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Respected Developers Begin Fleeing the App Store 485

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-known-as-the-french-rush dept.
wiedzmin writes "Facebook's Joe Hewitt, Second Gear's Justin Williams, the long-time Mac software developer known as 'Rogue Amoeba' and other respected App Store developers have recently decided to discontinue their work on the platform, citing their frustration with Apple's opaque approval process. Continued issues with erroneous and snap rejections of applications and APIs are prompting more and more developers to shun the platform entirely. Though there are tens of thousands of other developers who have pumped out over 100,000 apps for the platform, continued migration away from iPhone development will most likely result in lower quality software."
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Respected Developers Begin Fleeing the App Store

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  • Same story... "Hi, I'm Mac guy, and I've got nothing to do...because I have no software..."

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:11PM (#30158946) Journal

    > "...continued migration away from iPhone development will most likely result in lower quality software."

    Dooooooooooom!!!

    The only ones to "stick it out" are the ones who are the most likely to profit. This tends to be apps people mostly want.

    One could argue the less likelihood of profit on an Apple Mac platform is what increases the average quality of programs -- only the "good stuff" gets ported, in addition to a handful of Mac-only apps.

    Keep in mind part of Apple's "problem" with the approval process isn't related to quality at all, but rather strategic thinking on which apps to allow, to discourage competition to its own apps, or the OS as a whole.

    • by jameson71 (540713) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:20PM (#30159140)
      Not the trend I have noticed. In the beginning lots of useful apps came out. Lately i have noticed a ton of crappy 99 cent "games" and anything more complex is having a heck of a time getting approved.
    • by Clever7Devil (985356) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:29PM (#30159300)
      There's two sides to that coin. Software with high production costs do need to be extremely popular to make porting to apple OSs worthwhile; however, products with low production costs benefit by being as widely available as possible without the worry of massive overhead. Furthermore, simple programs are more likely to be accepted as they pose less threat.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cream wobbly (1102689)

        Simple answer: if you have high production costs, quickly knock out a fart app under a subsidiary, and have that bring in the beans while you hack away at the real product.

        Or just do what everybody else does and release another fart app.

    • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @01:00PM (#30159904) Homepage

      The only ones to "stick it out" are the ones who are the most likely to profit.

      I disagree. The unprofitable applications will be unprofitable on other phones too. The profitable applications will be profitable on other phones too. The developers who migrate away from the platform are the ones getting rejections from Apple. These are the most unique, edgy, or innovative applications, or ones that compete with the built-in Apple functionality.

      Therefore, I conclude that this will not increase the quality of programs on the iPhone. It will decrease the diversity, while increasing the diversity and quality on other phones. But that was going to happen no matter what Apple did: When you are at the top, the only direction to go is down.

      • by hey! (33014) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @04:16PM (#30163584) Homepage Journal

        I disagree. The unprofitable applications will be unprofitable on other phones too.

        That's not necessarily true. Look at the whole problem with Flash. I understand why Apple doesn't want people deploying virtual machines or interpreters through the App store, because it undermines their monopoly on selling apps to users, but sometimes that's simply the most efficient way to build an app.

        I once did a mobile application for humanitarian relief. You wouldn't believe the number of wrinkles involved in something like siting a refugee camp. I would have had *hundreds*, if not *thousands* of screens to test if I did it in the standard VB bound control style. The only way to do it economically was to have a model driven data collection engine. That way I only had fewer than a dozen UI forms to test. It was purely an engineering decision.

        Now if I wanted to deploy that app on an iPhone, it very likely would not be allowed. I would have had twenty times the programming and maybe a hundred times the testing to get it working in a way Apple would accept. It would not have been profitable for me to develop an application for the iPhone, even if the result looked exactly the same to the users and every humanitarian relief worker on the planet carried an iPhone.

    • by sjames (1099) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @01:13PM (#30160162) Homepage

      When any app can be rejected for any reason at any time by someone who is for practical purposes anonymous and answerable to nobody and the process has a reputation for being capricious and arbitrary, nobody wants to risk a significant development cost on AppStore acceptance.

      Economically, the most likely to turn a profit are a series of $0.99 throwaways that might become the next "pet rock". If it's rejected by some guy because his corn flakes got soggy that morning, little is lost. Statistically, some of them will certainly be accepted.

      Add in that Apple has ALSO gained a reputation for rejecting anything more useful or more polished than their own iPhone apps and you create a huge disincentive to spending a lot of time and energy on an iPhone app.

