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Fear of Apple (elischiff.com)
558 points by q7 on March 24, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 266 comments

This article summarizes the epitome of my experience as an Apple developer. I'm 17 years old and a developer on the app store. The App Store feels opaque and like a black box where I submit builds with little to no feedback or control. I get paid when Apple decides, and could be eradicated from the App Store at a moment's notice.

I realized early on that being featured by Apple was unlikely, and have adopted a sustainable pricing model (a term I was unfamiliar with before reading this piece) to fund my development. I'm certain that by charging $14.99, I stay out of the bottom 47% of developers that make less than $100 a month from the app store. I do not rely on the app store for anything. From visibility to app discovery, I feel that Apple has failed me. When I get support emails, I cannot even refund a single paying user, which means I have to send $14.99 back to the user using PayPal and eat Apple's $4.50 fee for that transaction. It's immensely frustrating and a main reason why I allow users to sign up concurrently on my website using a card (Stripe).

Every part of developing for Apple leads me to this conclusion: I do not matter. My app does not matter.

Your experience is the price of admission to gain access to a global audience. The low barrier to entry is why you're fighting for pennies.

Twenty years ago when I was in high school, I worked at CompUSA. They sold a lot of software in their day... in my region of the country, 40% of software sold passed through our store's door. To sell software at CompUSA or similar retailers, you needed to interface with a publisher, who would then try to sell your software to a buyer at the store. Then you'd need to print collateral, get an attractive box, duplicate physical media in quantities sufficient to stock 500 stores. At your expense.

And for all that, you'd be a box on a bottom shelf somewhere.

If you wanted to actually sell software, you'd need to pay for premium placement on an endcap or display. I recall one vendor who paid over $2M for premium endcaps at each store for a handwriting recognition app.

When customers were dissatisfied, or returned your software that wasn't supposed to be returnable, the store would withhold payment for your software (which was running 60-90 days late in most cases) and mail you back the resealed box at your expense, which may have contained a rock instead of your software.

Fast forward to 2015, and you're paying $99 to sell software for $15 that nets you $10, which is paid promptly every month. Apple treats you like cattle, because you are in effect a cow to them... there are thousands of people like you!

> Twenty years ago when I was in high school, I worked at CompUSA

So, selling software was a PITA full of inefficiencies and middlemen. Everyone hated it.

Now, 20 years later, we live on the open web, a level playing field where anyone can experiment to their heart's content and sell what they want, how they want it.

And you wonder why people complain about Apple adding restrictions? And your answer is "tough luck, we have the possibility to do things better, but things were even worse 20 years ago so just suck it up"?

> Your experience is the price of admission to gain access to a global audience

This Hacker News comment has access to a global audience. There are fart noise videos on YouTube with access to a global audience. That means nothing anymore.

Apple also do a piss-poor job of giving that access. It's already easier to find our app via Google than searching for the literal exact app name on the App Store. Whenever you release an update theres a 1-12 hour window where people will get random error messages since there's massive CDN sync lag.

You don't live on an open web. On mobile devices, you live in a garden with high walls (Apple, Microsoft) or lowish walls (Android). The consumers of the garden are... the public, not you. You are the gardener planting trees and cutting the grass.

Apple isn't just giving you a place on a shelf either. You have a half dozen ways that consumers are earning credits to buy your stuff (credit cards, kid allowances, supermarket gift cards, credit card rewards, etc), millions spent marketing the platform, etc.

As long as there is a gatekeeper, that gatekeeper will collect a toll. Free/open is going to come from new players like Firefox & Ubuntu, and traction there will give Apple and Google incentives to behave more

> Your experience is the price of admission to gain access to a global audience.

Nothing they said was inherent to the process of getting a global audience. Apple has created all of their problems they mentioned; we know this because Apple could make them all go away.

Why would they bother when another cow will step forward?

The developers' gripes seem to be about actual problems for them, but potential problems for Apple.

Similar things happen with Google and AdSense publishers.

You could also publish on Android or the web and have access to a "the global audience".

Comparing the App Store with 20 years old methods is a fallacy. To be realistic you should compare using the Android/Mozilla/Windows/Web distribution methods.

The Android model i.e. the Google model is now the same as Apple's.

Only it has the ability to sideload applications which let's be honest as primarily been used for installing pirated applications.

I kind of resent that comment. I sideload apps all the time, none of them are pirated. That stereotype just re-inforces companies attempts to lock down our devices and it kind of pisses me off to hear it constantly regurgitated.

Calling it 'sideload' is already aiding the enemy. It's the normal way of doing things. Installing software from an app-store should have a different name instead.

There is this thing called the Amazon Appstore. Perhaps you've heard of it? On anything but an official Amazon device, it works entirely by sideloading [1]. And considering the broad impact this particular use (not to mention other important ones) has had (e.g. Amazon's official devices probably wouldn't exist without their use of sideloading to bootstrap the app ecosystem), saying sideloading primarily used for piracy is just wrong.

[1] Ironically, I think the pervasive sideloading third-party app stores on Android require is a bug, not a feature. I'd much rather see an official way to add "known sources" so that, after the initial install, you didn't need to leave sideloading enabled in order to use them.

That sounds highly disingenuous. F-Droid appears to have over 8 million downloads[0]. Amazon's store is probably well patronized too (and they seem to have good deals on paid apps). I'm sure there's some piracy, but I don't think it's that prevalent (at least not in the US). Either way, as a user, I'd rather be on a platform that is open enough that piracy is possible.

[0]: https://gitlab.com/fdroid/fdroiddata/blob/master/stats/total...

>I'm sure there's some piracy, but I don't think it's that prevalant

ha. that's a good one. I've had apps on both iOS and Android with < 10% of the installs being legit.

How many of those were in markets you could actually sell in? (i.e. where Google Play is available)

I use f-droid more than google play. F-droid would not ne posible without sideloading.

Pirating iPhone apps is easy, and Apple's signature checking that locks down iOS doesn't actually prevent piracy. A pirated iOS app passes the signature check same as the legitimately bought version - it's the same .ipa file, after all. You don't need to jailbreak your iPhone in order to install apps you haven't paid for.

The signature check makes sure 'the developer has paid Apple', and not 'the user has paid for this app'.

Sideloading of apps allows for apps that Google may not care for, and that Apple actively prohibits (eg bitcoin), the difference being that you can still run them on Android if you really want to.

This is incorrect. Unmodified App Store .ipas are DRMed (app __TEXT is encrypted); the signature is of the encrypted binary, and the keys are tied to your iTunes Store credentials on the device. Piracy thus requires someone to decrypt the binary with a jailbroken phone, followed by either:

(1) installing the resulting unsigned app on a jailbroken phone, or

(2) re-signing it with a developer or enterprise distribution key, which Apple can revoke.

Both of these are done regularly, but it's not like Apple hasn't tried to stop it.

By the way, Apple no longer forbids Bitcoin apps, although this doesn't defeat the general point about forbidden categories.

Good point - but one correction, there aren't thousands but millions of developers, 6mm+ to be precise. http://www.phonearena.com/news/6M-developers-in-Apple-ecosys...

Paradoxically, I think the power of the tools, resulting in the ease of development, and the democracy of the Apple Store is a major contributor to the difficulty of competing for user mindshare, and the resulting low prices.

Isn't this economics 101 ? The easier it is to enter the market the more supply there is, and when supply outweighs demand prices fall ?

I'd even add that this was what the internet promised. A reduction of the barriers between creator and consumer. No more would those pesky publishers/editors/distributors get in the way. Sadly I think we forgot that Sturgeons law still holds.

Or, more realistically, he could pay shit all for a domain name (.io, .ly is so last year) 10 usd/month for a VPS, 3% to Stripe (which is criminally high, but there you go) and have access to the global market. He is more likely to get customers and he isn't constrained to change pennies.

People have tried that, e.g. with Android apps. It doesn't turn out to be much better, actually quite worse sales wise.

Apparently I didn't make the comment very clear: he should build a webapp instead. Make it a game if you want, but build it outside their walled gardens.

But web-based games/apps don't sell very well at all, compared to iOS and Android native apps (even if the native are built with the same web technologies).

Unless it's a service website, the monetization for web apps just isn't up to par.

> 3% to Stripe (which is criminally high, but there you go)

Compared to what? I thought Stripe was famous for offering competitive fees.

Sure, thats the problem. You pay 3% of the transaction for them to make a couple of entries in a database. It is laughable, when you consider that hosting and access to the VPS cost very little.

no it is not.

your argument is the same as saying "i can only fill my gas tank at BP stations, oh well, that is the price i pay to be able to fill up at BP stations since they are the most common around here"

then you proceed to an example, which does not work. because you wrongly confuse apple store with some convenience to reach users. which it is not. 99.9% of non-block buster purchases come from the developer website. the post you are replying to (probably without reading :( even mention that he has no hope of being discovered by users on the app store or being promoted there.

so, physical store or something that advertises or facilitate your sale == ok. apple store is none of those. they actually make it harder for both things to happen.

I think it's better for everyone in this business to have some understanding of how channel works and profits to have a more macro perspective of this issue. Channels usually have huge power and it's one of the four P's (price, product, promotion, and place). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing_mix

It's amazing how things don't change.

> Apple treats you like cattle, because you are in effect a cow to them... there are thousands of people like you!

And how is that okay?

It's clearly a problem of oversupply. That's why consolidation is inevitable in this market

Nobody's really disputing that the App Store needs revision in a number of areas (discovery, refunds, trials, etc) It's a hard problem because curation is a hard problem. It is not unique to the app store - take a look at android's store or frankly, any online store that offers a wide array of products - curation is hard. I'm sure they're working on it.

A time of fewer but higher quality apps may be coming - but then there'll be complains about the selection system. Curation is hard.

The real complaint I hear most often is simply 'I thought I was going to make an app, publish it and make money! I haven't made money. I think the app store it broken'

Most businesses fail, there was a false impression that the app store is somehow different - it'll solve the reasons most businesses fail. It won't.

Your conclusion is correct - unless you've got great product-market fit (your product fits the need of many people today), you do not matter, to many people. Your app does not matter to many people unless it has got great product-market fit. Products that have great fit - do well despite some of the challenges, mostly through word of mouth. Just like most other small businesses.

> Curation is hard.

Oh please.

They just don't care.

Take Steam for instance, I have a thousand times better experience finding new games on there than I have on any mobile app store. I get recommendations from my friends, according to what Steam thinks I would enjoy playing, and they even have curators for apps so people whose reviews I can enjoy can list games with a short review. And those are just a few ways of discovering new games, there are a ton of others.

Neither Apple nor Google are even trying. That's the problem. They don't give a shit.

