Group FaceTime is only the latest of many Apple technologies to be delayed

Posted:
in General Discussion
Just as Group FaceTime 12 will now ship late, Apple has a long history of both hardware and software missing its announced dates.




Apple's postponing its much-touted Group FaceTime feature in iOS 12 was a surprise -- but really only because the decision was made so close to launch. These days it seems that there is always a feature or a new piece of hardware that gets announced only to be severely delayed.

It's not a new thing, though: Apple has publicly done this many times. In private, the company's internal deadlines have extended on devices right back to the original Mac.

Andy Hertzfeld, one of the key creators of the Mac, is quoted in Apple Confidential 2.0 that: "We had been saying, We're going to finish in six months' for two years." He said it about Steve Jobs's final decision of the shipping date, the absolute, inviolate date and place where the Mac would be launched.




It's just that his mandate was for May 16, 1983 at the National Computer Conference in Anaheim, California.

The Mac really launched on January 24, 1984 at the Apple Annual Shareholders' Meeting at the Flint Centre in the De Anza College, Cupertino.

For all the problems this delay caused inside Apple, though, it didn't make a difference outside. Apple knew not to announce a shipping date and it continued to know that even when under pressure.

So when John Sculley formally backed the Newton project at Apple, he insisted that it must ship on April 2, 1992 but he didn't say that outside the company. That deadline sailed on by and Sculley didn't even publicly commit to a new one even when he did publicly announce Newton.

He did that on May 29, 1992 and he did so knowing that Newton wasn't close to ready. Even though he refused to state a shipping date, this was still the first time that Apple injured itself by announcing a product too far in advance.

By March of 1993, Apple Confidential 2.0 says journalists were practically taunting Apple, asking: "Will it ever be available? Or is Apple going to just keep on announcing that it will be available?"




Apple's then head of Personal Interactive Electronics, Gaston Bastiaens, replied to that question by saying: "I bet my wine cellar on this: The Newton will be available this summer."

It actually shipped on August 2, 1993.

It wouldn't have happened under Steve Jobs

"We're at 2GHz today," said Steve Jobs of the then new Power Mac G5 at WWDC 2003. "IBM and Apple are today announcing that within 12 months we'll be at 3GHz. That's up 50 percent within 12 months. So believe me, this architecture has legs."





Flash forward to 2005 and Jobs is standing front of a slide saying 3GHz. "I stood up here two years in front of you and I promised you this," he said. "And we haven't been able to deliver that you yet."

This is an Apple product that was announced and wasn't just delayed, it never shipped.

Regulations

If Apple is now more known for announcing products and giving a shipping date months in the future, it's sometimes because it has no choice.

Starting with the iPhone, Apple's new devices strayed into heavily regulated territory. The company was legally required to submit the phone to the FCC which takes a certain amount of time to approve or not approve of a product.

What the FCC didn't do at the time is take any interest in Apple's wish to be secret.




So since it had to go into FCC testing and since that news would leak, that's why Apple announced the iPhone when it did. Still, Apple said when it was coming out and it came out exactly as promised.

That isn't quite what happened with the iPhone 4 -- or at least not the white version. That color was announced at the iPhone 4 unveiling on June 7, 2010 with the black model going on sale later that month.

On the day that model came out, Apple said the white one was proving harder to manufacture than expected but would now be released in mid- to late-July. The white iPhone 4 actually shipped in April the following year.

Apple under Tim Cook

More recently, Apple has announced dates and then sometimes only just barely kept them. Most people who bought the 2012 27-inch iMac didn't get it until 2013, for instance. It was announced as coming by the end of the year but comparatively few shipped and they did so in late December.




Similarly, in September 2014 the company announced Apple Watch and said we'd be able to buy it on April 24, 2015. When that day came, you could certainly pay your money but stocks sold out so fast that even early risers were being told delivery would be in June. Or July. Or August.

Then in 2016 you would definitely be able to buy Apple's then-new AirPods from late October -- until the company's website changed that to a cautious "coming soon." The AirPods were next expected in November and then ultimately it was certain that they'd come out in December.

