Hey Apple, what’s with all the delays? - Macenstein

Hey Apple, what’s with all the delays?

Apple is one of the more notoriously secretive companies out there. Yet despite its best efforts (or perhaps because of them), nearly every recent major product announcement Apple has made has had some (or all) of the details leaked through the rumor community before the official unveiling. Of course, Apple always pretends those leaks never happened, announcing each product as if we should all be surprised and amazed. And for the most part, we as loyal Apple fanboys play along.

However, while conventional wisdom holds that Apple simply wishes to stay ahead of the competition, we may have discovered another reason why Apple is so secretive about it’s product announcements. Quite simply, Apple can’t seem to meet its own deadlines.

Let’s look at a couple of the recent products Apple DID have the guts to pre-announce to the press, and see how they did.


Originally announced for June of 2007, one of the most highly anticipated updates to Mac OS X was pushed back to October of 2007. Apple actually blamed the iPhone for Leopard’s delay in a somewhat odd move, claiming they had to “borrow some key software engineering and QA resources from our Mac OS X team” in order to work on the device. (How about hiring a couple new people?). In this case, “October” turned out to mean October 26th, very nearly pushing the definition of “October” to its limits.

The iPhone SDK

A true software development kit for the iPhone was at the top of every Apple developer’s wish list since even before the iPhone was officially announced, and Apple finally got around to announcing that one they would indeed be shipping one to developers in February. Well, February came and went, and on March 6th, Apple actually released the thing. In Apple’s defense though, February is the shortest month, and perhaps they miscalculated.

Apple TV Take 2 software

All 5 of us who bought Apple TVs were anxiously awaiting signs of activity on the Apple TV front, and Apple gave us the thrill of a lifetime when they not only announced they were not killing off the long-neglected Apple TV, but had actually created a software update for it called “Apple TV Take 2”. Apple said we’d have it January 29th, and then announced:

“The new Apple TV software update, which allows users to rent high definition movies directly from their widescreen TVs, is not quite finished. Apple now plans to make the free software download available to existing Apple TV customers in another week or two.”

Well, a week or two really meant “or two”, and the software was released February 12th.


This one may not be an official “delay”, so much as a botched roll out. Apple claimed the long awaited update/rebranding of .Mac would hit in “early July”, which turned out to be July 10th, 11th, or 12th (or later) depending on how lucky you were. Even now, with MobileMe more or less working for everyone, Apple has delayed some of the features. iDisk file sharing in particular, one of the cooler new features, has been delayed, although Apple has not made any official announcement.

Perhaps they have learned their launches work best when they keep their mouths shut.

A software thing?

Apple has traditionally excelled at being a “hardware” company, and oddly enough, all these delayed products are software related, although we’re not sure what to make of that really. Since Apple does not pre-announce hardware updates, we have no way of knowing if/how long any hardware offerings have been delayed.

Of course, if the rumor sites are correct, Apple is experiencing about a 18 month delay on that tablet computer of theirs.

26 Responses to “Hey Apple, what’s with all the delays?”
  1. Sam says:

    I just thought I’d point out that Leopard was originally supposed to be released “Spring 2007.” Then June.. then – well you know the rest.

  2. Shannon Shiflett says:

    “notoriously secretive” translates to “screwing your customers in order to increase profit margins” by not informing me they are switching to PCI express right before I buy a G5, or telling me that they plan to switch to Intel, right before I buy a G5. I recently switched and this has left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s getting harder every day to recommend Apple to my friends, unless they have benjis to throw away.

  3. ArtOfWarfare says:

    I think you’re making a big fuss out of nothing.

    Since when has there been a company that made quality products that was able to tell you the day something was going to ship months in advance.

    WIth the exception of Leopard, I think their estimates have been pretty good… only off by a week or two normally. Compare it to say, Vista, which was delayed by years if I recall correctly. Then there are several games I could name that were delayed continuously for months… Zelda Twilight Princess (delayed by years), Super Smash Bros. Brawl (delayed by 4 months), Battalion Wars II (ok, not so much with this one… only delayed by a month…) uhhh… Metroid Prime 3 (delayed by almost a year,) Super Mario Galaxy (delayed by a full year.)

    Software companies that make quality products just don’t know when a nasty bug is going to come up.

    I think the reason is simply that software is more original than hardware. Most hardware changes are just new specs and stuff… all they have to do is swap out for better parts. But when it comes to making software, you’ve got to make thousands of lines of completely new code and you’re not always sure how long it’s going to take to make and then debug it all.