Valve barely gives a shit about improving Steam — since it'll print more money than they can ever spend regardless — and still they've surpassed both Google and Apple.

Scale matters. Steam has less than 4000 games total. The App store has 1400 applications every day.

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/steam-reaches-100-million-u... http://www.pocketgamer.biz/metrics/app-store/

This is the first time I have heard Steam described as a positive example in curation in a long time. They're terrible at it. And as others have pointed out here, they have a MUCH simpler curation problem than Apple or Google have to face. I think even Windows Phone or Blackberry have a bigger app curation problem than Steam has an app curation problem. And Valve's response to this is that they want to move to a model of even LESS curation, because running the disaster pit that's Steam Greenlight is too uncomfortable for them.

If they wanted to move towards less curation, then it seems counter to them creating tags, "recommended for you" games, steam curators, discovery queue, or their two new customizable curation panes on their homepage, and more, all in the past year.

Steam is very visibly and actively trying to improve curation, and despite being very poor at it previously, they have very much improved rather quickly.

The entire point of tags and Steam curators is that Valve doesn't do the work, "the community" does. They're not trying to improve THEIR curation, they're trying to give users the tools to do it themselves.

Actually discovery on Google Play is getting a lot better. I get recommendations based on what friends have reviewed all the time. Most of the interesting apps I find and install are because someone I know on G+ installed it and +'d it or rated it.

Honestly steam as much a social network as a games platform at this point and that's what gives them the data, and we've see. How Apple and googles multiple attempts at social platforms have panned out.

I barely use Steam as a social platform, and still I have a thousand times better experience when it comes to discoverability. I understand what you're saying — people spend more time using Steam than they do the app stores (and they also have access to social graphs and what-not, although you could argue Apple & Google have this as well via messages).

I would argue that point is kind of moot, since many of the ways I discover games on Steam would work without any friends or a social graph.

The sales (holiday, weekly and daily), curators, user tags etc, etc. They would all still work.

They just don't care.

Don't forget the steam queue. It use prediction to show games that correspond to your taste. It's not very accurate, but it allow to show new games on each iteration. You do not waste your time on the always same top 100 games. It allow to discover some strange or underated titles .

I bet the average Steam user also spends orders of magnitude more than the average Android/Apple user as well.

I'm not sure what exactly that would suggest if true, but I think it would be interesting.

Really? I find steams suggestions to be about on par with the App Store: it tends to highlight whatever bid budget game is upcoming and never seems particularly relevant to me.

Well, that's... a point of view. I'm unconvinced it's an accurate one.

Firstly, the app model is pure genius. It means Apple gets an army of developers producing software for Apple with zero health/unemployment/other benefits, no up-front advance payments, and a limited curation cost.

The risks are entirely on the developer side. There is no downside for Apple.

Secondly momentum creates the usual extreme power law, with most of the benefits going to a small minority of developers.

What makes an app sell is some random combination of luck, faddiness, and marketing muscle.

It certainly isn't inherent quality or "fit". In fact you seem to be using "fit" as a rationalisation for app successes, not as a useful description of the processes that make an app successful - some of which seem to random.

Finally, there's the bottom line: devs like to that puts on a stage routine about having the right stuff, it's not unreasonable to expect it to do stuff right.

The point: the benefits of keeping devs onside and treating them with more respect would be immense, and probably economically incalculable.

Apple would have an instant army of fanboys/girls talking up the company to anyone who would listen. App quality would go way up to the point where iOS could potentially totally kill Android. App and hardware sales would increase further, and you'd get a classic virtuous cycle.

Unfortunately when you have a war chest heading towards $1tn you probably don't feel any need to care about the little people, and "eh - whatever" is good enough for you.

But that doesn't mean the opportunity wasn't real, or that it hasn't been squandered.

It was and it has. And that's been a bad thing for everyone - including Apple.

> Firstly, the app model is pure genius. It means Apple gets an army of developers producing software for Apple with zero health/unemployment/other benefits, no up-front advance payments, and a limited curation cost.

How is that different than say, people writing for the Commodore 64 or Windows and selling it with no connection to the company? Do you mean the alternative would be for apple write all of the software available on iOS? I don't see how third parties writing software for an operating system or device would be considered an amazing new idea.

It is different because in the case of Commodore 64/Windows/$thirdParty, the developer can do releases, pricing, refunds, etc outside of Apple's control.

... and without giving them a third of the profit (or is it revenue?)

Apple takes 30% of revenue.

To be fair, Apple handles a lot for that 30%. Accounting/Tax records, payment, bandwidth and storage etc.

They could probably afford to take less, but they do take care of a fare bit of hassle from app distribution and selling.

> "To be fair, Apple handles a lot for that 30%. Accounting/Tax records, payment, bandwidth and storage etc."

I think people would have a better opinion on that deal if it were optional.

Apple offers to take care of billing/bandwidth/storage on iOS for 30% of revenue? Neat!

Apple demands to take care of billing/bandwidth/storage on iOS for 30% of revenue? Lame.

It is optional, we use Stripe, Apple gets nothing. I am surprised there are people in software that don't know this.

No you are incorrect: If you want to sell an app for iOS, it needs to go through the App Store, and it needs to go through Apple's payment processor, be hosted by them etc, and Apple will take 30%.

There are 'work arounds' that involve being enrolled in the Enterprise Developer Program, but you're still at Apple's mercy. If they believe you're not sticking 'to the spirit of the program' (e.g. using it just to get around the App Store) they'll terminate.

Do you really believe Netflix is giving 30% to Apple?

You can't pay for Netflix from their iOS app.

I can sell an app on Apple's appstore without Apple getting a 30% cut if I use stripe?

Do you have a source for that that you can link me to? Because from this, I get the impression that is not the case: https://support.stripe.com/questions/apple-and-stripe-tos-an...

I can confirm this, it is true.

Basically, your app is not allowed to have any links to sign up, or to your website, and you can do this for eg a SaaS app.

The idea is that then you're not using the app store for marketing, it's only for servicing your existing users.

Imagine if Microsoft got a third of the revenue from Turbotax, Photoshop, AutoCAD, World of Warcraft, etc.

A better analogy might be to ask how much Wal-Mart marks up software in their store. The answer is more than Apple does. Apple's value proposition is they bring x hundred million paying customers with credit cards ready to go into the store and you will sell at least 30% more than if they didn't bring those customers to you.

Is Wal-Mart's markup still bigger than Apple's once you take out the incremental costs of dealing with physical boxes in stores [1]? Considering the substantial markups we see on things like books and DVDs, I suspect not.

[1] To be precise we should also take out Apple's incremental (not fixed) costs for delivering apps, but I suspect those are negligible on a per-app basis.

But Apple has thousands of developers producing high quality apps. There's literally zero chance that all, most, or really even a significant some of them will be enough to earn their developers significant amount of money.

How many Windows developers make enough from their one-off piece of software that they can quit their job and work full time on it? Hardly any. How many Linux developers? An even smaller amount, closer to zero (you want to talk about a platform where people expect to get free-as-in-beer software, when was the last time you paid money for any non-enterprise Linux software?). Now look at the difference between a PC and an iPhone. On a PC, you can have meaningful, long-term engagements with software. I've put hundreds of hours into each Civilization and Elder Scrolls games, thousands of hours between the entire series of each. And iPhone games advertise a huge game at under 10 hours of gameplay. I spend $50 to play a game for 500 hours. If I want that kind of return from an iPhone game, even 99 cents is way too much to spend.

I'm not arguing that the apps need to be more engaging. It's just the platform doesn't lend itself to that. It's about small bits and bites and sporadic usage. And for that, apps are even massively over-priced. And you want to argue about discoverability? How is the discoverability on Windows? And the discoverability on Linux... on Debian the package is apache2, on RHEL it's httpd. Same package. That's poor discoverability.

I'll go against the article: I'm not an Apple fanatic, I don't own a Mac, I have an iPhone as one of the many phones I use, I don't have an iPad, I've never published to the store, and I have no relationship with Apple. But is there anything wrong with the App Store? If there is, it's in developer expectations. I've written Windows and Linux software and put it up for free on my website. You know how many views it gets, let alone downloads? Zero. I get around that lack of income by having a job and developing as a hobby, like most software (except, I guess, the App Store). The App Store is an incredible thing for developers, but many developers see it as nothing more than a gold mine that they can exploit, then get upset when they only make $100/mo, even though they put in all that effort. Effort doesn't guarantee success anywhere in life.

If you feel Apple owes you anything, that's your own damn fault. There has never been a better time to be an independent developer than there is right now. But if you go in expecting people to throw money at you then blame Apple when they don't... well just because you play guitar doesn't mean your band is going to get a recording contract.

>The real complaint I hear most often is simply 'I thought I was going to make an app, publish it and make money! I haven't made money. I think the app store it broken'

Where have you heard that most often?

> A time of fewer but higher quality apps may be coming - but then there'll be complains about the selection system. Curation is hard.

Then don't curate. Simple, elegant and effective. Make side loading possible, give root to the devices that people own and make the app store optional. Nobody loses.

"Nobody loses" - of course they do. Apple protect users from themselves by making it hard to install dodgy software on their phones.

For ever alleged power user who wants to do something different there are probably 100 users for will be burnt because they don't understand that your root enabled device and other app source is a massive attack vector.

We're years into the iPhone, you knew what you were buying. Apple have spent years selling the iPhone as safe, what you propose is turning all the marketing into misconceptions for users when they think Vlad's warez site can't ruin their device.

From my view of the world the "pre Apple" app marketplace was much worse. With our J2ME apps (doing apps since 2002) we would have to distribute to 30+ different middlemen (Telcogames et al) each with differing submission requirements, invoicing/non payment issues and the kicker was only getting 20-40% (at best) of the revenue (with the price not being set by us). The holy grail being placement on operator stores with the ever fickle decisions of their games teams.

The amount of non payment, uncharged downloads, operator/distribution backhanders and outright fraud was striking. With Apple we get paid on time, I trust the download reports and it is ‘quite’ clear what the submission rules are.

The Apple (and Android) appstore just reminds me of a very pure form of business in which the barriers are low, not everyone can be a 'winner' , and Surgeon’s law applies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon%27s_law)

I do however agree with your conclusion - neither you nor your app matter to Apple but that isn't unique to you/your app - it is just business.

>From visibility to app discovery, I feel that Apple has failed me.

As a consumer you've failed me. The store is full of useless apps, lazy clones, and fad garbage that does me no good. Write the next Dropbox and people will come pounding at your door. I'm really getting sick of all the Apple/Google bashing. We live in a time where you can trivially publish software to hundreds of millions people dying for new apps without a publisher, without cutting deals with dozens of stores, and little to no investment out of pocket.