Apple's AirPods did come out in December. But, not until the 19th and in short supply so Apple missed that Christmas.

They missed the next one, too, this time with the HomePod -- which got two different types of delay. The first was in when it initially went on sale. When it was announced in June 2017, the HomePod was scheduled to be released in December in the US, UK and Australia.

It finallycame out in February 2018 . And finally' is an odd word to use since although you should buy the hardware then, it didn't do everything that was promised. Specifically, you couldn't buy two HomePods and have them work together in stereo or across multiple rooms.

That key HomePod feature requires the AirPlay 2 software update which didn't come until iOS 11.4 on May 29.




It's not just audio technology that has come with long delays. Apple also touted that support for external GPUs would be a feature of macOS High Sierra -- and it is. It just didn't come until High Sierra was halfway through its year-long lifetime.

Surprising and not surprising

You can't really criticize Apple for delays when part of the problem is just that fewer things remain secret now. You can't blame them when legal or regulatory requirements make them announce products sooner than they'd want.

Nor can you blame them for the odd blip when they are constantly producing and radically revising so much hardware and software.

You can, though, wonder how consistently the company misses the Christmas market when it has new products that practically guaranteed big sellers.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 614member
    I guess it's too bad they want to wait to get it right?  by 30.days?
    racerhomie3rob53LukeCagewatto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 37
    tyler82tyler82 Posts: 870member
    Better late than buggy. The maps app was a huge embarassment for them.
    LukeCagewatto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 37
    I'd also guess that many of the features have to go through very stringent legal compliance. For something like Group FaceTime you know that there's a patent troll out there sharpening the knives waiting for it to be released because they have a patent for "talking to multiple people while seeing them".

    Many of the features may be finished but are unreleased due to legal reasons.
    edited August 2018 DAalsethmacxpressgilly017racerhomie3rob53LukeCagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 37
    adamcadamc Posts: 573member
    When Apple is late with a software or product the pundits whine and when the software or product is buggy the pundits whine, just can’t please these folks.
    StrangeDaysgilly017racerhomie3rob53LukeCageclaire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 37
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,902member
    spike2013 said:
    I'd also guess that many of the features have to go through very stringent legal compliance. For something like Group FaceTime you know that there's a patent troll out there sharpening the knives waiting for it to be released because they have a patent for "talking to multiple people while seeing them".

    Many of the features may be finished but are unreleased due to legal reasons.
    I think most folks here (myself included) have no idea what it takes to bring a product to market, brand new or just an update. I hardly doubt it’s just build and release it. There’s so much that goes into this I couldn’t even imagine the process. 

    So when people want complain about Tim being the one who delays everything (“Tim can’t deliver”), it’s just pure BS. As the article explains, it’s not like this is something new. 
    mwhiteStrangeDayspscooter63gilly017dewmerob53LukeCageanantksundaramwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 37
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    Apple won't release any product or service before it is fully baked.

    Never have, never will.
    claire1
  • Reply 7 of 37
    I’m curious, is Group FaceTime truly delayed? Just because it was announced as a feature of iOS 12 doesn’t mean it will be a available at the release of iOS 12. People seem to assume that a stated feature will be available from day one, but as we’ve seen in the past that isn’t necessarily so. Did Apple actually state it would be a launch feature?
    StrangeDaysclaire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 37
    Though I see the above as valid points that must cause plenty of grief on both the software and hardware front... COME ON MAN!
    They had 3 times the SW and HW in the 90s. Macs, printers, monitors, a camera.  It was a mess, but they did it and could barely afford to advertise.
    Managing the supply lines and hitting ship targets was the nightmare under Spindler and Amelio. THIS is not that Apple.
    This is a Trillion $$$ company.
    Apple's R&D budget is what??? $3 Billion.
    When I supported and repped for them on 1999, their Annual sales were only $12 billion and falling. Their R&D is now 1/4 of that.
    Just how many people work on these projects? Are they just to fat?
    Multitudes more than worked on original Mac, Newton, or OS7/8/9. 
    The HomePod took HOW LONG? And they still can't get Siri/AirPlay2 to know enough to see that you have two homepods and want them to run in Stereo by default as a preference.
    Microsoft & Google have have been doing multi-face chat and conferencing for sometime now. This is not like inventing Quicktime.
    Just sayin...  ~S

