Apple needs to stop pre-announcing products like the Mac Pro and AirPower that won't be av...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 11
Apple released a new iPhone 8 color on Monday, and the refrain was less about the device itself, hijacked on social media into being more about Apple not having shipped the AirPower wireless charging pad -- and all this can be avoided.




This isn't the first time that Apple has announced a product and not shipped it for months, engendering irritation and confusion amongst its customers.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch was Apple's first modern product it pre-announced well before it actually shipped, possibly giving the company a model for the future. After years of rumors, Apple announced the Apple Watch at the September 9, 2014 event alongside the iPhone 6, promising an "early 2015" release.




A firm shipping date for the wearable wouldn't be announced until "Spring Forward" event on March 9, 2015.



The official release date was April 24, 2015, 227 days after the unveiling.

AirPods

Two years later, Apple had a shorter gap between announcement and release with the AirPods. When the AirPods were introduced with the iPhone 7 on September 7, 2016, Apple promised an October ship date. This ultimately got pushed back to December, likely for production reasons.




An October release would have been fine. But, Apple intentionally pushing the release back was good for the product -- but stirred up a period of worry amongst the mainstream press and audiophile community alike that Apple was charging way too much for a simple product that would be flawed at launch, and couldn't possibly live up to expectations.

Fortunately, it did. But, that's not necessarily the case for all of Apple's audio efforts.

HomePod

Once again, after a two-year period of rumors, Apple had the HomePod on display at the 2017 WWDC on June 5, 2017. The company originally scheduled it to ship in December 2017, but it ultimately slipped to early 2018.

It finally started arriving on February 8, 2018, 248 days later.

The HomePod is mostly solid, with a great deal of room to grow as Siri is borderline terrible on it. But, the rampant speculation about why the device was "delayed" coupled with it not really living up to expectations is a problem not just for Apple, but the consumer as well.

iMac Pro and Mac Pro

On April 4, 2017, Apple executives Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi, and now Apple Pro Hardware line chief John Ternus made all kinds of promises about the resurrection of the Pro line of hardware. The conversation spanned Apple Pro displays, an iMac with "server grade" hardware, and a new "modular" Mac Pro.

The iMac Pro arrived in the dying embers of 2017 after a more formal introduction at the 2017 WWDC. We already know that the Mac Pro and probably the pro-level displays aren't coming until 2019, and have already gone around and around on the Mac Pro.

From a soft-launch on April 4, 2017 to when the iMac Pro shipped on Dec. 14, 255 days had elapsed.

AirPower

Which brings us to the AirPower Qi charging pad for the iPhone 8, iPhone X, Apple Watch, and AirPods with wireless charging case. Apple's announcement of the PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 8 was met with apathy, but a concern that the AirPower hadn't yet been released, despite being promised for the nebulous "2018" when it debuted.




This has jokingly led to potential customers on social media and other venues wondering if we all collectively hallucinated the product's reveal.

At the time of writing on April 11, we're looking at 211 days since announcement.

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils

Apple bailed on the annual MacWorld Expo for reasons known only to itself. However, the "tyranny" of being beholden to a release cycle foisted upon the company by show-runner IDG was cited as a reason. Fast-forward to the 2010s, and we are all stuck in the rinse-repeat WWDC and fall iPhone release cycle.

In theory, predictable release dates are good for the consumer. But, it brings up the question of why announce a product, like the Apple Watch, that won't ship for 200 days plus.

And, now we're essentially staring at a gap of two years between the Mac Pro and professional display announcement to an actual ship date, could be a little less, could be a lot more, as Apple likes meeting deadlines of any given year in the last half of December. Tensions are running a little high amongst the devout because of it.

The less said about the Mac mini in the context of this discussion, the better.

Nobody but Apple can get away with such a long period of time between announcement and shipping. Narratives spin out of control in the interim, predicting doom and gloom which is nearly never warranted to the magnitude that's on display.

