Can we trust Apple with software and services?

The road to Apple's hardware success is littered with the detritus of dead software and services. Hypercard. AppleWorks.

The road to Apple’s hardware success is littered with the detritus of dead software and services.

Hypercard. AppleWorks. iDVD. iWeb. iDisk. Safari for Windows. MobileMe.

I could go on.

This stuff runs the gamut from lauded to maligned, but they all have one thing in common: people depended on them and Apple unceremoniously killed them.

It’s enough to leave a long-time Mac user like me wondering: Can we really depend on Apple to remain committed to any software or service?

Apple seems to change its Internet service offerings as often as Lady Gaga swaps outfits.

First there was eWorld. More recently there’s been .Mac (pronounced “dot Mac”), then MobileMe, and now iCloud.

Through all of these changes, we customers have been forced to endure the loss of critical Internet services like online backups, web-based photo galleries, websites, and online data storage.

Conversely, we’ve had to accumulate confusingly redundant email addresses. Thanks to Apple, I have both “mac.com” and “me.com” email addresses. And rumour has it that Apple is soon to force a new “icloud.com” one on me.

Apple’s inconsistency with online services is no laughing matter (other than for competitors). In fact, it’s becoming a source of stress for many customers.

Take my mom, for example.

A few years back, I convinced her to publish her travel journals to Apple’s online environment, MobileMe, using Apple’s desktop publishing tool, iWeb.

She quickly became dependent on it and published thousands of photos and text updates.

And iWeb was easy to use and MobileMe was easy to publish to. It was a well-designed, comprehensive system.

Then Apple killed it.

And all of a sudden, my mom found herself on a dead-end street without even a detour to a new neighbourhood offered.

Of course, I helped her migrate her website to another platform. But that process was one that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My mom certainly could never have managed it on her own.

But hers is just one example. I know people that built entire online businesses using MobileMe and iWeb.

On the desktop, Apple’s track record is equally spotty.

Apple used to offer an advanced office suite called AppleWorks.

It included tools that rivalled the crap in Microsoft Office. But after spending a decade building a dependent and dedicated customer base, Apple just killed AppleWorks.

Yet now, with what seems like cruel irony, Apple is recreating many of these applications and services.

Of course, iCloud is the company’s current Internet service.

And iWeb seems to have found a new home tucked inside iPhoto for iOS.

And Pages, Numbers, and Keynote represent a modern iteration of AppleWorks.

Here’s the question, though: How long until Apple pulls the rug from under the feet of people using these new products?

Apple seems unable or unwilling to commit to a long-term software and services strategy.

Microsoft, Google, Dropbox and Adobe would never get away with a cavalier attitude like Apple’s. (Well, OK, Google has its fair share of software missteps, but to the company’s credit, everything is labeled “beta” anyway.)

But that’s because they don’t have a booming hardware business to fall back on. Software and services for Apple are in many ways just hobbies.

Personally, I’m at the point now where I don’t feel like I can depend on Apple for this stuff anymore.

Sure, iCloud sounds great, but I don’t trust that it’ll be around in three years.

And, honestly, I won’t be surprised when Apple kills Pages and Numbers and stops supporting their file formats.

That’s too bad because iCloud is a great idea.

And the software that Apple publishes is generally far superior to its competition’s. Pages and Numbers wipe the floor with Word and Excel.

Once upon a time, I was a strong advocate of the software that Apple published and the Internet services it provided. But I’ve been burned too many times now to continue in that role.

I’m starting to look at alternatives to what Apple offers.

In closing, though, there’s one bright spot in the long history of Apple’s software efforts: Filemaker Pro. Arguably the best desktop database software available, Apple pushed Filemaker out of its stable years ago to be managed by a subsidiary company.

Perhaps that’s what Apple should consider doing with the rest of its software and services. A subsidiary that depends on their success may be the only way to establish consistency and longevity. Apple itself seems to lack the commitment required.

Andrew Robulack is a writer and consultant specializing in technology and the Internet. Read his blog at www.geeklife.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read