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Apple’s WWDC-Closing ‘Fuck You’ to iPhone Developers (daringfireball.net)
228 points by dannyr 2627 days ago | hide | past | web | 142 comments | favorite



The iPhone is a terrible platform for the vast, vast majority of developers. The process of getting on board, promotion, and success is a total black hole. First movers such as ngmoco and Tapulous have done well; people with better apps - for free - have failed. Maaaaaaaybe 3.0 makes it easier for niche plays to work; certainly, as far as I can tell, add-on payments aren't supported in Palm's marketplace. I do think the Apple folks are improving the platform. But they act like jerks.

Apple can fuck over iPhone devs, and they do. Frankly, it's what you would expect from them. An abuser doesn't stop beating when you confront him; he stops beating you when you leave.


I always respond this way, and I always get scorned here. But, the iPhone platform has worked for us. Updates have been a bit slow, but we feel like we have been rewarded for our work.

Some things are tricky and unintuitive, but that's the way it is in any market. Selling a product just isn't easy. You are always fighting against smart people, and there are unknowns.

I feel like people shouldn't get into the App Store market thinking that they will make a million dollars their first app. Only a few people can succeed like that at any time. But, if you jump through Apple's hoops, listen to your customers, and try and serve a real need, you can make a living on the iPhone.

People expect launching an iPhone app to be like launching a website, which you can do in a single day. They expect to be able to push whatever code they want, and push releases whenever they want.

Well, the App Store isn't like that. And while my website is fun and cool, it doesn't make much money. My iPhone app does.


I think all the developers want is some clear guidelines and transparency into the approval process and some recourse when they feel they have a good argument why their rejected apps should be approved. I think if those two things were in place, most developers would be satisfied. As things stand now, your app is just an update away from rejection by Apple and they don't even have to give you a reason.


My only answer is, the market has spoken. Apple's process may be kludgy and untransparent at times, but they have the dominant App Store and phone for a reason.

Some how they have succeeded in enthralling tons of developers and tons of end users. I can't help think that part of that is that because the process is actually pretty good in the scheme of things.

It would be really expensive to deal with every bitchy developer who had a problem, personally.

I mean, Google operates the same way and they are great. It's nearly impossible to email anyone for support for any Google product.


"Dominant" is an arguable point - Apple's actual market share, especially here in Europe, is not huge - actually it's fairly small, although of course they only have one phone, whereas companies like Nokia have a large range. Obviously, the iPhone has made a huge impact though - it's clear to everyone that they're leaders. We'll see where things go.


I am a European, I don't know a single person who buys apps on anything else than the Apple App Store. I call that Dominant. Frankly the concept was quite unheard of before the App Store (i.e. other stores existed, but nobody cared). Nokia has a large range of phones, but until know they haven't shown they know how to run a platform. Although I am sure that will change.


Oh, to be clear I was talking about the phone. They are certainly way ahead in terms of their app store. However, I'd still bet that the number of people buying apps on Apple's store is tiny compared to the number of phone users, so there's a big 'negative space' to consider there.

Come to think of it though, in terms of buying things, the 'biggest' market is probably all those crappy ring tones and things of that ilk, although it's probably not of much interest to 'hacker news' types.


Sure it is... we're entrepreneurs and you're pointing out something that seems to be selling. This is useful - even if it is a bit obvious - it helps guys like me think outside the iphone box a bit.


I really can't understand why so many people are angry about the app store. No other company has managed to put together a market for phone software of comparable size and ease of development. Nokia, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Android, Palm, they are all trying but failing to create a user experience within striking distance of the iPhone app store.

So how can you complain?? If it weren't for Apple it would be orders of magnitude harder to make money on phone software.


The iPhone is a terrible platform for the vast, vast majority of developers.

No. You want a terrible platform, you try writing software for the Nokia platform. Or heck, try any other phone platform besides the iPhone. It's not a coincidence more apps are sold for the iPhone than for any other platform.

Apple has provided the best user experience and has the most users who are willing to buy apps. They are doing you a great service by allowing third party apps and promoting apps that hit their "best of" lists for free. Just because the experience isn't perfect doesn't mean Apple is "fucking over iPhone devs".


> Or heck, try any other phone platform besides the iPhone.

Developing applications for the Android platform is an absolutely wonderful process; I can build apps in Eclipse on any platform, plug in my phone via USB, instantly upload the compiled code, and run the app with a full debugger suite in Eclipse allowing me to debug apps as they're running on the phone, with breakpoints, full listing of in-scope variables, and a list of all process threads. And I haven't even had to pay a developer fee! Imagine that...

And while I haven't personally put an app on the Market, I've heard that the Market process is really straightforward and simple. And some of the apps I've downloaded have had multiple new versions available in a single week, so it's not slow, lumbering, and full of pitfalls like the App Store process.

The coincidence is just that Apple has spent more on marketing and branding for the iPhone than other platforms, and they were the "first" to have an all-in-one smartphone device with a decent UI, but they are by no means the "best" on the market. They just spend a lot of money and resources to get everyone to think they are.


" And some of the apps I've downloaded have had multiple new versions available in a single week"

Not sure if having to update the same app multiple times in one week is something I'd like to do as a consumer. I like the release early, release often strategy for development, but when the app is running on someone else's device I'd like to see people put a little more attention into the quality of the software they ship. Why exactly does someone need to update their app multiple times in one week?