      Developers who want to spend a lot of time and energy on a killer app will tend to target a platform where they are certain to be able to market the result. If successful there, they *might* decide to risk the cost of porting to the iPhone. In making the decision, they will consider that the more "killer" the app is, the more likely Apple is to decide it threatens their platform dominance and kill it.

      • by ConfusedVorlon (657247) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @04:50PM (#30164302) Homepage

        Exactly - I spent a couple of weeks and a reasonable amount of money to develop a small app that I thought was useful. Not million-dollar, but useful.

        Many months later, apple rejected it. A nice chap called me up. I'm not breaking any rules, it isn't offensive or bad taste. It's just a utility that they don't want.

        He said that he felt bad - but that there it was.

        It certainly makes me think twice about investing time or money in any idea that is at all innovative in the way that it uses the platform.

    • "The only ones to "stick it out" are the ones who are the most likely to profit."

      And those most likely to profit are those with deep pockets in order to promote their apps in the sea of crud. Note the last 6month's top ten apps were from Global 2000 companies. There's been a novelity app from an independent here and there, but we know there's a catch to it from Apple to heavily promote its success in order to keep developers salivating at making millions in the appstore. And if it's not a marketing app,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maharb (1534501)

      You missed one huge point: More is not always better. Mac has been based on SIMPLICITY and allowing 100 apps that do the same thing only hurts the average apple user who doesn't want choice as long as the app does what they want it to. I guess I shouldn't expect anything different from a bunch of FOSS fanboys who think its fun to make 100 distributions of Linux with 100 different programs that all do the same thing installed on each distribution.

      Complain all you want but Apple's decision probably works b

    • by hey! (33014) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @03:58PM (#30163200) Homepage Journal

      The only ones to "stick it out" are the ones who are the most likely to profit. This tends to be apps people mostly want.

      Speaking as somebody currently living on the proceeds of a software company I sold, this is a naive view.

      It's not enough to have an app people want. You have to (a) sell it for enough money to make a profit and (b) keep support costs down enough so your sales profit doesn't disappear.

      Right off the bat, when you sell software, it's not a matter of "a lot of people wanting" your product; it's how many want it at the price you set. Let's say you have a product that nobody would be willing to spend much money for, but you could sell it for about the price of a cup of coffee. Let's suppose the product is cheap to make and after you sell it your customers never call you. You can make money with that.

      Suppose you come up with a ringtone. It takes you a week to get it into whereever you are selling it, then 5000 customers download it at $1.99, of which you clear $1.00 after the store gets its cut. $5000 for a week of work isn't going to make you rich, but it's a respectable payday. You can live off of that kind of project.

      Is this something that people "want"? Well, sure, so long as its priced cheap. The key is that of those 5000 customers, you'll hear from maybe one or two, and you can just pay them $2.00 to go away.

      Now suppose you (like I did) develop some kind of mobile data collection app that drives important enterprise decisions. That's pretty damned valuable. You can easily convince a company to pay you $500 *per seat*. The problem is that even if you could wish the software into existence, the customers need more than $500 per seat of support. In fact that's why an open source model works very well for critical systems -- you give the software away and charge for the real expensive parts. In any case, my calculations showed that we broke even on a $10,000 sale, after all was said and done, so we might as *well* have given the software away. We typically sold consulting services at anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 a pop, which was where we made our money. Believe me, when you've got a team of six engineers, a $20,000 project doesn't look so big.

      The point is that the "build a better mousetrap" theory is simply wrong.

      Your ringtones and iFarts are bottom feeders in the world of app development. They are profitable for their developers precisely because users don't care very much about them. Price a product like that low enough and you can make money.

      The kind of apps that developers garner respect and admiration for developing are a different kettle of fish. It's *hard* to make a profit selling apps that people really care about, because customers demand a relationship with you. That's expensive.

      The last thing you need is a third party inserting itself into that expensive and delicate process -- especially an opaque, unpredictable one. You work with your customers and discover they really need some extra functionality. You build it, then have to wait to find out whether you can sell it? That's nuts. You need that like you need a hole in the head.

      And this is even worse: you make a portfolio of apps, and then you can't sell them to a different developer? That's a critical exit strategy for many small developers. They have the vision and brains to create an app, but don't have the size to support it. So they develop and market it, and sell it to somebody who is already supporting apps for the main customer base. That's what I did when I sold *my* business. When I had more customers that I could know personally, it wasn't fun anymore so I told one company that if they didn't buy the software I'd sell it their competitor.

      Basically, what Apple is telling is that the iPhone is *still* not a platform. It's a music playing phone that can also run toys like iFart.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:12PM (#30158960) Homepage Journal

    There's an app for that.

