Friday, June 11, 2010

Pulling Together Through the Tough Times - Apple vs Microsoft

Having recently purchased my first Apple toy and then lost it, I've felt the effects first-hand of the uneasy marriage between Apple, Microsoft, and Google. The failure of these giants to speak to each other in the clinical language of machine code has caused me more agony than a new business owner should have to bear.

I also learned first-hand that my inability to manage without a mobile electronic calendar and contact list verges on obsession. On the other hand, should a business owner tolerate the breakdown in service and communication that have consumed my last few days?

First of all, I love my Apple iPhone. Installation of apps of all sorts and description, is screamingly easy. My favorite personal management tools for my iPhone include:

All of this worked wonderfully until the iTunes store on my Microsoft PC stopped operating. Something about the security settings. Which I failed to find after days of searching. Which was OK because I could continue to download directly from my iPhone. I was starting to suspect that the sync with Microsoft Outlook was imperfect, as the in-box on my 'phone and PC did not match, and my 'phone calendar entries were not picked up by Outlook. Then I lost my beloved iPhone.

I asked Apple if with the built-in GPS if they could locate the phone for me. The service call cost me $25 only to find out that they cannot...unless I had first installed MobileMe. A little hard to install after the fact. After I dried my tears, I got myself another iPhone and tried to bull my way through the failure of iTunes Store on my PC. Failing that, I installed iTunes on my laptop. Which meant switching my e-mail to the laptop, too. Which is where the calendar and contacts list failed to upload, Outlook to Outlook 2010. I found an online user group where I commisserated with a dozen others. It was small comfort that I was not alone in my frustration.

To keep this story short, my calendar and contacts now reside on google apps. I found an app for my iPhone which synchronizes with google, calengoo.

Can you feel my frustration as a small-time customer, squeezed between giants who just don't get along...perfectly? Now, I am not one of those people who believes that big equals bad. I staked my career with a big organization, faults and all. There are good, hard working people in large organizations. With size also comes standards and influence, and the glory of mass production. If a large corporation fails to capture it all, however, it ends up with at least one rival. I call it the Coke and Pepsi effect. Both are big enough to resist absorbtion by the other. Competition can harden in a no-holds-barred, give-or-take-all hostility that sucks energies away from cooperation and improvement. Customers respond by taking sides, praising in the advantages of their choice over the other guys. We have ourselves a granfalloon.

I suggest that this failure to cooperate is damaging to everybody in a hard economy. Whatever is happening behind the scenes for these big organizations, it is high time they get over it and get along. I am reminded of the history of the small town of Blairmore in the Crowsnest Pass, which once was considered a prime crossing point for the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. A dispute arose over the ownership of a prime bit of real estate in Blairmore. By the time the dispute was resolved in the courts, an alternate route through the Rockies had been chosen. Little Blairmore is permanently bypassed by the commerce highway.