What's so wonderful about your app? Go on, tell us. Why should it be the next success? Who exactly are you being wronged here other than the typical gen-y whining about not being a millionaire by 22.

    The App Store feels opaque and like a black box where I
    submit builds with little to no feedback or control. I
    get paid when Apple decides, and could be eradicated from
    the App Store at a moment's notice.

    Every part of developing for Apple leads me to this
    conclusion: I do not matter. My app does not matter.
Now that I'm doing iOS Development under my own company, I feel your pain.

We recently had our iOS Developer Program terminated, for what I can only assume was a gross misunderstanding on Apple's behalf. And I can only assume because Apple won't actually tell us why they terminated our account. We just got a standard form reply with zero detail. Whenever we call Developer Support, they can't/won't tell us anything. We have absolutely zero information on why they permanently expelled us from the App Store.

It's not infuriating, its soul crushing.

(sitenote: if anyone within Apple developer relations or anyone else can help us out, PLEASE email me - details are in my bio)

Is it reasonable to say you are pretty aware of why Apple terminated your account? Remember, that the hierarchy of interests that Apple follows (according to Gruber), Apple --> User --> Developer.

We have our suspicions on why Apple terminated our account, that they misunderstood some things and never sought to clarify things and just went straight to the permaban.

But they're only suspicions - we can't talk to anyone within Apple to at least get a reason, let alone explain things.

Of course I am biased, but I am 100% confident in that we were not actually doing anything wrong, and especially did not deserve termination of our developer account.

what are your suspicions?

Don't send them refunds, send them to https://reportaproblem.apple.com/ and tell them you are happy to refund them and here's how to do it. They can then go to Apple and they will process the refund for you.

You and your app technically don't matter to Apple. The 30% feels high, but overall it's really a good deal. I've made several hundred thousand dollars on the app store without almost any marketing spend. That's a good deal.

Can you share more details? What do you sell? How much time do you spend (and money?) on development? Etc.

I've made most of my money on fitness apps, with a few utilities sprinkled in early on. I've been doing it full time for a few years, with freelance supplementing the income. I've written up yearly reviews on my blog[1] a few times. I've spent a little bit on graphic design, and I've partnered and done a revenue split for some of the graphic design.

That being said, it's far from being all roses. My sales have been down some the last few years despite continuing to update (some of the apps, not all) and making new apps. There is a ton of competition and there are definitely things I'd wish Apple would change.

Mostly though you have to think of it as any other business. It's not Apple's job to sell my apps any more than it's Wal-mart or Lowe's job to sell your products. Being in the store is the only thing any of them promise, and that is a huge boost for lots of products. If you get featured (on the app store, or maybe end cap at walmart) it's gravy. I have to work to make a great product, I have to get the word out as much as possible, and I have to do a good job of ASO (or SEO if you prefer).

[1] http://www.entrelife.com/

> When I get support emails, I cannot even refund a single paying user, which means I have to send $14.99 back to the user using PayPal and eat Apple's $4.50 fee for that transaction.

Send them over to https://reportaproblem.apple.com - there they can claim a refund.

Those who purchase your apps are paying to Apple, why would YOU send them a refund? If they want a refund they have to figure that out with a marketplace not a seller.

That's the point?

Customer service is lacking this basic functionality, so this developer is providing it on the side at an increased cost.

Its not lacking. it is easily possible for users to get refunds from apple.

I have no idea why the developer isn't just asking them to go to apple for a refund.

It is very lacking, and I would not spin it as "easy" - unless you're talking about some other process than the "report a problem" path.

I'm not this developer, but if so many users are reaching out to them for refunds, then there is a definitive gap in store functionality.

It's not highly publicized, but it is in fact easy. And if there are lot of users reaching to him for refunds, he needs to improve the app because it's not as advertised. I doubt he's actually getting a ton of refund requests though. It is a thing that happens though, and when it does you inform that user how Apple's refund process goes. No reason to eat $4.50 every time.

Yes and no. For example, you buy some Sony stuff from Bestbuy, you run into a problem, yes you try to contact Bestbuy first, but they fail to you: "Well you must contact Sony now because yada yada...", you may even think "Alright, that's fair..., it's not their fault" and if Sony doesn't provide customer service nor support, I bet you, you will never buy something from the brand again, but you may buy again from the store.

It may not seem right, but a very common customer behaviour.

Customers (and people in general) shouldn't let themselves be so easily deflected. Stay on target.

When you buy a Sony-branded consumer good from SomeCo, you haven't done business with Sony, you've done it with SomeCo. If SomeCo isn't willing to back the quality of the products they stock, they should. not. stock. those products.

If you that argument does not sway whoever takes returns at SomeCo, get your credit card company to issue a chargeback. <-- USA-specific; Unfortunately I don't know what protections are available to consumers in most of the world.

should cuts no cheese in business. What happens is what customers really buy, and really do.

That one line is me offering personal life advice to anybody reading.

That comes under the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act. In California, the Song-Beverly Warranty Act applies.[1] The retailer has to make good on the manufacturers' warranty unless the manufacturer has convenient in-state repair centers.

[1] http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&gr...

If I bought a Sony tv at bestbuy - I will request a refund from bestbuy not Sony.

The point is that if BestBuy refuses to make it right for you, a manufacturer who cares about customer service and their brand may step in and give you a refund/replacement even though they're not obliged to. Which is what OP is doing instead of saying "not my problem, deal with Apple" to his customers.

No. Nobody will give you a refund. A replacement maybe, never ever a refund for the price you paid on the shop.

Okay, maybe it happened because it was something cheap, a 30$ Brita Filter, I bought at Canadian Tire and ran into issues, I've contacted them and got the cheque with full refund. It really depends on Customer Service, I would buy another Brita product for sure.

I would, too :)

When a user's disappointed with a product, they blame the creator of the product, not Apple. Not offering up good customer service would only tarnish his reputation. People will keep paying Apple no matter what, so they really don't care. People won't keep paying an unknown developer with 2 star ratings.

Can't you direct users to the "report a problem" link in the email receipt that Apple sends to them? That's how I've always dealt with users wanting a refund on iTunes.

> I'm 17 years old and a developer on the app store. The App Store feels opaque and like a black box where I submit builds with little to no feedback or control.

I've been pushing apps on the appstore form day one, there's a lot of room for improvements, but saying that you get no feedback is plain false. When an app is rejected the reasoning behind the refusal is always explained, and you have a chance to talk through the issue (sometimes I had the reviewer calling me on the phone). In the end it's just a matter of following the guidelines.

> Every part of developing for Apple leads me to this conclusion: I do not matter. My app does not matter.

We all like to think we're special, millions of developers do, that's true for the appstore, and the same goes for the open web.

Apple is providing one of the widest most open distribution markets ever available besides the internet/web, but here the expectations of gaining revenues is easier with one touch buying, no guarantee, but less hurdles.

For the price of that we are all sharecroppers in a feudal market where Apple is the King.

>Every part of developing for Apple leads me to this conclusion: I do not matter. My app does not matter.

Well, it's not any different for any other marketplace, including the general internet.

There are millions of apps and millions of developers out there. Of course they don't matter...

> I'm 17 years old and a developer on the app store

Then you probably committed fraud when creating your Developer account. Apple requires you to certify that you are at least 18 years old in order to join the developer program. So does every other means of receiving USD payment on the internet (Paypal, Stripe, BTC exchanges, etc). I hesitate to say it's impossible, but the system is set up in such a way that if you are an Internet entrepreneur under the age of 18 you are probably breaking the law.

I've never heard of Apple doing this, but PayPal is known to freeze accounts it discovers are held by minors and walk away with their money. You probably don't want to advertise the fact that you're 17.

> I'm 17 years old and a developer on the app store

I did this when I was 14. Except, technically, my dad was the developer. It's really easy to make that work, and it's completely legal.

My iTunes Connect account is in a different name than my own for the time being. For my Stripe account, an email from a guardian indicating consent is enough for me to have my account under their terms. I appreciate your concern and I have looked into all of these areas.

> I've never heard of Apple doing this

An old example of this:


Maybe his or her parents signed?

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I was following quite closely when Marco Arment's article was published and the storm erupted around it. Marco's comments have totally been taken out of context here: the reason he regretted publishing the article was not out of fear of Apple primarily but because many publications took it and used it to justify the "Apple is doomed" narrative which Marco personally doesn't agree with. He was quite sad about that because the article was a serious piece highlighting particular problems that need addressing but it was just used as fodder for "This wouldn't have happened if Steve Jobs was alive..." headlines.

Whilst I didn't see the particular tweet when it happened, it's pretty clear that Cabel Sasser is also talking about the press in his tweet (note "dramapress").

Whilst elements of this article do seem a bit biased, there are some good points later on which aren't taken out of context. It's a shame that it started out with this.

I'm just going to note that the people most frequently mentioning the "Apple is Doomed" narrative are Apple apologists themselves. I discussed this in the previous article: http://www.elischiff.com/blog/2015/3/17/critical-sharks-part...

Yes the media distorts things. But that does not mean that it is invalid to say 'this wouldn't have happened under Steve.' Jobs had clear differences from the new leadership.

Further, the media's inevitable distortion of stories should not make criticism something regrettable or something to hide in blog posts or podcasts. If the developers in question have legitimate grievances, which they clearly do, then those should be aired accessibly and publicly. Otherwise what's the point of writing them?

I personally think it's invalid to say "This wouldn't have happened under Steve" because it's impossible to falsify or verify. I think what people think someone else would have done, particularly someone they admire, is subject to a host of cognitive biases that say more about the speaker than the subject.

Your point about airing grievances is unrelated to kaolinite's point. kaolinite pointed out that when those individuals expressed regret, it was for reasons that did not fit the narrative you established in your essay. That you feel these individuals should not feel such regret is unrelated to whether or not it fits your narrative.

I'm just going to note that the people most frequently mentioning the "Apple is Doomed" narrative are Apple apologists themselves.

I see the claim mirrored in your article, also stated as fact:

Strangely enough, the people doing the most service to the narrative of Apple’s impending “doom” are Apple apologists themselves.

Is it discussed or supported beyond that? Sorry if I missed it.

The article alludes to Guy Kawasaki's 'evanga-list' back in the 1990s which seems to be the source of the "Everyone thinks Apple is doomed" meme. I don't know if anyone has written up the whole story, but it's been discussed on various Mac fora over the years.

There are lots of 'this wouldn't have happened under Steve' things that are good. I think Steve was awesome, and I wish we would have had him for longer and gotten to enjoy more of his creations. That being said, Steve had a way of holding grudges, and being set in his ways when it was obvious things needed to change.

As a shareholder, I think Tim is doing an amazing job, and there are lots things he's improved that are more shareholder friendly than Steve (I know I know capitalism is terrible screw greedy shareholders blah blah, I'm saving for retirement dang it).

