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Outsource & Collaborate

Following on a bit from the last blog regarding Apple’s recent shortcomings, its looks as if the California based tech giant is looking to make amends. Well, at least in the eyes of its share-holders.
As news filters down that they have ousted Richard Williamson - design lead for Apple’s mapping division, few will be surprised at the decision to draw an imaginary line under the PR storm that erupted following the dreadful iOS mapping glitches. But does this really go far enough, and isn’t it just time to kiss and make up with Google?

As much I wish this were the case it’s almost impossible to imagine a world with Google and Apple playing nice again. You see, its not even a situation that Apple (under new management since the loss of Jobs) were ever happy with - that is to say using Google software. Almost immediately upon Android’s first iteration and partnership with Samsung, Jobs himself criticized the platform, citing design patent infringements and took immediate legal action against both companies to protect his products.
Now, it all gets a bit legal and convoluted at this point, but suffice to say we are years down the line witnessing millions of dollars being paid in international court battles only for tit-for-tat patent battles to be won or lost, with no far reaching implications for either the brands involved or the industry as a whole.

In the Middle of all of this we sit, the consumers. Its feels us though throughout all of this both companies have neglected real product innovation out of fear of imitation. However what I find more difficult to understand is the fact that they don’t seem to care that their products are weakening because of it. This almost childlike unwillingness to co-operate and fighting over products that historically they don’t even make, is only making consumers scratch their heads and wonder ‘so, why doesn’t it have google maps again?’

Ask any group of kids what Apple make and you will hear a resounding chorus of ‘iPods’, ‘iPads’, ‘Macbook’ and so on. Apple designs beautiful things, not software (other than operating systems and their respective bundles) and they are bloody good at it, but (and its a pretty big but) don’t be lulled into thinking that they work alone, even in hardware design. In the iPhone alone they outsource hardware components from over eleven separate companies including - Texas Instruments, Britain CSR, ARM Holdings and even their good ol’ rivals Samsung, before assembly in Korea. So is it a simple case that they don’t want association in their App division and therefore public eye with Google?
Rumor has it that since the dropping of the Goggle map service in favor of its own, Google have been beavering away on a separate downloadable App to replace the inbuilt software, but i suppose the real measure of maturity will be wether Apple certify it for sale on its App store. If it does not, this point blank refusal to allow its its consumers access to the clearly superior product is a significant metaphorical two-fingers to Google and to us.

Not that Apple are likely to sweat over it however, they are experiencing growth in other sectors. News broke on Monday that Barclays bank had ordered nearly 2000 iPads after a successful pilot program to test the tablets security performance. The irony is however, that the software security patching was outsourced to a separate mobile security firm before the bank was happy. This does however mark a big step for Apple as its business enterprise credibility is on the rise.

There is a lesson in all of this - if your company doesn’t do something well, outsource it to someone else. Apple do this aplenty with the mentioned hardware but it seems like its ego won’t let it do it more more publicly. Its easy to fall into this trap of thinking you can do everything, but once it starts to have an impact on your customers actual experience in a negative way then its time to get the pro’s in. 

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