On Apple's software quality

You've probably seen the deluge of articles sparked by Marco Arment's recent post claiming that Apple's software quality is in decline. I didn't link to Marco's post because a) I don't agree with his view that Apple's software quality has taken a "nosedive" (he since updated "nosedive" to "fallen") and b) I felt the article was too sensational. I read it when it was first posted, and then I braced for the storm. To Marco's credit, the following day he wrote a follow-up stating his regrets. And although I don't know Marco personally, I'd like to think that behind the post was his passion for quality, Apple, and the Apple community.

Much has been written since. Some of it constructive. Much of it unproductive. As I paused to better collect my own thoughts on the matter, I came across a couple of articles that more or less mirror my thoughts. So I'll happily conclude by linking to those that can say it better than I can.

First, as a former Apple employee and with nearly twenty years of following Apple, Daniel Jalkut offers an important perspective:

I’ve been following the company closely since my hiring in 1996. Since that time, the company has consistently produced nothing short of the best hardware and software in the world, consistently marred by nothing short of the most infuriating, most embarrassing, most “worrisome for the company’s future” defects.

Apple is clearly doomed. I think Apple is going to be okay.

Second, as usual, Harry McCracken's take is well-reasoned. While Marco thinks marketing is too high a priority at Apple and driving software issues, Harry proposes these five additional meaningful factors:

  1. Competition - particularly stiff competition from Google that forces Apple to move fast
  2. Openness - with iOS 8 opening up more functionality to developers, it's harder to control the overall experience
  3. The hardware cycle - "...the hardware tail wags the software dog. And it wags it at a rapid clip."
  4. The platform of platforms - making its products work more seamlessly together (think Continuity) "forces the company into releasing vast quantities of new software at once."
  5. The sheer enormity of it all - "iOS 8 has hundreds of new features and 4,000 new hooks for developers - piled atop everything from previous versions. The more complex a piece of software, the less likely it is that every single bit of it will work perfectly."