Survey Results: Apple’s Cross-Platform ’Marzipan’ Project Will Succeed

Last week, we asked you if Apple’s cross-platform ‘Marzipan’ project would actually work. Most of you think it will.

We offered four options: Yes, Probably, Not Sure, and No. Those who are convinced project Marzipan will fail (in whatever final form it takes) make up the smallest group in the final results: only ten percent are positive a cross-platform/unified iOS and macOS app binary is a bad idea.

More than three times as many (32 percent) are sure “Apple can pull it off.” If we compare these binary responses, it’s clear the overall take on Marzipan or cross-platform app functionality is positive. While Apple’s earliest stabs at Marzipan apps (News, Voice Memos, Home, and Stocks for macOS) are a bit ham-handed and clumsy, they are proof-of-concept that simple cross-platform apps are stable enough to ship now.

Meanwhile, some 23 percent are on the fence. This segment of respondents are still unclear on why Apple’s ideation for cross-platform will be any different than the Universal Windows Platform, which failed spectacularly. If PCs and Windows Phone couldn’t bridge the gap, why should Apple succeed? Is being the leading mobile platform really the pathway to winning at cross-platform?

Still, the largest group believes Apple will “probably” succeed with Marzipan: 35 percent think combining iOS and macOS is a good idea, in whatever form Apple chooses.

There are a few ways to view this data, too. Overall, we find 67 percent (i.e., the ‘yes’ and ‘probably’ groups) are positive about Marzipan, or Apple’s cross-platform aims in general. It’s important to note Apple hasn’t shown its full hand with cross-platform, yet; it says emphatically macOS is not going away, so there won’t be a unified ‘AppleOS’ coming (and there’s just no way iOS disappears in favor of macOS).

Around 58 percent (the ‘Probably’ and ‘Not sure’ respondents) are unsure how Marzipan will play out. While not entirely dubious of Apple, this group is just not sure which direction the company will take its cross-platform app offering. Speculatively, we think this group isn’t clear on how this evolution affects them. And no, Apple hasn’t been forthcoming about how we’ll be able to monetize cross-platform apps: Subscriptions don’t always work, and in-app (or game) ads aren’t really a thing on desktop (at least not yet).

So far, Apple’s four “proof of concept” Marzipan apps (call them the Four Horsemen of the Marzipan Apocalypse) have received mixed reviews. The takeaway seems to be that they’re too simplistic, which highlights another hurdle for Apple. We expect more of desktop apps and services; it’s a perception issue and attitude Apple will have to solve for as it encourages developers to port mobile to desktop.

Still, only ten percent are convinced Marzipan will fail, which means Apple has 90 percent of the tech pro ecosystem at least engaged and interested in cross-platform apps for iOS and macOS. Nobody outside of Apple knows just how cross-platform will play out (APIs, a single API, SDKs – who knows!), but it’s sure to make WWDC 2019 a lot more intriguing.