Photo: Patrick Gibson
Former Apple engineer Patrick B. Gibson has a provocative post on Tumblr arguing that the power balance between Apple and Google is shifting in Google’s favour.Specifically, Gibson suggests, Google is getting better at gadget design faster than Apple is getting better at Internet services.
(Gibson is now an engineer at Tilde. He actually attributes this observation to a friend, Tom).
In fact, Gibson says, “almost everything that Apple does that involves the Internet is a mess.”
In support of this view, Gibson cites several examples:
- iCloud, née MobileMe, née .Mac, has only ever been adequate at best. I’ve heard (or been victim to) countless stories of duplicate or lost contacts, calendar syncing errors, or email downtime.
- Apple can’t update its online store without taking it offline first.
- A popular Game centre game was able to bring down the entire network.
- Apple requires you to re-friend everyone on Game centre, 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.
The only Internet-related thing that Apple does well, Gibson argues, is web-browsing.
That’s a pretty serious indictment for a company that is lauded for its product quality, especially from a former employee.
But it rings true.
Apple makes great gadgets.
But, with a few exceptions–such as iTunes, the App Store, and the auto-updating of its operating system releases–Apple’s online services are startlingly frustrating.
Meanwhile, Google is, in fact, getting better at design. The Nexus 7 tablet debuted to rave reviews, and that and other smaller tablets forced Apple to make a smaller-sized iPad that Apple founder Steve Jobs once proclaimed was a terrible size for a tablet.
Where Apple still has Google absolutely clobbered, however, is on gadget distribution. In the physical world, Google’s great gadgets are sold in also-ran electronics stores and by also-ran wireless carriers. Apple’s gadgets, meanwhile, are sold in Apple Stores.
Normal people want to try gadgets before they buy them. Or they at least want to see what they look and feel like.
Google’s gadget design may be improving, therefore, but unless/until the company develops better gadget distribution, it is going to be at a severe disadvantage to Apple in the gadget market. (See: “Hey, Google, Are You Going To Open Some Stores?“)
In web services, though, Gibson is right: Apple is just plain mediocre.
Given the importance of web services in creating the overall “ecosystem” that supports today’s gadgets, this is a flaw that Apple needs to fix.
Gibson thinks Apple should fix it by buying Twitter. I actually agree with DEMO boss Erick Schonfeld, who alerted me to Gibson’s quote above, that Twitter won’t help Apple where it needs help the most. If Apple is going to start using its vast cash mountain to snap up web companies, it should probably start with Dropbox or Evernote or another company that builds smooth web-based cloud products.
In any event, Gibson’s observation rings true: Google’s getting better at design faster than Apple’s getting better at web services.
BI’s Jay Yarow also wrote about Gibson’s post here >
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.