  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:13PM (#30158974)

    Note the irony of a FaceBook employee complainng about Apple's closed system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pohl (872)

      He's writing a user interface for his walled garden. He was complaining about somebody else's walled garden. That's totally different.

    • Re:Irony (Score:5, Informative)

      by schon (31600) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:44PM (#30159550)

      Could you point it out to the rest of us? Last time I checked, there was no approval process for FB apps, and the FB API requires no NDA. So I'm having a pretty tough time finding any irony here.

  • by T Murphy (1054674) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:13PM (#30158990) Journal
    I want to join the protest against iPhone apps. Is there an app for that?
  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:14PM (#30159004)

    I've got an iPhone and I use a Mac at work, but I certainly don't consider myself a "fanboy". I got the iPhone in part because there were a few good apps that I wanted on my first smartphone. However given all the bad press Apple gets over summary rejections of apps I'm very inclined to NOT buy another iPhone when I decide to get rid of this one. There are a number of smartphone apps that I'm aware of that Apple doesn't allow on their phones for one reason or another. My brother can dictate entire e-mails or text messages on his Blackberry using an app from a company called Vlingo. It apparently provides high quality speech to text capabilities and integrates with almost any app on that platform. They released an iPhone version a year ago but it's very limited in what it can do because Apple restricts things so much. The iPhone Vlingo app is limited to Google searches and updating Twitter & Facebook, and it's all apparently because of the way Apple restricts things.

    If a company like Vlingo can extend the functionality of smartphones like the Blackberry, Android, etc. in ways that Apple and others never seriously considered then I'll very likely go with those phones in the future, and not one that's artificially restricted due to the limited vision of people like Steve Jobs.

    • by MBC1977 (978793) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:37PM (#30159428) Journal
      "... and not one that's artificially restricted due to the limited vision of people like Steve Jobs."

      As a Windows user, I feel I should defend Apple here (though I'm certain any number of Apple users and fanboys/girls will leap to their defense). First, I'm positively certain, Steve Jobs has more important things to do than to sit around and spot check every single application that gets run in his company's app store. However, assuming for a minute that he does, have you stopped and considered that the application that Vlingo's application or any other developer that gets disapproved may have been disapproved for a reason...perhaps a misalignment of either company's visions?

      Don't get me wrong, your perfectly able to choose what you want to use (I'm fairly certain you will), but one does have to consider your comments suspect when you start throwing out terms such as "limited vision" since they are not doing what YOU want them to do. Apple doesn't create apps that I want them to do either, but I would never be so...rude, to say or accuse any particular person (e.g. Gates, Jobs, Torvalds, or even crazy RMS), of having a limited vision.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TrancePhreak (576593)
      You have described precisely why I chose Windows Mobile and keep a close eye on Android et al.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:43PM (#30159532)

      Do you have a citation for your Vlingo complaint? Vlingo is available on the iPhone and can dial numbers, search, bring up maps and update social networking status. It can't take dictation, but it seems Vlingo has also stopped selling free dictation on the Blackberry (it now costs $17.99) so it may simply be that they haven't written it for iPhone yet. I wasn't able to find anything about Vlingo getting rejected from the app store. The ability for applications to send e-mail is a fully supported feature in iPhone OS 3.0+.

  • part of the story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icepick72 (834363) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:15PM (#30159022)
    They may cite disapproval with Apple's approval process but the reality the app store is getting diluted with more and more apps and developers, and it's getting tougher to make those million dollar apps. Like anything, the first on board have the best chance of benefiting the most fiscally and in popularity. I assume some of these developers are also getting disillusioned that the glory days are gone.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:15PM (#30159040)

    I'm a full time iPhone developer. I'm going no-where.

    I find Joe Hewitt's whining to be maddening. He made a very popular iPhone library (the Three20 project) and knowingly used some private API's inside - as far as I can tell without anyone knowing. Then when it turned out Apple started looking to see what symbols your code was using in an extra step to enforce this, Joe basically abandoned the community and decided to quit.

    The sad part is that he didn't even need to use them. There are multiple forks [google.com] of Three20 now that fix the use of the private API's with no loss in functionality.

    The other guys, they have more of a reason to be angry although apps rejected continue to be a pretty minor aspect of things, and many rejected apps get through with a few simple changes. But Joe lost any right to complain when he abandoned the people that relied on his expert judgment in the creation of a framework.

    • by JohnFen (1641097) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:21PM (#30159146)

      According to TFA, his leaving the iPhone has nothing to do with Three20.

