TweetFollow Us on Twitter

May 96 Crabbs Apple
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:5
Column Tag:Crabb’s Apple

Software Updates and OpenDoc

By Don Crabb

How many of you are happy with your mechanisms for updating software for your customers?

For that matter, how many of you are happy with the mechanisms that Apple uses to update your customer’s System software?

And what happens once OpenDoc makes an impact on your business? What happens when your own containers and your parts have to be updated? when other parts from other vendors that your customers will want to use with your containers have to be updated?

While we all might complain that the number of OpenDoc parts and containers is currently on the sparse side, we also know that this is going to change. Claris’s plan to make the next version of ClarisWorks an OpenDoc container par excellence will drive the creation of a lot of parts. And you can expect other major non-Microsoft Mac vendors to follow suit. By the time of the first customer release of Copland, we’re likely to be up to our keisters in OpenDoc. And the software update mechanisms that we and Apple have in place just aren’t up to the task that this plethora of smallware will bring.

Today’s Updates

How do you keep your customers up-to-date now? Let’s consider their pros and cons:

• Mailings to those who send in their reg cards. You might get 50% of your installed base that way, if you are extraordinarily lucky and persevering and happen to sell a killer product. But that other 50% misses, and that ultimately costs you money.

• A Web/FTP site. This works well for your more advanced customers, especially corporate or higher ed customers with the high-speed Net connections needed to suck down updates regularly and the IS staff to make sure they get paid for and redistributed among their Mac users. Web sites work less well if you have a substantial SOHO or K-12 user base, as they often don’t have the time or money or Net expertise to make the daily Net connections needed.

• Dealers. This can work if you mostly sell through large computer or consumer electronics superstores and you only expect to issue major upgrades. Otherwise, it’s expensive and doesn’t have a lot of reach.

• Mail-order dealers. Pretty much the same advantages and caveats hold as for large non-mail-order dealers. With catalog space at a premium for mail-order dealers, it’s likely to get even more expensive to update parts that way.

Keeping Track Now

Your customers, of course, can avail themselves of other sources of information about your latest wares (as well as Apple’s) and how to get them. One of the best of these sources is Level 6 Computing’s monthly software update report. It costs $150 per year ($97 per year for independent consultants) and comes as a comprehensive 24-page printed report, a disk with vendor contact information on it in setext format (along with clickable FTP sites and URLs), and a Web site (www.webcom.com/level6/). You can contact them at update@level6.com. If you don’t send your update information to Level6, I urge you to do so.

Posting information to the various Apple newsgroups (Guy Kawasaki’s Semper Fi and MacWay lists of course, as well many others), to TidBITS, and to the Info-Mac lists is also a must do, as well as notifying the usual suspects - MacWEEK, MacUSER, MacWorld, and Mac Home Journal among others.

But even when you use all of these methods for keeping your customers updated, even when you make multiple methods available to them for obtaining those updates, the simple truth is that you end up missing a lot of them. And the smaller you are, the more of a problem this is - it may even mean the difference between success and failure. If you doubt this, just look at the latest reports from The Hartsook Letter, InfoCorp, and other Apple-tracking agencies - these show that a small but nontrivial portion of Mac customers are lost each year simply because they did not know how to get software updates and assumed that updates were just no longer available on the Mac platform - so they moved to Windows to get the latest version.

Future Updates

Web design and technology will get better, as will the availability of the high-speed networking (ISDN, cable modems, ATM) necessary to bring all your customers to the Web update trough. But even with slicker Web sites and better navigation aids to find them, we still need a breakthrough in the way that we’ll deliver updates to our customers without them having to even think about it.

That breakthrough - simply put - needs two things. One, we and Apple have to simplify our upgrades. Just this past week I received update disks and several CD-ROMs for a dozen different Mac products I use anywhere from daily to once in a blue moon. But from the packaging these updates came in I hadn’t a clue which I should apply immediately and which I should dump. Only after reading all the paper stuff in the packages, the ReadMe files, and taking a good look at the files and installer provided, did I have a clue as to the importance of each update. And I do this sort of thing for a living. I don’t need to imagine how hard it is for others whose real jobs are not bit-twiddling, but use their Macs to get their work done. I don’t need to imagine, because I get a bunch of calls each day from these folks asking me what the hell they should do with the SuperWhizBangPro V.3 Updater 8.12 they just got in the mail. (And don’t give me that stuff about the version number meaning anything. I’ve had a release 1.2.3.4 that was critical to my operation and a release 2 that was a total waste of time.)

And two - we need a mechanism for better communicating the real point of an update (and why customers should pay for it, if it’s not a freebie).

Only after we’ve done both of these can we focus on getting it to customers in a painless and trivial way. My guess is that we need to look at the whole process as a continuum and not as a set of discrete problems. Rather than divorce the installer from the Web/FTP download widget from the email that was sent to the customer to start the process, we need to figure a way to build the three parts together as an “Update Object” that gets sent to the customer (via email, via a disk or CD-ROM in the snail-mail, etc.) every time we issue an update.

This “Update Object” would have the mechanism for obtaining the full update from its Net site, along with the chargeback method, and a clean, reasonable explanation of why your customers need it and what it does. Once they say yes, a simple button click would do all the rest. Pay for it. Download it. Scan their system for its compatibility. Set the proper installation options. Do the installation. Then test that installation went correctly (restarting, etc.), while fully informing the customer on their screen what was taking place. For the wireheads among your customers, the “Update Object” could also provide various manual interrupts or single-step action.

I suspect that if any of you think about this problem for a bit, you could architect the shell for this “Update Object”. I also imagine that if you license it to your fellow developers (and to Apple), you’ll win the gratitude of their customers, as well as yours (and you’ll make a few bucks along the way).

