I have been a steady and reliable purchaser of all of your computer and iOS-based products for almost a decade. I use your Mac OS X products extensively in my software development business (we create products for processing PDF files, MIDI, and other performance-related technologies on iOS). I develop for all platforms (Mac, Windows and Linux) on my Apple devices.
During this time I have always been able to count on Apple's devotion to creating reliable, stable software products and, in particular, products that, unlike Windows, were without all the "distractions" provided by Microsoft.
Each new release of OS X was been stable, worked well, and was a true improvement over the last. I recall the care Apple put into creating the OS X UI. For example, the trade show efforts to really develop a great new UI for the Mac.
But it seems things changed with Lion.
I am not sure what happened but from my perspective, as someone who uses your products to make a living writing software professionally, you have lost your way.
First of all, Lion is unreliable in many ways as is its software development tool XCode 4.2. I have blogged about this extensively (see this as an example). While I understand the need to lead in the "device world" you must also be aware of the danger of backsliding and losing your way in the process.
Issuing products that are "not ready for prime time" is an example of this. The performance of Lion with its 64-bit OS has been sadly lacking from my perspective. I have two laptops - basically identical - one running 10.6 and the other running Lion (10.7). The Lion machine is sluggish.
Software development on Lion and XCode 4.2 is nasty and unpleasant. Things don't seem to work quite right and seemingly simple issues (which come up frequently) take too many hours to resolve.
On the audio/MIDI side Lion has issues as well (see this as one example). For example, I have blogged about mounting simple USB-based devices and how things there don't work well.
Mr. Cook, I love your products, but I think the collective "you" is becoming far too infatuated with the iOS world. As an iOS/App developer I agree that the future is there. But please, not at the expense of making software development for that platform as painful, stupid and slow as it was in the Microsoft world.
I have thirty five years of experience developing software and I expect that your tools should make it easy to develop for your products. Up until OS X 10.6 and XCode 3.2.6 you were ahead.
Now, sadly, I must start to at least think about alternatives. I already have had to keep several versions of OS X-based laptops around to ensure that features that I relied on have not disappeared. From the look of this WSJ article I will have to worry more about this in just a few more months.
Developing non-trivial Apps with iOS and Mac software is hard - particularly with your App stores and their requirements for compatibility with their respective sets of rules. For a small developer it seems that you release software so quickly that compatibility with one version is not even finished before the next OS or development platform is released.
In closing I'd like to bring up the famous 1984 ad with the blindfolded folks following each other off the cliff. I feel that Apple today is like that train of blindfolded "Windows" followers - except the wonder of iOS has replaced Windows.
You are "dumbing down" are great OS so that the masses can use it. Unfortunately, to make really great, smart software you need development tools that have not been "dumbed down."
Those of us developing for your new environment, iOS and now future OS X platforms, need to be able to focus on developing great products and not on relearning a new release environment every six months - particularly if the learning takes more than six months to accomplish.
The Lone Wolf