Archive for July, 2008

The iPhone 3G and Big Bangs

This article originally appeared upon on texperts.com

So the new 3G iPhone is here (for those of us lucky enough to win the O2 website lottery or patient enough to queue up on Friday morning, at least).

Although I’ve not yet had a chance to play with the 3G version, I’ve been very impressed with the version 2.0 software (apart from an annoying pause it seems to have introduced whenever I view my contacts).

But I am amazed! at the shambles that the launch has become.

One of the key insights of modern agile development methodologies (like Scrum, Extreme Programming and Crystal Clear) is that “big bang” releases are never a good idea. Instead, they use iterative, incremental releases. What Apple tried with the iPhone launch was the biggest of big bangs imaginable!

In one day, they tried to:

  • Release a new version of a handset globally
  • Release a new version of the desktop (Mac or PC) software which interfaces with that handset
  • Release a new version of the software running on existing handsets
  • Release a new version of the back-end server technology (MobileMe) supporting all the above

The upshot of all of this? Nobody could upgrade their handsets when O2’s systems collapsed under the load. Then people’s iPhones became bricks when upgrading to version 2.0. Then MobileMe was down for maintenance for much longer than intended and is still only limping along.

Anyone who has ever been involved in large software/IT projects could have worked out that this was guaranteed to happen. Big bangs don’t work. Why was Apple unable to forsee this?

The iPhone is a lovely device. But Apple have badly tarnished their reputation in my eyes.