The dearth of good Safari extensions compared to what Chrome has is a good example of Apple’s tendency to get something going, get kind of sidetracked and then not give it the attention it needs to succeed.
My main concern for Apple’s future is the growing list of such products, especially the increasing number of major Mac applications.
iWork for Mac is a worst-case example. Its series of substantial updates every 12–18 months completely stopped in 2009, and the 2013 rewrites don’t feel like nearly 4 years of work — they feel a lot more like a rushed 12-month effort in response to marketing threats against the iPad’s suitability for office “work”, prioritizing Apple’s marketing needs at significant expense to iWork customers’ needs.
The iLife apps feel abandoned, too: iPhoto, iMovie, and Garage Band haven’t seen meaningful Mac updates in 3 years. iLife effort has clearly shifted to their iOS versions instead, and while iMovie and Garage Band are impressive on iOS, iPhoto hardly seems worth the effort and the opportunity cost to its Mac version — and I bet iPhoto is the most used and most important iLife app by far.1
The pro apps are sputtering along — Final Cut Pro X was a disaster that’s slowly being resolved, Logic Pro X is OK (but still unreasonably buggy), and Aperture is continuing its tradition of always feeling abandoned (and slow, and buggy).
While most of the press demands new hardware categories, I’d be perfectly happy if Apple never made a TV or a watch or a unicorn, and instead devoted the next five years to polishing the software and services for their existing product lines.
Furthermore, most tasks served by the iLife and iWork apps really are better on Macs. Rather than show off the power of iOS devices, they often frustrate users by slamming hard into the limitations of iOS’ document-silo model, multitasking, and inter-app communication. ↩︎