Mountain Lion Blog Stirs Debate

Posted: October 1, 2012 in CRM
Tags: , ,

Well, this is fun.  You might recall I wrote a short piece on how difficult it is to upgrade Apple’s operating system to the newest release, Mountain Lion.  I ran into trouble and quit after I’d discovered other people with issues.  I wrote a post, “First Mammal to Lay an Egg: Mountain Lion by Apple.”  I love Apple products but took issue with this upgrade.

It seems that Apple has not produced an installation disk for Mountain Lion.  You can buy the upgrade on line and download it.  Unfortunately, it’s a big download and it takes time.  Worse, some people reported that the download quit and had to be restarted and that there were other issues like the speed of their particular internet connection, that affected total time to do the download and upgrade.

So, the post drew some comment, which is not unusual but what is interesting is the differing customer orientation philosophies expressed by me and my reader.  I share the exchange with you below because 1) it’s public and 2) it neatly summarizes a lot that we’ve been debating in CRM circles for many years.  FYI, the debate is happening at  the Enterprise Irregulars site where the piece was cross posted.  You can also read the post at that link and you should and also pay attention to the references I included.

What do you think?  Here it is in full (so far).

First response (to the post)

“so, shipping a CD or DVD would be faster? The download happens in the background and doesn’t interrupt whatever you’re doing at the moment. It recovers from disconnects and failures gracefully. This is such a non-issue to any normal mortal. Not to mention downloading is more green, less wasted plastic and paper and shipping charges.

My reply

the download has issues as the referenced materials show. Also, I don’t have the time to babysit the process. Many people are having problems with this approach. It might have green and other benefits but it should not be the only way to a solution. Normal mortal?

Second response

I don’t know, more people upgraded to mountain lion, on a percentage basis, than people who upgrade windows in any similar timeframe. Must work for most people. Sorry it didn’t float your boat. But I think the analysis on this one is pretty poor.

My reply

You have no concept of the individual user and you sound like you are blaming the customer, not a great idea. This is not about how most people fare, the company has a responsibility to all of its customers and in the examples I found, it failed them.

Third response

Denis, I am the individual user. And There are 20 mac users in this office (and a few windows users as well) who all updated with nary a complaint. We don’t have a single “IT” employee to help them do installs.

I believe the data you found does not paint the picture of “most people” but of a few people from a forum. Check the status on mountain lion downloads and you have your # of successful downloads… far outnumbering the number of problem downloads. And of course Apple has a responsibility to those customers – and has better customer service than anyone will get if they’re upgrading Linux or Windows, from their respective hardware providers, I might add. I’d say you need some perspective, sir.

My reply

That’s right, discount my findings. You still don’t get it. It’s not the number of successes or failures that count but the way the customer is treated. For Apple to say take it or leave it, given the various skill levels of users and the variety of download speeds they have, is insensitive to the customer.  I really don’t care how many were successful, I care about how the company treats those least able to do the job and the policy Apple put in place is insufficient to give people an alternative. THAT is the ONLY perspective you need if you are in a customer service business.  You don’t get to declare victory and abandon your customers who can’t keep up.

I’ll be happy to provide more as it becomes available.  I just love this internet thingie.

October 2, 2012

But wait, there’s more.

Elvis writes:

Denis, you really don’t get it. Maybe you missed this news last year: http://lifehacker.com/5823096/how-to-burn-your-own-lion-install-dvd-or-flash-drive
In other words, Mountain Lion is the second release to not come on a DVD. Not the first. Apple customers are perfectly competent to install it. It works just as well as any other OS update for Mac or Windows (except that it is much bigger than the average update). Not to mention, many macs no longer ship with a DVD drive (obsolete technology for many)…

And the Apple store turns out to be a fine place to get help for those needing reference in the customer service business. Apple didn’t abandon their customers at all. They still have internet connections, no? It just seems like you’re not very informed about the Apple ecosystem at all. (and your other cross-linked blog post was pretty humorous. recapping the “debate” between you and me on another site? ) (and fwiw, i’m not blaming the customer, i’m blaming you for this terrible bit of research and writeup).