      Personally, I understand completely why developers are leaving. Apple is aggressively anti-developer with the iPhone. I was initially very excited by the platform, registered as a developer and started planning projects. After looking at the process, I began to get nervous. After watching how Apple runs things, my fears proved founded.

      There is no possible way that I'd waste my time continuing to use the iPhone, let alone developing for the platform.

      • by Webcommando (755831) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:52PM (#30159708) Homepage Journal
        I understand it too but seems a very one dimensional view. I have a few very niche applications available (including an RPG helper app GMToolkit) that made it through the approval process within a couple weeks with relatively few issues. I have to wonder why a small independent developer can do reasonably well?

        When I read the developer message board on the approval process, something (gut opinion) comes to me. Many of the developers complaining the most seem to have used bad judgement in using Apple icons improperly, API's incorrectly, failed to follow the Human Interface Guidelines, or had really complicated applications that probably should take a while to look at. Certainly it isn't true for everyone and, obviously, the store needs some updates to improve the developer and user experiences but that doesn't mean I plan on going away.

        I looked at Android development but haven't been able to get the kit up and running on my Mac properly (is it a firewall problem for accessing Android site, versioning problem with Eclipse, wrong SDK or ADT versions? Who knows?) and still find the iPhone SDK and development process superior for me.

        I don't think the iPhone will go away overnight...so... maybe I'll get more exposure when the big guys leave.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JohnFen (1641097)

          "using Apple icons improperly"

          I assume that you're referring to the Rogue Amoeba [rogueamoeba.com] rejection here. As I understand that situation, it's not entirely clear that they did use Apple icons improperly. They weren't shipping any Apple icons in their software, they were obtaining the icons through documented API calls and using them in a nonconfusing and reasonable way -- the implication of doing so is that they were using the calls in precisely the way that Apple wanted. There certainly is nothing in the developer

          • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @02:43PM (#30161856)

            They weren't shipping any Apple icons in their software, they were obtaining the icons through documented API calls and using them in a nonconfusing and reasonable way

            They were using images obtained from an API on the Mac desktop - not on the phone.

            They then sent those images to the app on the phone.

            Would it also have been OK to just download images from Apple.com ? After all, they would not have been stored in the app then...

            The whole issue of transference is very grey to me, I can see why they thought it might be OK but can also see why Apple decided in the end they were not.

    • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:34PM (#30159392) Homepage

      Boss: How was your trip.

      Reporter: Mostly uneventful, although I spotted Joe Biden on the Amtrak before he got off at the next stop.

      Boss: "RESPECTED POLITICIANS BEGIN FLEEING MASS TRANSIT!"

      Reporter: Uh, I don't think he was fleeing mass transit per se, nor did it seem to be the start of any trend...

      Boss: He left, didn't he?

      Reporter: ...also, I'm not sure he counts as "respected."

    • by Silentknyght (1042778) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:51PM (#30159686)

      ...and many rejected apps get through with a few simple changes...

      FTFA, Rogue Amoeba's issue was with a rejection to an update to their existing application, though the rejection itself had nothing to do with the proposed change. Instead, Apple decided that features in its existing, approved version are now a problem.

      Apple's problem is that they have put a guard on the gate to enter their walled garden, except there are thousands of gates each with their own, different guard, and apparently only the vaguest of ideals are guiding their decision-making.

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @02:16PM (#30161314)

        FTFA, Rogue Amoeba's issue was with a rejection to an update to their existing application, though the rejection itself had nothing to do with the proposed change.

        That is correct.

        Instead, Apple decided that features in its existing, approved version are now a problem.

        That is not correct.

        Or rather, it's almost correct but misphrased. The features in the existing application WERE a problem - just not one Apple managed to catch the last time Apple reviewed the product.

        Use of Apple trademarked images were always disallowed, I've known that since shortly after the SDK launch. Now the RA case is interesting because they assumed because the images came from an OS X API they were safe to use in the application - and in fact if you read the case carefully, even some APP REVIEWERS thought they were OK to use for that reason. But after extensive checking on their part, it was decided they were not.

        Now I can see why RA is arguing the way they were, but think of it this way - why did RA assume they had the right to re-distribute any images from the OS X platform? That is not explicitly allowed in the API. Would they also assume they were safe if they were exporting those images and publishing them on the web? They are obviously meant to be used by applications on the platform but re-distribution is a lot grayer area and I'm not sure I would have assumed it was OK to send and use them elsewhere on other platforms.

