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Apples lack of online service chops

Justin Williams has a very good article - and links off to an equally good one from Patrick Gibson - about Apple's awful record with online services:

Apple has always been given a pass with the cloud stuff because they make such great hardware and the on-device software experience is top-notch. How nice it is to hold an iPhone in my hand is of little consequence to me if I can’t actually use it. As more stuff you care about makes its way into the cloud, Apple’s inability to reliably build a web service is becoming a bigger hindrence than my phone not working if I hold it the wrong way.

This area is something I've been thinking about for a while, and I whole-heartedly agree with him, and with Patrick:

Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services.

(OK, I don't agree that Apple should buy Twitter, but the first part I can go for)

Apple's list of server-side "fail whales" is quite long, and keeps getting longer. Some are incidental, and some are very major.

Oh, and then there's Maps. I love how the new maps looks and interacts, but that data is an embarrassment. And thats exactly my point.


I've long maintained that I'd love to have the 3 (possibly 4 or 5 now) big players to get together do what what they are good at:

  • I want Apple doing the design, hardware and client software (iOS and Mac). In this they are second to none, and second is a very distant second.
  • I want Google doing the server side. Gmail / Google Apps is not perfect, but it's close enough for my usage. They know huge data, and they do it well.
  • I want Microsoft (or possibly Xamarin :) ) doing the developer tools (tho not the developer ecosystem). Love it or hate it, but Visual Studio is an exceptionally full-featured and stable product.

Previously, I stopped at those three (this thinking was in 2008 or so, around when the iPhone 3G came out), but now I'd add:

  • I want Facebook doing group social. Unless they screw it up, that battle is over for a while.
  • I want Twitter doing person-to-person social (ie, iMessage), tho I expect that Google could replace them in this fairly quickly, so maybe not.

Of course, this will never happen: Two of the above are in a cold war situation, for a start. But I'm not too far off, I guess: I use i-devices, my mail / cal etc is with Google Apps, I wrote software for all of the platforms in .NET/C# (Web, iOS, Mac, Android, Windows, Linux), I use Facebook to "catch up" with people far away and talk to friends on Twitter.

So maybe it's not too bad.

But just imagine how good a tightly integrated, "what you are best at" solution would look like, rather than the guns-pointed-at-each-other situation we have now.

That. Thats what I want.