Apple Earns a Black Eye for Apple Music

Any sufficiently large software project will have significant failure points. This is a lesson Apple has steadfastly refused to learn. It's not as if there weren't any warning signs.


Apple, Inc has always been about the consumer. That's because consumers have their own purchase authority. Plus, individuals don't have a massive IT infrastructure to move delicately, conservatively forward in the timeline of technology.

And yet, the irony is that Apple, focused as it is on the consumer with brilliant products like the MacBooks, iPads, iPhones and now the Apple Watch, has felt that its size entitles it to engage in the most massive enterprise software projects like iCloud and, now, Apple Music.

The ObamaCare rollout of 2013, by comparison, had a better rollout. It didn't scramble people's health records.

Big Systems = Big Failures

One lesson Apple didn't seem to learn from the enterprise is that the old-style waterfall approach to software development doesn't work in massive projects. See: "Comparison Between Waterfall Model and Spiral Model." One reason is that it's hard to go back to a simpler, previous phase and regroup. Another weakness is that time-pressured politics and agenda typically break the previous components of the waterfall structure and introduces failure points.

Apple rolls out these giant software services all at once with a target date. The spiral approach, one bit of incremental success at a time, doesn't fit with Apple's "one more thing" mentality. To make a splash, all supporting pieces must all be in place and working harmoniously at the same time. (For example, Apple licence agreements with rights holders, iOS 8.4, iTunes 12.2, etc.). If any once piece of the giant structure breaks, in isolated and unique ways, there is sufficient failure to give the whole scheme a bad rap. That happens even if the vast majority of users don't have a problem.

What's worse is that Apple is a giant consumer electronics company with giant ambitions. That means each successive project has to be grander than the previous. However, due time, patience, and stress testing with tens of thousands of users in a spiral development approach isn't palatable.

The net result is that a giant company with giant Internet service projects starts to stumble from one giant failure to the next. Meanwhile, rationalization and self-delusion driven by Apple's hardware success, like the MacBooks, iPhone, and so on provide a sense that the company can do no wrong. After all, the company is beloved, and that's all that's important. An objective, technical evaluation of the reasons for the scattered rollout failures is just as beyond the company as the planning that was required in the first place.

Next page: The Warning SIgns Were There

Page 2 - The Warning Signs Were There


It's not as if Apple didn't have warning signs. The MobileMe launch fiasco and the reaction by Steve Jobs was a cautionary tale that seems not to have taken firm hold in Apple's corporate psyche. When analyses of the best cloud services are published, iCloud rarely if ever gets the highest marks or earns the editors choice rating. Apple has fooled itself into thinking that these so-so iCloud ratings are because the company caters to a specific set of OSes, design points and audiences. In fact, Apple hasn't shown itself to be a world-class cloud operations company for all comers—a prerequisite for other gigantic cloud services like Apple Music.

There is usually just one significant article I point to in this preamble, but this week, I'll list five. The lesson here is that when Apple rolls out these giant Web-based services, the best customer plan is like the arrival at a railroad crossing that has the threat of an enormous, dangerous freight train approaching: Stop. Wait. Listen. Proceed with caution.

  1. iTunes users hit stumbling blocks with arrival of Apple Music
  2. Apple Music has an iCloud problem
  3. The Real Difference Between iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library: DRM
  4. iTunes 12.2 and iCloud Music Library: A Disaster for Your Music Collection
  5. Apple's iOS 8.4 kneecaps Home Sharing, music streaming now limited to Apple TV

Of course none of this means that Apple Music is a total disaster. As I said, there will be millions of users who don't have a problem at all. But ensuring universal success with Apple Music, as a famous starship captain once said, "Ain't like dusting crops." Once the horror stories reach a certain threshold, as they always do for giant, waterfall rollouts, there is a high price to pay in terms of a damaged reputation.

And when that happens, the only choice a giant company has is to ignore the failures and lurch on to the next even grander project.

Next page: the tech news debris for the week of June 29. A bad trek with Safari.

Page 3 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of June 29


Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac has published a delicious rumor piece on the iPhone 6s. "iPhone 6S to double LTE speeds, run more efficiently with new Qualcomm chip." Smartphone technology absolutely shows no signs of running out of gas. We're on the technical ride of a lifetime.

The smarthome is off to a fairly rocky start, as discussed in a previous P.D. "Home Automation is Collapsing Into a Trough of Disillusionment." Even so, the technology is coming, one way or another, until we get it, more or less, right. Amazon thinks it has a better answer than Apple, according to this article: "Quit tapping your phone. Amazon thinks you'll talk to the smart home."

Image credit: Apple

Our browsers are enormously complex. While the user simply sees a glorious webpage, all kinds of things are going on behind the scenes: security protocols, HTTP, HTML, CSS, Javascript, just to name a few. And so when the community's technology leaders analyze a browser, it goes quite a bit deeper than simply, "it works for me."

Along those lines, here is one of those wonderfully deeper articles that roundly condemns Apple's Safari for being, well, a doofus browser. [My interpretation.] "Safari is the new IE." It's an eye opener.

And that's why I use Mozilla Firefox, a browser not beholden to the agenda of a giant company like Apple, Google or Microsoft.

Here's a nice OS gem that discusses the history of how Apple made the transition from Mac OS 9 to a UNIX-based OS X and how it applies to Microsoft. "Looking back at the jump from OS 9 to OS X."

Most of this week's news was centered around Apple Music, but I wanted to finish with this very nice article by Jack Miller at Mac360 that discusses how our apps phone home.

In earlier times, we used Little Snitch to determine if the rare app was creating a questionable outbound connection. That was a fairly new and alarming thing a decade ago and needed monitoring. Nowadays, our apps (and OS) call home and report with a constant stream of chatter. So perhaps the next best thing to do, at least, is know where all that outbound data is going. I bring you: "Where In The World Are The Apps On Your Mac Phoning Home?"

Happy globetrotting


Teaser image via Shutterstock.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.