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iPhone and iPad Grumbles

Posted by susabelle at 6:26 AM on June 22, 2010

I have heard some grumbling recently from some of my friends about their iPhones and iPads.  And I cannot say I’m surprised by this.  I have held off on buying any of these devices, because they just don’t offer what I need, and their price doesn’t justify their (un)usefulness.

One of my friends bought an iPad.  She did not have Internet access at her home, and thought the iPad would be great for keeping up on Facebook, playing Facebook-based games, and searching for information.  She spent $800 for a top-end iPad with 3G, plus accessories, and signed up for the data plan that went with it.  She said for the first couple weeks, it was a fun device to play with, but she realized almost immediately that it would not play online games she liked because of issues with Java and Flash.  Imagine that.  What she bought it for (primarily Facebook gaming) is something the iPad won’t do.  She now has an investment in a product that will never be for her what it needs to be, and she is frustrated.  It’s an awful lot of money to have plunked down on a device that can’t deliver.

Then there’s my friend who just upgraded her iPhone to the latest operating system.  She was very excited to think she could finally multi-task with the device, something she’d really been wanting it to do.  Turns out multi-tasking is not really possible with the apps she wants to multi-task (Rhapsody, for one), and her final verdict was, “well, 4.0 is not worse than 3.1.”  She wishes she’d held out for a Droid.  She’s admittedly an Apple fan-girl, or at least she was up until this point, but now she’s just frustrated and disappointed. The iPhone had such potential, but it didn’t seem to evolve the way it needed to.

A mutual friend of ours put it rather well, I think.  Apple comes out with a “wow” device that, in its time-frame, is something new and different and nifty.  But after that, they fail to grow the product and/or software beyond its initial wow release.  This is why the the Android devices are moving ahead and taking over the market; they took the basic premise that Apple started with, and developed it to its potential and then some.  Apple is happy to just rest on its laurels, locked into its contracts and failing to fully develop a product, so that they can just come out with the Next Big Thing.  There’s no denying that Apple made the world pay attention to the potential of MP3 players with the iPod, and that they made the world pay attention to the potential of smart phones with the iPhone.  With the iPad, they’ve made the world reconsider the tablet; but in all honesty, I’ve seen tablets with more functionality and overall usefulness.  And this is par for the course for Apple.

It makes you wonder what market share they could have if they simply developed the potential of their products fully.

7 Comments

  1. From tomwiles at 7:09 am on June 22, 2010

    If you listen to Steve Jobs or look at any Apple sales statistics it is very clear they aren’t going after market share and never will.

    Whether you agree with Steve Jobs or not, he is constantly stating the technological philosophy that guides the company right up front. That idea revolves around building the best products they can, which includes limiting some choices such as Flash support on the iOS platform.

    In other words, if you look at it as ball bearings, Apple is keen on inventing new types of innovative ball bearings, and they will build existing types of ball bearings to their own strict philosophical standards and sell them for a premium price. However, they will leave it to the rest of the market to stamp out copies of everyday non-Apple philosophy ball bearings.

    This leaves the consumer with a somewhat stark choice — buy the Apple product and pay a premium, or buy the commodity product which may or may not work just fine and save some money. When you buy an Apple product, realize you are buying their technological philosophy as well. If you don’t share the Apple technological philosophy, buy something else.

    Therein lies the rub.

    TOM

  2. From John at 7:46 am on June 22, 2010

    You know, I’ve got to agree with Tom – Apple makes no qualms or presents any misinformation about what its devices will or will not do. They are very up front that they are going their own way, and you can come along, or not – it’s your choice.

    re: The iPad – from the keynote in which it was announced, Flash support was non-existent, and will continue to be so, as Apple and Adobe are feuding. This is a discussion that’s been going on for months, and will continue to make people unhappy. Facebook games are Flash games. YouTube is heavily Flash-driven. A large chunk of the web uses Flash for all kinds of stuff. Apple chose to come out with a device and say, essentially, “If you want Flash support, this device is not for you”. Buyer beware.

    re: iOS 4.0 – This is a major OS upgrade. Yes, it’s on a mobile device, but it’s a major OS upgrade nonetheless. When we upgraded from Windows XP to Vista, were there not application problems? When we upgraded from Windows ME to XP, were there not application problems? When we upgraded from MacOS9 to MacOSX, were there not application problems? The application developers have to update their applications to catch up with the OS. It’s the nature of the game. Does it cause consumers all kinds of problems when the vendors don’t/can’t get their product updated for “New Version X”? Of course it does. Have we all been burned by this before? Of course we have. Do we learn? Obviously not. If it’s a big deal, do a little research and wait – the Early Adopter find the bugs that slipped through the beta testing and finds the products that the vendors didn’t update. To get away from geekdom, common practice is to (at least recommend) skipping the first model year of a new car to let the bugs get worked out by those foolish enough to get into the new design. This is exactly the same.

    I said it once, I’ll say it again. Buyer beware. Arm yourself with knowledge prior to your purchase. If you spend all your time researching only after you’ve dropped the cash, I have no sympathy. Unsurprisingly, neither does Apple. If you don’t like the product, they’ll be happy to take it back. Between what Apple says and that a very quick Google (or Bing) search of the Web shows, none of this is news.

