The Weekly Squeak, 9th September — Apple vs the Prosumer

In this Weekly Squeak I cover another week in Berlin meetups and after Apples September product announcements, do they no longer like the prosumer?

A Week in Meetups

Reactive Programming (with Swift)

First up was a Swift meetup covering reactive programming with a variety of frameworks. Having heard a lot about the subject I was keen to get a more ‘beginner’ perspective of what Reactive programming actually is and how / when it’s useful. The talks were more advanced than I was expecting and I was still missing a starting point, still it was good to see real-world code examples. For those of you interested in an actual ‘beginners guide’, this gist might be what you’re looking for.

Continuous Discovery

I am not a product owner (well, not on an official or large scale), but am always interested in learning how people refine products over time, so attended this Product Tank meetup. It’s a subject that can and should interest anyone involved with a product really. Continuous discovery is the part of the continuous development process that involves finding out what users actually want and how they feel about a product. Maybe I was expecting something different from the term, but to me it seemed like what should be part of a typical agile development process. Is it a new term for an old practice, or a sub-term of an existing process?

Apple vs the Prosumer

Wednesday saw another Apple keynote product announcement, set to delight and disappoint in equal measure. If you want details of what they released, you will find coverage ad infinitum all over the web. I want to talk about Apple’s seeming rejection of its consumer audience.

I have been a Mac user for a long time, since about 1997, in the dark days of Performas, PowerPC processors, MacOS 7 and poor application support. Despite the companies return to form with consumer products such as the iMac, iPod and iPhone, they always looked after the pro market with higher end machines, pro software, and accessories. Sadly for the past few years, this has gradually dried up, with pro software and hardware not updated, useful ports whittled away, expansion options decreased, and a ‘pro line’ that looks increasingly tired.

I would call myself a ‘prosumer’, I do video and image editing work, but on a small scale. I don’t always need the latest and greatest, but I like to refresh what I have every 3–4 years with something new and shiny. I like power and control over my machine and software, but I don’t need Linux level ‘tinkerability’.

I recently sold my Nexus 7 and bought an iPad Air 2, mainly for reading comics and role-playing books. I was instantly shocked with how hard it was for me to get any files onto it, and how many hoops were required to copy files to the device. With my Android devices, I open up Calibre, connect to it and copy away to my hearts content. With the iPad I have to connect via iTunes, and individually copy files to each application that supports the file format I am copying.

I was initially so annoyed by this process that I was on the verge of sending it right back to where it came from. Then I used it some more. I loved Touch ID, the screen is great, it doesn’t crash as much as my Android devices. Yes there are other minor niggles, like it eats up storage quickly, apps can be inconsistent and out of date (Apple is working on this now), but I could start to see the appeal and have kept hold of it.

This experience, combined with the lack of product announcements last week to please me (no new MacBook Pros to replacing my aging 2013 model, that is still mostly current) made me ponder about who Apple designs for.

Are they really uninterested in the (small) pro market anymore, or has it ever been any different, and the (larger) consumer market has changed. 10–15 years ago most computer-like device (let’s be vague here to cover phones, tablets etc.) users were (and needed to be) tinkerers who knew what they were doing. Now that audience, and the companies that serve it have changed, and so has Apple. They have always actually largely been a consumer electronics company and served mostly that audience. But for those of us who have been on the ride with them for a long time it feels like we have been abandoned. When in fact, it’s not Apple that has changed, but the market.

Links of the Week

Chinch out xx