In this case, it's a game, and there was a feature release with some new configuration options, and then two days later, a bug-fix release for one of the options under certain user conditions. In this case, maybe the bug could have been prevented, but the fact that the developer was able to get a fix release turned out in a very reasonable timeframe is what's important.

Shit happens, and updating to fix a bug should not have a two-week latency where some reviewer could all of a sudden decide that your app is now rejected or no longer meets some amorphous criterion.


Are you joking? I can't tell.

This is the age of web applications and permanently net-connected smart phones. Who are you to tell me I can't fix a typo or push a bugfix more than once a week?


No, not joking. I understand that you can fix a website instantly and as often as you like, but these are not websites we're talking about, they are applications that users have to download and install. If any desktop application I ran had multiple bug fix updates per week every week I would be pretty worried about the overall quality of the application and of their development process.


I wouldn't call a service that's rejected apps seemingly on a reviewer's whim with no recourse or dispute process "not perfect"; I'd call that downright abysmal.

I've had one of my apps rejected because I used the an icon incorrectly (it was for submitting a request, but the icon was only supposed to be used for sending messages. huh?). A tiny change in IB and it was accepted a week later. Yet crap like this gets through no problem: http://ralovely.com/downloads/triplog1040.png And that's not even a bad case by a long shot.

Based on Apple's own numbers, about 1 in 20 app store submissions are being rejected. There's no way to know how many of those are legitimate rejections (I'm willing to bet a lot), but that's a pretty scary number of apps that should be let through that aren't.

The changes they need to make to drastically improve the experience for devs are really minor. I don't know why Apple's making them, other than a tradition of insane levels of secrecy in their corporate culture. That or they're just too embarrassed to let people see into their review structure. Either way, something is broken.


I agree with your first sentence but the point is that application acceptance to AppStore policy does not constitute entire platform. I am curious, why this part of the otherwise very nice platform is so screwed.


Frankly, it's what you would expect from them. An abuser doesn't stop beating when you confront him; he stops beating you when you leave.

I'm not an iPhone developer, nor have I ever developed anything for the Mac platform specifically. Based on the stories I've read online it does sound like Apple isn't handling their iPhone app store well, but I do take issue with the part of your comment I've quoted.

I'd like some examples about why you would expect to be treated poorly (or as you put it abused) by Apple. Is it only based on their track record with app developers? If so perhaps it's a problem rooted in the iPhone app process itself and not systemic to the whole company, as you imply. I would need more examples of Apple's abusive policies to understand your statement, for now though I'm not going to write off Apple as horrible corporation because some app developers cry foul (to which, according to the blogger's own admission, Apple attempts to promptly respond to and rectify).


Based on the stories I've read online it does sound like Apple isn't handling their iPhone app store well.

Those stories are the worst experiences and are not representative of the majority of iPhone development. The Apple app store is handled worlds better than any other phone. No other platform is even usable to the extent that you see people complain about it.


Just because you're only hitting me softly, when the other guys are hitting me hard, doesn't mean I shouldn't ask you to stop.


But they act like jerks.

With the exception of the session that is mentioned in this article, I'm going to have to disagree.

To counter with my own anecdote in here, I work on a few apps (mac and iphone) and every time I went down to a lab to talk to an engineer directly, I was able to get help and have my problem solved. Issues ranged from bugs in Apple's code (with 10.6, and will be fixed by release) to App Portal/App ID issues, to bugs in my own code.


Apple, Inc., not its individual developers, treats iPhone developers horribly. As a rule, Apple shields itself with layer upon layer of corporate bureaucratic armor, and the value of WWDC is cutting through that nonsense. However, at the one session about the appstore submission process, Apple stonewalled developers.


http://daringfireball.net/2009/05/diary_of_an_app_store_revi...

This wouldn't have gotten the love it did if it didn't ring all-too-true to all-too-many people.


Ringing true doesn't make it true.

I’ve also learned that many of the problems aren’t intentional: many parts of Apple’s internal infrastructure are overloaded or extremely outdated, and they’re scrambling to keep up with their growth, often ineffectively.

One major surprise was when an Apple employee told me that the App Store reviewers are not outsourced: they’re all direct, full-time Apple employees. Many of them work nights and weekends to keep up with the extremely high submission volume, and they’re constantly expanding the staff to keep up with the submission growth.

Source? Why, the very same post that Gruber is quoting in this submission.


My understanding, from a contact within Apple, is that the reviewers are indeed Apple FTEs. It wasn't clear if they were somewhere on the main campus or in one of the satellite buildings, but I was led to believe they are in Cupertino.

Certainly some of the stats I was able to get from testers (thanks PinchMedia) suggest the testers have access to the AT&T network in the US. I could probably find IP addresses from Apple's /8 if people wanted to try to validate further.


I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. I mentioned the iPhone Dev Portal, and code-level issues having problems solved, not that the App Store was magically fixed with 5 minutes of talking to an engineer.


And yet, don't iPhone USERS have the best user experience of any (mobile) platform?


I guess that depends on the user. The user who wanted basic stuff like MMS, multi-tasking and tethering hasn't been getting the best experience.


Or the user who actually uses a phone to make calls.


