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

Apple Remote Desktop 3.8 - Remotely cont...
Apple Remote Desktop is the best way to manage the Mac computers on your network. Distribute software, provide real-time online help to end users, create detailed software and hardware reports, and... Read more
NeoOffice 2014.7 - Mac-tailored, OpenOff...
NeoOffice is a complete office suite for OS X. With NeoOffice, users can view, edit, and save OpenOffice documents, PDF files, and most Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. NeoOffice 3.x... Read more
DesktopLyrics 2.6.6 - Displays current i...
DesktopLyrics is an application that displays the lyrics of the song currently playing in "iTunes" right on your desktop. The lyrics for the song have to be set in iTunes; DesktopLyrics does nothing... Read more
Ember 1.8.3 - Versatile digital scrapboo...
Ember (formerly LittleSnapper) is your digital scrapbook of things that inspire you: websites, photos, apps or other things. Just drag in images that you want to keep, organize them into relevant... Read more
Apple iTunes 12.1 - Manage your music, m...
Apple iTunes lets you organize and play digital music and video on your computer. It can automatically download new music, app, and book purchases across all your devices and computers. And it's a... Read more
LibreOffice 4.4.3 - Free, open-source of...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
FoldersSynchronizer 4.2.1 - Synchronize...
FoldersSynchronizer is a popular and useful utility that synchronizes and backs-up files, folders, disks and boot disks. On each session you can apply special options like Timers, Multiple Folders,... Read more
Simon 4.0.2 - Monitor changes and crashe...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
Cocktail 8.1.2 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Cyberduck 4.6.4 - FTP and SFTP browser....
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more

Playworld Superheroes Review
Playworld Superheroes Review By Tre Lawrence on January 30th, 2015 Our Rating: :: HERO CRAFTINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad It’s all about the imagination, fighting bad creatures — and looking good while doing so.   | Read more »
Join the SpongeBob Bubble Party in this...
Join the SpongeBob Bubble Party in this New Match 3 Bubble Poppin’ Frenzy Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 30th, 2015 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Handpick Review
Handpick Review By Jennifer Allen on January 30th, 2015 Our Rating: :: TANTALIZING SUGGESTIONSiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Handpick will make you hungry, as well as inspire you to cook something... | Read more »
Storm the Halls of Echo Base in First St...
Storm the Halls of Echo Base in First Star Wars: Galactic Defense Event Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 30th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Contradiction Review
Contradiction Review By Tre Lawrence on January 30th, 2015 Our Rating: :: SPOT THE LIEiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Contradiction is a live action point and click adventure that’s pretty engaging.   Developer: Tim Follin... | Read more »
Unlock Sunshine Girl in Ironkill with th...
Unlock Sunshine Girl in Ironkill with this special 148Apps code Posted by Rob Rich on January 29th, 2015 [ permalink ] Robo-fighter Ironkill has been out on iOS a | Read more »
Crossroad Zombies Review
Crossroad Zombies Review By Jordan Minor on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: CROSSWALKING DEADiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Crossroad Zombies is a rough draft of a cool genre mash-up.   | Read more »
Blood Brothers 2 – Tips, Cheats, and Str...
War is hell: Is it the kind of hell you want to check out? Read our Blood Brothers 2 review to find out! Blood Brothers 2, DeNA’s follow-up to the original Blood Brothers, is an intriguing card collecting / role-playing / strategy hybrid. There’s... | Read more »
Blood Brothers 2 Review
Blood Brothers 2 Review By Nadia Oxford on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: AN AGGRAVATING RELATIVEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Blood Brothers 2 is built on a simple, solid foundation, but its free-to-play system... | Read more »
I AM BREAD, the Toast of the Town, is Ro...
Have you ever dreamt of being deliciously gluten-y? Do you feel passionate about Rye and Wheat? The guys at Bossa Studios do and that is why they are bringing I AM BREAD to iOS soon. The loafy app will feature all the new content that is being... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Intel Aims to Transform Workplace With 5th-Ge...
Intel Corporation today announced the availability of its 5th generation Intel Core vPro processor family that provides cutting-edge features to enable a new and rapidly shifting workplace. To meet... Read more
iOS App Sharalike Introduces New Instant Smar...
Sharalike slideshow and photo management software for iOS, is making it easier than ever to create shareable meaningful moments with its new instant SmartShow technology. Staying organized is a goal... Read more
Apple Becomes World’s Largest Smartphone Vend...
According to the latest research data from Strategy Analytics, as global smartphone shipments grew 31 percent annually to reach a record 380 million units in the fourth quarter of 2014. Apple became... Read more
Cut the Cord: OtterBox Resurgence Power Case...
Dead batteries and broken phones are two of the biggest issues for smartphone users today. Otterbox addresses both with the new Resurgence Power Case for Apple iPhone 6, promising to make those panic... Read more
13-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1199.99 save $100 - 13″ 2.6GHz/... Read more
15-inch 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
 B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $2319.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $180 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Back in stock: Refurbished iPod nanos for $99...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 16GB iPod nanos available for $99 including free shipping and Apple’s standard one-year warranty. That’s $50 off the cost of new nanos. Most colors are... Read more
Apple lowers price on refurbished 256GB MacBo...
The Apple Store has lowered prices on Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs with 256GB SSDs, now available for up to $200 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included... Read more
New Good Management Suite Simplifies Enterpri...
Good Technology has announced the availability of the Good Management Suite, a comprehensive cross-platform solution for organizations getting started with mobile business initiatives. Built on the... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro (refurbishe...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros available for $1489 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr. Mac Expert- *Apple* Online Store - Apple...
**Job Summary** The World Wide Apple Online Store (AOS) Sales and Service team is looking for motivated, outgoing, and tech savvy individuals who want to offer Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant- Retail Sales (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Event Director, *Apple* Retail Marketing -...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global engagement strategy and team. Delivering an overarching brand Read more
At-Home Chat Specialist- *Apple* Online Stor...
**Job Summary** At Apple , we believe in hard work, a fun environment, and the kind of creativity and innovation that only comes about when talented people from diverse Read more
SW QA Engineer - *Apple* TV - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple TV team is looking for experienced Quality Assurance Engineers with a passion for delivering first in class home entertainment solutions. **Key Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.