    s.metcalf
  • Reply 9 of 37
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,106member
    No one is arguing Apple should release buggy software or hardware. But in the case of AirPower, why announce the product when it clearly was nowhere near ready to ship? When other companies do this people don’t pat them on the back for taking the time to get it right, they call it vaporware.
    claire1GeorgeBMacmavemufc
  • Reply 10 of 37
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,012member
    No one is arguing Apple should release buggy software or hardware. But in the case of AirPower, why announce the product when it clearly was nowhere near ready to ship? When other companies do this people don’t pat them on the back for taking the time to get it right, they call it vaporware.
    Because things happen. Not sure what your field is, but I build software and have released national physical products too...and shit happens. There’s nothing special about the humans at Apple that would make them  impervious to the sort of unexpected problems that can develope.

    Before people complained that Apple was too quiet and never pre-announced or shared their roadmap. Now you complain when they do.
    edited August 2018 pscooter63racerhomie3dewmeLukeCagePickUrPoisonwatto_cobramacxpress
  • Reply 11 of 37
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,162member
    No one is arguing Apple should release buggy software or hardware. But in the case of AirPower, why announce the product when it clearly was nowhere near ready to ship? When other companies do this people don’t pat them on the back for taking the time to get it right, they call it vaporware.
    One rule of manufacturing, sales and marketing often write checks that engineering can’t cash. Jobs would kite those checks or let them bounce if he had to to get the damn thing out the door and fix it later. Just because it upsets the freaks that want everything yesterday.




    dewmewatto_cobraRayz2016
  • Reply 12 of 37
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,655member
    I think it's great that Apple waits until things are baked-in.  If I want half-assed, we have Samsung and Google to look to.
    innersongsclaire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 37
    jccjcc Posts: 215member
    The real issue is that Steve knew how to under-promise and over-deliver whereas Cook is the exact opposite. Noticed that in the old days Steve kept the entire product pipeline a secret? They don't tell you jack until they're ready to release it. Now, Cook just likes to shoot off his mouth before the products are anywhere ready. That's why we're seeing all these delays. I mean it's been almost a year when they talked about releasing the wireless charger pad. Steve would have waiting until this year to announce and release. See the difference????
    edited August 2018
  • Reply 14 of 37
    netroxnetrox Posts: 745member
    It could be that Apple was threatened with patent infringements on technology used to have group Facetime.
    watto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 15 of 37
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,106member
    No one is arguing Apple should release buggy software or hardware. But in the case of AirPower, why announce the product when it clearly was nowhere near ready to ship? When other companies do this people don’t pat them on the back for taking the time to get it right, they call it vaporware.
    Because things happen. Not sure what your field is, but I build software and have released national physical products too...and shit happens. There’s nothing special about the humans at Apple that would make them  impervious to the sort of unexpected problems that can develope.

    Before people complained that Apple was too quiet and never pre-announced or shared their roadmap. Now you complain when they do.
    Oh come on, if Google, Microsoft or Amazon had announced a product and hadn’t delivered it a year later everyone would be calling it vaporware.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 16 of 37
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,106member

    lkrupp said:
    No one is arguing Apple should release buggy software or hardware. But in the case of AirPower, why announce the product when it clearly was nowhere near ready to ship? When other companies do this people don’t pat them on the back for taking the time to get it right, they call it vaporware.
    One rule of manufacturing, sales and marketing often write checks that engineering can’t cash. Jobs would kite those checks or let them bounce if he had to to get the damn thing out the door and fix it later. Just because it upsets the freaks that want everything yesterday.




    I get the sense Cook & Co. are feeing more and more pressure to release new stuff so we end up with things that aren’t fully baked at launch. Like Apple Watch and 3rd party apps or HomePod and Siri
  • Reply 17 of 37
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,100member
    macxpress said:
    spike2013 said:
    I'd also guess that many of the features have to go through very stringent legal compliance. For something like Group FaceTime you know that there's a patent troll out there sharpening the knives waiting for it to be released because they have a patent for "talking to multiple people while seeing them".