    I’ll bet you that Apple takes about as long upgrading any of their computer lines as you take to upgrade your Mac Pro. Just flip open the hatch, take out the old HD, stick in a new one that’s twice as capable.

  4. felipe says:

    Every one is correct. I guess instead apple should release software ahead of time, or right at the dealine point, you know before it is tested, before we know if it works etc.. I guess apple should learn from Microsoft and call itself Vista.

  5. Paul says:

    “How about hiring a couple new people?”

    There speaks a man who has never read The Mythical Man month, or worked on a large (I mean properly large) software project.

    Where precisely is Apple supposed to hire developer to fill the vacancy with a description like:

    “Wanted: software engineer with extensive experiance of Mac OS X kernel and low-level system development, must be fully aquainted with the internal workings of the OS, especially all the stuff that no-one outside the company gets to see.”

    Oh, that’s right, from Apple.


  6. Kevin Wilson says:

    Go to my site and you will see several media pages missing photos where many photos should be. This is the IWEB, Mobile me/.Mac switchover debacle still taking place more than 10 days later. WTF?
    I’d leave Vista far and away from this argument. It’s taken it’s deserved lumps. While I made the change to Macs as a whole more than 3 years ago, this past year has seen some flaws in the Apple Empire. This past roll out was the worst I can remember.

  7. Bob B says:

    In my opinion, despite the delays (to get it right?), Apple is still releasing unreliable software, full of bugs. Just look at the support forum where thousands of posts have been made about long-standing issues with WiFi connectivity that started about 18 months ago. All too frequently it seems the Apple response is to introduce a new hardare version to fix the firmware bugs of the past.

    Yep, Apple is a hardware company that has never learned that firmware quality will eventually be its downfall.

  8. Eric says:


    Officially, Spring begins March 20th and ends on June 21st. Of course this is only true for the northern hemisphere. Think about it like this – there are 4 seasons every 12 months, so each season is 3 months long. Anyway, if Apple had released Leopard before June 21st, it would have come out in spring.

  9. billbo says:

    I don’t see why just because Microsoft delayed its OS 2 years we need to cut Apple any slack.

    It’s like my kid complaining “But everyone else is allowed to do it!”
    Don’t give a release date if you aren’t sure you can make it. It makes you look bad, and the press reports it, which believe it or not, shakes investors, and my AAPL stock goes down. Investors still to this day are scared of Apple, they can’t believe it is a solid company. Don’t give them any amo.

  10. Chris says:


    a) Apple puts functional managers (senior developers) rather than project managers in charge of these projects,
    b) or, Apple puts project managers in charge of the projects, but doesn’t support them,

    In addition, rolling out major updates and new products all within a week of each other was just plain stupid.

    It appears we are returning to the Apple of the 90’s. Remember? Each year the rollout of the new unix-based OS was put off… for another year. Back then, we had a saying: “Love the product, hate the company.”

  11. sterlingz says:

    Definitely some valid points have been made here. The past year has seen some major tarnish on Apple’s image and reputation. I’m a huge Apple fan, and I have found their performance on the software front to be extremely disappointing.

    1st of all, Leopard. Bad enough to delay it that long, but then to release it in what was basically a beta state was extremely poor form. I’ve always run Mac OS X updates on day 1 since Jaguar, but this was by far the bumpiest upgrade since the original OS X rollout. I mean there were, major, major problems that needed to be resolved in 10.5.0. 10.5.2 was the first truly functional version of the OS for me. This was a really bad sign for the direction Apple was heading, as it made them totally Microsoftesque with an attitude of “Let’s just get the product out there to make our ship date, and we’ll deal with the bugs later.” Fortunately, I do think they are going to correct course with Snow Leopard, focusing on optimization. But frankly, it sounds like Snow Leopard will be the OS Leopard should have been (though in Apple’s defense, they did have to develop Leopard for both platforms, and that undoubtedly requires tremendous resources). I found the Snow Leopard announcement refreshing, especially since it will give developers a break and not force us to buy another round of compatibility upgrades.

    2nd, Apple TV take 2 – this was a disappointing software update in the first place, because it mainly adds functionality to give Apple more money, through Movie rentals. Until Apple makes this thing into a DVR, it’s simply not going to take off. And I agree a multi-week delay was sort of lame for the handful of people that bought it, but at least it wasn’t months. The Apple Remote app for iPhone and iTouch is a bonus for Apple TV owners.