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Civilization VI 1.0.1 - Next iteration o...
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is the next entry in the popular Civilization franchise. Originally created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, Civilization is a strategy game in which you attempt to... Read more
Google Chrome 55.0.2883.75 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
Chromium 55.0.2883.75 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 55.0.2883.75: Security fixes: High CVE-2016... Read more
Luminar 1.0.2 - Powerful, adaptive, conf...
Luminar is the new full-featured image editor that adapts to the way you edit photos. Over 300 essential tools to fix, edit, and enhance your photos with comfort. The future of photo editing is here... Read more
Slack 2.3.3 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.3.3: Fixed window zoom jumping back-and-forth OS X 10.9... Read more
WhatRoute 2.0.10 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more
Luminar 1.0.2 - Powerful, adaptive, conf...
Luminar is the new full-featured image editor that adapts to the way you edit photos. Over 300 essential tools to fix, edit, and enhance your photos with comfort. The future of photo editing is here... Read more
WhatRoute 2.0.10 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more
Slack 2.3.3 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.3.3: Fixed window zoom jumping back-and-forth OS X 10.9... Read more
Lens Blur 1.4.3 - True out-of-focus boke...
Lens Blur transforms your existing photo into true SLR-quality out-of-focus bokeh effect! Everyone needs a gorgeous personalized background for a social profile, blog, Web/UI design, presentation, or... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Amateur Surgeon 4 Guide: Become the worl...
It's time to wield your trusty pizza cutter again, as Amateur Surgeon has returned with a whole fresh set of challenges (and some old, familiar ones, too). Starting anew isn't easy, especially when all you have at your disposal is a lighter, the... | Read more »
Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire (Ga...
Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Telltale Games really is working on a Gu...
Telltale Games' next episodic adventure is indeed Guardians of the Galaxy. A document tied to the voice actors strike suggested that the project was in the work, but now we have direct confirmation following an announcement at the Game Awards that... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon returns to iOS and Andro...
Amateur Surgeon and its two sequels disappeared from the App Store some time and it was sad days for all. But now, just in time for the holidays, the Adult Swim favorite makes its joyous return in the shape of Amateur Surgeon 4, a remake with... | Read more »
The best board games on mobile
Sometimes you need to ditch all of the high speed, high action games in favor of something a little more traditional. If you don't feel like parting ways from your mobile device, though, there are still plenty of ways to get that old-school fix.... | Read more »
The best Facebook Messenger Instant Game...
Facebook's new Instant Games is now here, meaning you can play games with your friends directly via Facebook. It's a fun new way to connect with friends, of course, but it's also proving to be a solid gaming experience in its own right, with a... | Read more »
You can now play game's on Facebook...
Facebook launched its new Instant Games platform in an exciting new attempt to engage its user base. As a result, you can now play a number of different games directly through Facebook Messenger. All of these games run with HTML5, meaning you play... | Read more »
Apollo Justice Ace Attorney (Games)
Apollo Justice Ace Attorney 1.00.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.00.00 (iTunes) Description: Court Is Back In Session Star as rookie defense attorney, Apollo Justice, as he visits crime scenes,... | Read more »
KORG iWAVESTATION (Music)
KORG iWAVESTATION 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $19.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A revolutionary new world of sound.The Wave Sequence Synthesizer for iPad - KORG iWAVESTATION | Read more »
Don't Grind Guide: Tips for becomin...
Don’t Grind is a surprising, derpy little one touch game with fun hand-drawn graphics. The goal is simple -- get the high score without being chopped to bits. That can be tough when you’re not used to the game, and that’s compounded by the fact... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Parallels Toolbox 1.3 for Mac Offers 25 Singl...
Parallels has launched Parallels Toolbox 1.3 for Mac, an upgrade that adds five new utilities to the stand-alone application which was released in August and is available exclusively online at http... Read more
OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini Ultra-Portabl...
OWC has introduced the new OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini, a powerful yet ultra-portable dual-drive RAID solution. The new Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini packs phenomenal performance into a small... Read more
Clearance 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros availab...
B&H Photo has clearance 2015 13″ Retina Apple MacBook Pros available for up to $200 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
Roundup of 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro sa...
B&H has the non-Touch Bar 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1449 $... Read more
New 13-inch 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro in...
Adorama has the new 13″ 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro (non-Touch Bar, MLL42LL/A) in stock for $1499 including a free 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax... Read more
Finnair Adopts iOS Enterprise iPad Apps from...
Finnair and IBM have announced a first-of-its-kind agreement to utilize iOS enterprise apps from IBM to support the airline’s overall digital transformation. Finnair is focused on Asia-Europe traffic... Read more
Tech21 Launches Evo Go iPhone 7 Case Availabl...
Tech21 has announced the launch of the Evo Go case for Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, exclusively at T-Mobile. Available online and at participating T-Mobile stores nationwide, Evo Go cases start... Read more
Apple Turns (RED) with More Ways to Join the...
In recognition of World AIDS Day, Apple is offering more ways than ever for customers to join (RED) in its mission to create an AIDS-free generation. Apple is the worlds largest corporate contributor... Read more
Deals on new 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros,...
B&H Photo has new 2016 Apple 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro models in stock today with some available for $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more
12-inch Retina MacBooks on sale for up to $10...
12-inch Retina MacBooks remain on sale at B&H Photo with models available for up to $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. B&H will also include a free copy... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- White P...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Automotive Detailer - *Apple* Used Autos -...
We are currently conductinginterviews and will be accepting applications for a part-time detailer. Apple Used Autos is a great place to work andstart a career. We Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
US- *Apple* Store Leader Program - Apple (Un...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on Read more
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Dallas TX Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.