The Functional High Ground

Marco Arment, “Apple Has Lost the Functional High Ground”:

Apple’s hardware today is amazing — it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I’m deeply concerned for its future. I’m typing this on a computer whose existence I didn’t even think would be possible yet, but it runs an OS riddled with embarrassing bugs and fundamental regressions. Just a few years ago, we would have relentlessly made fun of Windows users for these same bugs on their inferior OS, but we can’t talk anymore.

“It just works” was never completely true, but I don’t think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer. We now need to treat Apple’s OS and application releases with the same extreme skepticism and trepidation that conservative Windows IT departments employ.

It’s a very astute piece, well-worth the attention it’s getting. But regarding the headline — if they’ve “lost the functional high ground”, who did they lose it to? I say no one. Marco’s cited example of Geoff Wozniak switching back to desktop Linux is an outlier, not part of any significant trend.

The second paragraph I quote above is more to the point. Apple hasn’t (yet) lost any ground in the market, but they’ve created an opportunity for that to happen, because they’ve squandered a lot of trust with their users. It’s not that Apple has lost the “it just works” crown to a competitor, but rather that they’ve seeded a perception that Apple’s stuff doesn’t work, either.

Update: “Had I known that it would go as far as it did, I never would have written it.”.

Monday, 5 January 2015