    3rd – iPhone SDK. On a completely separate note, why is Apple foisting off on 3rd parties what should be totally basic functionality to the phone? For God’s sake, where is voice dialing or search? This phone will not be taken seriously by business users without these features, as the Ars Technica review of the iPhone 3G explicitly points out. Cut and Paste I can excuse as it’s a technical challenge with the iPhone UI, but this is the company that invented Spotlight and this is the feature users have been demanding since release day.

    4th – MobileMe. Simply the worst rollout in recent memory. Shades of OS X 10.0; Microsoftesque again. Disgraceful. Took something that was expensive and sort of worked, and broke it for millions of people in the worst transition phase imaginable. It’s really hard to take a service like this seriously at that price point if we’re going to have to suffer through outages like that. People use this for their professional e-mail and website hosting – they’re definitely going to think twice about that for the future, and I am very doubtful whether Apple will be able to grow the subscriber base with this kind of performance.

  12. AdamC says:

    Hi doc, I know you are one of the best software writers in town and always deliver your goods on time and has never disappoint anyone before because your software is topnotch, no bug and behave the way it is written and perfect.

  13. Thank you AdamC,

    I was actually too modest to say that myself, and I am glad you are enjoying my software.

    Of course, even I am not perfect, as I was 2 weeks late with our Miss June Mac Chick of the Month, so I do understand delays happen. However for that very reason I have never announced that each Mac Chick will be rolled out on the 1st of each month. I prefer them to appear magically, bringing joy to all the good little girls and boys, much like Apple usually does with their hardware offerings. This way, no one gets their hopes up, only to be let down, nor does it give the impression (however accurate) that I am having trouble convincing total strangers to take off their clothes for free.

    -The Doc

  14. Uber Eter-Pay says:

    Here Here, Doc!!!

    Here Here!!!

  15. Copper says:

    It used to be that you went out to Electronics Boutique or Software Etc. or wherever and you bought a game and you took it home and you played it. Once in a while you might come across a bug so you would make sure no one needed the phone for an hour and you hit the dial-up for the companies BBC or maybe just the Compserv or Prodigy forums. 75% of the time you found out if you just don’t do “A” followed by “B” then the game wouldn’t crash. The other 25%? Here’s a patch. Nowadays you go out buy a game and the FIRST thing you do after the install is grab the latest patches. I’m still trying to figure out at what point this became acceptable to us. Where did we decided that it was OK for companies to ship us what is essentially known-bad software? Could Apple be a little more accurate in their release dates? Sure. Maybe build in a month – no one complains when a project comes in under time and under budget. Is two weeks or even two months all that bad if it means a better product? Not really. This isn’t Duke Nukem Fornever, we’re talking about. Yes there are bugs (one poster mentioned a wireless snag, for example), but from my experience (and I didn’t have a problem with Leopard for those who mentioned issues with that upgrade) Apple is a lot closer to the halcyon days of my prodigy-board, sierra on-line BBC, 2400baud youth.

  16. Nairb says:

    Apple software is top notch. Mobile me is a huge upgrade to .Mac. If you think it’s not extremely sweet, then you haven’t used the gallery feature. It’s got iPhoto like handling (on the editing side) in a web app. Also, the new iCal online is pretty awesome as well, to have drag and drop built into a web app.

    Problems with Leopard? You are whining there, it’s rock solid, I should know, I’ve installed it on many and various systems at this point.

  17. Apple said a Spring 2007 release. Apple did NOT lie and was NOT late because October 2007 IS spring here in New Zealand.

    Apple merely never let on which hemisphere Spring would relate to.

  18. odin says:

    Loweded is definately someone’s lawyer!

  19. zato says:

    Nairb wrote: “Problems with Leopard? You are whining there, it’s rock solid, I should know, I’ve installed it on many and various systems at this point.”

    They aren’t whining, Nairb. They’re lying. They’re PC a-holes.

  20. DMann says:

    ” sterlingz Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    “3rd – iPhone SDK. On a completely separate note, why is Apple foisting off on 3rd parties what should be totally basic functionality to the phone? For God’s sake, where is voice dialing or search?”

    Search happens to be a basic function of 2.0, located above the first contact in the list. SpeechCloud offers a superior voice dialing app for the iPhone – after speaking the contact’s name, up it comes, with a menu for calling home, work, cell, or texting – much more useful than other one dimensional speech dialing phones out there. Cut, Copy and Paste, along with video recording and camera zooming are imminent releases. No need to complain, especially in reference to functionality which has already been attended to.

