A Not-So-Agile Apple Train Jumps Its Tracks

Apple, fresh from delivering AppleTV and in the middle of pushing iPhone out the door, has announced a delay in the planned shipping date of October 2007 for Mac OS X (MOX).

While some bloggers denounce Apple’s claim as deceitful (there isn’t even an entry in its press releases, only a statement for April 12, 2007 on the Hot News page), I’d say it’s more likely a half- (or less) truth. There are plenty of causes for MOX’s delay.

Apple knows it has a process problem. Steve discussed only the AppleTV and iPhone during his MacWorld 2007 keynote.

Apple has a huge backlog of duplicate and unresolved bugs in its radar database. My own entry is #3665065, entered on 23-May-2004 12:26 AM and still open.

Apple doesn’t eat its own dogfood.

Apple doesn’t have enough bodies to handle its current plans. Here’s a listing of the groups with current software engineering needs from a recent job posting:

The following teams at Apple are now hiring:

– X Grid
– Core OS
– File Systems
– Build and Integration
– Kernel Development
– Vector Numerics
– Java
– Networking
– QuickTime
– Compiler
– User Interface
– Graphics and Imaging
– Frameworks
– Security
– Localization and Release Engineering
– Core Audio
– Video Codec
– Desktop Management Solutions

On top of that, the Professional Audio, Professional Video, FileMaker, Desktop Apps (incl. iTunes), Interactive Media, iTunes Store, iPod, AppleTV and other teams I wouldn’t even guess about need developers to develop products currently on the market as well as future goodies and you can see why Apple’s in the pickle it’s in.

After working to release AppleTV and iPhone with their own variants of MOX, the Leopard team most likely has to reintegrate those branches back into the main branch. As a bonus, they will most likely develop some inability to let you run an AppleTV as a standalone MOX system in the future and cripple the iPhone’s OS to prevent that sort of thing as well.

There are serious scope and process issues within Apple’s development groups. Do not expect a speedy resolution.

[Update – 2007-04-20] Here’s another loss to one of Apple’s product teams. His story is far more indicative of Apple’s problems.

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