Believe it or not, I originally purchased the iPhone for the ease of making calls, placing people on hold to answer the other caller, merging multiple callers and using the speakerphone option. It does not get much easier than the one button option and I haven't had any problems. A bonus was being able to load Skype and use it while in Mexico to avoid the ridiculous international rates.


I'm sure that's AT&T. I'm in Australia and there's been no such problem personally or from anything I've heard.


I've had issues on Telstra. Sometimes the phone UI will prevent you from answering the call. Sometimes the phone crashes mid-call. Sometimes you answer the phone and you can hear the other party but they can't here you.


A similar thing happens on my Sony Ericsson S500 phone on Vodafone.

I don't know if it's the phone or the network - I haven't done much testing. It's quite irritating pressing the answer button repeatedly and the phone not answering the call, or when I call someone and I end up unable to hear them while they can hear me.


It may just be AT&T in some regions too. I have never experienced the level of frustration that seems to emanate from iphone users in the Bay Area (I'm in Oregon).


There were initial issues with Optus in Australia - their network wasn't prepped for the volume the iPhone delivered, so disconnections and poor connections were common complaints for the first 2-3 months. I believe that's been sorted now.


Apple chose them as their exclusive US carrier, so I don't see much sense in passing the buck. But we use different frequencies for the most part so it could still be a phone problem and you would not experience the same issue.


I've heard of a couple of complaints about low signal strength. (compared to other phones on the same network). (this was in Oz - think it may have been optus)


Possibly, but that's because Optus has a pretty sucky network for everyone. I understand (from reading whirlpool) that their new 3G network is not iPhone compatible as it's 900MHz


I think your information's out of date. I use Optus 3G on an iPhone in an area which was in exactly that position, but they upgraded a week before the iPhone came out. I think that upgrade happened nationwide. (Not that it's relevant to this thread, I know, but...)


I think your response was perfectly relevant to the conversation. It's all about discussion here!


This has to be somewhat location specific. AT&T seems to have some of the best reception where I usually spend most of my time, the Gulf and East Coasts. The iPhone seems to get as good or better reception than my old Nokia (disclaimer: this was a very old Nokia). Apparently it is terrible on the West Coast.

Of course these are isolated data points. I do think that Apple has made a mistake by limiting the iPhone to one carrier, especially one that can arouse strong hatred like AT&T.


Heh, I didn't want to start a opinion war but you have a point. One of the iPhone users I know actually went out and bought another phone to use in his car because he was so sick of dropped calls.


I thought the dropped call problems were over until yesterday. I have to turn off 3G in order to make a call. This phone is pathetic when it comes to making calls. My razr was so much better as a phone.


Yeah, I experience problems with mine as well. Not dropped calls, but rather the software/OS freezing/crashing more often than it should. I expected much more from Apple in that regard.


The user who wants his phone to just work without having to launch process monitors all the time would probably get a worse experience if multitasking was done wrong.

The iPhone, with rare exception, obeys the UI convention that leaving an app closes the app rather than leaving it running in the background. The exceptions to that (Phone and iPod) indicate at the top of the screen that they're still running in the background. OK, so third party apps could have that too. But once you start adding taskbars and process monitors to the phone, you still lose something.


Other "basic" stuff not in the iphone: pedometer, dual bootability and quantum teleportation.

OK, I'll give you MMS.


Multi-tasking and tethering have been standard smartphone features for a long time. I can personally remember those as far back as 2001.


You forget. Apple's whole strategy is to remove features in order to focus a product. Apple wins by doing less than everyone else.

Who else sells a computer with only one mouse button? Who else sells a phone with only one button? No copy/paste? Awful APIs that prevent you from really reading camera data? First iPod had less disk space than any other player First iPod had no windows support Safari's extension support are crappy relative to FF or even IE OSX dock can display 1/100th the apps of menus on other OSes

Apple's strategy is to cut features. This is roughly equivalent to asceticism: finding enlightenment by doing less. Like asceticism, this seems a bad idea on the surface, but some people really seem happier doing it.


To be totally honest, I had to look up what tethering meant today as I had no idea what the term meant.

Disclaimer: The closest I own to a smart phone is one of these email/phone/web devices they sell in Japan that has a pita interface to use.


True, but the iPhone is new whereas other phone oss' have been around for years. It takes time and manpower to code for these, and you have to start somewhere.


Yeah, and the iPhone started with OS X and went from there. Something tells me OS X can multi-task.

(Keep in mind: Playing music and txting / getting phone calls is multi-tasking.)


MMS is useful for talking to old legacy phones :/ Nice to have, but hardly critical.


In Europe everyone has MMS.

Tho' this is becoming less important because people on all platforms just post to Facebook or Flickr directly from their phones now, but even so, lack of MMS hurt iPhone early on.


Disagree. I doubt many iPhone users really mind. You email people your pictures instead of MMS :/ they get them when they're at their computer if their phone can't do email.

(I'm in Europe, not everyone has MMS).


Actually it was the other way round - my iPhone wielding friends complained that people kept sending them MMS messages that they had to visit a website to see!


Receiving MMS on the iPhone (on AT&T) has been a total joke so far.

You get a text message that says to go to viewmymessage.com with some ridiculous username & password pairing. Since you can't copy & paste, or multi-task, you have to somehow remember what that combination is. Of course, once you've managed to pull up the page, you find out that the multi-media part of the message is a SWF... Which the iPhone doesn't support.


