Monday, January 23, 2006

Why are Apple products so risky?

Another iPhoto release, another hundred thousand lost images. If things run true to form the bug will affect a moderate number of early adopters and will be fixed in a point release.

This is typical for Apple. It's also typical for Microsoft's beta releases. Microsoft's commercial releases are much safer than Apple's.

Why is this?

I think it's because Apple doesn't do beta releases for its major products (they do beta test point releases of the OS). Jobs insists on secrecy, and that strategy has served him well. Secrecy, however, means no testing of new products in real world environments. In other words, no true beta.

In the Apple world, early adopters are beta testers. Beta testers need very robust backups and time to burn. The rest of us need to wait until the beta is done; that's usually after the first patch. If the first patch comes within four weeks of product release then wait for the second patch.

By that measure both iPhoto 6 and Aperture are still in beta. I'm waiting.

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