As a full time mobile developer, I definitely don't think things are any worse, and I think they've made changes for the better. I know developers aren't #1 by any means, but they aren't being completely ignored.

As a user of most things Apple, I'm happy with my iMac, iPhone, iPad, and even Apple TV (for the most part, could definitely be better. really hoping for App Store this summer and Amazon Prime access). Really though I've been hugely satisfied, and based on the customer satisfaction surveys most everyone else is too, moreso than for pretty much any other company out there.

I've just written a piece to back yours up. I'm media, but I'm tech media, so I have a buncha stories in my piece about how tough Apple is to deal with. I've been trying for years to write about CUPS, but Apple owns the guys who write it, and thus, I cannot interview them. Same for LLVM, though there are people outside Apple on that project, at least. I fail to see just what scintillating details about the next iPhone the guy maintaining the Common UNIX Printing System could give me, but Apple sure is convinced he's filled with hot scoops and must be kept from the public at all costs.

Apple's number one priority is secrecy. Developers are, like, #20 on that list.

Anyway, my piece will be up soon, and I linked to yours, Eli. Great stuff!

Do be in touch when your post is published.


Computerworld http://www.computerworld.com/article/2866456/marco-arment-sp...

Fortune http://fortune.com/2015/01/05/how-bad-are-the-bugs-in-apples...

BGR http://bgr.com/2015/01/05/marco-arment-mac-ios-software-qual...

Economic times/india times http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/progra...

WSJ http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/01/05/programmer-ignites-de...

ZDNet http://www.zdnet.com/article/apple-software-may-be-buggier-b...

HuffPo http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/05/marco-arment_n_6416...

This is what he's talking about. He posts a "hey have you noticed apple software is buggier lately?" and loads (43, according to google news) sites post speculative articles about titled something like "have things started to go downhill for apple???" using him as a source. Sure, it's not literally "apple is doomed" right in the title, but exactly the same kind of FUD

Sure, it's not literally "apple is doomed" right in the title, but exactly the same kind of FUD

BUT IT ISN'T FUD AT ALL. To make it even more comical, several of those posts are from serious Apple boosters (Philip Elmer-DeWitt might as well wear pom-poms while he writes about Apple). Apple software has had serious quality issues, and it is "FUD" to talk about it?

This is just broken thinking. You, in this conversation, are the problem. This notion that any criticism of Apple (such as the fact that they've let quality seriously decline) becomes "FUD" because there is so much defensiveness about Apple.

Not one of those demonstrate what he is talking about. None of them are attacks on Apple. None posit that Apple is doomed. They're tech articles, appealing to a tech crowd, that note that software quality has wavered, which is something that is utterly indisputable.

It's not FUD to talk about apple's software getting buggier, it's FUD to appropriate someone's rant, sensationalise it and then put the responsibility on Arment.

It's the difference between you stating that Node.js has been forked and someone writing "The server-side Javascript community is now torn apart, according to engendered". It's technically true, but it's clear that second one has other implications.

This is Marco's post: http://www.marco.org/2015/01/05/popular-for-a-day

"This morning, my words were everywhere, chopped up and twisted by sensational opportunists to fuel the tired “Apple is doomed!” narrative with my name on them. (Or Tumblr’s name, which was even worse.) Business Insider started the party, as usual, but it spread like wildfire from there. Huffington Post. Wall Street Journal. CNN. Heise. Even a televised CNBC discussion segment."

"Instead of what was intended to be constructive criticism of the most influential company in my life, I handed the press more poorly written fuel to hamfistedly stab Apple with my name and reputation behind it. And my name will be on that forever."

Now, why do you think Marco is afraid of speaking out? Do you genuinely think that he's afraid his relationship to Apple is damaged because it might threaten future business or because he feels he's responsible for these articles?

From what I and others have experienced (and the rest of the article), there's a climate of frustration, not fear, in the Apple developer community – but even in this article, being angry at incompetence doesn't sound remotely as exciting as being afraid of a large corporation. Hence the F in FUD.

> that note that software quality has wavered, which is something that is utterly indisputable.

I would dispute this.

Having been a Mac user for over a decade now I don't feel a particular drop in software quality. The highlight of stability for me (and many others I expect) was Snow Leopard. Yosemite isn't bad — it feels about as good as Leopard, and probably in need of it's own "Snow Leopard" soon. But I don't think Apple software quality is worse than back when we used Leopard, or Tiger or Panther, and so on. Lion was probably the "low point" of OS X software for me.

The ratio of good:bad in Apple software doesn't seem to have changed much. There are plenty of examples of both and there always have been.

I still use Apple software every day for most of my day. And I feel like it's the best it has ever been.

I gave you an upvote to try and offset the flurry. I think you're both right. My sense was Marco did regret writing it not because of fear of a Black Apple planet but rather because it became a tool for people to attack Apple with "If Marco the fanboi is concerned then wow!" So the original author is misconstruing it by representing it as being fear of Apple. And I think you're right that Marco's exasperation wasn't with the "If Steve Jobs was alive" crowd. He was just taken aback because he unleashed a wave of pent up criticism against Apple from others in the tech community who like Marco are generally very positive towards Apple. It was like he signaled to others that it was time to air grievances that had been building.

(For what it's worth I've upvoted your post - not sure why it's been down-voted so much. You definitely made me think and check myself, however having considered, I still feel there's a lot of bad reporting out there. I don't think it's a tribal thing. You made good points though.)

Whilst I don't feel like digging through Twitter for links to poor reporting regarding Marco's article, it doesn't take long at all to find some examples of recent poor Apple reporting.

Here's Reuters claiming that Apple Watch is a "tough sell" because only 31% of Americans (that's 75 million adults) intend to buy it (a product that they haven't touched yet). It's based on a very small sample size, of course - completely flawed - but that apparently won't stop them writing an article about it.


That 'study' was then published in many other publications:



But that's not all, how about this article from ReadWrite. Apple Watch will disappoint users apparently - not that the author has used one yet. That didn't stop the author from claiming that it's hard to launch apps, unintuitive, etc. http://readwrite.com/2015/03/19/apple-watch-expectations-dis...

If that's not enough, how about the NYTimes reckoning that Apple Watch (and other wearables, too, although Apple Watch is mentioned the most frequently) could cause cancer (original headline: "Could wearable computers be as harmful as cigarettes"). http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/19/style/could-wearable-compu...

This isn't a conspiracy. Anti-Apple reporting gets a lot of page views. People click on articles claiming that a massive company is failing more than articles about how a massive company is continuing to do well.

"it doesn't take long at all to find some examples of recent poor Apple reporting"

That has absolutely nothing to do with what I asked. Apple is an enormous company. They have enormous influence, and their products are used by the majority of Americans, if not world citizens. Is it really notable that there are negative stories? Is it not exactly that sort of tribal mentality that makes one react to such banal noise? I see a stupid story and move on, but some seem to really hang onto it and see it as some grievous injustice.

The other poster is dead on when they say that Marco's words were amplified because he is typically so strongly pro-Apple. But from an outsider that is a problem with Marco's words, not with the perception of them. If indeed you have nothing but praise, you do naturally lose the rational actor perspective.

"This isn't a conspiracy. Anti-Apple reporting gets a lot of page views."

And so does pro-Apple reporting. We all have a confirmation bias though, so if you're sure everyone is against you, it's going to seem like it is. There are thousands (millions?) of news reports published every single day, and some cynical take on watches, or profit margins, or ipads or bendgate or whatever are in strong competition with stories about Apple taking over the living room (new Apple TV coming out soon!), building cars, taking on Google, releasing the next greatest thing, putting the Swiss all out of work, making more profit than the rest of the universe combined, etc.

The problem is that the poor reporting does have an effect. Such as my partner's sister deciding not to get an Apple Watch because it needs to be charged multiple times a day. Or my parents refusing to use Apple Pay because their details can apparently be stolen. Or people disabling Touch ID because it can be broken into. Or people disabling iCloud backups because of some privacy article they read (and then losing all of their photos of their children). Or, frankly, people staying on a crappy Windows laptop because they read something about Apple's software quality declining.

I don't care about Apple's bank balance or stock price. But as someone who loves tech, and thinks that tech can improve people's day-to-day lives, I want my family and friends to make informed decisions about which tech to buy and whether it'll help them. Not worrying that their Apple Watch will give them cancer.

Why is the post downvoted to hell?

I have had this happen numerous times, and the rapidity of the downvotes really makes me think it's an automated system -- that now that slowbans and hellbans are pretty widely known and rightly reviled, the mods just flag you and periodically you get a rapid downvote barrage. I guess it is supposed to make me feel insecure about my opinion or something.

I've been much happier with lobste.rs' voting system than HN's. On Lobsters:

1. All moderation is public information.

2. Who invited who is public information.

3. You need to pick a reason for downvoting something.

4. You can undo a downvote or an upvote.

Perhaps because of these properties (or something else), I also enjoy the conversations and community there better.

Frankly, I am annoyed that I can't read what your post said without copy/pasting it into a text document. WTH HN? Don't treat us like children.

It's obvious his post was downvoted for no good reason (as many posts on HN are). By making them difficult to read you're just making it difficult for others to evaluate even what reason it might have been downvoted for was.

(P.S. If you want a Lobsters invite, see my profile.)

Yeah it's fking annoying having the comments go to light gray, ESPECIALLY when downvotes are commonly used as a sign of disagreement rather than "this comment is a troll / abusive". I don't understand the rationale for this at all - just make the title of the comment red or something. I'm an adult and mature enough to actually want to read things I might disagree with.

For anyone using Firefox with Greasemonkey installed, here's a small userscript that will undo some of HN's passive aggressive BS: https://gist.github.com/kennethrapp/5b5e413220afb93c9c93

This just dropped by -4 in a ten second span (edit: moments after another -4), essentially confirming the suspicion.

Do the moderators of HN have any comprehension of how completely incompetent they are at what they're doing? HN today is the perfect example of a profoundly squandered opportunity, and it literally gets worse by the day. It has gone from must-visit to "meh...everything else is exhausted".

But I get a little bit of delight imagining these -- and I apologize, but it is the only word that fits -- hacks conjecturing up some philosophy that makes them productive and useful, instead of destructive and futile.

> This just dropped by -4 in a ten second span (edit: moments after another -4), essentially confirming the suspicion.

If I made a comment along the lines of "I think the HN moderators hire hitmen to kill commenters they don't like," that would probably get downvoted very quickly and very harshly. This would not be proof that the moderators put hits on commenters — it just shows that baseless conspiracy theories are not very popular here.

Indeed, that is one boorish tactic of making a banal, sycophantic comment. The use of a garbage strawman really put it into a higher echelon.