I hear WWDC10 will unveil Grand Central Teleportation.


Or perhaps people really just don't care that much? You'd think if it was so terrible people would not develop for it. The fact it continues to grow and arguably flourish is a pretty good indication there's more good than bad.


It's an indication of the motivational factor of the promise of money. Every gold rush "success story" sends N more enterprising individuals chasing after the big payout.

I've met our payroll for months on iPhone contract work and licensing, but not one of our clients or customers has made back their initial investment. I hear the same from other iPhone developers.

Moreover, we've found Apple to be capricious in their regular and seemingly inescapable rejections, absolutely impossible to contact directly for any reason, and in the worst cases, only responsive to bad press.

Personally, I wouldn't write another in-house iPhone application for love or money, but I'm happy to capitalize on the gold rush while I focus on other platforms.


The floggings will continue until morale improves...


So why stay? Love?


I have no objection to Apple running an official App Store with strict rules for compliance. I don't even mind that they take a cut of the profits.

However, I find it utterly reprehensible that Apple doesn't allow developers to distribute their applications on their own. iPhone owners should be able to install whatever they want on the device they purchased.


iPhone owners should be able to install whatever they want on the device they purchased.

Why? It's such an entrenched idea, but you don't get to rewrite paragraphs of books, or scenes in films, or suits in a pack of playing cards or the firmware in your alarm clock. The iPhone is sold as is, why should we expect to use it any differently?


> The iPhone is sold as is, why should we expect to use it any differently?

Wow. It's almost sickening to see the inversion of the principles of software freedom that Apple is able to get away with and not get criticized in the fanboi community. Geeks have been lambasting Microsoft for merely having proprietary formats for 20 years. They even got fined for billions of dollars just for not documenting their protocols well enough. Now Apple plays god and controls every single application that can ever even run on a platform. They make developers sign NDAs that prevent them even talking about technical details of the platform publicly. They do these things that are the antithesis of everything the open software community have been trying to achieve for the last 15 years and not only do people like yourself give it a pass, you go out of your way to stand up and defend it. I find it breathtaking.


I've always thought that the only difference between microsoft and apple on the point of view of behavior when keeping a monopoly is that apple hadn't been successful enough to actually be as aggressive as microsoft


Wow. It's almost sickening to see the inversion of the principles of software freedom that Apple is able to get away with and not get criticized in the fanboi community.

Irrelevant. Regardless of whether I am a fanboi, my question stands.

Geeks have been lambasting Microsoft for merely having proprietary formats for 20 years.

Yes, but also irrelevant. I don't like Microsoft (or any company's) proprietary formats, but I think they should have the right to create and use them.

They even got fined for billions of dollars just for not documenting their protocols well enough.

That both annoys and pleases me, but it's not relevant.

Now Apple plays god and controls every single application that can ever even run on a platform.

Yes. It's an Apple platform. They ought to be allowed to. (What kind of attack is "stop, you're playing God" anyway? Kids "Play God" in sandpits, that's no reason to ban sand pits.)

They make developers sign NDAs that prevent them even talking about technical details of the platform publicly.

Yes, and they ought to be allowed to do this. I don't personally enjoy it or think it fosters a great community, but that's also not relevant.

They do these things that are the antithesis of everything the open software community have been trying to achieve for the last 15 years

Where and why do the open source community come into this at all? The open source community pushes its own agenda, not no agenda.

and not only do people like yourself give it a pass

I give it a pass because I see no reason not to. This doesn't mean I like it and approve of it personally, but I think it should be allowed and acceptable.

you go out of your way to stand up and defend it.

It needs defending; most of the attacks are plain silly.


There are plenty of stupid, reprehensible things that people have a right to do. I don't think the issue is whether they have a right to do these things, but whether we should support them when they do these things. When we support organizations that treat developers worse than other organizations do we are promoting a negative change in the culture of development.


> I give it a pass because I see no reason not to. This doesn't mean I like it and approve of it personally, but I think it should be allowed and acceptable.

This is the crux of where we disagree. I don't think you'll see many people claiming that Apple doesn't have a right to do what they've been doing, but the fact that something should be allowed does not imply that it should be considered acceptable.

Flash pop-up ads on web sites, for example, are completely unacceptable. If some web site pulls that crap with me, I stay the hell away from it. If I have to use that web site for some reason, I'll grouse about it. I wouldn't try to deprive those web sites of their right to use Flash in obnoxious ways, but I sure won't stand for it.

Similarly, Apple's behavior is unpleasant and disturbing and it should be treated as such. This is one of the big advantages of the Android platform, and why I will not get an iPhone: openness. Freedom, if that doesn't sound too hokey. It's important to me.


This is a total digression, but do we have to spell it "fanboi"? What was wrong with gool ol' "fanboy"? Whenever I see "fanboi" my mind automatically tries to pronounce it as either a French or Spanish word, and that's jarring. (I have this same problem with "xian": an abbreviation for "Christian" that looks like it ought to be a Chinese word. Damn it.)


And instead of answering the question, you bring Microsoft and the FSF into it and call me a fanboi. Again - it's only restricted if you look at it from the POV of a general purpose open and free computer, and that's not what it's sold as.