Intel-based iMac announcement
Intel-based iMac announcement


Not everything has to have a Jobsian shipping today reveal, or even in a week, or a month. These 200 plus day spans have no value, and don't have to exist.

The solution seems simple. Apple could figure out when they expect something might ship, add 60 days to that as a fudge factor for unexpected issues for an actual shipping date, and subtract 90 days for a reveal date -- and just not talk about it before then. If the fudge factor isn't necessary, and the product ships early, the fans and press alike won't ever be upset.

Ultimately, what's tolerable for an announcement to release gap is up to the user to decide. But, 200 days and beyond for whatever the reason is consumer hostile, and generates ill-will that could be avoided.
curtis hannahbsimpsenlarrya
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 102
    I disagree. It’s nice to know for a change that products are finally coming instead of just wondering endlessly. 
    muthuk_vanalingamflashfan207minicoffeeStrangeDaysbonobobCaffiendirelanddws-2LukeCageRayz2016
  • Reply 2 of 102
    macguimacgui Posts: 706member
    I disagree. It’s nice to know for a change that products are finally coming instead of just wondering endlessly. 

    I'm in that same camp.

    It's good to know what's on the horizon. But Apple's problem is announcing a date and not keeping it. They need to get back to underpromise and over deliver.

    I don't mind the vague dates like 'late Spring' or 'early 2019' as long as they deliver as promised. It's as though they announce a date early in development and then hit an unforeseen snag at some point in that development, solely as a result of assigning the ship date too soon.
    caladaniannetroxmuthuk_vanalingamflashfan207minicoffeeCaffiendLukeCagepulseimageschasm
  • Reply 3 of 102
    irelandireland Posts: 17,008member
    Everybody knows why they held meetings with press re Mac Pro. They have decided to do things a little differently there with this machine and being more open to pro customers of theirs, and I feel for sound reason.
    edited April 11 SpamSandwichtmaymuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 102
    I disagree. The early announcements allow consumers to know Apple has something coming so that we can decide whether to buy a third party product or wait for Apple.  As for ill will, your site regularly uses the blogs, reviewers, prognosticators, and nay-sayers as fodder for articles when their doom & gloom outlook proves unfounded.  If Apple believed the clamor had any material impact on product sales at launch, I’m sure they would stop.  Until then, I’m guessing they’ll keep doing what they do, following what so many of your site’s articles boil down to - ignore the distractions. 
    SpamSandwichtmaymuthuk_vanalingamflashfan207StrangeDaysLukeCageredraider11pulseimagesRayz2016randominternetperson
  • Reply 5 of 102
    bkkcanuckbkkcanuck Posts: 700member
    I disagree as well.  First, Apple has not preannounced "a product" as they have not indicated anything about it other than it is modular.  

    The issue is that Apple had to say something -- not as a product announcement -- but to indicate the product is not dead.  Companies can afford usually to put off purchasing of major new hardware, but they must know that down the road something is going to be there to buy.  If not, the company has to make hard decisions on their future and whether their future and Apples are in the same picture.  

    The Macbook Air - was not an announcement - it is at most a leak - possibly not even true.
    muthuk_vanalingamCaffiendpulseimagesdocno42
  • Reply 6 of 102
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,780member
    The original iPhone was also announced several months before it shipped. 

    One big reason not to pre-announce a new product is if doing so will kill demand for existing products. 

    But if the product you're introducing doesn't compete with your existing products, then the calculation is different. One good reason to pre-announce is to kill demand for competing products, if they exist. The iPhone was not the first smartphone. Pre-announcing it didn't hurt Apple's sales of existing products but may have caused people to hit the pause button on purchases of existing smartphones. Same for the Watch. Same for AirPods. 

    The Mac Pro is a bit of a special case, and I think Apple clearly made the right call in communicating with their professional user base (or what remains of it) to assure them that Apple is committed to that market and that new products will be coming. For professional/business customers, clear communication and predictability are more important than for consumers. 

