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).

 
AAPL
$524.94
Apple Inc.
+5.93
MSFT
$40.01
Microsoft Corpora
-0.39
GOOG
$536.10
Google Inc.
-20.44

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

VMware Fusion 6.0.3 - Run Windows apps a...
VMware Fusion allows you to create a Virtual Machine on your Mac and run Windows (including Windows 8.1) and Windows software on your Mac. Run your favorite Windows applications alongside Mac... Read more
Tweetbot 1.5.1 - Popular iOS twitter cli...
Tweetbot is a full-featured OS X Twitter client with a lot of personality. Whether it's the meticulously-crafted interface, sounds and animation, or features like multiple timelines and column views... Read more
Mac DVDRipper Pro 4.1.7 - Copy, backup,...
Mac DVDRipper Pro is the DVD backup solution that lets you protect your DVDs from scratches, save your batteries by reading your movies from your hard disk, manage your collection with just a few... Read more
PDFpenPro 6.2 - Advanced PDF toolkit for...
PDFpenPro allows users to edit PDF's easily. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Create... Read more
PDFpen 6.2 - Edit and annotate PDFs with...
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more
Monolingual 1.5.9 - Remove unwanted OS X...
Monolingual is a program for removing unnecesary language resources from OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space. It requires a 64-bit capable Intel-based Mac and at least... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty 1.1.1.180...
Download the patch by launching the Starcraft II game and downloading it through the Battle.net connection within the app. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is a strategy game played in real-time. You... Read more
Sibelius 7.5.0 - Music notation solution...
Sibelius is the world's best-selling music notation software for Mac. It is as intuitive to use as a pen, yet so powerful that it does most things in less than the blink of an eye. The demo includes... Read more
Typinator 5.9 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Have a Special Dead Trigger 2 Easter Bas...
Have a Special Dead Trigger 2 Easter Basket Full of Goodies, Courtesy of Madfinger Games Posted by Rob Rich on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] Dead Trigger 2 | Read more »
Almost All of Playdek’s Library is on Sa...
Almost All of Playdek’s Library is on Sale Right Now, and You Should Check it Out Posted by Rob Rich on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] Playdek has released quite a few great iOS ports of board and card games over the years, and now most of them... | Read more »
Zynga Launches Brand New Farmville Exper...
Zynga Launches Brand New Farmville Experience with Farmville 2: Country Escape Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
David. Review
David. Review By Cata Modorcea on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MINIMALISTIC IN A DIFFERENT WAYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad David is a minimalistic game wrapped inside of a soothing atmosphere in which the hero... | Read more »
Eyefi Unveils New Eyefi Cloud Service Th...
Eyefi Unveils New Eyefi Cloud Service That Allows Users to Share Media Across Personal Devices Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Lair...
Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Lair Review By Jennifer Allen on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: STEADY ADVENTURINGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Treading a safe path, Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Lair is a... | Read more »
Yahoo Updates Flickr App with Advanced E...
Yahoo Updates Flickr App with Advanced Editing Features and More Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
My Incredible Body - A Kid's App to...
My Incredible Body - A Kid's App to Learn about the Human Body 1.1.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1.00 (iTunes) Description: Wouldn’t it be cool to look inside yourself and see what was going on... | Read more »
Trials Frontier Review
Trials Frontier Review By Carter Dotson on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: A ROUGH LANDINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Trials Frontier finally brings the famed stunt racing franchise to mobile, but how much does its... | Read more »
Evernote Business Notebook by Moleskin I...
Evernote Business Notebook by Moleskin Introduced – Support Available in Evernote for iOS Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Deal Alert! 13-inch MacBook Pro on sale for $...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $200 off MSRP. Price is valid... Read more
Free HopTo 2.2 Helps Enhance Your Productivit...
The HopTo app helps you do more on your iPad by providing more and easier adaccess to files and documents. Version 2.2 adds Egnyte and HopTo’s Mac OSX File Connector. If you already have the hopTo... Read more
National Distracted Driving Awareness Month:...
As the country recognizes National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Sprint is reminding wireless consumers to focus on driving while behind the wheel, to not text or email while driving, and to... Read more
13-inch 2.4GHz Retina MacBook Pro available f...
Abt has the 13″ 2.4GHz 128GB Retina MacBook Pro available for $1229 including free shipping. Their price is $70 off MSRP. Read more
iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP this we...
Best Buy has iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Prices are valid for online orders only, in-store... Read more
iPad Airs on sale this weekend for up to $100...
Best Buy has WiFi iPad Airs on sale for $50 off MSRP and WiFi + Cellular iPad Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time, with prices now starting at $449. Choose free... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis starting...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished Mac minis for up to $150 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 2.5GHz Mac... Read more
Hyundai Brings Apple CarPlay To The 2015 Sona...
Hyundai Motor America has announced it will bring Apple CarPlay functionality to the 2015 Sonata. CarPlay is pitched as a smarter, safer and easier way to use iPhone in the car and gives iPhone users... Read more
Updated iPads Coming Sooner Than We Had Thoug...
MacRumors, cites KGI securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, well-respected as an Apple product prognisticator, saying that Apple will introduce an upgraded iPad Air and iPad mini in 2014/Q3, meaning the... Read more
Toshiba Unveils New High And Low End Laptop M...
Toshiba has announced new laptop models covering both the high-end and low-end of the notebook computer spectrum. Toshiba 4K Ultra HD Laptop Toshiba’s new Satellite P55t features one of the world’s... Read more

Jobs Board

Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**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
*Apple* Inc. Research Data Specialist - Appl...
…of Worldwide Market Research & Intelligence. The team is responsible for conducting Apple branded consumer market research. It is also responsible for analyzing data Read more
*Apple* Automotive Parts Department position...
Apple Automotive is one of the fastest growing dealer…and it shows. Consider making the switch to the Apple Automotive Group today! At Apple Automotive, we Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.