        Apple's problem is that they have put a guard on the gate to enter their walled garden, except there are thousands of gates each with their own, different guard

        That is exactly right. The problem is each of those guards is different, but it's not like they are not operating from a master list. It's just that they may not get quite everything on the list, the whole time. So that is why as a developer it makes sense to be careful about following the rules, because you might sneak something past a few guards but eventually you will probably be caught.

        An even better aspect of the analogy is that the nobility (read: large companies) are able to sneak a lot of stuff past the guards, seemingly with tact approval - like LucasArts blatantly having an image of the iPhone in the instruction screen for Trench Run. If Apple really wanted to stop the amount of bitching, they would stop making seemingly special allowances for large companies or else explain clear why they were allowed an exception (like if LucasArts had actually licensed that iPhone image [which I doubt is the case]).

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:52PM (#30159714)

      But Joe lost any right to complain when he abandoned the people that relied on his expert judgment in the creation of a framework.

      I was sort of with you until there. Why does this guy have an obligation to help everyone who can't figure it out themselves? Why is the developer community entitled to his knowledge and experience? If he was upset at how Apple is controlling things then he has every right to take his toys and go home, and complain about it all the way home. Developers who can't do things themselves have no automatic entitlement to anyone else's expertise, his guidance is given purely on a volunteer basis, and he's completely allowed to stop volunteering his expertise whenever he wants to, for any reason.

      If I was a knowledgeable member of an extremely locked-down development community where everyone else felt entitled to my knowledge, I would probably leave also and find people who appreciate what I do a little bit more.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SuperKendall (25149)

        I was sort of with you until there. Why does this guy have an obligation to help everyone who can't figure it out themselves?

        Because he put forth a library written by someone with a lot more knowledge than the average user of the library.

        It would be one thing to announce you were dropping support for it, and let users migrate to other things. But the moment a technical issue comes up that is probably beyond the ability of a lot of the users of the framework to resolve - that to me is shirking the responsib

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm a hobbiest iPhone developer. The way I see it, the problem is not with Apple enforcing its unknown API restriction. The problem is with Apple *selectively* enforcing that particular restriction and many others.
      For example, the RedLaser app which is one of the top selling apps in the app store uses an undocumented API, specifically, UIGetScreenImage().
      Google's search app uses undocumented APIs for proximity detection (to dim the screen and start listening when you put the phone up against your face).
      Many

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fucket (1256188)

        I'm a hobbiest iPhone developer. The way I see it, the problem is not with Apple enforcing its unknown API restriction. The problem is with Apple *selectively* enforcing that particular restriction and many others.

        I'm a Hobbesian iPhone developer, so I really have no problems with my submission to Apple.

      • The way I see it, the problem is not with Apple enforcing its unknown API restriction. The problem is with Apple *selectively* enforcing that particular restriction and many others.

        The thing is, that is almost true but not quite.

        I would slightly rephrase the problem is not selective enforcement but selective allowment (you are now free to use that as a word since I made it up for you).

        The reason I would phrase it that way, is that there is no-way Apple can realistically wall a developer off from every priva

  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@o v i .com> on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:17PM (#30159070) Homepage

    The N900 is about to be launched. Come on over to http://www.maemo.org/ [maemo.org]

    You will be welcome, and no one will tell you what you can, or cannot do.

    Cheers!

    • by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:30PM (#30159310)

      and no one will tell you what you can, or cannot do.

      Except, of course, sell any software to Americans [cnn.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JohnFen (1641097)

        Damn. So there isn't a single awesome smartphone coming for the US market? And since handheld computers are merging with smartphones (and thus on their way out), that means there isn't a single awesome handheld computer in the US?

        I guess I'll have to go with Android. It has a boatload of issues too, but it's the lesser of two evils.

        I remember when the US was where the action was in technology. *sigh*

  • by synthesizerpatel (1210598) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:23PM (#30159188)

    >> Though there are tens of thousands of other developers who have pumped out over 100,000 apps for the platform, continued migration away from iPhone development will most likely result in lower quality software."

    The developer who flits from language to language trying to get rich off the latest trend isn't going to be the guy I want to buy apps from anyway. I'd rather buy something from a hardcore guy who won't give up on a platform no matter what the world says. That guy is going to be making the best app for the platform. Not the guy who learned enough objective-c to make compiler errors stop.

    An alternate statement could be made that it will result in fewer high quality apps making it easier for the cream to rise to the top. The same exact thing that I actually enjoy about OSX. OmniGraffle is kind of the only game in town but it definitely gets the job done.

  • So the flee ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:24PM (#30159204) Homepage Journal

    So they flee.