    A separate issue is releasing a product later than intended. That's problematic regardless of whether it was pre-announced. Take HomePod --- regardless of whether Apple pre-announced it, the fact that they missed the 2017 Christmas season was bad. But would it have been better not to pre-announce in an environment where smart speakers are a hot product category? My family was pushing for a smart speaker for Christmas. I knew HomePod was coming, so I made them wait. But if I didn't know HomePod was coming, I might have caved to Alexa (or whatever).

    Bottom line -- there can be good reasons to pre-announce a product. I really don't see this as a big problem for Apple. The bigger problems are shipping things late relative to the rest of the market (like HomePod) and seriously dropping the ball in product design/development (Mac Pro). 


    caladanianmike1muthuk_vanalingamCaffiendLukeCagehotmydwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 102
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 28,794member
    Apple will be pummeled over their decisions no matter what they are, so they should just do their best.
    macxpresslkruppflashfan207rob53StrangeDaysLukeCageRayz2016randominternetpersondocno42watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 102
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,587member
    Pre-announcing major product categories like the watch is fine. Mostly so with other products too. The key is to give an accurate and achievable launch date or be very vague about the date. The damage comes from moving things out all the time. Of course, stuff happens and there may be unanticipated delays, but it'd be better to ship earlier than the announced date rather than announce delays.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 102
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,679member
    I disagree. It’s nice to know for a change that products are finally coming instead of just wondering endlessly. 
    We’re not talking about a few weeks or a couple months notice. We’re talking about self-imposed timeframes that are already far away and then woefully missed. We still don’t even have a price or timeframe for AirPower. It makes Apple look incompetent.
    edited April 11 peterhartking editor the graterogifan_newzeus423larryapulseimageschasmsteveau
  • Reply 10 of 102
    I'm just really annoyed that the AirPower mat is taking so gd long.

    Also, the article forgot to mention Siri. Apple shoudln't have pre-announced Siri as a helpful assistant 6 years (and counting..) before it was ready.
    rare commentttollertonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 102
    Yeah, I don't think stuff is that structured at Apple. Reading about how Siri got screwed, due to a limp process and duelling ego's, means that there are probably more department where stuff needs to be unfcked. The degradation in QA is easy to experience, even by normal users. Reading about how they are approaching the Mac Pro does not instil a lot of confidence that it will fit with the (arguably broad) target group. It's probably going to be a great machine if you use logic, FCP, motion, much less so if you use Adobe, 3D apps, VR, or don't fit in one 'profession' and just want a beefy machine to handle 'whatever you throw at it' and have it not suck. (a really stable 'hackintosh' with awesome nvidia support would be great thanks) Seeing the mac's revenue numbers compared to iOS, I fear Apple is going to radically change computing for me. Could be great, could be not so great. Would be nice to hear more about an actual vision, and less about polished aluminium.
    docno42
  • Reply 12 of 102
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 42,837member
    An entire article about announcing computer products too early and you made NO mention of the Osborne Effect? The thing that was probably responsible for Steve Jobs leading Apple to total secrecy IN THE FIRST PLACE? Really?
    king editor the grateStrangeDaysSpamSandwich
  • Reply 13 of 102
    Yea the iPhone was announced 6 months before release.
    zeus423
  • Reply 14 of 102
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,334administrator
    An entire article about announcing computer products too early and you made NO mention of the Osborne Effect? The thing that was probably responsible for Steve Jobs leading Apple to total secrecy IN THE FIRST PLACE? Really?
    I had thought about it. Sufficiently long as-is.
    king editor the grateSpamSandwich
  • Reply 15 of 102
    mavemufcmavemufc Posts: 250member
    I like seeing what they have pre-announced, but the AirPower has annoyed me cause I’ve been waiting for it ever since it was announced, don’t understand why they’re waiting so long to get it out.
  • Reply 16 of 102
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,079member
    I disagree. It’s nice to know for a change that products are finally coming instead of just wondering endlessly. 
    I think this is why they started doing it. They kept getting so much backlash about never releasing anything they had to do something to show people that they are working on things.

    That being said...I do wish they'd just go back to release something when its ready. I like the element of surprise, but I guess too many people in this world are too damn impatient.

