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iOS 8.0.1 disaster reveals Apple employee shortage

By any measure, the launch of iOS 8.0.1 was a disaster. Contrary to popular belief, this is not unique to Tim Cook’s new Apple . Of course it happened when Steve Jobs was leading Apple, but it had never been the case in a device like the iPhone and a feature as crucial as making a call with a phone .

The way Apple organizes itself as a startup has its advantages and disadvantages, something we already mentioned last week. Despite the error, Apple removed the defective version of iOS within an hour. In that time, almost 40,000 iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users had updated their phones:

iOS 8.0.1 disaster reveals Apple employee shortageiOS 8.0.1 disaster reveals Apple employee shortage

Once he screwed up, the company reacted quickly. The next day we had a working version of iOS to download, 8.0.2. But the truth is that iOS 8.0.1 should never have passed the QA tests or reached the public. We could look for culprits among Apple’s ranks and point the finger at some of them. But that would be unfair. The reality is that Apple is one of the technology companies in the world with the fewest employees per billed dollar. And it’s starting to become a problem.

A too tight template

This graph shows the number of employees of 6 technology companies and the annual revenue generated in the last fiscal year. In the case of Apple, we must differentiate between retail employees and the rest of the company. The breakdown of employees as of June this year is:

  • Apple Retail: 41,300 employees.
  • Rest (non-retail): 56,700 employees
  • Total: 98,000 employees.

All data shown is from the companies’ fiscal year 2013, except for Microsoft which has already completed its fiscal year 2014. If we do the calculation of the revenue per employee ratio, we would have a graph like this:

In other words, the “profitability” that Apple obtains per employee is almost 3 times higher than that of Google, a company with practically the same number of employees. In other circumstances this would be a source of pride . But Apple’s continuous record of resizing equipment and moving resources from one project to another according to the needs of the moment leads us to conclude that it has a chronically understaffed workforce.

Steve Jobs and the “no-bozo” policy

The entire philosophy of Steve Jobs and, by extension, Apple, revolves around quality over quantity . That’s why the company has always preferred to hire a first-class employee rather than fifty second-class ones. As much as they needed to, they have maintained this policy of hiring at all costs, generating a chronic deficit of employees.

Jobs’ theory is that a top player only wanted to work with peers of his own level. So they’re able to give their best. The problem is that if you brought a second-rate player (he called them bozo , in English something like a lout), this employee would soon be surrounded by other second-rate players, who in turn would end up bringing their teams to third rate players. The end result is a mediocre company with mediocre products .

Apple podría estar desarrollando iOS 8.1, 8.2 y 8.3 al mismo tiempo y Así no Apple, así no.

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Personally, I can’t blame the company for wanting to have the best employees in its ranks. I’ve seen the effects of bozo theory up close and personal in both large and small companies. However, for users to have to support this Russian roulette with software updates is not an acceptable situation.

It is true that the solution to this shortage need not be to hire more people. There are times when a project does not move forward faster when more people are hired. It can even have the opposite effect and delay it Will releasing iOS versions in stages be the answer to these problems?

At Apple