So, I was complaining on Twitter about the fact that iOS 4.0 is horribly unstable on my iPod Touch 2G the other day. It's slow, I knew that. It's neutered features wise, I knew that. Given that I've accepted that, you can at least guarantee it works, right? So that it doesn't crash every other hour of use.
Ok, I know your business model is about selling me that shiny new one you just released today, along with everything you see fit to prefix with the letter i, but you know, these things cost money.
The main defence people seem to give to this is that "You can hardly expect Apple to support devices forever". No, no I can't. I can however to expect them to support them for longer than 2 years. Or for some people, longer than 1 year. Following Apple's usual pattern, support for the iPod Touch 2G will be discontinued with iOS 5 next June.
They're still selling these things as new with the 8GB model, and will do until stores deplete their stocks.
Now, before you think this is a rant directed at Apple, I'll point out that other companies do this too. On Google's Android platform, developers are constantly complaining about fragmentation of the platform with different OS versions. Welcome to the real world, people. Yes, most developers rush out to buy the newest versions as soon as possible. No one else does.
Actually, the Android people are even worse than Apple here. Their target of hate (software this time) is Android 1.6, released 1 year ago. That's 36% of your user base, folks. Oh, I'm sorry, your flashy new scrolling feature is harder to write. Never heard of graceful degradation? As a web developer who has to deal with the decade old IE6, I have no sympathy for people wanting to kill support for something that's merely from last year.
Oh, well maybe no one does support their old stuff. You can hardly expect anyone to do it if no one does. Well, actually...
Software example (Win2k)
Many third party programs still support Win2k, so it's not just Microsoft. And their 9 year old operating system, Windows XP, is still universally supported. If Microsoft announced they were ending support for it tomorrow, I'm sure there would be uproar.For ten years after its release, it continued to receive patches for security vulnerabilities nearly every month until reaching the end of its lifecycle on 13 July 2010.
Hardware example (Ubuntu support for old processors)
For some persective, that's a Pentium 3 for a desktop, and a Pentium 2 for a server. 7 and 11 year old hardware. And Ubuntu is relatively heavy for most Linux distributions. Plus in both cases, as desktop operating systems, they're exposed to a much greater degree of hardware variation than smartphones.Processor (x86) 300 MHz 1 GHz
Memory 128 MB 512 MB
Hard Drive (free space) 1 GB 5 GB
Monitor Resolution 640×480 1024×768
And the fact that I can install a modern Linux distribution on a computer that isn't just "last year's thing", but effectively an antique says miles for Apple's "We can't support that! It's a year old!" stance.
So why do Apple and Google get a free ticket to quickly drop support for old hardware and software?