However I stick by my observation. The brain trust behind HN moderation, having moved on from their asinine slowbans and hellbans, have gone to something that they think is trickier. Only it's, again, hilariously naive.

Please do not meta-discuss the scoring.

People who participate in this site can discuss whatever they want. Especially when the entire conversation is being roughly, and absurdly, directed.

The fact that you would even consider such an absurd response really sets the bar for HN today.

It's usually worthwhile to read through https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html to get a sense of what's appropriate to post on HN.

This was a much better article than I was anticipating. (A lot of Apple criticism is either shallow or vitriolic, I guess a side effect of inspiring so much fervor on either end of the spectrum.)

My new favorite anecdote of Apple's deficiencies in the services side of things is how the App Store and iTunes Connect was just down for at least half a day a couple weeks back, with no visibility except a press release:


Or back in late January, where iTunes Connect had a bug that just randomly logged you in as a different user:


It's hard for me to imagine another company for which either of these incidents wouldn't inspire a round of warranted criticism -- especially given their bad services track record.

Still, it makes sense that Apple would continue to deprioritize developer relations (either implicitly or explicitly.) Put frankly, we're a tiny sliver of their consumer base: while the App Store might be raking in billions from that 30% its still more valuable to the company as a method of selling devices than as a revenue stream in its own right.

>Still, it makes sense that Apple would continue to deprioritize developer relations (either implicitly or explicitly.)

Yes. I think it also makes sense to remind ourselves of how Apple and Microsoft started in the 1970s. They have very different origin stories.

When Bill Gates and Paul Allen were burning the midnight oil for their first successful Microsoft product, it was a BASIC interpreter for the Altair computer. It was a product for programmers. Yes, Microsoft went on to dominate with operating systems (first DOS, then Windows) but they have "programmers" within their DNA. The CEO of the company (Bill Gates) was an ex-programmer and that perspective cascaded all the way down as direct and indirect decisions in what they did. People mocked Steve Ballmer's stage antics about "developers developers developers" but Microsoft really did pay attention to programmers like no other major corporation. The high praise of Visual Studio (in comparison to other IDEs such as Xcode, Eclipse, etc) is one testament to this. So are dev friendly connections with their internal programmers such as active blog posts and channel9.msdn.com featuring informal whiteboard coding sessions.

Contrast with Apple. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were burning the midnight oil assembling the Apple I to sell to consumers. Wozniak was a programmer but the coding was incidental to making the Apple computer work. (E.g. his triumphant story of programming the floppy disk controller to work correctly.) They were selling end-user hardware and not a programmer's product like Microsoft. In 2011, none of the top 3 guys (Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Jony Ive) were programmers. Craig Federighi is an ex-programmer but Apple doesn't seem like the kind of company that would hand the reigns over to him if Tim Cook stepped down. Craig is a powerful figure at Apple but obviously, he doesn't have the clout that Bill Gates did at Microsoft. The way Apple originated in 1976 has had a ripple effect all the way to the present day in 2015. It guided their org structure and their attitudes towards 3rd-party developers. As a consequence, we should expect blogs in 2015 complaining about their "hostility" towards developers. It's just the way Apple has always been.

As for the issue of too few developers making money in the App Store, I have an opinion that programmers are not going to want to hear: Let go of the idea that you'll get significant income from the App Store. Consider the few megahits that happened (beer drinking app, fart app, Flappy Bird, etc) as outliers and lottery ticket winnings. Sort of like the guy that sold 1-pixel-per-dollar on a 1 megapixel billboard when the web first appeared.[1]

I believe the only realistic way to view the App Stores is to think of it as an adjunct function to something else that makes you money. In other words, you just can't write a college study iOS app for $1.99 and expect income but instead, you create a whole college assistance website and the iPhone app is just one gateway to that functionality. It's the website that has subscribers and generates the major revenue. It's sort of like the "enterprise" model. American Airlines doesn't "sell" their iOS app; they sell plane tickets and the $0.00 app is just their way for customers to conveniently generate boarding passes, check gate times, etc.

That's the financial picture I've come to accept from the App Store and I recommend programmers consider it to avoid heartache. There's no need to complain about getting a "bigger piece of the pie" from the App Store because there is no (predictable) pie of any significance to fight over. I put predictable as a qualifier because I'm not dismissing that the megahits can make a lot of money. You just can't depend on it.


EDITED to fix spelling errors.

"Contrast with Apple. Steve Woz and Steve Jobs were burning the midnight oil assembling the Apple I to sell to consumers. Steve Woz was a programmer but the coding was incidental to making the Apple computer work. (E.g. his triumphant story of programming the floppy disk controller to work correctly.) They were selling end-user hardware and not a programmer's product like Microsoft. In 2011, none the top 3 guys (Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Jony Ive) were programmers. Craig Federighi is an ex-programmer but Apple doesn't seem like the company that would hand the reigns over to him if Tim Cook stepped down. Craig is a powerful figure at Apple but obviously, he doesn't have the clout that Bill Gates did at Microsoft. The way Apple originated in 1976 had a ripple effect all the way to the present day in 2015. It guided their org structure and attitudes towards 3rd-party developers. As a consequence, we should expect blogs in 2015 complaining about their "hostility" towards developers. It's just the way Apple has always been."

Right, realistically if Cook were to step down tomorrow you would have to assume that Ive would get the call-up. I agree with your comments on Federighi. Eddy Cue doesn't seem to give off the right vibe. Phil Schiller doesn't really work - he's Marketing. Maybe the only other candidate would be Dan Riccio, who I'm surprised we don't see more of, and has largely shunned the limelight (or not been offered it) - VP of Hardware Engineering.

But very much so, while Visual Studio isn't without flaws, I think few could realistically claim that it hasn't been "the" IDE of note.

> You would have to assume that Ive would get the call-up

I would believe they would get a new CEO externally before they put/Ive accepts CEO.

I developed on both Apple II and MS-DOS. The Apple II was OK for developers, by the standards of the day: It had BASIC and an open hardware interface. In my view, the hostility towards developers started with the Mac, and may have had its roots in good intentions on Apple's part.

Apple wanted users to have a uniform, high quality UI across all apps. That required some policing and a close relationship with a small number of favored developers. Their API was probably too complex and brittle for widespread unfettered software development, and they probably didn't want their platform to be defined by a proliferation of "bad" software from developers like me who didn't care about their UI standards. Many users would accept "bad" software that got the job done: Small apps for automating business processes, engineering tools (cross assemblers for microcontrollers), games, etc. Developers turned to MS-DOS, which had a vastly simpler API. I wrote "bad" software, i.e., that respected no centralized UI standard.

I'm not sure Windows was much better before Visual Basic came along, but long into the Windows 3.1 era, programmers still used MS-DOS for simple things.

Today, I think the situation is much different. You can program an Apple because you can program any computer. Most developers have at least a dim grasp of GUI concepts, and the API's (including their documentation and development tools) have improved to the point where it's easier to use the built-in UI features of a platform than to re-invent the wheel. This doesn't necessarily produce great software, but it allows platforms to evolve without breaking existing apps. And you can write "bad" software that is utterly platform independent thanks to JavaScript running in the browser. Without the "passive curation" of an opaque API, Apple has chosen to actively curate apps

Are you sure of your history? The Apple I was just an assembled logic board, you had to provide the power supply, monitor, keyboard, case, et. Hardly a consumer aimed product. It was mainly meant for the computer hobbyist. Steve Wozniak wrote his own version of BASIC and it was fairly innovative for the time as I remember. Apple may have gone the direction you mention but it did not start off that way. Your argument might work for the original Mac but there was still quite a bit of good third party software for it, not sure of the quality of or existence of developer tools. I never went beyond hypercard in those days...

I have never heard him referred to as "Steve Woz". Steve Wozniak, sure. Woz, yes. Or even "the Woz".

But if they don't take good care of that "paltry" revenue stream, there will be a greater cost on lost device sales.

You're a sharecropper. It doesn't matter how much you pour your heart and soul into someone else's platform it's still their platform. They don't owe you anything, they care about one thing, maximizing their profits. People sometimes appeal to the large corporation pleading that helping the "ecosystem" will make more money for everybody. But this is not necessarily true. There are many situations where screwing over the ecosystem in some way maximizes the corporations' profits while hurting everyone else, and the corporation will choose that route every time.

The only option is to stop being a sharecropper. We are incredibly lucky that their is one open platform out there: the web. It is an amazing accident of history that we ended up with the web as an open platform. And there are corporations working hard to lock it down, like Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. But so far it's still open. If you don't want to be a sharecropper the web is your only option.

Absolutely. What Apple is or isn't doing isn't the real issue. The issue is, do you want to put yourself in a position where they could do things to you and you'd have no recourse?

As a corporation, Apple is obligated to maximize profit for their investors. That means if they could raise their take to 40% or 70%, and make more net money by doing it- they are supposed to do it. Corporations are not charities. If Google could do it, they would do it. If Softie could do it, they would do it too. Stop expecting companies to do things out of the kindness of their hearts. Apple is doing what they are supposed to do. But if more developers moved to the web, they might even start doing things to attract them back.

Well said. I made the mistake of investing in a closed ecosystem once with Adobe and Flash. They pulled the rug out from under their developers (Flash was dying, they said it wasn't and then it died anyway and they dropped it like a sack of potatoes)and I promised myself not to EVER invest any time on any closed platform. I don't even use PaaS systems as much as possible as we've seen what happens when they go bust.

I can't find the reference at the moment, but apparently Apple's commodization of iOS developers was intended to prevent any iOS ISV gaining the negotiating power that Adobe once had against Apple.

Wouldn't Microsoft be a better example of a developer holding "too much" power over Apple? I'm sure Jobs didn't enjoy having Gates' face leering down on him on stage, promising to keep developing Office for Mac.

Desktop publishing was critical to Apple's early success, even though Microsoft was important for the broader market of users.

> We are incredibly lucky that their is one open platform out there: the web.

The web is great, but it isn't a full platform. You can't have a web-based device driver, or VPN, or secure email, or ssh server. You can't replace your web browser with a web-based web browser. There are things that are just not possible on the web, but that people still need to be able to do. And the people who make those things should not be sharecroppers either.

> a web-based web browser

Reminds me of this: https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/the-birth-and-death...

There is a web-based mobile phone: Firefox OS.

The large majority of Firefox OS is written in C and C++. The Linux kernel it uses isn't web-based. Firefox itself isn't web-based.

Mozilla are good people, but it's really obvious why they would want to encourage people to make web apps instead of native apps. There is still a ton of software that can't be web-based.

This is the same Apple who has a published document saying:

"If your App is rejected, we have a Review Board that you can appeal to. If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps."