Why are you trying to restrict what Apple can sell so it only covers devices that conform to your standards?


There is a fundamental difference. It's not like rewriting parts of your book, but about preventing you from using your book as a monitor stand when you no longer want to read it.

The iPhone and iPod Touch are, unlike the average alarm clock, single purpose machines implemented on top of general purpose ones. I see many good reasons to want to change the firmware, use your own iPhone on your carrier and pay full price for unlocked units. If it's yours you should be allowed to do anything with it.


It's not like rewriting parts of your book, but about preventing you from using your book as a monitor stand when you no longer want to read it.

Bad example. Apple does nothing to prevent you from using an iPhone as a monitor stand, doorstop, hammer, frisbee, or whatever else. The limitations that people complain about all have to do with the software, which like the contents of the book, you do not own.


what the hell are you talking about? I make my own notes within a book. A lot of times I even add things I have read from other sources in the book I buy. Once I own the book, I am allowed to do anything with it as long as I am using it for my own personal use.


You own a copy of the book, but you do not own the contents of the book. Similarly, the owner of an iPhone owns the hardware, but does not own the software. Claiming that one should have the same rights over Apple's software that you have over a copy of a book that you own strikes me as nonsensical.

I understand that people want Apple's software to allow certain things, but I think stating it as if Apple is impinging on the user's rights because it does not is a dishonest exaggeration.


The point I am saying is that when I buy the book, I can do whatever I want with the content as long as it is for my own personal use and am not distributing it. I am not sure why you think its not true or nonsensical by any means. And the same is true for software.

All they should do is void warranty if someone tempers with the OS. Same for books.


I am not sure why you think its not true or nonsensical by any means.

It's a very simple point: there is a difference in the rights you have over hardware and software just as there is a difference in the rights you have over a book and the contents of the book. Pretending that the rules of one should apply to the other is nonsensical.

The reason this distinction is important is that many people claim that Apple is impinging upon their rights with the restrictions built into the OS, but they don't actually have any rights over the OS and ownership of the hardware does not grant them any. By analogy, owning a book does not grant you any rights over the copyrighted contents. People readily understand the latter, but seem to violently reject the former.

All they should do is void warranty if someone tempers with the OS.

That is all they do. Why would you think otherwise?


> That is all they do. Why would you think otherwise?

Not true. Read a bit about "ibricks": http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/28/more-on-apples-late...


Apple does not support jailbroken phones. The users effected chose to install software that does not support their phones. I don't see how Apple can be considered the responsible party.


That's a valid question.

I tend to take it as a given, considering that the iPhone is essentially a miniature computer and the past decade or so has thrived on customizable, hackable personal computers.

Apple has always wanted to assert extra control on the products they ship. With Mac's, they've controlled the hardware. Now they're trying to control the software. Imagine a version of OS X where every application had to be approved. Does that not strike you as horribly wrong? I wouldn't want to use an operating system with those restrictions, though I imagine the best response to such an OS would be to not purchase it.


I don't think Apple would agree with you and, since they make the device, they pretty much get the final (official) say on that. They view it as an appliance that happens to combine several different sets of functionality into one physical device. If you break out each component you'll see they're almost always very tightly controlled and otherwise not open to general purpose (unlicensed) access.

iPod / PMP (Apple, Microsoft, Creative) Camera (Cannon, Nokia, Sony, etc) GPS unit (Garmin, Tom Tom, etc) Phone (cheap flip phone) Gaming device (PSP, DS)

There are exceptions of course -- and workarounds/hacks to circumvent protection (just like Jailbreaking on the iPhone) but more or less these sorts of closed appliance like devices are quite popular on their own. Apple simply combined them into one physical device and kept the same rules.

Apple doesn't sell the iPhone as a general purpose computer so any consumer who buys one expecting it to function that way probably bought the wrong product. I can understand why someone might want that option but it doesn't change the fact that Apple does not sell a product that fits those needs and, based on the success of stand alone devices sold in the same fashion, it is almost completely irrelevant in real world sales or usage for most people. There is of course jailbreaking -- there's also Linux on iPhone hardware. I'm not sure how much progress they've made but I seem to recall they at least had a booting kernel a while back.


Consider video game consoles like the Nintendo DS, PSP, Xbox, Playstation, Wii. All of those appliances are unable to run unapproved code, and sell in huge numbers. A mobile phone is really more like a video game console than a computer. Simple, reliable, easy to use and fast.


I agree, I want to think of it as a miniature computer too. But it's not sold as an open computing platform, it's sold as an Apple approved limited computing platform. That's what you buy and that's what you get, and I don't really see why Apple should not be allowed to make and sell a product like that.


Imagine a version of OS X where every application had to be approved. Does that not strike you as horribly wrong?

No.

"I don't like it" and "wrong" are not interchangeable.


Keep in mind that "wrong" and "should be outlawed" are not interchangeable either. When someone argues that something is wrong, that doesn't always mean they want to strip people or companies of their right to do it anyway. Don't fight the straw men.


I had a Crackberry once. Worst thing ever. Email sucked. Browsing sucked. Mapping sucked. Crappy menu system with the actions I wanted to use most frequently buried in the deep abyss of boring, corporate-inspired menu hierarchies. The thing was as ugly as bat shit. I voted with my feet.


browsing sucks for sure, but email? come on? Thats the whole selling point and they sell very very well with most customers being repeats. Your experience is very atypical.


