Instapaper creator and ex-Tumblr lead developer Marco Arment touched a nerve when he expressed his concern for the future of Mac OS X. In a blog post he published yesterday, Arment points to the “embarrassing bugs and fundamental regressions” of Apple’s recent OS releases.
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.
His blog post was apparently ignited by Geoff Wozniak’s (not related to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak) blog post in which he describes why he quit OS X after ten years and went back to Linux. Wozniak’s blog post was taken down today, by the way.
As we could see during the past four years (since the release of Lion), Apple has been pushing out major OS X releases every year, ending the previous two-year release cycle. While some of us may have enjoyed the fact that we can install a fresh OS on our Macs — and Apple did a tremendous job in putting together great hardware — this wasn’t to the benefit of the software.
The results speak for themselves: Apple’s reputation has suffered a lot during the past few years, and that’s because marketing seems to have a higher priority than maintaining a high quality, argues Arment.
Let’s face it: Apple is dealing with huge pressure from all corners — remember those “Apple is doomed” and ‘”will Apple be able to innovate” stories? — to release new and innovative products (software included).
I suspect the rapid decline of Apple’s software is a sign that marketing is too high a priority at Apple today: having major new releases every year is clearly impossible for the engineering teams to keep up with while maintaining quality.
However, that brings up a major issue, Arment says: “I doubt that any cohesive engineering team could keep up with these demands and maintain significantly higher quality.”
While receiving tons of new features sounds great to every user, I think we can agree with Arment: we would like our devices to work well first. Do you need major OS updates every year?