BTW, don’t know if you noticed… but iTunes downloads don’t come on DVD either… neither do app updates for your iPhone… (heck you can even get app updates via the Mac Appstore as well… ) This internet thing is pretty cool.

My response

Oh, Elvis.

This reminds me of the old joke about the poet, the engineer and the economist stranded on a desert island and down to their last and only can of beans.  They decide to eat it but don’t have a can opener so they begin a feverish discussion about how to open the can without the right tool.

The poet speaks first.  “Let’s get a rock and bash the can until it opens!” He says.  The others consider it but disagree.  It will damage the can to the point where it’s caved in and they won’t be able to get the contents out.

“I know!” says the engineer, “We’ll heat the can until it bursts and we’ll collect the beans when they fall.”  He goes off to calculate the scatter pattern and build a fire.  The others demur, won’t that lose a lot of beans?  Won’t it get sand in them?

Finally, in desperation, the economist speaks.  “Looks, assume you have a can opener…” he says and the other two walk away.

The economist is the furthest from an answer because he assumes his conclusion.  Actually he assumes the conclusion as part of the solution.  You can do this in economics and even in blogging but when you get to the real world, you have to realize that your assumptions have to be applicable to a concrete solution.

I am afraid this is what Elvis has done.  In suggesting that you can make an installation disk or thumb drive, he glosses over the fact that you need to do the download first.  So this isn’t much of a solution.

True enough, the Apple Store is a fountain of information and first class assistance, if you live near one.  That might not be the case if you live in Vermont or Idaho.  Also, curiously, why would Apple want to clog up its stores with less than happy customers trying to get twenty bucks worth of operating system when the help should be attending to people who want to buy iPhones and MacBooks?

You see, all the permutations and assumptions quickly bring us back to the can of beans and the lack of a proper tool.  The trio marooned on the island probably ate everything else they had, things that could easily be opened and consumed without tools, saving the can of beans for last because it was the hardest thing to open.  It’s admittedly an outlier situation.  That’s the situation that Apple is in and that Elvis refuses to acknowledge.  But Apple can’t do that, it enters the marketplace offering to sell a product and it has an obligation to make the offering fit for a purpose, in this case installation and use of the OS.

Elvis likes to talk about how many other successful downloads and installs have occurred for Mountain Lion but that’s like saying our trio on the island ate yesterday or last week.  It doesn’t matter.

Elvis distorts the discussion to his own ends but this was never about how many other releases didn’t come with a DVD.  They were smaller and could easily be done that way, or perhaps the current download really has the problems that some people have reported.  Why would they make this up?  Other notes:

“Apple customers are perfectly competent to install it.”

I beg to differ.  My 80 year old mother in law is a ninja user but doesn’t have a clue about downloads.

“Not to mention, many macs no longer ship with a DVD drive (obsolete technology for many)…”

This isn’t about that.  It’s about going to market with a one size fits all solution for a problem with a great deal of variability.  The solution doesn’t address all contingencies as I have noted.  The MacBook Air that I am writing on doesn’t come with a superdrive but I bought one for just this kind of exigency.  See?

Elvis, I think we both like our Apple gear a lot and most of the time it’s excellent.  I am a fan.  As a pure operational issue though, going to market with this single approach to an upgrade this big is foolish of Apple and I am calling bullpucky on it.  The difference between you and me is that I can see the failing and a better way to get to the goal and I am not afraid to point it out.  You are so dogmatic and wedded to the mistaken belief that Apple is perfect that you can’t see the shortcoming and so attack the messenger.

By the Way, my writing is published on lots of sites, sometimes without my knowledge or approval.  I have a relationship with the Enterprise Irregulars to cross post.

So, what did you think?

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