When this company controls your livelihood, you are wise to take a very broad view of what "trash us" means.

It's worse than that - sometimes "trashing them" (i.e., writing a dryly-worded blog post simply stating events that transpired with no hint of anger) is the only thing that helps.

I did have success once with sending an e-mail to tcook@apple.com. I have read that like Steve, he does read many of those external e-mails.

This was when the App Store review times had climbed to 28+ days. I never did get a response, but shortly thereafter they started going down, and within a few weeks were down to the 3-7 day range. I don't think they've gone significantly over 7 days since.

This really does echo what Schneier said about us returning to a feudalistic society. https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/12/feudal_sec.ht...

Although his context was for users, I think the same thing applies to developers.

Back in 2003, Tim Bray hit that nail: "Are You a Sharecropper?" https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2003/07/12/WebsThePl...

It was that mentality that, finally, made me buy a little piece of land in cyberspace (others may call it a domain name) - yeah you can get your blog hosted a million places for free, but by owning your own you can move to a new host.

I think this Neocities blog post(https://neocities.org/blog/neocities-web-sites-now-have-prop...) said it best: You have to have your own domain, otherwise you will be a sharecropper for somebody else.

Actually, you don't own that domain, only rent/lease it. And you don't own the servers neocities uses to host websites either, and they can "terminate the agreement at any time for any reason for no reason.".

There's a lot of confusion surrounding what defines ownership in the information age. For example, IP addresses are held like real property despite just being numbers in a database. However, a physical device isn't owned by the user if the carrier can restrict what can be done with it and/or modified/disabled it at any time for any reason without explanation. It also varies by culture too, with most 'Eastern' countries treating virtual goods like real property, and most 'Western' ones treating them as non-transferable services which can be cancelled.

Mind, that post you link to has the right idea, just that the only way to achieve what it recommends is to buy a server and IP address, and lease a T1 line or the like.

Thanks for the link! Great advice for everyone building on corporate owned platforms today. Yes, sometimes it is the right way for your business to start or grow, but make that choice consciously, not in ignorance.

However, on re-reading this article:

"Our stuff [his company put a CMS in the browser] didn’t do all that much more, but given a choice between client and browser, the people wanted the browser."

And now, you can make the case that given the choice between a mobile web browser and a mobile app, people have chosen the app.

Ha - I thought you were paraphrasing and editorializing, but it actually says that. I'm surprised they're so blunt & honest about that.

It's written in a much different voice from most of Apple's stuff.

If I recall, much of it was written by Jobs himself.

The thing is, it's completely wrong. Running to the press works great when Apple screws up.

No. There's a big qualifier.

Running to the press works great, /if and only if/, you have enough of a following or already have that groundswell of popular opinion behind you.

If not, be prepared to be either ignored, 'shut down', or get the immediate reprieve you were seeking, and then after the media has died down, run into a brick wall.

I don't know about that. Seems to me that the one major requirement is that you need to actually be in the right, and Apple needs to be in the wrong. If you run to the press for some perceived slight that nobody else cares about, you'll get roasted no matter how popular you are. If you got legitimately screwed by Apple, you'll generally get results even if nobody knew about you before. (Everybody loves an underdog story, after all.) I'm sure these factors can swing it for marginal cases, but, well, don't do it for marginal cases.

Yeah, this is literally covered in the article..

Oops, I missed that.

I thought that sentence was a paraphrasing but it is literally in that document. Wow. It seems a bit unprofessional to me.

While I agree with the basic thrust of the article (Apple is not your friend, is often vindictive in response to criticism and could do more to help developers), I always feel when reading App Store articles that there's quite an odd underlying assumption, namely that Apple somehow owes all developers a living and has it within its power to achieve this if only it wanted.

Please correct me if my history is wrong but I don't think being an independent software developer has been anything but a high risk and/or low profit endeavor. It's not like everything was just great for indies until Apple came along and devalued software. On the contrary, I feel the App Store has done more to level the playing field for indies than anything before it.

Discoverability is not a solved problem for any product or service apart from massive advertising expenditure, which is why "big labels" come to exist. It's not like Apple is holding back on a solution out of spite. Is it supposed to routinely feature each of the million apps on the store?

In a short space of time, the App Store has become a mature market of too many people chasing after too little money. This isn't some kind of outlier in capitalism. It's an entirely predictable pattern of consolidation that we've seen time and time again.

The only unusual thing is that the independent developers got invited the party in the first place without having to worry about payment or delivery infrastructure.

I don't think there is (always) this assumption. For example, the author in this article tries to focus on the objective issues with the App Store, rather than who owes whom what. Perhaps not perfectly, but, afai can see, he tries.

Sure, Apple being the gatekeeper, it's easy to take criticism of the App Store as criticism of Apple. It's also easy to slip into criticizing Apple while criticizing the App Store. Fundamentally, however, while similar, the two are not the same. It depends on what conclusion you draw. Which is it: "Boo Apple, fix your store," or "Boo developers, boycott iOS until they fix the store!"

However, boycotting becomes less realistic the longer the feedback loop gets. I can stop buying some kind of milk brand tomorrow, and pick up the day after. Deciding what platform to publish apps on is an entirely different ball game. In that light, the unviability of any "free market" alternatives we as devs have to combat Apple on this makes it look very much like a monopoly, and that holds weight as an argument against Apple (not just against the App Store).

Yeah, they technically don't owe us anything, but no, the playing field is too uneven for that to just be the end of the story.

My point is that it seems entirely probable that there is no fix. What exactly are you suggesting that Apple could do to level the playing field any more?

There are a lot of ideas out there (and in the article) Apple could implement. Here's a few I remember off the top of my head:

* Improve App Store search results

* Remove the top lists and blunt the 'rich getting richer' effect the lists amplify

* Put their share of App sales on sliding scale, so you only start giving Apple the full 30% after you've reached $X in sales

Also improve the review system. It's almost certain that if you don't beg for reviews using Appirater, you will get practically none.

And if you update the app, the reviews reset -- which gives developers an extreme disincentive to keep their app updated, especially during the long tail period.

* Improve how? Isn't that the whole discussion?

* That will just amplify the effect of featured apps and then you lose all meaningful organic app discovery and a large chunk of the meritocracy of the store.

* Great but that will probably not make a huge difference.

1) Relevance to the search term seems too low. I just did a search for "twitter" on the iPhone app store and six of the top 10 results had nothing to do with Twitter.

2) Maybe you're right, I'd still like to see Apple try it.

3) It doesn't have to be a huge difference for it be worth doing. A lot of little positive changes will add up.

If Apple's engineers have no other ideas, I'm sure they could improve search by scraping the result of the Google (or even Bing, I suppose) search:

<terms> site:itunes.apple.com

and then using that to drive their app search results.

Not me in particular, but there have been many suggestions:

* Allow competing stores (like Android)

* Allow customers to install raw packages (like Android)

* Improve their search engine to "not be completely useless"

* Fairer algorithm for featured apps

Etc. This is not my list, it's just some of the common suggestions I hear for improving the App Store.

* That assumes other stores are better. They are not.

* That would basically open the door to insanely easy piracy. Like on Android.

* A fairly nebulous and meaningful requirement

* I don't think it is an algorithm.

> * That would basically open the door to insanely easy piracy. Like on Android.

This is an awful argument.

Those who are going to pirate apps have the means and skills to do so. Even on the precious iPhone. Yes, you are able to pirate Android apps quite easily as a lay person.

An intermediate approach would be a system where binaries distributed exclusively via the App Store could (enforced using the same kind of signature system presently used) only be installed via the App Store.

Give developers a choice rather than making it for them.

* It doesn't matter if other stores are better, only that they exist and competition is possible.

* Even the Copyright Office has implemented DMCA exceptions for 'jailbreaking' to run legally owned/leased software which may not be available on, or restricted by, the 'official' sources. So even the curators of the DMCA recognize this requirement.

* Many times you cannot even successfully search for an App BY ITS UNIQUE NAME. That's just entirely and incompetently broken. Know who gets search right? Torrent sites and eMule. I can sooner find what I'm looking for there than on either Apple's, Google's, or Microsoft's App stores. And if these channels can do it, so can the majors.

No, it's obvious the majors all consider their App stores 'good enough', and since they can lock users into their services and out of others (both through technical barriers and unenforceable claims), there's no incentive for improvement. In fact, things have and (I suspect) will continue to get WORSE.

I agree, at least in this article, it is distracting how many times the author implies that bad economics inherently incriminate Apple, and that developers should not have to worry about marketing, being profitable while keeping prices low, or the other concerns that routinely accompany running a business. It would be a better article if it acknowledged the role of the developer and tried to draw a sharper line between cultural and economic forces and where Apple is involved, or should be more involved.

Also, bloggers prefacing criticism with, "I love Apple, but..." is human nature, and not necessarily evidence of a conspiracy. Plenty of people criticized iOS 7's design -- the articles went on for days. There are some good points in the article, but the overarching narrative is pretty thin.

Prior to mobile becoming popular, the two ecosystem models were desktop computers and gaming consoles.

On the desktop there are no gate keepers. There may be aggregators and bundlers, but no one prevents you from installing anything you want on a Windows, Linux, or Mac computer.

On the consoles developers were beholden to Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Sega, etc.

The question was whether mobile would follow the desktop model or the console model. Clearly, they have gone the way of the console. Even though there are alternative app stores on Android, they haven't caught on much.

I agree that Apple doesn't "owe" the ISVs anything, but I think it's bad for our the progress of tech as a whole that Apple has an incentive to commoditize their compliments AND has control of the only real way to distribute apps on iOS.

> Clearly, they have gone the way of the console.

With one minor difference.

You actually OWNED the disk/cartridge the game was on, and it came with a warranty.

...two, TWO minor differences.

On other words, there was legally enforceable accountability on the part of the manufacturer. These days not so much, because you don't own anything to hold as leverage, and software has always been full of warranty and liability disclaimers (even though I suspect many of them would not hold in a court of law).

I don't believe this article was implying that Apple owed anything in particular to developers, but rather, laying out all the issues on the table for Apple developers to digest. Self-censorship of criticism against Apple really only contributes to information asymmetry. Conversely, feeling free to publish criticisms helps developers make informed decisions about what platforms to target.

Indeed, there is a section of the article where he quotes Arment on the possibility of Apple's hostility towards developers driving some of them to the Android platform.

That said, I think the rest of your comments are on the mark. In the long-run of a sufficiently competitive market, firm profits fall to 0. The App Store lets any indie dev compete, but there is a reason some of the biggest firms don't like competition and indie developers should understand that it's only going to get harder to make a killing in apps.