I disagree. It was great about 5 years ago but the times have kind of passed it by. Perhaps the situation is better on the Storm or Bold but on my 8330:

1) No native IMAP support 2) No native Exchange support without a BES 3) Horrific attachment viewer. 4) No real-time spellcheck 5) No auto-correction 6) No easy way to sync contacts/calendars over the air 7) No (minimal?) HTML e-mail support (unfortunately sometimes it does help make long e-mail chains more readable) 8) Gotta rely on your carrier for push e-mail -- or in the case of Sprint "Oh yeah we'll send it if we get a chance. Give us like 20 minutes K?" e-mail service. 9) No intuitive way of deleting lots of e-mail messages that don't happen to all be sequential to each other in the list. 10) No folders -- just one big flat mailbox. Hard to save messages on your phone this way. Again, fixed if you have a BES but I don't want my $200 SmartPhone to require $2k-$5k in hardware/software to be functional.

It certainly gets the job done for the basics but once you get used to having more options and flexibility it's hard to go back.


Try getting HTML-formatted email. Useless.


Yes I do. Well, maybe not alarm clock firmware, but if I want to, I can easily rewrite a paragraph of a book (or even insert and remove entire pages if I like). I may be unhappy with the resulting quality, but it's my choice to make. If I want a deck of cards with five suits, I can easily add the extra suit. I remember a cut of Star Wars 1 surfacing at one point that omitted Jar-Jar; while distributing this cut was a copyright violation, creating it certainly was not.

Now, of course, this doesn't restrict Apple from building in mechanisms to prevent this sort of thing. I won't buy their device because of them, but I doubt this bothers Steve Jobs one bit.


Oh but I do get to rewrite paragraphs in books to my hearts desire. I may not be allowed to sell the books so made to others, but in the privacy of my own home I get to do what ever I want. Not so in the case of the iphone et al.


Not true, as evidienced by the existence of jailbreaking, unlocking, etc. Apple has not taken any legal action against people for doing these things. What legal action they have taken has been against people allegedly infringing on their software copyrights. The difference is crucial.


No, it's not. They haven't yet gone after people who jailbreak their phones. That doesn't mean they won't.

And btw, they have gone after sites that talk about how to jailbreak the iPhone. Copyright was just an excuse.


* They haven't yet gone after people who jailbreak their phones*

I like how you can predict the future... How else do you know what a company is going to do, before the company does it?


http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/02/apple-says-jailbreaking...

If Apple honestly believed they would never go after someone for jailbreaking, then they wouldn't waste their time laying the legal groundwork to do so.


If you read the actual filings instead of EFF's press releases, as I have, I believe you'll find the EFF's characterization to be misleading. They can be found here: http://www.copyright.gov/1201/2008/responses/

Jailbreaking per se is not illegal. Violating copyright to do so is. The EFF filed for a DMCA exemption which would allow violating the DMCA for the purposes of jailbreaking, primarily of iPhones. The EFF is the one attempting to lay legal groundwork by changing the law -- what they propose is currently illegal. Apple's filing is only a response to the EFF's comments.


That doesn't mean they won't.

On what grounds would they aside from copyright?

Copyright was just an excuse.

I don't understand. Are you saying they have not had legitimate copyright claims, or that they have but that they are somehow irrelevant?


"It's such an entrenched idea, but you don't get to rewrite paragraphs of books, or scenes in films, or suits in a pack of playing cards or the firmware in your alarm clock. "

It's entrenched idea because, for most of these, I do get to do those things. I'm free to rip pages out of the books I own, or write in the margin, or re-word stuff with white-out and a pen. I'm free to mix several decks of cards to make my own weird set. I would expect I can hack on my alarm clock too, except I have no idea how to alter the firmware. :) I have "re-purposed" analog mechanical clocks. And why not? I owned them.

Why should "as is" mean "stays as"?


Come on. Playing card companies don't spend money and time to restrict the "playing card platform." Alarm clocks don't even have firmware to restrict and alarm clock companies don't care one way or another if their users take them apart and mess with the circuit boards.

Apple, on the other hand, has worked pretty damn hard to restrict their customers from being able to install their own software. That is very much a "fuck you" direct from Steve Jobs.


Isn't it a balancing act to give the END USER the best quality the company believes the user should get?


And protect a developer's investment? Easily hacked platforms become easily pirated platforms....just ask anyone who developed games for the Dreamcast....


The Wii, the Nintendo DS, the original Xbox, the PSP... All were easily hacked and are super easy to load pirated games onto. And yet, publishers seem to still be making money quite handily on these platforms. It seems highly unlikely that Apples draconian restrictions on iPhone apps has much to do with piracy.


It's as easy to hack the iPhone as the PSP or DS - you just need to jailbreak it.


...And people have already called the PSP a "dead" platform because of the ease and rate of PSP game piracy. Its definitely turned some developers off, and made others decide to "half-ass" their ports to the PSP, for fear of losing money on the platform.


iPhone owners should be able to install whatever they want on the device they purchased.

They can. It is the iPhone OS, which they do not own, that does not support this.


No, it's the boot loader, locked to the device that they own, that actively blocks loading unsigned software.


