Ex-Apple engineer: 'Almost anything Apple does which involves the Internet is a mess'

Ex-Apple engineer: 'Almost anything Apple does which involves the Internet is a mess'

Summary: Ex-Apple engineer Patrick B. Gibson says that much of what Apple does online is a "mess".

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Engineer Patrick B. Gibson says that "almost everything Apple does which involves the internet is a mess."

The ex-Apple employee, who helped build the original iPad and now works at Tilde Inc., wrote a blog post on blogging platform Tumblr, discussing the idea that the iPad and iPhone maker should buy social networking site Twitter.

Titled "Apple and Twitter", Gibson begins by outlining a thesis on "Apple's biggest problem", stating that Google is improving in the field of design faster than Apple is getting better at web services.

Calling himself a "long-time Mac user and a diehard Apple fan", the engineer says that when Apple touches anything to do with the Internet, it becomes a "clusterf**k"; with iCloud, MobileMe, and .Mac only achieving adequacy at best.

Besides synchronization issues, Gibson goes on to say that Apple has a number of other Internet-related issues. Within the blog post, these include:

  • Apple can't update its online store without taking it offline first.
  • A popular Game Center game was able to bring down the entire network.
  • Apple requires you to re-friend everyone on Game Center, Find my Friends, and Shared Photostreams.
  • Notes requires an email account to sync.
  • The iTunes and App Stores are still powered by WebObjects, a mostly dead framework written almost 20 years ago.
  • iMessage for Mac lives in an alternate dimension in which time has no ordered sequence.
  • Ping.
Apple engineer internet mess android comparison deal buy twitter social
Credit: CNET

So, in conclusion, the ex-Apple employee says that "anything Apple does which involves the internet is a mess," and the only exception to this statement is the tech giant's "excellent" web browser teams.

In comparison, Gibson says that Google, specifically Android, has been steadily improving its entire whole platform, and it "Just Works." Android may not have the same shine and sparkle as a number of Apple's services -- deemed "ugly" by Gibson -- but the overall improvement in functionality means that Android is gaining "a serious leg up on iOS."

This is where Twitter joins the fray.

The ex-Apple employee states that Apple should buy social networking site Twitter, not because it needs "social" help, but because of the talent and knowledge pool the acquisition would mean for the tech giant.

Gibson alleges that Apple's problems stem from its inability to recruit and keep talented web engineers, as the firm prioritizes consumer gadgets and products. The engineer continues:

"Where Apple falls short, Twitter flies. Not only does Twitter use some of the most advanced web technology, they invented it. They own scale. They know how to send hundreds of thousands of tweets a minute. Further, Twitter is social network with values that (used to) reflect Apple: focus and simplicity."

However, Gibson believes that if a deal isn't reached between Twitter and Apple soon, it won't happen at all -- as the larger the social network gets, "the more likely an IPO," -- and Apple won't pay inflated rates for the firm.

Furthermore, Twitter itself is in danger of losing its key engineering talent as it becomes focused as a media company.

Considering himself potentially jaded, the ex-iPad developer says that the acquisition is unlikely to take place, concluding:

"Apple is probably too in denial about the failings of it's antiquated approach to the web to consider dropping such a huge amount of money."

Topics: Apple, IT Priorities, Networking

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31 comments
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  • In other news, water is wet

    This isn't really any kind of revelation. We all know that Apple fails badly at everything they try outside of their couple cash cows. Ping, Maps, Mobile Me, iCloud, the list goes on.

    The question is: does Apple have any incentive to change? No. Their fans refuse to hold them accountable for their failures, choosing to defend the hive instead. Their cash cows are strong enough that fixing these problems simply isn't that important to Apple, user experience be damned.

    Apple is the new MS. It was inevitable.
    toddbottom3
    • Pretty funny

      From a MS shill:

      "We all know that Apple fails badly at everything they try outside of their couple cash cows."

      How about this:

      "We all know that MS fails badly at everything they try outside of their couple cash cows."

      Some saying about glass houses and throwing stones comes to mind, or perhaps something about a pot and a kettle; take your pick.

      Rationality and objectivity are pretty scarce traits among fan boys. The sad thing is, they don't get it, even when it is staring them in the face.
      D.T.Long
      • Actually, that would probably only apply to Apple...

        "We all know that MS fails badly at everything they try outside of their couple cash cows."

