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

VOX 2.8.6 - Music player that supports m...
VOX just sounds better! The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features and support for all audio formats you should ever need.... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.1.3 - Search and ins...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click app installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on... Read more
ExpanDrive 5.4.1 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Espionage 3.6.6 - Simple, state-of-the-a...
Espionage offers state-of-the-art encryption and plausible deniability for your confidential data. Sometimes, encrypting your data isn't enough to protect it. That's why Espionage 3 goes beyond data... Read more
Pinegrow Web Designer 2.94 - Mockup and...
Pinegrow Web Designer is desktop app that lets you mockup and design webpages faster with multi-page editing, CSS and LESS styling, and smart components for Bootstrap, Foundation, Angular JS, and... Read more
1Password 6.3.3 - Powerful password mana...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
Sublime Text 3126 - Sophisticated text e...
Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup, and prose. You'll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features, and amazing performance. Features Goto Anything. Use Goto... Read more
ForkLift 3.0 Beta 2 - Powerful file mana...
ForkLift is a powerful file manager and ferociously fast FTP client clothed in a clean and versatile UI that offers the combination of absolute simplicity and raw power expected from a well-executed... Read more
OmniFocus 2.7.1 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus helps you manage your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Capturing tasks and ideas is always a keyboard shortcut away in... Read more
CleanApp 5.1.1 - Application deinstaller...
CleanApp is an application deinstaller and archiver.... Your hard drive gets fuller day by day, but do you know why? CleanApp 5 provides you with insights how to reclaim disk space. There are... Read more

Concrete Jungle (Games)
Concrete Jungle 1.16 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.16 (iTunes) Description: A follow up to the puzzle hit 'MegaCity'! Concrete Jungle is a new take on the city building genre that swaps micro-... | Read more »
5 great apps for the budget traveller
Travelling abroad, or even within your home country, has never been easier thanks to our handy smartphone companions. There are hundreds of apps on the market that promise to make your world journeys hassle-free, but we've selected five of the... | Read more »
Zip—Zap (Games)
Zip—Zap 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Touch to contract.Release to let go.Bring the clumsy mechanical beings home. · · · over 100 levelsno adsno in-app-purchases Zip—... | Read more »
Paperback: The Game (Games)
Paperback: The Game 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: You are an author trying to finish kitschy paperback novels. Complete Westerns, Science Fiction, Romance or even a Crime... | Read more »
How to Rule With a Firm Hand in My Majes...
My Majesty is a kingdom management sim not unlike August’s magisterial hit, Reigns. It’s essentially a reskin of developer Tigrido’s previous management sim, Dictator. As supreme ruler of the land, you must consult with a number of subjects to... | Read more »
Our 5 Favorite iMessage Sticker Packs
At long last, iMessage joins the ranks of messaging apps the likes of LINE and Whatsapp, adding an impressive collection of stickers. They’re a great way to add a little something extra to your daily conversations. [Read more] | Read more »
How to get past Vulture Island's tr...
Vulture Island is a colorful and quirky mish-mash of platforming and puzzles. It’s creative and fresh, but sometimes the game can throw a curveball at you, leaving you stuck as to how you should progress. These tips will help you explore smoothly... | Read more »
The new Clash of Kings is just for Weste...
If you’ve played the original Clash of Kings, you’ll probably recognise the city building, alliance forging and strategic battles in Clash of Kings: The West. What sets this version apart is that it’s tailor made for a Western audience and the... | Read more »
Frost - Survival card game (Games)
Frost - Survival card game 1.12.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.12.1 (iTunes) Description: *Warning: the game will work on iPhone 5C and above and iPad Pro / 4. Other devices are not supported* | Read more »
How to build and care for your team in D...
Before you hit the trail and become a dog sledding legend, there’s actually a fair bit of prep work to be done. In Dog Sled Saga, you’re not only racing, you’re also building and caring for a team of furry friends. There’s a lot to consider—... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple refurbished Mac minis available startin...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $928...
Overstock has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $927.99 including free shipping. Their price is $171 off MSRP. Read more
Buying McLaren Would Give Apple Instant Car C...
Apple “iCar” rumors have waxed and waned over the years, piquing interest and speculation as to whether Apple is seriously interested in getting into the automotobile business, either in a joint... Read more
Aetna to Transform Members’ Consumer Health E...
Health care benefits company Aetna, which has an estimated 46.3 million clients, today announced a new initiative to revolutionize members consumer health experience by combining the power of iOS... Read more
USB-IF Announces USB Audio Device Class 3.0 S...
USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the support organization for the advancement and adoption of USB technology, today announced the USB Audio Device Class 3.0 specification to establish USB Audio over... Read more
Clearance 12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks, App...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks available for $1189, or $410 off original MSRP. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free... Read more
Logitech SmartDock and Skype For Business Com...
Logitech has announced Logitech SmartDock, an AV meeting room solution designed in collaboration with Microsoft. Logitech SmartDock works with Skype for Business and qualified devices, including... Read more
27-inch iMacs on sale for up to $220 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 27″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $1899.99 $... Read more
Apple Macs and iPads available for up to $300...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The following... Read more

Jobs Board

Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and 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* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
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
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
Sr. *Apple* Mac Engineer - Net2Source Inc....
…staffing, training and technology. We have following position open with our client. Sr. Apple Mac Engineer6+ Months CTH Start date : 19th Sept Travelling Job If Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.