The boot loader is likewise software which you do not own. You're free to replace it along with any other software.


I'm kinda curious how Apple would respond if someone did come up with a custom bootloader and OS that worked on the iPhone...

Ah well. There's always Android.


But practically it's impossible to write a bootloader with equivalent functionnality.


Software's hard! Let's go shopping!


Isn't making an NDA for a conference talk about publishing to the app store quite a big fat fuck you too?

Seriously, how much more of this Apple-flagellation are you peeps gonna accept?!?? (Yes _flagellation_.)


I think most (if not all) talks at WWDC are covered by NDA, and have been in recent memory. It's just Apple's style.


That doesn't make it any less odious. In fact, that makes it MORE odious! You're proving my point. ;-)


Indeed. IIRC, even Stump the Experts was covered by NDA this year — and that definitely doesn't cover anything new.


just assume that everything minus the keynote is under nda no matter what it is, including the lunchtime sessions. always has been, will likely not change.


Just a question, what does one risk by not honoring this NDA?


Honestly, I have no idea. However, since I actually do like mac/iphone dev, I would like to stay in Apple's good graces by not saying anything about the content of NDA'd material unless noted otherwise ;)

I have heard from Apple engineers that leaking information as an Apple engineer may as well equal getting fired though...


People will accept it while the market exists.

The alternatives simply do not have the consumer mindshare that the iPhone does, which is unfortunate.


Well, from all I'm hearing, it's not like iPhone is the get-rich-quick scheme that lots of devs were hoping for.

I realize some people feel all hip with a iPhone in their pocket, but I don't think the devs really have enough reason to stick with Apple through this behavior.

I certainly don't.


Here's an interesting article about a four-man game developer working on the iPhone:

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=23785

"And certainly, we would love to be developing for a Nokia platform if they have solved the same problems as elegantly as Apple has delivered their solution. But the fact is that for the same success as the iPhone has become, you need an unfragmented platform on the hardware level. You need a good SDK."

JL: "Include enough base level of hardware. It can't be some software rendering or no hardware rendering chip. And the fragmentation, it creates this awful disparity of the games, so you have to support software rendering and make everything scale to that. Any high end games use the hardware rendering, but that's a lot of cost to make it two times."

"On the iPhone, you can actually work as an independent publisher, and you can own your IP. You can publish it because there are no huge challenges. If we're bringing that IP to the mobile space, and if we wanted to self-publish it, we would actually have to build the technology or hire hundreds of hourly wageworkers to port to that mass of handsets.

And we can't afford that as an indie. Then we would have to go through a publisher, the publisher would want to own the IP, and then we would be stuck in the same hand-to-mouth loop, the kind of vicious circle that many traditional mobile developers are in. Their only chance is to pitch their next project to the publisher and then work on their mouth opening strategy."

As people that previously worked doing 3D on mobile, which was quite a task, how have you found the iPhone hardware in terms of working with it?

JL: "I think it's absolutely beautiful to work with in the API and the technical side as well. Because it's a standard API, Open GL ES, it's so easy to work with, I think."

"And because the operating system is based on some Unix, even that allows me to deliver all the knowledge that I have. Just pick some code that works in Unix or Linux, and it works on iPhone as well, so mostly, it's much easier. It's one of the easiest platforms that I have ever worked with."


The iPhone is slick. Its got an amazing UI for a mobile device. The input is clever. Its very shiny.

But having had one for about 2 years, 1 year of which it was only about 60% functional due to an "insensitive" touch screen, and having lived with the less than friendly support staff, I'm pretty confident in saying that's about as deep as it goes.

Its very shiny. Its designed to look pretty in Walmart and in AT&T stores and in Apple stores. Its designed to have nifty little IMHO useless widgets that impress your friends in 2 minute water cooler conversations.

But when it came time for me to finally buy a new phone, there was no way in hell I was buying an iPhone.

Thus, this article surprises me in no way. I had no interest in developing for the thing as soon as I read the license agreement, especially after having used it for a while.

It would seem to me there's a huge opportunity here for someone else to come in and blow the doors off of them, in terms of developer friendliness, openness, support, price, etc... but in searching for a new phone I didn't see anyone clearly better.


It would seem to me there's a huge opportunity here for someone else to come in and blow the doors off of them, in terms of developer friendliness, openness, support, price, etc... but in searching for a new phone I didn't see anyone clearly better.

Have you not heard of Android? Developer friendliness? Check. Openness? Check. Support? Check. Price? Check.

Google is spectacular in all of these regards. Android is open source, and Google is throwing serious weight into making things extremely easy for developers. It's not without its problems, but I give it an 'A' in every area you brought up.


You're absolutely right - for the points I explicitly listed Android is probably fine. My problem with the Android was different - I couldn't seem to get my hands on one. Plus I wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of switching to T-Mobile anyway.

Also, I merged a bunch of ideas together and probably rushed that reply. I'm horrible at posting to forums like this because I almost never get up the nerve to do it.

Anyway, if Android was more available (i.e. if the O/S was adopted by a major cellphone manufacturer like a Nokia or Motorola across many different models on multiple carriers), and I could have easily got my hands on one, I would have bought that instead. But as far as I know its only available at T-Mobile, and only in the form of the G1, and was only maybe available at this one T-Mobile store that was quite a drive from here. Many other phones are easily available within a very short drive, so that's what I ended up with.


