How Apple Neglects Us. Let's Count the Ways

Apple has provided us with lots of new products and services. We're excited about the Apple Watch and the new MacBook. But what about the many things that have dropped through the cracks? The list is growing and becoming alarming. What can be done?


First, there is the Apple Thunderbolt Display, last updated in July 2011. This display is so obsolete and overpriced compared to the competition, I didn't even consider it when I was hunting for a new one. Apple should update it or discontinue it, but not let it linger.

The most frequent Apple product that seems to have been neglected, according to the responses I got on Twitter, is iTunes. The feeling amongst my followers (and even some TMO staff) is that iTunes 12 has jumped the shark. It needs to be factored, rethought, rewritten and made to be a joy instead of a headache. Kirk McElhearn reports that "iOS 8.2 Still Hasn’t Fixed iTunes Syncing."

The Mac mini was updated in October 2014, but the new product was disappointing in several respects. Jim Tanous at Tekrevue was not pleased and called it a disaster.

The Apple TV was last updated in March 2012. For me, "Apple TV Status Remains a Disappointment and a Mystery." In that article, I wrote:

"... Apple, in 2015, doesn't see any genuine opportunity to disrupt the TV industry in the same way it can benefit from cooler MacBooks and the Apple Watch. In that case, the best thing for Apple to do is go with the other really cool stuff, continue to work the Apple TV in its current state with things like HBO Now, and bide its time."

However, just today, we got a glimmer of hope from John Paczkowski. "New Apple TV Set Top Will Debut This Summer With App Store, Siri." w00t!

Finally, Apple's Mail app and Time Machine both seem to have been frozen in time in some respects. The Mail app gets new, snazzy features on each OS X release, but never seems to fix the fundamentals based on my own experience and Twitter feedback. Or add better customizability.

Time Machine should have evolved by now to be much more capable, including things like user verifiability of the backup, explicit log files, better handling of small changes to big files (and Virtual Machine files). Its support for alternating backup drives remains well hidden. We've reached version 1.3 after eight years. Not good.

Finally, while most Macs get an annual update, the black beauty Mac Pro has been frozen in time since June 2013, almost two years ago.

This week a birdie on my shoulder asked me what software Apple should stop doing in order to focus and keep up the pace with the really important stuff. That is, what Apple apps could we live without? (From Apple.)  Perhaps it would be better to have a thriving community of Apple developers take over some of the software that Apple has allowed to stagnate.  

Send me your thoughts and I'll pass them on to my birdie.

Next page: the tech news debris for the week of March 16.

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of March 16


With all the fuss about Apple possibly getting into the electric car business, there's also been a lot of discussion about autonomous cars. Naturally, that brings up the idea of how and when a human takes over the controls. Or maybe, according to Elon Musk, "In the future, human-driven cars may be illegal."

It's one thing to explain two-factor authentication, but this excellent article by Serenity Caldwell over at iMore not only walks you through the details, but also has a link to an article on how to set it up for every major service: iCloud, Google, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Bookmark this: "Here's why you should turn on two-factor authentication."

Has Tim Cook been up to job at Apple? Some observers, confused at first by the difference in the personalities of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, couldn't see how Tim Cook could become an adequate let alone stellar successor. Jonny Evans shows us what Tim Cook has achieved and invites the critics to apologize. "Why critics should apologize to Apple’s Tim Cook."

There are some very good observations in this next article, a business analysis of Google. "Google, Mighty Now, but Not Forever." It opens with:

Old kingpins like Digital Equipment and Wang didn’t disappear overnight. They sank slowly, burdened by maintenance of the products that made them rich and unable to match the pace of technological change around them. The same is happening now at Hewlett-Packard...

And closes with this gem:

... when a company becomes dominant, its dominance precludes it from dominating the next thing. It’s almost like a natural law of business.

Of course, the same thing could happen to Apple. The question is, as always, how good is the leadership, culture and structure of a company so that it can sidestep (or delay) the typical fate of a very successful technology company? Eventually, we'll need to ask, who is Tim Cook mentoring to take his place? And how good will that person be?

Almost certainly, that slow decline into irrelevance is happening with cable TV. Horace Dediu lays out his convincing analysis: "Peak Cable." Apple may be ready to pounce.

Finally, do you think the low end Apple Watch is too expensive? I haven't seen any better article that explains the clever thinking behind Apple's pricing of the Apple Watch. "The pricing strategy for the Apple Watch is insanely smart."


Teaser: neglected truck 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.