While chomping on turkey, stuffing and gravy, Apple shareholders can give thanks that the company's stock price is rebounding from an odd slide. But this doesn't mean Apple hasn't had its own share of turkeys.
By Tom Kaneshige
Like its stock price, Apple has had an up-and-down year. Despite giant strides such as the launch of the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini, Apple’s stumbles stand out much more.
Apple’s Maps app debacle led to CEO Tim Cook issuing an apology—a rarity for Apple. The app was truly atrocious, spouting off wrong directions and lacking key features such as public transportation routes. Even worse, Maps became fodder for late night talk shows. When you become the punch line, you know you’re in trouble (see: Sarah Palin).
The Maps app is Apple’s biggest turkey this year for a number of reasons. Maps is arguably the most important app on the iPhone and other mobile devices. You just can’t get it wrong. Also, Apple’s decision to come out with its own maps app and remove Google Maps from the App Store makes Apple look petty.
Apple’s mantra has been to hold the consumer experience above all other concerns. The Maps app, coming only a year after the passing of Steve Jobs, doesn’t say good things about the new people in charge.
New iPad, Not So New
Whenever Apple came out with another iPad version in the past, two things were certain: Apple’s marketing team had done its job building hype to a crescendo, and Apple delivered on the hype with an amazing new feature.
The original iPad created the touch-tablet market. The second-generation iPad was lighter, faster and could leap buildings with a single bound. The third-generation iPad brought a major improvement to the all-important graphics.
In the fall, Apple announced the fourth-generation iPad. You might not have even heard about it; the new iPad was a footnote during the iPad Mini announcement.
There’s nothing really new about this fourth-generation iPad, either—only a faster chip and a Lightning connector. Apple calls this version “the iPad with Retina Display,” but it was the third-generation iPad that introduced Retina to the tablet.
Even worse, the third-generation iPad, which Apple calls “the new iPad,” came out only seven months ago. The fourth-generation iPad is a major turkey. Like the Maps app, Apple has forsaken consumers of the third-generation iPad.
The Forstall Firing
Late last month, Apple brass ousted Steve Jobs protégé Scott Forstall and divided his duties among executives. Cook said the management changes (read: firing the fiery Forstall) will “encourage even more collaboration.”
Like Jobs, Forstall is passionate about products and, by many accounts, difficult to work with. He reportedly refused to apologize for the shortcomings of Apple Maps. The Forstall firing signals a new kind of post-Jobs Apple led by a supply-chain guru who believes in collaboration. Is Apple getting soft? You bet.
Lightning Killed the iPeripherals Star
When Apple came out with a new connector for the iPhone 5 and fourth-generation iPad, called Lightning, Apple consumers who had bought a boatload of iOS peripherals breathed a sigh. Companies such as hotels that outfitted rooms with iOS peripherals breathed a heavier one.
Such is the world of Apple, where Apple lords over the masses—not only hardware but software, too. Apple determines what apps get into the App Store and reserves the right to remove them whenever it wants without any explanation.
Meanwhile, Apple iOS peripherals makers cheered: Old customers are new again!
The Great Facetime-iMessage Outage
This month, Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime services suddenly stopped working, twice in four days. Sure, outages happen (just ask RIM). But one of Apple’s hallmark marketing messages is, “It just works.” Well, not this time.
While the outage itself isn’t a big deal, the underlying message is the real turkey: Apple is becoming just another tech company.