Yeah, lack of options is currently a problem — but not for much longer: there are around 20 new Android phones expected by the end of the year. < http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/05/28/google-expects-18-20-an... >

I'm guessing at least half will be available in the U.S. I'd also wager that, if not by the end of the year, then at least by next summer, all major carriers in the States will have multiple Android phones to choose from. So things are moving in the right direction; when you're ready for your next phone, I think you'll be very pleased with your options.


Developer friendliness/ support? I only played with the first Android release so far. Yet, honestly, for me the Iphone developer documentation and support seem by far better.

Openness? Why do I still have to jailbreak and unlock an Android phone, when it is so open? (Rhetorical Question)

Price? Yes, check if you want phones with really bad battery lifetime (so far, let's see when a decent phone comes out, I might reconsider).

Btw, is it true that you can only use the phones if you have a google account and that there are several phone home features in the phone?


Android doesn't do it for you?


Why not link to the original story, instead of blog spam (albeit from a famous blogger)?

Trust, hostility, and the human side of Apple http://www.marco.org/122990476


Seconded. It's link-jacking and Grubber isn't adding anything to the discussion himself.


"The content of sessions is under NDA, so I can’t tell you what it was about."

Without knowing the content, I'm reluctant to criticize the decision not to take questions since I remember one WWDC session where one developer (let's call him "dw") destroyed an AppleScript session with his Q&A ranting.


I asked a coworker who went to WWDC about this incident, and it went down nothing like Marco said.

Yes, Apple engineers skipped the Q&A, but were all available at the foot of the stage after the presentation to take individual (and off-the-record) questions.


That wasn't a middle finger, it was fear.


Apple has always been a bunch of douchebags. In their own way, they are every bit as evil as Msoft was in their heyday.

Power corrupts etc. What I can't understand is why there's this tendency to rub people's face in how successful and powerful you are (ie the session as described by OP). It speaks of an underlying insecurity. If you are the alpha dog and know it, you should not be afraid to face your underlings squarely and tell them "hey, I'm alpha dog, I don't need to explain every decision I make". You know, like "I'm the Decider".

But that would be too direct and honest for the mamsy-pamsy, passive-aggressive Silicon Valley style of "fuck you", which is something like "Oh, that's nice. What, did you ask me another question? I thought you had left already."


> they are every bit as evil as Msoft was in their heyday.

A significant portion of the reason why Microsoft dominated is because Apple wanted to control the hardware and the software. Microsoft was more than willing to settle for 'just' the software, running on top of a more or less open hardware platform. The Mac was better, earlier than Windows, and continued to be for a while. But outside of a brief window, you could only buy one from Apple - there was no vendor competition.


We've recently submitted an app to the iTunes store and Apple has been nothing but forthcoming and helpful. The review process took the expected 7 days, at which point we got a personal call from an Apple representative who let us know that they weren't going to be able to take the software as-is (the name was too weird). He then offered to bump the app to the top of the queue once we'd made the necessary revisions.

Not trying to negate the negative experiences of other developers, but I do think a lot of this is a case of an understandably pissed-off minority.


Oh, funny, Daring Fireball just linked to my developer's account of his experience with this:

http://daringfireball.net/linked/2009/06/16/app-store-trend


The App Store team simply knew what the questions were going to be like and were unwilling to face them.

I haven't been following WWDC very closely, did Apple do something major to piss off developers? Or is Marco referring to general App Store issues?


I'll never understand why you have to own a mac in order to develop iPhone apps, then shell out another $99 just to use the SDK. This means that after purchasing their already expensive phone, I need to shell out close to $1,000 just for the privilege of writing apps. I'm in the market for a new phone right now, and I was really strongly considering an iPhone until I realized that those were the restrictions for writing apps. I'm currently thinking of getting an Android phone, but in Canada, the HTC-rebranded android phones have been heavily modified by HTC... what could possibly go wrong!!


I'll never understand why you have to own a mac in order to develop iPhone apps

It's not difficult to understand: the iPhone is based on a version of OS X, so when Apple came to write the developer tools, they extended the OS X developer tools. These, unsurprisingly, are OS X native.

You may not agree with it, but it's not incomprehensible.


Android (linux-based): Linux, Mac & Windows free SDK

Palm WebOS (linux-based): Mojo seems to be Linux, Mac & Windows

Blackberry: MDS is an Eclipse plugin, so Linux, Mac & Windows

Apple and Microsoft are the only ones to lock you onto one platform. Despite all the marketing dollars invested in showing how different Apple and Microsoft are, I see them apply the exact same strategies for the same purposes every single time they get the chance.


If MS would have enforce such a strict policy on Windows, imagine how many stability and security issues would have been solved in an instance.

But this is just a pipe dream, there is no way MS would be let to get away with such practices, on the other hand Apple are well with in their right to do so.


> ... there is no way MS would be let to get away with such practices ...

You mean like the Zune or XBox?


Doesn't matter which product,


The consumer has been screwed so long, regarding mobile phones, that we think it's normal by now. I mean, overlapping networks when wifi is widely available, roaming charges, paying extreme prices per megabyte when sending a text message. If intel would start restricting which OS you could run on there processors, people would go crazy. Microsoft must even provide a IE free version of windows in Europe.




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