Apple's Just an Ordinary Company Now, Like Any Other

By Sam Gibbs on at

There used to be a time when Apple didn't make mistakes. When pretty much everything it put out was glitch-free. Not necessarily perfect, of course, but outages, serious bugs, and simple errors weren't anywhere to be seen. Recently, we've had bugs, we've had issues, we've had errors, and we've even gotten an iCloud status board. And as a result, Apple appears to be accepting that it is just an ordinary company now, like any other.

Now I'm not saying that's bad by any stretch of the imagination. But by admitting that you require a status board for any service, let alone one as key to Apple as iCloud, means you've just given in to the fact that you're not unique in your infallibility. And yes, I realise that sometimes cloud outage issues aren't always the fault of the provider, but a status panel as detailed as Apple's new one for iCloud shows a change of outlook for the Cupertino-based company.

We've seen errors and issues left and right. I guess you could say it started with the iPhone 4 and antenna-gate. Here, Apple fervently denied that there was any sort of issue, and while the media might have blown it way out of proportion, there was a problem, even if it was relatively isolated in the grand scheme of things. Only a company with a reputation as being infallible could bluff its way out of that, by just ignoring the underlying issue, and denying there was a problem. Of course, even Apple kind of admitted there was a problem in its own way, what with the alterations to the antenna bands on the iPhone 4S and all that.

Then we have Apple Maps -- that dog of a botched product, which Scott Forstall apparently wouldn't say sorry for and therefore got the boot over. It was yet another big misstep, something that's truly tarnished Apple's reputation. When you actually overhear people on the street saying the iPhone's maps are shit, and how they wish they'd not upgraded to iOS 6, or bought an iPhone 5, you know it's a real issue. It's not hard to get caught up in the cacophony of self-reinforcing soapboxing that is the tech industry, but when it impacts Joe Bloggs on the street you really know it's hit the fan.

Since then, we've had botched upgrades, outages, and issues that have snatched the 'it just works' crown from Apple products. I've spoken about this before, how Apple used to be the company you bought products from if you wanted awesome tech gear, but didn't necessarily know how to maintain it, or fix problems when stuff went bad. The product you could buy your Mum, which would just work and work well, without requiring constant cleaning or tweaking, but that's no longer the case.

If you put all this together, now with Apple basically admitting that iCloud isn't always going to work, isn't always going to be up and running as it should, and you've got a company that's a heck of a lot more realistic, and a lot less idealistic. Now, that doesn't mean that we on the outside saw Apple in that 'perfect' way, of course. But that's definitely how Apple saw itself, as the champion of everything that was holy, believing itself as untouchable, if you will.

Does this one, small concession that everything's not quite perfect reflect a change of culture at Apple? Only time will tell. We'll have to wait until the next balls-up, the next antenna-gate, to see if Apple actually admits it has a problem. I hope so. It would be better to have an Apple that still challenges what products are, what they mean, and how we use them, battling and innovating with the likes of Google and Microsoft, but that could also admit that it was wrong and actually fix things, rather than just put its head in the sand and hope for the best. Apple being a normal, fallible company isn't a bad thing, but it's a shift-change in the company's culture -- it's certainly not something Steve Jobs would have ever allowed, that's for sure.

Image credit: Brick from Shutterstock