    Many of the features may be finished but are unreleased due to legal reasons.
    I think most folks here (myself included) have no idea what it takes to bring a product to market, brand new or just an update. I hardly doubt it’s just build and release it. There’s so much that goes into this I couldn’t even imagine the process. 

    So when people want complain about Tim being the one who delays everything (“Tim can’t deliver”), it’s just pure BS. As the article explains, it’s not like this is something new. 
    You are correct in recognizing that bringing a product to market, especially a 1.0 product, on a predetermined schedule and cost is very difficult. There are a plethora of reasons why projects routinely overrun their projected time and money budgets. There are libraries full of self help and prescriptive project management books that claim to have techniques and processes to deliver projects on-time and on-budget. In the face of reality all of these silver bullet project management techniques usually fail spectacularly and with a trail of broken careers. I've been very fortunate to have worked almost exclusively on 1.0 projects, from small to huge, and in pretty much every capacity, over nearly 40 years and I cannot remember any that finished on-time based on the original project projections.

    The reality is that people are extremely bad at predicting the future and especially bad when it comes to predicting the future for work that has never been done before. When you're evaluating success based on delivery date there are so many ways to fail and so very few ways to succeed. People are also very bad at recognizing schedule slippages that occur over the course of a project. When a project slips its delivery date everyone thinks the slippage occurred at the tail end of the project and the people who take the heat are those whose contributions are traditionally done at that time, like system integration, testing, and QA. Delays that occur one day 1 of the project are no different than delays that occur on day 300 of the project. Beating up the testers or asking them to reduce their cycle time only makes matters worse. A lost day is a lost day, regardless of the inherent optimism and hope that days lost early on can be recovered later on. It never works out that way, at least not based on my experience.

    This is not to say that no projects can meet their delivery commitments. Some products seem to make it. For example, tax preparation software like TurboTax has to meet strict delivery requirements or they are dead in the water. But these companies have been at it for a while and they have processes in place to recognize where they are at towards meeting their hard delivery dates at every step along the way. They cannot afford to wait until the 11th hour to ramp up a big push to try to get the product out the door on time. But for complex products, and especially new products with lots of dependencies across many disciplines, it's still a matter of prediction and gut feelings. When Tim Cook gets up in front of the world and talks about a new product arriving in a certain time frame he is still articulating a prediction based on everything he understands at that exact point in time. Some organizations like to play mind games and try to force people who are making predictions to state them in the form of a "commitment" as if using the word "commitment" implies a greater sense of urgency and refusal to accept any delays. This is a stupid game to play because changing the word does not change the reality.

    One final point about predictions: they all have what is called a "cone of uncertainty." The further out in time the prediction the wider the cone of uncertainty. Keep this in mind when you hear about something (predicted to be) coming in one month versus something coming in the second half of 2019. And don't forget that everyone sucks at predicting the future - everyone including you and me and Tim Cook.

     
    pscooter63PickUrPoisonmikethemartianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 37
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 682member
    Dear William - a well-reserached and well-written article! A lovely read. Please keep it up!
    watto_cobraGeorgeBMacmacxpress
  • Reply 19 of 37
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,510member
    netrox said:
    It could be that Apple was threatened with patent infringements on technology used to have group Facetime.
    Yep, remember when Steve said Facetime would be open platform, how many years ago. I’m pretty sure that was about patent infringement threats.

    jcc said:
    The real issue is that Steve knew how to under-promise and over-deliver whereas Cook is the exact opposite. Noticed that in the old days Steve kept the entire product pipeline a secret? They don't tell you jack until they're ready to release it. Now, Cook just likes to shoot off his mouth before the products are anywhere ready. That's why we're seeing all these delays. I mean it's been almost a year when they talked about releasing the wireless charger pad. Steve would have waiting until this year to announce and release. See the difference????
    No, I don’t see your difference. See post above.
    pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 37
    It almost never pays to provide a hard delivery date for complex consumer electronics items.
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