  3. From John at 7:47 am on June 22, 2010

    Apple has been making overpriced products for years, they sell the mystique of owning something from Apple. They have their fanboys who will buy any piece of useless crap they put out (the Ipad is a good example).
    They severely restricted the capabilities of the the unit over a pissing match between Jobs and Adobe. HTML5 may some day make Flash unnecessary, but right now it is needed and the lack of Flash makes the Internet not as much fun. Not sure why they did not include a camera other than the fact that they can not stick it to their customers a littler more by selling them an overpriced add-on camera. No usb ports, we wouldn’t want to allow people to connect other devices without having to buy and additional adapter. They once again sealed the battery so people will need to pay them to replace the battery. They may say it is to make the item sleeker, but it reality it is about Apple being to screw their customers one more time.
    I am always amazed at how foolish people are when Apple puts out a new product, they get in line to buy them like they are free. I will give Apple credit, many companies are jealous of their ability to get people to wait in long lines to get screwed by Apple over and over again. They provide them with a shiny new product that will do a few of the things they want, but not all. They will overcharge them for the product and try to convince them how lucky they are to have the privilege of buying it.
    Apple will restrict the product to the extent that it is almost unusable, not let you modify the most basic settings to your liking, not allow you to purchase software they do not approve of and then charge you a premium for all that. What a great company to do business with.
    Tom, consumers choice is fairly easy. They can purchase the overpriced Apple product and think they are cool for doing so. Or they can purchase a competing product that will likely offer more capabilities, more software, more control over their user experience all for a lower price. The product will be of equal quality to the Apple product, all you lose is Apple and all their control freak issues. Sounds like a real easy choise to me

  4. From John at 7:53 am on June 22, 2010

    John,
    Actually Apple is not happy to take a product back. A friend purchased an Ipad and realized rather quickly it was not worth the money he had just plunked down.
    He went to return it 3 days later and had to get managers involved and threaten to call his bank to refuse the charge to finally get them to take it back. The employees could not believe he did not just love the new product. Brainwashing at its best.
    I wonder how many other people had buyers remorse after purchasing an Ipad only to be told they were stuck with it now, even though it had been a very short period of time since they bought it.

  5. From John Knights at 8:31 am on June 22, 2010

    I’m sorry but if your friend was prepared to spend $800 of hard-earned money on something and she neither researched her purchase or consulted a savvy friend (that would be yourself) then she has nothing to complain about. I do not buy the claim that the kinds of games she enjoys playing are not on the iPad either – I’m pretty confident that every type of game that has been realised in Flash will be on the App store somewhere…and Facebook games? Mostly “meh” but if she really wants to plough pretend fields then Farmville will be available any time now, no doubt followed by a tide of Zynga’s other scam-inducing pap. That whole little story comes across as a crusade.

    Multi-tasking? Well it’s been available for like 24hrs or something. Give the developers a chance to re-write their code to take advantage of the new APIs or is that too much to ask and it’s far easier to say it’s not possible?

    Android is for a certain type of consumer and that’s great. It needs to exist but to blame Apple for people’s own shoddy research is pretty unfair. I challenge somebody to prove that these web based flashed games work properly on ANY mobile devices since they are meant to work with mice etc. on a certain format of screen.

  6. From Jd at 10:30 am on June 22, 2010

    Your friend is an idiot and you both obviously missed the point. P.s. 3 million ipads sold and it’s accelerating… I think some people have figured it out without the need to blog their ignorance.

  7. From tomwiles at 9:09 pm on June 22, 2010

    There are at least two major issues here that tend to get intertwined.

    First, Apple tends to design and market products that exactly follow the Steve Jobs’ philosophy — nothing more, nothing less. Steve is passionate to the extreme, as well as knowing exactly what he wants. Apple tells consumers right up front what the products will do and what they can expect from them, again, nothing more and nothing less.

    Because Steve Jobs is so passionate about his tech philosophy, Apple employees as well the fanboys and fangirls are attracted in droves. Let’s call them Apple Fanpeople. The true believer Fanpeople tend to approach the resulting Apple business and tech philosophy as a religion. This turns a lot of people off, including me. For the longest time I wouldn’t even consider buying an Apple product simply because of the religion-like stigma attached to these often angry-sounding Apple Fanpeople. For the longest time their anger stopped me dead in my tracks because I didn’t want to be associated with them in any way.

    Secondly, the same Steve Jobs passion itself turns some people off. No one is supposed to be that passionate about technology. Religion perhaps, but not technology. This almost fanatical level of passion induces a bit of unease or even fear in some people.

    Another thing that may be at play is what we have been conditioned to expect from the vast majority of companies as consumers. Most companies in the tech arena constantly pretend that their products are going to be all things to all people. They routinely make claims that aren’t true or the truth is badly twisted within the marketing process. This conditions us to expect the same type of behavior from all companies. When Apple doesn’t behave in the same routine manner, they make themselves stand out in a huge way.

    Love it or hate it, as long as Steve Jobs is around running Apple, it will continue to be the company that it is offering the products that it offers at premium prices, take it or leave it. In the final analysis it’s quite silly to get bent out of shape over it.

    Nonetheless because people do get bent out of shape it does serve as a good object lesson. Also a look at Apple’s balance statement indicates that something about the way Steve Jobs goes about creating and marketing products does result in huge overall success.

    I am a techno-atheist when it comes to the Apple vs. Microsoft arguments. I own product from, and have paid substantial amounts of money to both companies over the years. However, I will make the observation that Microsoft lacks passion.