There's a strange phenomenon if you make negative remarks about Apple on forums such as HN or Slashdot. They tend to be voted up shortly after posting. Then, about an hour later, a lot of downvotes come in. I've seen this several times, with a consistent response delay of about an hour. After the downvotes at one hour, more upvotes may come in; the downvote effort is a one-time event.

Anyone else seeing this?

I see it with pretty much any divisive opinion. People who don't share the opinion in the original low score comment don't pay it any attention and don't vote, but those who do share that opinion upvote it in a sort of comradery display. Then the comment gets higher up on the page, and the people who disagree now see it as a sentiment that people are actually discussing, and downvote it. In places like HN where the pro-Apple camp far outnumbers the anti-Apple camp, that leads to the comment being downvoted into oblivion.

Additionally, on HN you have the added strange behavior of the downvote button needing to be unlocked. Since the current prevailing attitude is very Apple-fanboy-ish the people that choose to stay around long enough to actually get the downvote tend to be those who agree with the pro-Apple sentiment, and those who dislike Apple (or any popular thing) tend to leave or aren't active enough to get their downvote button.

Hihi, I have exactly the opposite impression of you re: views on Apple. In my mind a clear and overwhelming majority on here dislikes Apple very much or is at least very critical of Apple (even though they may still use their products). A smaller group despises Apple absolutely and everything they do and another smallish group really likes Apple.

How did we arrive at those opposite impressions of what’s going on here? I clearly think that a majority on here really doesn’t like Apple. That’s the prevailing attitude.

Probably just different definitions of what constitutes dislike of Apple. I don't know you but you probably have a lower bar than me for an anti-Apple sentiment so see far more of it

I believe that the HN crowd is educated enough not to fall for cheap manichaeism. It is true that Apple is a brand that tends to polarize opinions, but if a critic against Apple is well backed I don't think that people that usually support Apple would downvote it just out of spite or loyalty.

I agree that a lot of Apple criticism is poorly backed or even unfounded, but I also believe that it's far easier to dismiss criticism for not being well backed than it is to dismiss praise for the same reason. While much of the Apple criticisms that get repeated don't have a ton of substance to them, you could easily say the same thing for the commonly repeated pro-Apple soundbytes.

I sometimes see swings in votes on my comments, although not such a fixed one-hour schedule.

(And I'd challenge your perception of that schedule, unless you're carefully timing every post. Confirmation bias can be strong--once you have the idea that it's an hour, you will tend to remember the times that were close to an hour, and forget the ones that weren't.)

The downvote/upvote patterns I've seen seem to be more related to the time of day. Comments get voted down during the workday by people who are on HN during the workday; but sometimes they'll get voted up in the evening, presumably by people who only check into HN after work.

I see a similar pattern on the weekend--vote trends on Saturday afternoon will sometimes reverse on Sunday night, again I assume because folks too busy to post during the weekend are checking out HN before bed. In general, I find the quality of moderation on HN to be worse on the weekend.

There also seems to be a "heat of the moment" effect, where posts that go against the prevailing wisdom get downvoted right away, but then voted back up hours later. I assume that is because people who read the discussion hours later can take a more measured view of the whole discussion.

There are hardly ever trenchant criticisms of Apple here. It's the same ohhh they're too proprietary, form over function, their users are sheep, etc, etc. There are good criticisms of Apple to be made, but the crowd here almost never makes them.

'too proprietary' and 'low on function' are both good criticisms in context. What do you consider to be a good criticism on a developers' forum if "I can't access it" and "doesn't actually do much" don't count?

As for 'users are sheep' as a common criticism here, I think you might be projecting a bit.


Uhm, I think your comment is a real show of confirmation bias, or I suppose reverse confirmation bias.

HN is deeply entrenched in the current Startup culture, a movement that is HEAVILY connected to both Apple and libertarianism...

I often see the same pattern in both directions on hot-button topics. There's a burst of short comments from those more emotionally for/against something, with the total score absolute value (up/down voting) becoming large enough to get the attention of the greater number of more thoughtful opposing-view people who aren't so wound up about it upvote & write longer comments, first to counteract the initial burst, and then to support the growing number of thoughtful responses.

I've seen it many times on my own posts: might get a -2 shortly after posting, but then +10 or so about an hour later. (Seems I often push buttons others agree need pushing.)

doesn't "pushing buttons others agree need pushing" just mean "participating in an echo chamber"?

No. There may be a broad range of participants; sometimes those holding one view may stay quiet about it, but then find reason to rally behind someone promoting/defending it.

I got banned from theverge.com for suggesting that celebrities' Apple ID passwords may have been cracked by a brute force vulnerability with iCloud.

Permanent ban, no explanation, no e-mail. The fishiest part, someone (not verge staff) replied to my comment saying "enjoy your ban".

I've been weirded out by the power and bias of Apple employees and/or fans ever since.

I don't know. Are you sure you didn't violate any other rules? The Verge might be close to Apple, but I doubt you'd get banned just because of that.

I am/was a bit opinionated, but within reason. I never made threats or claimed anything I said was fact.

It seemed like there were a team of people who were on news sites denying comments like mine, probably just your average tech site commenters though. Some people were adamant that brute forcing (algorithms and dictionaries) would not be possibly and would take 20+ years to crack one password.

The real interesting thing to me was how it was permanent ban without warning and without ability to be appealed.

Do you know of any technology news sites that aren't as obviously partisan and pro-Apple? It's pretty clear from the volume and depth of Apple coverage that most sites are dominated by Apple fans among their staff and leadership.

True. But it feels like a chapter out of 1984 when people can't make ambiguous opinions without someone knocking at your door to correct you and deny you your speech.

> chapter out of 1984

We've come full circle. Everyone here knows THAT advertisement..

The irony!

I didn't even make that connection until you said something.

The fishiest part, someone (not verge staff) replied to my comment saying "enjoy your ban".

I wouldn't put too much thought into that. It's probably just someone that knows the unspoken rules better than you do. You see the same sort of flippant "enjoy your ban" posts on neogaf if someone transgresses the unwritten rule of getting within two or three degrees of separation from an unpopular opinion on a hotbutton political issue.

I love that coders are all worried about their "craft" being devalued while these are the very same people that will unironically tell music artists that they should sell t-shirts and to do concerts.

Well my friends, like the music industry it's time to adapt. It's time to start selling t-shirts.

Not all of us feel that way... I've having such a rotten time finding the digital music that I actually want that I'm quite ready to go back to CDs.

That’s just you getting old, I think? Also, I’m not really sure what the medium has to do with that.

Nope, we're talking fairly modern things, I think. Film scores from 5-10-year old blockbusters? Countless unavailable on streaming services, many unavailable on iTunes/Amazon. Still can be found on CD no problem.

Not just audio either. It's 2015, where can I buy a legal digital download of any episode of Star Wars? Nowhere.

was thinking exactly the same. "Spotify not paying enough ? stop complainingf,just go sell tshirts ...",well too bad, soon "app developers" will earn as little peny as I earn with Spotify.

There are a few who have been banned[1] from Apple events etc. because of a negative review of something Apple made.

[1] http://www.computerbild.de/artikel/cb-News-Handy-Apple-boyco...

I don't know if anything BILD is a valid source.

It is not that's why.

No, but they did ban Gizmodo for buying a stolen prototype.

That's a little bit different than "censorship," don't you think?

Did I say it was censorship? I think the original post is misguided, but it is true that Apple withholds press access from outlets that do things it doesn't like.

So Bild and a Gawker publication buying stolen property.

Still not impressed.

This was also a good and long article about how Apple pressures the press into being favorable to them in reviews:


Dunno if it still is, but The Register was banned from (or stopped getting invites to) Apple press events because of their irreverent reporting of Apple and their products.

Doesn't seem to have done them any harm.

This story is a specific instance of a larger story, one as old as human power structures. This can happen in any relationship where power is very asymmetrical, and where the weaker party feels so dependent on being in the good graces of the former. Websites fear making Google mad. Content creators fear making Facebook mad. The press sometimes fear making politicians and sponsors mad. It's perverse, because those with the most expertise are the ones we need doing the critiquing, but fear or loss of access - to people, to jobs, to inside information - and even the fear of social ostracism (you stop getting invited to meetings, events, interviews, etc.) cause self-censorship (http://ijbssnet.com/journals/Vol_5_No_3_March_2014/9.pdf)

I think what this all really shows is that if you want to be able to have controversial opinions about things and be taken seriously, you need to already be successful, and preferably wealthy, so that your livelihood depends on nothing. Anonymity and pseudonymity can let you say whatever you want, but that doesn't mean anyone will take you seriously. Bloomberg, Buffet, and Gates can potentially say whatever they want (and Bloomberg certainly does); if you can't bribe or starve someone, you probably also can't silence them.

The commodification of software isn't just an issue for Apple developers. It applies to all content, because there's so much competition for limited attention and the tools to produce content are so widely accessible. Many ebooks get released for free and $2.99 seems to be the upper limit for self-published authors. Established software and literary brands can ask more. But among those trying to get recognition, the price pressure is considerable. And good luck getting people to pay for your music.

> It applies to all content, because there's so much competition for limited attention and the tools to produce content are so widely accessible.

What isn't widely accessible however are the tools needed to filter and find the content a user might like/need, which is now far more important to a work's success than any other factor.

From the sidelines it is apparent that Apple uses apps (free ones or cheap ones) to entice consumers with the idea of purchasing one device and having access to free* compatible software. Similar to when you purchase a video game console that is bundled with other games. Apple can sit on the sidelines while developers create applications that cater to consumers ever changing needs. Apple's job is to sell their products and communicate to the market that each device comes bundled or has access to great free* applications. It is a great strategy that allows them to position their hardware as forward thinking.

Why would they change their position to promote higher cost applications? I don't see any reason, as this would change how consumers perceive their devices. Would the average iOS user want to purchase every application on their device or pay a higher cost then today?

I firmly believe that iOS devices have been successful because of the wide range of applications created in the app store.

I know somebody who is close with one of the people mentioned in the article. It's strange to me that people can even be so devoted to Apple to start with, but beside that, it's terrible to see how Apple's callousness is disillusioning even their most loyal developers. It's not a good situation, and when I ask "but why?!", nobody has any answers. It just seems senseless.

how times change. tomorrow i will have to put down my windows and Linux laptops to get a sanctioned apple at work. despite my claims that i won't be able to test touch screen interactions with it...

apple hardware is the new Microsoft outlook in the corporate world.

all i wanted was a sexy surface pro 3 :( how times have changed

Don't worry. There are still big parts of the world outside of the technology industry that are held hostage by Microsoft and their devoted IT department foot soldiers who refuse to acknowledge anything outside of the Microsoft bubble.

didn't get you point. you mean i have to choose a side on the holy wars of fanboism? ...yeah, i rather not.

but if i must choose any hardware which i will dual boot linux anyway, i rather not be stuck with a beige-box of the 21st century with glossy screen, and instead get something, you know, innovative? maybe, be as bold as, thinking differently. anyway. all that is moot since my CTO probably is swimming in apple shares.

