Typical. I write a post where I actually praise Apple and within minutes of the post going live I start getting emails from Mac fans telling me that they aren't so thrilled by Leopard and feel that Steve Jobs lied to them back at WWDC 2006.
A couple of readers pointed me to a post by Chris Howard of Apple Matters (posted this morning) where he doesn't sugar coat the message:
Yay, woohoo, Leopard has finally been announced! Two and a half years after the release of Tiger, that’s an almost Microsoft-esque timeframe by Apple’s standards. You’d expect Leopard to be something special, and, with 300 plus improvements, it must be. However, since Steve’s announcement 14 months ago of “top secret” new features, nothing has materialized to fit that billing. And it’s reasonable that the fans are feeling a little bit let down.
When I read that paragraph the memories started to come flooding back. Apple was worried that Microsoft would "borrow" any new ideas and integrate them into Vista before Leopard hit the stores.
At WWDC 2006, on giving the first preview of Leopard, Steve Jobs promised there were still new features to be revealed that were “top secret.” The allusion was that revealing them would allow the mortal enemy, Microsoft, to copy them (at the last minute) into Vista, which was a few months from release.
In Steve’s own words, courtesy of Engadget, he said from the WWDC 2006 stage, “Today we want to give you a preview of Leopard. First I want to tell you there are some top secret features that we’re keeping close to the chest.”
You know, I really don't want to wade into this whole Apple vs. Mac holy war, but this sounds an awful lot like Microsoft's promise of "cutting-edge programs," "innovative services" and "unique publications" which were going to form part of the Windows Ultimate Extras package for Windows Vista Ultimate users. Howard goes on with the Apple/Microsoft comparisons:
Many commentators are suggesting Apple is becoming more Microsoft-like. The arguments center around Apple’s apparent growing disregard for its own customers. This “top secret” saga adds weight to their arguments. You get the impression Apple thinks it can tell us whatever it likes because we’re gullible, naive, and forgiving. It really smacks of Apple disrespecting its fans.
So, yet another tech executive breaks a promise. The tech industry highway is littered with the wrecks of broken promises and the air is heavy with the noxious small of vaporware. It's also littered with the corpses of companies that made too many promises they couldn't keep, although I don't think Apple has anything to worry about.
However, I am noticing a shift in how Apple views customers. My guess is that the rapid expansion of the Mac user base combined with the insane popularity of products such as the iPod and the iPhone has weakened Apple's reality distortion field (in other words, marketing) and the company is having to adjust to competing under the same level of critical scrutiny as other big tech companies. If you make a promise and don't deliver, expect people to pull you up on it and call you a liar.
Apple used to sell to fans, but now the majority of the user base consists of rgular customers (or consumers) and they're nowhere near as forgiving. Apple's growing up. This is what the hardcore Apple fans have wanted for years. Be careful what you wish for.