    Where there's money others will step in.

    (This is still capitalism, isn't it?)

  • by Qwavel (733416) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:28PM (#30159280)

    The problem isn't so much the app store approval process, it is that there is no other way to get your app onto (non jail broken) iPhones.

    Soon everyone will have an app store, and maybe they too will refuse to carry applications that compete with them, but at least those other platforms allow the consumer the choice to get those applications somewhere else.

    The smartphone is the next personal computer, so let's imagine for a moment that Microsoft had done for Windows what Apple is now doing with the iPhone: they get to approve every app, take a 30% cut of all profits, and deny anything that might compete with them (e.g. any browser other then IE). Windows would have no viruses, but at what cost?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jumpingfred (244629)

      It will be interesting to see if. Verizon opens up the possibility of getting aps for the android phones without going through Verizon. If they do then perhaps Apple will have to change their ways. If Verizon continues to lock down aps then there is very little pressure for Apple to make things easier.

      • by oldmankdude (1196325) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:58PM (#30159846)
        This is already possible; Verizon doesn't lock down their Android devices. "Open Application Development" was actually something that Verizon advertised for the Droid. Android's app store isn't restrictive at all (there's even software for rooted phones on there), and if the software you want isn't there, you can download and install it from somewhere else.
  • Google Voice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:29PM (#30159294)

    I love my iphone, but I'm going to get a nice Android phone when my contract is up because I'm tired of Apple putting its own design philosophy and profit motives over my preferences as a consumer. Their rejection of the Google Voice app was bs, plain and simple. I like Google Voice, and I want to use it as easily as possible. Their meddling in the app store prevents me, the user and customer, from doing this.
    I wonder what other great, useful Apps are being turned down because Apple thinks they will "ruin the user experience" or "confuse the user."
    Imagine if Microsoft tried to tell people what software they could and couldn't put on their PC's.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kimvette (919543)

      I'm tired of Apple putting its own design philosophy and profit motives over my preferences as a consumer.

      It's not so much that, well, it is only directly. It is Jobs' intent to control the asthetics and "feel" of the environment by making it very hard to customize. There is also the side benefit of locking down the user so much the system is hard to break, which reduces support costs. I'd rather deal with potentially breaking a system than to not be able to use it to its fullest potential.

  • Cry wolf (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:32PM (#30159348) Journal

    Read the following sentences VERY carefully:

    Facebook's Joe Hewitt, Second Gear's Justin Williams, and long-time Mac software developer Rogue Amoeba have all recently decided that enough is enough, and the loss of these [two?]developers and others [what others]

    What a load of weasel language. ALL should really be both, and "these" should really clarify that "these" is only two. And where are the others?

    There are 100.000 apps out there. Now call me silly but while there are a lot of possible programs I think that it is safe to conclude there won't be many CAD applications or ACID databases among them, the rules of the app store and the limitations of the iPhone hardware limit what is available. So a lot of it is meaningless drivel that nobody will miss.

    And this respected developer mentioned in both story links? Did a facebook app. ONE facebook app... OMG NOSERS!!1!!!! How will they EVER find anyone else to write something like that!

    Sorry, everyone knows that Apple likes total and complete control, people knew this when they signed up for it and they were happy to take the dollars that came with it. Why should Apple change?

    Don't get me wrong, I think the one good thing about Bill Gates/Steve Ballmer is that at least they are not Steve Jobs or IT would REALLY be screwed but what is the issue her? What next, companies complaining that they can't add nudity to a 360 game? Then don't develop for a closed format with a megalomaniac calling the shots. Either you support open formats OR you accept that you WILL be fucked up the ass, no lube and bite your tongue.

    • Re:Cry wolf (Score:4, Informative)

      by localman (111171) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:51PM (#30159678) Homepage

      Sorry, everyone knows that Apple likes total and complete control

      I hear this and I hear people buying into it and it's just a foolish statement. I can develop whatever I want for OSX and that works out just fine. Sure, Apple tends to be a controlling company, but their flagship product is so useful precisely because it isn't overly controlled. Hell, they embraced a UNIX underpinning and let people run X-Windows and Windows/Fusion stuff now. And it's great -- that flexibility is a huge part of what I like about OSX.

      The iPhone approval process isn't so bad as to kill things (as this article implies), but it's a disadvantage. Restricting a platform/OS is always a disadvantage. Currently the iPhone has enough other advantages that it doesn't matter, and maybe it'll stay that way. But it's still stupid.

