Saturday 20 February 2010

Companies Lose their Minds, Then their Partners, Then their Customers, Then...

Following is a comment which I posted to Jason Kincaid's article on TechCrunch, "Why Apple's New Ban Against Sexy Apps is Scary". I don't know why Apple seem to be deliberately shooting themselves in so many ways on the iPhone recently; I am sure that they are leaving golden opportunities for Palm, Android and anybody else who isn't Apple or Microsoft.

Even if you're not developing for the iPhone or even for the Mac, this whole drift should concern you — because its most likely effect is going to be that you have fewer choices in what should be a rapidly-expanding marketplace.

Thanks for reading.

Exactly; they're pulling a Singapore here. They're saying "we're better than anybody else" because they've got this App Store with hundreds of thousands of titles, and hundreds of useful apps. Then they turn around and say "we're the only game in town; we're not going to let you sell your apps to customers any way except through us — and oh, yeah, we can be completely arbitrary and capricious before, during and after the fact."

Let me be clear: up until very recently, I've been an unalloyed Apple fan; the only sensible response to 25+ years of Windows development and user support and 10 years hitting similar but different walls in Linux. I'm typing this on one of the two Macs sitting on my desk. I've got logs and statistics that prove I'm far more productive on my worst Mac days than I ever was on my best Windows days. And I've had several Switcher clients over the past few years who say the same thing.

I can write and sell any app I want on the Mac; Apple even give me all the (quite good) tools I need right in the box. I can use any app I want to on my Mac; the average quality level is so far above Windows and Linux apps it's not even funny. In neither of those do I need the permission of Apple or anyone else outside the parties to the transaction involved. Apple do have good support for publicising Mac apps; browse to see a (far earlier) way they've done it right. But developers don't have to use their advertising platform.

With the iPhone, and soon the iPad, they're doing things in a very untraditionally-Apple way: they're going far out of their way to alienate and harm developers. You know, those people who create the things that make people want to use the iPhone in the first place. And a lot of us are either leaving the platform or never getting into iPhone development in the first place.

And that can't be healthy for the long-term success of the Apple mobile platform (iPhone/iPad/iWhatComesNext). As a user, as a developer, as a shareholder, that disturbs me, as I believe it should disturb anyone who cares about this industry.

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