NEVER do that.

  30. Acquiring and maintaining a digital cell phone connection is a black art involving sophisticated protocols and error correction algorithms. A 5-segment linear bar graph really can't portray what is actually happening. There may be situations where the signal level is zero bars low, but the absence of interference allows the connection to be maintained. Conversely there may be areas of strong signal where competing traffic or multi-path reflective effects cause a call to be dropped despite a display of several bars.

    Your simplistic anecdotal comparisons prove nothing... "Ugh. Him phone work over there. Mine no work over here. Apple bad."

    Apple was faced with a situation where customer education was necessary (hence Steve's unprecedented presentation). There is nothing to "come clean" about. No phone has perfect reception everywhere. Under certain marginal circumstances, even small things like how you hold the phone (any cell phone) or moving a few feet from where you are standing can make a difference. Most people have experienced this.

    People who spend time in areas of poor coverage will benefit from using a bumper or case. Apple gave one to anyone who asked. The number of people affected is small enough that the iPhone continues to be highly in demand, and Apple's overall satisfaction stats are still the best in the industry. Apple has nothing to be ashamed of.

    Cell phone coverage is not perfect, and regardless, is beyond Apple's control. Apple simply will never be able to make everyone happy. That's just a fact of life. Going through the motions of replacing equipment that is within spec is a waste of everyones' time. Hence the money-back guarantee.

  31. Wow, what a complete moron. Brett, I've read most of your comments and, on the surface, you sound like an intelligent person. The sad thing is that couldn't be further from the truth. You reduce a simple and effective test someone performed and making it sound like he banged rocks together and grunted angrily at Apple. If 1 out of 5 phones completely drops a call every single time you hold a particular portion of it, it is not functioning properly, period. People should not have to literally apply a band-aid to make a product work out of the box. Apple should not have made a big deal out of it and just replaced the phones.

    For your information, I am an iPhone owner and Apple supporter and even I agree that they blew it and have just as many problems as anything else. I didn't have the money to upgrade to an iPhone 4 at the time and I'm glad I didn't. I don't like using any kind of case or bumper on my phone so I would have returned it anyway. I will wait and see how the 5 turns out. If there are any problems with it I might give Android a try.

  32. Michael, I don't think Brett is a "moron" necessarily but I think he just can't help himself. He has to defend Apple no matter what. I think if he saw Apple CEO's command employees to beat customers with baseball bats with his own eyes he would say that the customers probably just need to toughen up and the employees were merely poking them gently. After all it's a jungle out there and those customers were probably roaming in a bad area and had it coming. It gives me a laugh most days.

  33. Brett, you are just a typical Apple fanboy and you drank the kool-aid. It makes you a real a$$hole and it shows every time you type. Your sickness is just more content for Dave's site so I guess that's a bonus.

  34. In other postings I've given examples of things I'd like to see Apple do differently, so it's not fair to say that I reflexively approve of everything Apple does.

    And to MichaelGreenwalt: I've yet to see anyone document the real-world situation you describe where 1 in 5 iPhone 4s was flawed in a way that a like-for-like replacement would remedy.

    I happen to love my iPhone 4, free case and all. Millions of other people love their iPhone 4s. Most iPhone 4 owners don't have severe reception problems in their area. You yourself might have been able to get away without using a case or bumper. You'll never know.

    And here's a thought for all the purists who resent putting their iPhone in a case: A phone designed with a concealed antenna is basically just a phone with a built-in non-removable bumper. Apple could have glued a bumper on each phone and said "There, I fixed it for you".

    All this arguing has made me thirsty. Now where'd I put my kool-aid?

  35. I'm sure that even if you were shown documentation of someone testing the phones you would either dismiss it as FUD, pick apart the way the test was done or say that it was some Fandroid making things up. Face it, you can't help yourself. It's very obvious by now. As for the bumper thing, if they knew touching that part of the case could result in a completely lost signal for some why not design it differently? It's a proven flaw in some of the phones, accept it, acknowledge it, move on with your life.

  36. It's NOT a proven flaw in SOME of the phones. it's a characteristic due to the fundamental design of of ALL iPhone 4s under CERTAIN LOW SIGNAL CONDITIONS (which is why a bumper, not replacement, is the answer).

    You can argue that the external antenna is a bad design because it is more sensitive to how the phone is held. Apple apparently decided that, for better or worse, that the cosmetic and structural advantages of an external antenna were more important than using a design that would less sensitive to how it was held.

    This decision meant that an un-bumpered iPhone would not be suitable for some people in certain regions (but clearly not enough to adversely impact sales or customer satisfaction stats significantly).

    Every design decision has tradeoffs. This is one that apparently upset some very vocal people. Of course the haters had a field day with the issue, and will never let it die.

  37. Because of crappy AT&T reception, an iPhone owner switches to a Verizon Android phone (HTC Thunderbolt). Not only does he still have crappy reception, but also a host of other complaints.