      Oh, and the article named three developers (two people and one compnay) so "all" is appropriate and "developers (people) and others (company)" is also appropriate. If you're going to read the sentence carefully, as you said. I agree though that they're trying to make far more out of it than it is.

      Cheers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I can develop whatever I want for OSX and that works out just fine.

        Do you really think -- really think -- that Apple wouldn't love to have a tightly controlled "App store" under OS/X where they were the gatekeepers for every single program that could be loaded? And get a share of the money?

        Apple would do it if they could, but that genie is already out of the bottle.

  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:33PM (#30159382)

    I think this also has to do with the maturing of the platform. The low-hanging fruit is essentially gone, and it will get harder and harder for the free-thinking lone wolves to come up with original and compelling software that can compete. Businesses however, have the resources to continue to create more advanced and complicated iPhone versions of their products. They also have the resources to better manage the approval process, both by building carefully to the API, and (for bigger businesses) by having a phone call relationship with Apple.

    Hewitt, who is undoubtedly a great and innovative developer, decided to strike out for more open pastures. Who can blame him? But the Facebook app is not going anywhere, and most likely will continue to be developed to a high quality. Over time I expect we'll see a greater mix of apps by existing software businesses, and less duplication in app functionality as more independent developers get frustrated or bored and leave.

  • by Etone (627948) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:33PM (#30159386)
    /. has posted this same story or variants on it about three or four times in the past week. I guess keep saying it til' it's true.
    btw, in regards to the headline: "developers" in this case equals 2. "respected" in this case means "working for a well known company" in the case of Hewitt. "fleeing" means dramaposting and ragequitting.
  • by scottbomb (1290580) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:36PM (#30159420) Journal

    This is one of the many reasons I bought the 'berry instead. I can purchase whatever apps I want from whomever I want. I bought it, I paid for it, it's MY smartphone, I'll do what I want with it.

  • Approval vs Sales (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:41PM (#30159514) Homepage Journal

    I've had no problems with approvals. In fact, my last updates were approved in less than a week (for both the full and free versions).

    What has surprised me is that sales have not been as good as expected, considering the app was featured on the first page of the "What's Hot" in iTunes Games for weeks, and peaked at #6 in Adventure in the USA (for a comparison, The Secret of Monkey Island peaked at #4 in Adventure).

    We've placed better than many well established franchises. So assuming there is any correlation whatsoever between the top 100 charts and sales then a lot of big publishers are losing money.

    So if developers are leaving the platform it is because:
    * Competition is so fierce that the pie is cut very thin, resulting in low sales for the vast majority of apps.
    * Piracy is rampant, and Apple is not doing anything to resolve the issue. Google search results for our app was showing 4-5 hits on the first page of pirate sites providing cracked versions of our app. I've never seen piracy so prevalent and mainstream as it is for iPhone. Back in the Pocket PC days we had to search very thoroughly to find pirated versions of our apps - usually in the .ru TLDs. Now they are front and center.
    * Free. A typical end user could "live" off of free apps alone and satisfy months of gaming just playing the free / lite versions of apps. I have around 60 games on my development iPod. All are free versions except for 1, because it was the only game that I wanted to purchase after playing the free levels. So the current market scenario of the iPhone is resulting in such a tremendous amount of free content that instead of users buying full versions, they seem to simply seek out other free games when they tire of or have played through a lite version.
    * Platform is limited. There is only so much that can be done without a D-Pad. This is why Carmack produced Doom on rails instead of an actual FPS type game. I have yet to play any game originally built around physical controls that transferred to iPhone in an acceptable manner. The really good games for iPhone are games designed around a touch screen, and not a port or modification of a game to try and make it use multitouch, accelerometer, etc.
    * 95% of the foreign markets are a joke. We were the #1 Paid App, #1 Paid Game, and #1 in the sub categories for a number of foreign markets and only sold around a dozen copies a day in those markets. Totally pointless, especially considering you have to have $250 in commission in a single country for Apple to pay out the developer's share.

    Finally, the article doesn't actually bash the approval process, as far as being opaque, or taking too long, or the developer having any difficulty getting apps approved. The developer states "I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process. I am very concerned that they are setting a horrible precedent for other software platforms, and soon gatekeepers will start infesting the lives of every software developer.". In other words he wants all platforms to be open, like Windows, Linux, OS X, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc. I tend to agree, but it is also true that most platforms have certification processes in place to brand, promote or sell applications within certain market spaces. Essentially all iPhone Apps are represented by Apple and sold in iTunes, whereas with other platforms (like Blackberry) only developers that specifically submit their apps for the "official" store have to go through an approval process.