        How many "cash cows" do you think MS has compared to Apple, and of all the other things MS does, how many of those would you consider failures?

        Here's a list of Apple's projects that are widely considered successes:
        - Mac Computers
        - iPads
        - iPods
        - iTunes
        - iPhones
        - Filemaker
        - Mac OS X (client only - server success is dubious)
        - iOS

        Of these, which ones would you consider as "NOT" being Apple cash cows?

        Now consider successful projects MS is involved in, and do the same thing:
        - Windows (client AND server)
        - Office
        - Exchange Server
        - SQL Server (multiple projects in itself, if you consider SSRS, SSIS, SSAS, PowerPivot, and other tools as separate projects in themselves - Microsoft certainly does)
        - SharePoint
        - Dynamics GP, NAV, AX, SL, CRM, RMS (btw, each of these are separate projects in their
        own right)
        - XBox
        - Peripherals (keyboards, mice, etc)
        - Skype
        - Hyper-V

        A few of these might be considered cash cows (Windows, Office, SQL/Exchange), but most others are still active investments, commanding far more R&D than Apple has been putting into their "up and coming" projects.

        Now granted, most of what Microsoft is good at is behind-the-scenes stuff that would cure insomnia for most consumers, and Apple has been better at coming out with "fun" stuff than Microsoft has - but as far as the success/fail ratio goes, I wouldn't consider Microsoft to be sucking hind-tit here.
        daftkey
        • Some clarification required?

          Part of the subject was cash cows. You list about three for MS and I can see three for Apple. The Apple cash cows are probably more productive currently. On-going projects not generating VERY significant cash flows for the corporation are not cash cows and not relevant in this context.

          The second part of the subject was failures. It would have been interesting and relevant if you had listed projects/products abandoned/terminated/aborted OR on-going but still not generating significant positive (cumulative) cash flow, for both Apple and MS. My gut feeling is that MS has a longer list of failures than Apple, but I may be wrong. I certainly would not expect Apple to have much of a lead here if any.

          In conclusion, I still think my point is pretty fair and balanced, or at least, your facts so far have failed to prove me wrong.

          Thanks for a sincere response.
          D.T.Long
          • Your gut feeling would be correct...

            "Part of the subject was cash cows. You list about three for MS and I can see three for Apple. The Apple cash cows are probably more productive currently. On-going projects not generating VERY significant cash flows for the corporation are not cash cows and not relevant in this context."

            You're probably right, however the subject was which company has been more successful with projects that are not currently cash-cows, since the whole thread is around the statement of " fails badly at everything they try outside of their couple cash cows ." Before we can agree on this, we have to agree on which projects of each respective company would be considered a cash cow.

            I gave you a list of successful projects of both companies. If you say of each list, only three are cash cows, well that means that Microsoft has been successful with 7 non-cash cows among a variety of different markets, whereas Apple has been successful with only 5, all within very similar markets.

            "The second part of the subject was failures. It would have been interesting and relevant if you had listed projects/products abandoned/terminated/aborted OR on-going but still not generating significant positive (cumulative) cash flow, for both Apple and MS. My gut feeling is that MS has a longer list of failures than Apple, but I may be wrong."

            Your gut feeling would be correct, if for no other reason than that Microsoft tends to make development investments in many many more areas than Apple. For this reason, Microsoft has a very long list of failures, as well as a longer list of successes (you will notice, too, that the above lists I've been able to rattle off from the top of my head include only a subset of Microsoft's current successes, whereas Apple's list is more or less complete).

            You can list the failures all you want, however it's pretty meaningless to list all of the failed experiments collected by a heavy R&D company like Apple or Microsoft, as it really doesn't give us any more useful information other than the obvious fact that these two companies spend a lot of time and money on R&D. Maybe it gives us some insight on where they focus that R&D and have been successful (or not so much so).
            daftkey
          • He's right. Apple's web services are its failing.

            Apple won't be able to compete with Google in the smartphone market unless it can dramatically improve its web services. Dramatically. Boutique industrial design won't cut it unless there are superior services to match.
            Vbitrate
        • Apple's server OS

          Just small clarification, daftkey. Let's list some facts.

          Apple uses UNIX for it's OS platform. As *everyone* knows, UNIX runs anything, from the most thinnest of "computer" to huge supercomputers.

          Apple's "client" OS is more suitable for sever than any version of Windows, ever.

