Apple During the Pandemic
August 31, 2020
I remember when Apple used to value the education and home office markets.
I was a high school teacher nearly forty years ago and we ordered four Apple II pluses. I think I remember them smelling of apples as we unboxed them. I mainly remember that there was a lot of love for education in those days.
Education and home offices.
During the pandemic work from home and teaching and learning from home.
For a long time the Apple PR positioning statement talked about how they revolutionized the desktop printing industry - and they did.
But during this pandemic there are many areas that Apple should be leading in that they aren't.
It worries me because when the iPhone first shipped I remember thinking back to Palm that was so far ahead of everyone at one point. The Palm V was an amazing little device. Forget about Blackberry. As much as I love and loved Apple, how had Palm not been the one to bring us the iPhone?
There's a lesson in there.
It's the same lesson I feel when I have visited Google's campus or Facebook's campus and remember the former tenants. Sun and SGI were huge in their fields. They each produced amazing products. They're both gone.
And now, during the pandemic, working from home and teaching and learning from home are huge and Apple is not positioned to serve either.
Apple has been working on FaceTime for a decade and yet even in organizations that are entirely committed to Apple platforms, FaceTime is not being used for meetings and presentations. Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams are used even at companies where every employee has a Mac or iPad.
How many companies are using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for collaboration and communication? These are free products with online authoring and collaboration tools that can be used by people who don't own or aren't currently on a Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Education has instead standardized on Google's offerings and companies most often use Microsoft's.
Apple used to stand for bringing creativity to the people.
Other than GarageBand I can't think of an Apple product that is embraced as an easy tool for creating and sharing.
Playgrounds? Please. Have you played with Jupyter notebooks?
I'm not looking for anyone to get Sherlocked, but...
Why doesn't Apple have a simple drawing app?
Why doesn't it have an app for creating comics?
Why doesn't it have an app that makes recording Science labs easy?
Why doesn't it have an app for organizing and sharing reading lists and maybe conversations about them?
Why doesn't it have an app that makes it easy to organize and track a student's homework assignments?
Why doesn't it have an app that makes it easy for a teacher to keep track of grades and sort and share? Man I loved using FileMaker for this thirty years ago. It was simple. Why don't I mention Classroom and SchoolWork? Have you heard of them? I thought so.
Why doesn't Apple have a team communication app?
Why doesn't Apple have an app for creative writing that focuses on writing and story structure and not on visual formatting? I originally heard this complaint leveled at Microsoft Word by Douglas Adams at JavaOne. He said "it's not an app that helps writers, it just helps me make it pretty. The same thing is true about offerings from Microsoft, Google, and Apple. I expect more from Apple.
And while I'm at it, why doesn't Apple roll some of these features out to developers?
I can include a map or display video in my app.
Why can't I include a Numbers spread sheet?
Why isn't FileMaker rolled back into the company and part of iWork with some of that functionality exposed to developers?
Why aren't there synthesizers that ship on devices so app developers can include music apps?
Sigh. I'll stop now.
Apple is nowhere in my house during this pandemic and yet it is everywhere.
I'm not saying Apple has lost their way. They just split their stock today and are doing fine.
I'm saying the Apple could be so much more. They have been so much more.
I don't know who is running their K-12 initiative, but they've lost focus.
I don't know who is supposed to be looking at Higher Ed, home schooling, or those who work from home - but I hope they step up.