Monthly Archives: October 2011

Grading Apple’s iOS5, iCloud, iPhone 4S Launches

Last week Apple launched a slew of products including the heavily anticipated iOS5 and iCloud software offerings as well as the iPhone 4S hardware.  Historically Apple’s iOS hardware releases typically seeing long lines of fans with festive atmospheres, but Apple’s software releases have had been far less successful, with the MobileMe launch even being panned by Walt Mossberg and Steve Jobs reportedly blasting MobileMe management in a town hall meeting.

iOS 5

Apple’s iOS 5 has been heavily anticipated ever since it was previewed at WWDC earlier this year.  The software includes tons of updates, including the ability for iOS devices to be completely iTunes-free once upgraded, a new notification system akin to Android, iMessage (Apple’s response to BlackBerry’s messenger), WiFi syncing, integration with iCloud, and more.

Just like Apple’s previous iOS updates, Apple released the update at 1pm ET on Tuesday, 10/12.  However, many people who tried to upgrade their devices during the first few days of availability were greeted with various errors: from Apple’s servers not being reachable to a cryptic “3200″ error, to a “-50″ error.  I don’t think anyone who I talked to could successfully upgrade any of their devices iOS 5 without encountering an error during the past week.  The number of errors, and the crypticness of the numeric error codes, leads me to give Apple a failing grade for their iOS 5 launch.

iOS 5 Launch Grade: F

iCloud

iCloud didn’t have nearly the anticipation around it that iOS 5 did, but that didn’t mean that its launch was glitch-free.  In fact, Apple had to limit the number of customers transitioning from MobileMe to iCloud for a time because they were unable to handle the load.

I’m going to be very unsympathetic in this rating.  Despite the “iCloud” branding, Apple has yet to prove they actually know how to do cloud-oriented programming.  Apple supposedly is using both Amazon’s EC2 and Microsoft’s Azure – both of which are perfectly capable of handling extremely high (and “peaky”) traffic.  If Apple had done good engineering of iCloud, the service would simply have scaled with the demand and spawned more instances (and then destroyed those instances when demand let up).  Also, Apple should have expected the surge of MobileMe users switching to iCloud and done as much data setup before launch as possible.  Currently, it appears as though all the switch processing happened once the user initiated the switch, which puts a heavy burden on Apple’s servers on-demand and not a batch process beforehand.

Apple needs to seriously get smart about cloud computing if they really want to provide online services. The only way Apple avoids getting a completely failing grade here was that their customer communication was better than it has in the past.

iCloud Launch Grade: D-

iPhone 4S

The one semi-bright spot in an otherwise dismal week for Apple’s launches last week was the launch of the iPhone 4S.  The iPhone 4S broke all sorts of sales records over the launch weekend and Apple’s stores were decked out in their customary festive atmosphere.  Woz was reportedly even first in line at one California Apple Store to get his.  Activation issues which have been a nuisance for every iPhone launch were once again present, however they don’t take too much away from an overall well-executed launch.

iPhone 4S Launch Grade: B

iPhone 4S Begins Pre-Orders – Event Wrapup [Update]

As expected, the iPhone 4S was announced on Tuesday this week.  Essentially everything about the device came according to the latest predictions, some last-minute.  Some in the media are seeing the device as a let-down compared to a full “iPhone 5″ update, but I think that the update is actually very nice, with the most important feature being Siri.

While I’ll probably write more about Siri after I have used it in person, having seen what it is capable of via Apple’s site I must say I am impressed.  My wife has described Siri as having “a friend in your pocket.” While the description may be a bit comically overblown, the ability to speak naturally to your phone and have it reliably understand what you mean and do what you ask is a huge leap forwards in technology.

Also as expected, an 8GB iPhone 4 will continue be offered at a discounted $99.  I had postulated that Apple may use the oportunity to merge the dispirate CDMA and GSM iPhone 4′s to a single hardware platform (GSM+CDMA) due to likely cost savings involved with not having to maintain two assembly lines but that appears not to be the case.

Somewhat unexpectedly Apple is continuing to offer the 8GB iPhone 3GS for AT&T for free with 2-year contracts.  While this does provide consumers a great opportunity to get an iPhone for no up-front cost I urge prospective buyers to seriously consider the much more powerful iPhone 4 at $99.

Update: The iPhone 4S has 512MB, contrary to rumors that had pegged the device at 1GB.

Steve Jobs Has Passed Away

In what can only be described as an incredibly sad day for the world of technology, Steve Jobs has passed away.

Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Computer and helped create the Macintosh – the world’s first commercially successful small computer with a graphical user interface.  He later left Apple and founded NeXT and Pixar.  NeXT would wind up developing a world-class operating system that became the foundation for Mac OS X when NeXT was purchased by Apple in the late 1990s (and thus returning Steve Jobs to Apple), and Pixar would become a widely successful computer animation studio that was later purchased by Disney, making Mr. Jobs Disney’s single largest shareholder.  Mr. Jobs’ return to Apple spawned a turnaround of the company starting with the revolutionary iMac all-in-one computer and continuing with breakthrough products such as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad among others.  When Mr. Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple on August 27th, 2011, Apple stood as one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Mr. Jobs settled for nothing less than perfection – a quality that often made him come off as brash and arrogant, but something that we here at TechPerfect can hardly fault.  In closing, we’ll finish with the statement from Apple’s board of directors:

We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.

Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that
enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.