    So again, I don't think this is as much about the difficulty of getting an app approved, but simply that the developer has to seek approval in the first place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WiiVault (1039946)
      No offense the app looks fun, but perhaps you are expecting too much out of a 3.5 star app that weighs in at 9 megs. With only 80 or so ratings on the US store for the paid version its kind of hard to assume this game was charting for very long. The thing about having to hit $250 to get payed per sountry is insane though.
  • Niche Niche Niche (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:52PM (#30159716) Journal

    Apple likes to control user experience, and that won't change. That is their niche. They may relax their review process a little bit if there's a backlash, but they won't change their spots. Other phone brands will probably take up the cowboy coders who don't like red tape because they want to catch up to Apple's offerings. Their more relaxed review process will probably result in cheaper and perhaps more varied apps. However, it will be just like the Windows world compared to the Mac world:
    * more choice
    * lower prices
    * more hackers
    * more chaos
    * more bugs
    * inconsistent UI
    Same as it always was.

  • by alen (225700) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:56PM (#30159810)

    forgot who it was, but someone blogged that RA was told by Apple that their app was rejected because the iphone API doesn't allow Apple copyrighted content to be used. the Mac API does. instead of fixing it, RA sat on it for months, whined on the blogs and then decided to stop developing for the iphone.

    tweetdeck was also rejected at first because they sent an app that crashed all the time.

    most of the other sob stories i read about Apple rejecting apps also had a real story where they were told why it was rejected but didn't want to fix it. the C64 emulator games app is a perfect example

  • Security (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jscotta44 (881299) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @01:10PM (#30160118)

    I hear lots of complaints from developers and wanna-be developers, but I don't hear anyone complaining about security breaches, viruses, spyware, and malware in general on the iPhone - basically an OS X computer. Obviously the first reason is because it is OS X not Windows (any flavor). But the second reason is that Apple is watching for it. While I am not a fan of the opaque approval process (it is getting better), I greatly enjoy knowing that there is less likelihood of my mobile being taken down by some crafty coding. I depend on the device. I try different software to see if it will help me in my life and work. That means trying things from people I don't know. That means taking a risk with my device up-time and my data. So I'm glad that Apple is running as the front-end security. Maybe you are not. Maybe you (whoever is reading this) posting here complaining that Apple won't let you do whatever you want are one of the developers trying to create crafty code to get my data. I hope you keep complaining and Apple keeps guarding the gate(s).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I don't hear anyone complaining about security breaches, viruses, spyware, and malware in general on the iPhone

      Then you haven't been paying attention [sfgate.com]. Any iPhone app can read your entire contacts list and upload it to the internet, including your own phone number and details. This hasn't just happened once. It's happened more than once [readwriteweb.com]. Who knows how many of those 100,000 apps do this?

      It's a fallacy that the app stores approval process can catch malware. Apples inspections aren't deep or focussed enough to

  • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @01:32PM (#30160542)

    TFA title is a bit over reaching. To make matters worse, the guy handed the app over to someone else to continue development in the App store.

    The second link lists 3 that are leaving. This doesn't strike me as the same as rats leaving a sinking ship.

    There are thousands of developers lined up behind them.

    Yes the approval process sucks, and yes it needs improvement. To be fair, they are making it more transparent [ubergizmo.com]. They are also still swamped with submissions meaning there are still way to many developers submitting apps. The 'not so great' developers that we end up with tomorrow will hopefully be great developers in a couple of years.

    IMO, the app store is too much like Steam. It's too easy and convenient, all around, to fail.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @02:21PM (#30161424)
    They never learn, you cannot control all the software and lock everyone out to try and make every last cent on it and expect to stay on top.
  • by CodeInspired (896780) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @02:59PM (#30162140)
    My guess is that most of the developers leaving the iPhone platform are leaving because there is no market for them. Mainstream consumer applications are a very small percentage of the software written in the world. There are a few companies that have the talent and resources to invest in producing highly polished apps that appeal to a broad range of users. It takes time, creativity, and marketing dollars to be successfull in that playing field. For the rest of us, we are most likely writing some internal software app that attempts to solve business problems at the least amount of cost. It doesn't need to be pretty. Hell, it doesn't even need to work well. But we all get paid for doing it and, hopefully, what we write is useful to someone. I know it's not Apple's target market, but I can think of a thousand ways to utilize the iPhone hardware, just none of them would matter to anyone outside my company. I guess my point is, until the iPhone platform is opened up to where it can be used to solve custom business issues, iPhone development will be little more than a side hobby for most developers.

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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