    What I would really like, is you know, I don't want to know about HomePod or iMac Pro ahead of time. I don't want to know about it at all. I'd love to see Apple just be able to have a damn keynote and nobody knows why and boom, here is this new iMac Pro with these specs and boom, here is HomePod and it can do this and this and it sounds amazing, etc. I know in this day and age its pretty much impossible because people can't keep their damn mouth shut about anything.
    edited April 11 kudu
  • Reply 17 of 102
    keithwkeithw Posts: 33member
    For certain products, like the Pro line, they really had no choice.  Creatives and others were leaving in droves. One could argue that 2019 for products that should have been ready early this year is ludicrous, but people need to plan for high ticket items.  By the time the new "Pro" actually ships, it will have been over 6 years since the last Mac Pro came out.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 102
    Add me to the disagreers. 

    Apple arrives late to many product categories - smart watches and smart speakers are good examples - and letting people know that they have something coming in that category probably prevents people from buying into a competitor's ecosystem.

    Take the Apple Watch. If someone reallllly wanted a smart watch, they could've gotten an Android watch, but that of course would function better with an Android phone. So maybe they end up getting one. Now Apple has lost out on the watch sale, the phone sale, and all of the associated future App Store and services revenue. If that person knows the Apple Watch is on the way, they can wait for it, stay in Apple's ecosystem, and keep spending money with Apple.

    The AirPad could be in this situation too, but I feel it also has to do with the fact that it seems silly to introduce a new phone with wireless charging and then say "But we don't actually sell wireless chargers."

    For the Pro desktop systems, Apple has been underserving that market for a while and is trying to prevent people from jumping ship to Windows. 

    I'd also imagine that pre-announcing products reduces the need for such intense secrecy among Apple's employees and suppliers. That level of secrecy has to bring with it some degree of operational drawbacks. 
    muthuk_vanalingamdocno42
  • Reply 19 of 102
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,679member
    blastdoor said:
    The original iPhone was also announced several months before it shipped. 

    One big reason not to pre-announce a new product is if doing so will kill demand for existing products. 

    But if the product you're introducing doesn't compete with your existing products, then the calculation is different. One good reason to pre-announce is to kill demand for competing products, if they exist. The iPhone was not the first smartphone. Pre-announcing it didn't hurt Apple's sales of existing products but may have caused people to hit the pause button on purchases of existing smartphones. Same for the Watch. Same for AirPods. 

    The Mac Pro is a bit of a special case, and I think Apple clearly made the right call in communicating with their professional user base (or what remains of it) to assure them that Apple is committed to that market and that new products will be coming. For professional/business customers, clear communication and predictability are more important than for consumers. 

    A separate issue is releasing a product later than intended. That's problematic regardless of whether it was pre-announced. Take HomePod --- regardless of whether Apple pre-announced it, the fact that they missed the 2017 Christmas season was bad. But would it have been better not to pre-announce in an environment where smart speakers are a hot product category? My family was pushing for a smart speaker for Christmas. I knew HomePod was coming, so I made them wait. But if I didn't know HomePod was coming, I might have caved to Alexa (or whatever).

    Bottom line -- there can be good reasons to pre-announce a product. I really don't see this as a big problem for Apple. The bigger problems are shipping things late relative to the rest of the market (like HomePod) and seriously dropping the ball in product design/development (Mac Pro). 
    The original iPhone has nothing in common with the other products with self-imposed launch times that they’ve missed.
  • Reply 20 of 102
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,079member
    Apple will be pummeled over their decisions no matter what they are, so they should just do their best.
    Yes as is basically the case with everything Apple does. They're damned if they do and damned if they don't. Its getting to the point where it doesn't matter what the topic is, someone will be upset and complain. If I were Apple I'd ignore most of what goes on outside of Apple. Stay focused and put out the best products you can possibly put out. If its a great product, people will buy it no matter when its released.
    edited April 11 lkruppStrangeDaysdocno42
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