  21. sterlingz says:

    OK Apple apologists, enough already. I can see that no criticism can be leveled at your beloved corporation, no matter what.

    zato – I am anything but a PC a-hole, and I really resent your nasty tone. I am a Mac addict through and through, but also a thinking person and not brainwashed to think flawed software is great just because it’s by Apple.

    Narib – I think the jury’s still out on whether MobileMe is a “huge upgrade.” to .Mac.” There are still major service interruptions being reported by user indicating that it’s still not stable. Also, one of the most touted features which is iDisk filesharing is still not implemented. Furthermore, Apple initially claimed that it would be push e-mail everywhere. Then, after users complained that contacts and calendars were not pushing from the desktop, Apple had to back off of that claim and change their language after it was apparent that they were just using the usual Sync Service from the Mac. Plus, iCards and Homepage features have been dropped. MobileMe looks slick, and is now working for me, but there is no question that the rollout was very rocky and angered thousands of users who expect more from a premium service. I think Apple did a pretty good job addressing this with the one month free credit, but I stand by my comments that people who were using this service for their business e-mail or hosting are going to think twice.

    Second, you may have not had trouble with Leopard, but lots of people did, and the problems were well documented, and there has been general commentary from Mac writers that this was the buggiest release of OS X since 10.0. NOW it is working well, and I am running it on all my machines, but it did not work as advertised on release day.


    DMann – Yes, it is true that the contacts search feature that should have been there on day 1 is now available. However, there is still no global search on the phone, and most glaringly, no way to search MAIL. This is a show stopper – how I am supposed to find anything? Scroll through a list of hundreds of messages? I can’t even sort by any criteria. See the Ars Technica review to get their take on it, vis-a-vis the Blackberry which has search very well implemented.


    RE: SpeechCloud – you will notice it has a two and half star rating in the store, and that’s mainly because it’s not truly voice dialiing!! It requires you to still tap the screen of the iPhone, which totally defeats the purpose of voice dialing. This is something that Apple, not a third party, should implement because it’s a phone level functionality.

    Look, I love Apple as much as the next person, but there is no doubt that there has been some slipping in QA as they diversify into so many different products. Also, they have become quite greedy, as was pointed out in an iLounge editorial last year: http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/customers-ask-is-apple-going-rotten/

    The points I’ve made are the same one being voiced by the Apple-friendly press including MacWorld, so don’t accuse me of being a “PC A-hole,” you apologists!!

  22. sterlingz says:

    Incidentally, MobileMe seems to be getting further from a “huge upgrade to .Mac” by the day. The very thing that was a big problem with .Mac – syncing – is worse than before. I am experiencing major issues with reconciling my Mac with “the cloud” and my iPhone. Seems I’m not alone, read the comments for this Macworld post:


    If Apple was going to the trouble of rebranding this service and putting their paying users through this major transition, it seems like syncing is the one thing they should try and get right. If these bugs aren’t fixed in the next month or so, I’m canceling my subscription before it renews. This service is just too flawed to be charging such a premium for it.

  23. sterlingz says:

    This sums it up perfectly:


    “Ambition, right now, has outstretched grasp. Time for Apple to slow down, get control, so it can release solid products, provide serious support and turn on customers (quite literally in the iPhone 3G case), rather than turn them off.”

  24. Monkey says:

    I think Apple is sometimes worse on the hardware end. How long has it been since their Cinema Displays have been updated. I would buy a 30″ if it were brought up to today’s standards and competitively priced. I want faster response times, better contrast ratio, dual dvi, hdmi, display port, etc.

    The Mac Mini needs updated with the latest intel processors and they could use some other tweaks too.

    I am happy to see the Mac Pro, laptops, and iMac getting attention. I would like to hear less about the iPhone for awhile.

  25. MacSmiley says:

    I am very upset with Apple for nixing the .Mac services… especially iCards.


    They were simple, they were elegant, and they didn’t plaster recipients with advertisements, HTML, and flashing GIFS.

    I got responses from sending iCards I never got from sending emails… not even emails with pictures. The combination of whimsical images and text in one small, savable JPEG in the iCard message was hard to resist.

    Despite a couple of homemade alternatives, iWant Apple iCards Back!!

    There are two petitions clamoring for Apple to bring back iCards. Feel free to join the chorus!




    Meanwhile, Apple seems to be doing everything in its power to block feedback about .Mac/MobileMe.

    Apple’s Discussion moderators deleted this comment from an iCards thread, so I’m plastering it all over the Web:

    “Everyone, call Apple Customer Relations at this number to complain (I found it was the best # to call after trying several). They say number of complaints matters:

    1-800-767-2775 ”

    — k2graphics

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