          What Apple calls "server" is a collection of applications, that offer "server" functionality (as in, central service for a number of computers). It's just an (very small) add-on to the existing software in OS X. In fact, it more or less just adds UI to the existing "sever" software in the "client" OS X.
          danbi
          • Unix? I thought it was BSD

            as its base level
            deaf_e_kate
          • Windows Server = Windows Client

            Not sure if your saying somehow Windows clients base is different then Windows server. This might have been true before Vista but both client and server share that same foundation now. Apple server IS a failure, period. Microsoft fails at many things but its business servers is not one of them and the things they invest heavily into on the server end eventually show up on the client side.
            Rann Xeroxx
      • Anyway, this story is irrelevant; Apple has many thousands of engineers, ..

        ... and each of them only knows his/her little tiny part about what and how they are doing.

        So besides PR-seeking former employee, there is nothing to see from this story
        DDERSSS
        • What are your credentials

          He help build the iPad? What did you do? Isn't he more credible than you
          Van Der
      • Common problem

        Microsoft have Windows/Office and struggle badly almost everywhere else (Zune, WinPhone, their social networking efforts); Apple have OS X and its mobile incarnation iOS but struggle with a lot of other things (battery recalls, notoriously bad power supplies - I've been through twice as many MagSafe PSUs as Macbook Pros now!); Google are almost totally dependent on online advertising (96% of their revenue!) while they struggle with everything else (G+, Wave, that Twitter clone they tried... - Android may be popular, but not profitable: all it does is protect their advertising market share from Apple).

        For that matter, most companies struggle outside their core business, particularly at first. Novell never really grew beyond NetWare; Corel, WordPerfect, Borland, RIM... Apple managed to move from personal computers to mobile devices quite successfully, Microsoft expanded their OS market dominance to the Office suite too, but it's a tough battle for any company.
        jamesaaa12
        • Taking a very narrow focus on consumer technology...

          "Microsoft have Windows/Office and struggle badly almost everywhere else (Zune, WinPhone, their social networking efforts); "

          If you read above, Microsoft have had a lot of success in a lot of different areas, many of which Apple either never attempted to enter, or have since left (ie, servers). Now if you say Microsoft hasn't had a lot of success in trendy consumer technology, I'd agree with you. But to think Microsoft is an OS and productivity software company, ignoring their server division, enterprise software division, and of course that little side-project called the XBox is looking through mobile iBlinders.
          daftkey
          • Microsoft's "server" business

            Microsoft's server software is at best mediocre. Those who deploy it do so for various reasons, none of which technical supremacy to anything else.

            This is why Microsoft is so afraid to lose the client side, because then the only reason to use Microsoft "server" software will be lost and all those Windows servers will quickly disappear.

            If Microsoft's server software was any good, it would be used to power more of the Internet's sites.
            danbi
      • lol wut?

        I'm sorry. How did MS become the topic of this discussion? All he said was, "Apple [is] the new MS." And he's almost right. He'd have been more accurate to say, "Apple is yet another MS".

        Read the headline, read the comment, then go breathe. What're you, 14?
        Ma Fourzerosix
    • HERE ARE SOME "RECENT" M$ FAILURES TO KEEP YOU BUSY TODDY GIRL:

      Windows 8

      Windows RT

      Surface

      Kin

      Zune

      Vista

      Enjoy your new $600 doorstop, AKA your Surface RT!
      orandy
      • Sexist non-sense

        Don't you have any thing meaningful to say
        Van Der
        • No - you'll learn that

          n/t
          Little Old Man
    • we know

      No, Toddy.

      What we know by now is you deeply hate anything Apple.

      Not only do the issues raised in the article make absolutely no sense, but your comments too.
      danbi
  • Apple is a newb to social networking

    I don't hear any of my fellow Apple users clamoring for Apple to get involved in social networking. They build the sexiest hardware to work seamlessly with dead simple software across all platforms - let that be enough. Ping was stillborn when we all realized we really don't care what our friends are listening to and we surely don't want to hear their opinion on the new Adele single, thank you very much. (I'm talking to YOU, Spotify!) Apple has redefined the music industry and mobile computing (twice)... and if analysts are to be believed, they are primed to do it again in the TV viewing space in 2013. The blogger is right on. Let Twitter be Twitter. And let Google and Amazon keep chasing afterwards like the little sister worried about being left out in the cold. They're really the only competitors putting up a fight and their me-too products make Apple better. Everybody wins.
    gregv2k