Apple report card: Wearables A+, Software quality D+

From Jason Snell's Six Colors:

It’s time for our annual look back on Apple’s performance during the past year, as seen through the eyes of writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.

This is the fifth year that I’ve presented this survey to a hand-selected group. They were prompted with 12 different Apple-related subjects, and asked to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5 and optionally provide text commentary per category. I received 65 replies, with the average results as shown below:

apple six colors report card

My take: Room for improvement, although D+ for Apple TV seems harsh if you factor in the quality of Apple TV+ programming.


  1. Gregg Thurman said:
    I’ve got a “smart tv” with Apple TV loaded on it. I prefer to use the Apple TV set top box because of Apple’s remote.

    After all these years you’d think TV manufacturers could develop a more easily navigable remote.

    February 2, 2020
  2. Horace Dediu said:
    Hand-selected group? Talk about selection bias.

    February 2, 2020
  3. Robert Stack said:
    Good point Horace. But I don’t think Jason is trying to pass this off as scientific or a representative sample of what the public thinks. It is what it is…

    February 2, 2020
    • Horace Dediu said:
      What it is is pointless.

      February 3, 2020
  4. Robert Stack said:
    Horace: BTW, I learned about PED from reading the asymco blog (and your Twitter feed) and happily now follow you both. Thank you for your insights and analyses!

    February 2, 2020
  5. Fred Stein said:
    First question: Why isn’t 2.5 a “C”, average?
    Second: Which company (only large, successful companies included) has a better track record on environ/social?
    Third: Do Jason, or his reviewers, matter? Are they doers, or just opinionators?
    Fourth: Real surveys and other data show very high customer sat, customer retention, etc. Quite divergent from Jason’s report.

    The second point, environ/social is the ‘tell’. If the reviewers can’t name another reasonably comparable company with a better environmental/social track record they have to give Apple an “A”. Since we’re seeing the average of 65 reviewers, that means some reviewers must have given Apple low grades on this one topic. That means bias.

    February 2, 2020
    • David Emery said:
      Well, I’d interpret these scores as “Apple vs what we expect from them”, as opposed to “Apple vs the competition.”

      I thought the scores were pretty much on-target, although after reading John Gruber’s recent critique of the iPad, that grade might be a bit high.

      In particular, I think Apple has “earned” the D+ in software quality, which in my view continues to go -down-. Part of the reason that’s so disturbing is that it’s one area where Apple (or any other software vendor) could actually throw money at the problem and get a benefit.

      February 2, 2020
  6. John Konopka said:
    Maybe as professional pundits these people tend to look for flaws? They are the glass is 10% empty crowd rather than saying the glass is 90% full.

    On the environmental and social front Apple is clearly much better than average. And they have room to do more.

    Apple TV ( I guess this includes Apple TV+) is not that bad. Probably they are upset about the remote and that the catalog is a little thin out of the gate. Give it a year or so.

    As far as I know HomeKit works OK, there is just not a lot of items that can work with it. This is maybe a good thing. A lot of the cheap stuff out there probably exposes you to a lot of risk, like Ring.

    Also, D+ for software seems way too harsh. D level sounds like every day you lose data and you can’t work because the machines are constantly crashing. iOS never crashes or freezes up. WatchOS never crashes or freezes. I’m still using Mojave because of 32 bit apps, but that never crashes for me. I have had a few issue with Pages. This was a surprise as it has worked well for years. Keynote and Numbers are great. I’m just learning FCPX and that has performed well.

    I recently had to use Windows 7 for a project and I found it painful. Like going through a maze trying to find things.

    February 3, 2020

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