There’s an awful lot of jubilation regarding Forstall’s departure. People seem to think Apple will turn back the clock on iOS-ifying OS X, remove the stupid leather textures, and everything will be great in the hands of the all knowing Ive. Sir Jony is not infallible.
Just a reminder, Ive often prioritizes form over function. Let’s talk about the iPod Touch. What started as a spec-for-spec iPhone without cellular parts has devolved into a neglected, under-specced, over priced, just to remain unnecessarily thinner than the iPhone.
- The third generation continued to lack any cameras due to device thinness
- The 4th generation
- 720p Still cameras when the iPhone 4 had 5MP
- No LED flash
- No IPS Screen
- 256MB RAM vs 512MB
- There was no release comparable to the 4S
- The 5th Generation
- Finally gets good cameras and a flash, but they stick out because of thinness
- No ambient light sensor!
There are also some hardware products that for no apparent reason just don’t exist
- Black and backlit external keyboards
- USB Magic Trackpad
- Wireless Keyboard with Number Pad
- Peripherals with internal lithium batteries the work and charge over USB (hell just make it Lightning if you want to oppose micro USB so bad)
The retina MacBook Pro 13″ has no discrete GPU and the Intel 4000 can barely drive its own display. I pity anyone who tries to add any externals to this. Meanwhile, my 15″ drives three externals.
The Mac Mini, which doesn’t even need to meet some arbitrary portability standard dropped the discrete GPU this year. If they can get one in the new iMacs they can make one fit in the Mini. Maybe sacrifice the second drive bay, or move one of the drives to the on-chip SSDs used in the Airs.
Do I need to mention the Mac Pro?
The de-pro-iziation of Mac OS has been happening since Steve returned and announced OS X. Early commercial versions of OS X not only didn’t have any pro software on them because Apple couldn’t bribe Adobe, but the OS itself couldn’t even use all of its hardware. Burning was the most infamous shortcoming.
Final Cut Pro was a product that changed hands many times before Apple bought it to release it to fill the void left by Adobe not porting Premiere. They since bought several other products (notably Shake and Color) and like the Mac Pro let them lapse, like Final Cut itself is now experiencing in its horrible rebirth reminiscent of OS X 10.0.0
Apple’s iOS Maps have great UI and features. What sucks is the data, and a Google street view brute force human approach seems like the thing that wouldn’t even be Forstall’s call.
Of course, there have also been stories where Forstall has been on the right side of history, and Ive or Jobs weren’t. First, there’s the Forstall’s incredible foresight to base iOS on OS X rather than a new Linux flavor, which makes development for veteran OS X developers easy as pie, and they didn’t even ship with an app store.
The second, anonymously reported to Hypercritical Episode 93, was that Jobs and Ive wanted a no-button iPhone (referring to the home button, not necessarily the sleep button) and Forstall wanted the home button. No word on who was for or against volume buttons but based on the original iPod Touch not having volume buttons I’m guessing that was a concession to see if users would like it, and they didn’t. All iOS devices have had volume buttons since.
You should really listen to that Hypercritical episode.
*** Update 11/13 ***
The iPod Touch actually has much lower margins than Apple’s other products, making it particularly aggressive in its current pricing (at least for Apple). That doesn’t mean that making it as thin as it is doesn’t carry unnecessary manufacturing difficulty and thus either yield or time penalties. Lacking cellular and GPS related features (magnetometer, etc) are obvious for iPhone differentiation, but making it “too thin” for an Ambient Light Sensor, I feature that’s been on I think every G4 PowerBook and beyond, is a step backwards for a very bad reason.