"I know, how are you going to test touch screen interactions if you don't have a surface pro 3?" I hear that at the water cooler every day.

and then you proceed to not do it.

We had a product plan consisting of over twenty educational apps in various segments. It took about a year to develop the framework for these apps based on machine kearning technology. We then released one to the App Store to gain some experience. And, based on that experience we decided to not spend another dime builing iOS native apps. We switched to web-based and in same cases even desktop native apps. And it was the right decision. Couldn't pay us enough to even consider the App store again. Apple is a horrible host for your products. You don't get to build a relationship with your customers. Apple controls your very existence. If you are doing a game like Clash of Clans perhaps it makes sense. Not sure it does for most other products. If Apple released stats on the "distribution of wealth" on the app store most developers would run away as fast as they could.

I've learned to adopt the following attitude concerning software and hardware: Use a device for things that the company making the device cares seriously about.

My iPhone was absolutely fantastic at music playback. Apple takes a great deal of pride in its relationship to the music community and it shows. Bluetooth happens instantly. Songs sound great.

When I switched to a Nexus 5 last year, the difference in software quality was immediate and jarring. I can't put my car in reverse any more until my music starts playing because I don't know whether it actually will. Sometimes getting it going requires a simple hitting of play on the player. Sometimes I have to go into the settings menu, force a shutdown of Google Play Services, turn off the Bluetooth, turn it back on, then finally re-select Bluetooth playback in my car so it'll re-connect. Occasionally the Music app will incompletely break, the only fix I've found is rebooting the phone.

Even the music sounds off. For the first few seconds, I get this weird wobble in the pitch. It crackles and stutters.

Software is hard. Managing software development even harder. You have to focus your limited resources somewhere, if you don't, you get Google software, which is OK when you look at it in aggregate, but horrible if you're looking for a refined experience in something important. The music player wasn't given priority over other stuff, and the resource management isn't great, so the Music app sucks. I'd go so far as to call it dogshit, Google oughta be ashamed of themselves.

Apple is opinionated, and its opinions tend to be pretty good. A device streamlined around a few critical functions that are in use all the time is all I really need. I make calls, I listen to music, I read books. That's all I really need from my phone. The App store is similarly opinionated. You need to have a certain kind of business and buy into Apple's philosophy if you really want to do well with it. The more I used my iPhone when I had it, the more I started to understand the issues Apple faces when providing a mobile platform and why that philosophy and opinionated-ness exists.

I'm really glad Apple has found a way to ignore the noise from developers that don't understand those challenges. Apple is a design company, they focus all their resources around providing a consistent, gorgeous, and useful experience, that has to come at the expense of the hacker mentality that exists in software developers. The ones that do well understand Apple's design mentality, and Apple helps them out by featuring their products.

> The more I used my iPhone when I had it, the more I started to understand the issues Apple faces when providing a mobile platform and why that philosophy and opinionated-ness exists.

> I'm really glad Apple has found a way to ignore the noise from developers that don't understand those challenges.

To mangle a Churchill quote, the best argument in favour of a curated App Store is a five-minute conversation with the average app entrepreneur.

Especially in the early days, there were no end of clients asking for user-hostile and abusive behaviour. "Apple won't allow that" was an oft-repeated phrase that won a lot of battles for end-users. It certainly has its down-sides as well, but it really does protect end-users from incredibly shitty experiences.

> Especially in the early days, there were no end of clients asking for user-hostile and abusive behaviour.

Sadly true, and still true when it comes to the world of desktop adware.

The problem is when you sandbox hostile apps, you also end up sandboxing a lot of potential functionality which now becomes impossible. For example, I need call recording for my work, but the only mobile platform that still supports that is Android, but only on specific devices, with specific Android versions, and even then you may still need to root the device to get it working.

I'm sure there's a middle ground here, but it's going to take some effort to get there.

> You have to focus your limited resources somewhere, if you don't, you get Google software, which is OK when you look at it in aggregate, but horrible if you're looking for a refined experience in something important.

Google search, e-mail and maps are wonderful refined experiences in things I find important. Of course, that doesn't necessarily contradict your broader point. Maybe those three services are so good because Google also considers them important and gives them a lot of focus. For all I know, the company might also supply a dozen other things that are of much lower quality because they don't get so much focus.

How could anything Apple could possibly do be something that would give all the million(s?) apps their "fair share" of App store front page time be useful, when there are just too many apps in there? It's a bit like expecting Google to divide traffic to all existing sites because it isn't fair that Facebook gets so much traffic.

I just don't see how it isn't the developers' job to raise interest in their work.

You probably can't give totally equally billing to every app out there, but there's a big gap between that and "just show top lists and featured". The Play Store, for instance, does a pretty good job of recommending me stuff that's not chart-topping based on my ratings and downloads.

You're right, it's probably impossible to give all apps and developers a fair shake. But that doesn't mean Apple shouldn't try to improve the situation, especially if they want to keep good developers interested in their platform.

I have no idea if I should fear Apple. Then again, I have no idea if what I say affects my relationship with Apple. But assumptions emerge in this information vacuum, and because my relationship with Apple is the only 'legitimate' way I have of getting my Apps on a user's iOS device, I have to be concerned with this.

No wonder conclusions like this emerge. And while it may have cost more money to market software in the 'bad' old days, you could still give it away for free, which is NOT possible on iOS or Windows Phone, and even Android requires extra hoops which many users are not savvy enough to jump through.

So Fear of Apple makes sense if you think they can hurt your bottom line. And given that Apple (or at least Steve Jobs) has been a very spiteful in the past, I think it's more than warranted. And just because it's better now (which it is) doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to push to make it even better.

Indie developers have often been at the whim of Apple, throughout its history. But prior to the iPhone, Apple was small, as was the developer 'community' (a more apt moniker then, than now). Apple did control the platform, but not the sales channel. A few evangelists and engineers were enough to sustain a dialog with the developer community. And indie software then consisted of mostly unique applications, often brilliant and unique to the platform, and it was important for the platform to have those apps.

With the introduction of the iPhone, this all changed. It was (is) a gold rush. The number of developers grew from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand. At first, the Mac developers profited from the uptick in Mac popularity, and some could place iOS apps early in the iOS App Store, leveraging their familiarity with OS X and Objective C. But the sheer number of new developers meant that the dialog almost completely broke down.

The App Store is a walled garden, but not only in the usual sense. It's also a wall between Apple and the developers, and the image of a horde of zombie like bazaar salesmen trying to scale it is quite apt to describe the situation. Developers are no longer rewarded for making the best or most beatiful apps. Be fast, be loud, be a winner. A little slip, and you're back to the bottom of the pile, or with a bit of bad luck, out of the game.

Apple is in a position of power, and they seemingly no longer have to care about some small indie dev's app, it's now no more than a drop in the bucket of the App Store ecosystem. So they don't expend any more effort on developer relations than absolutely necessary to keep the bucket overflowing. It make business sense. At least in the short term.

Apple is now in a working mode like any other corp which has become too large for its own good. The shareholders are mostly in it for the money, so they have no qualms about milking the company for short term gains. There is no longer a man at the helm of the company who had a vision and was willing to fight for it, and wasn't just looking to make a quick buck. Tim Cook is doing the best job he can, no doubt, but he is in a completely different position than Steve Jobs was. The tyranny of money is arguably worse than the tyranny of Steve Jobs could ever have been. Not that his presence would fix most problems, but he was seemingly the only one capable of bypassing Apple's corporate machinery to make things happen.

So it's not surprising that developers are frustrated. The decline in software quality is undeniable. The App Store process is a running joke. The App Store UI is absolutely horrible. It simply doesn't scale to the hundreds of thousands of apps it now contains. And for the less scrupulous, it is still too easy to game, more to the harm of other developers, than their own gain, too.

Those in prominent positions in the App Store will do their best to stay in Apple's graces while it lasts, and this is Apple's current version of the Reality Distortion Field. The developers don't fear the company itself, but are continually on such thin ice that they fear putting their foot down too forcefully.

[Good god, what a rant. Despite all the frustration, I seem to be caught in the RDF as well.]

On the App Store's UI:

For consumers using the App Store, the discovery process has been a huge pain point for as long as I can remember. Saying that the App Store doesn't scale to the >1 million apps it now contains is, in my opinion, overly generous. It failed to scale to much smaller libraries than the one it currently has. I can only imagine the frustration this causes developers actually trying to use it to sell software.

Content discovery is a very difficult problem to solve, and I don't think Apple's going to be able to solve it internally. Instead, I think they should focus on creating tools that make the App Store more open to sharing and discovery among communities.

A very simplistic example: I want the App Store to support user-generated 'playlists' of applications, kind of like Spotify. Users could package up a group of applications that appeals to them and share it online. It would be a small improvement, since people can already post lists of links to individual apps in the store, but it would make the process of finding/sharing new games, workflows, etc. much more organic.

I experimented one afternoon with developing for Apple, then figured it wasn't for me for precisely these reasons:


Apps behave the same way that other kinds of media does online:

1. sell for rock bottom prices 2. become a hit or don't 3. their popularity if any is short lived and highest when they debut

It may be the case that Apple is fine with this phenomenon, but its a pretty big leap to say they are creating it.

When I first saw the app store, my initial reaction was that this was the K-martization of software. Numerous low cost products, difficult to distinguish (publishing of specs in differing orders makes direct comparison difficult), leveraging audience for supplier allegiance, and both cost & product range over consumer. Apple managed to add in true vertical integration, and it was pretty obvious it was going to work out well for them, but with side effects.

I hate it as a consumer (I don't code), and I hate it all the more because I know why my options & buying experience are being impacted by their business model, given that I do know developers, and have been buying software since the late 80s.

There is only one sure way to make money as an app developer, iOS or Android: getting paid to develop for customers that will publish those apps on the stores. And there is only one sure way for those customers to be profitable: give the apps away for free and make money with the service people access with those apps. In the software world think Trello, Slack. Other services, think Uber. If you want to make money through the store, by selling your app, it's very hard because of all the reasons discussed in the other posts here.

The app store is a PITA for both developers and users, both on iOS and OS X.

What keeps me in the appleversum is mostly lock-in and inertia. There were times once when I genuinely thought the Apple platform was actually the best solution for my needs. Now, they torture me more with every OS X & iOS release. I do OS updates solely to avoid planned obsolescence. I never thought I would say that: I will gladly jump ship at the first feasible opportunity, and heave a massive sigh of relief.

Thanks to the author for the quality of the article (could have been a tad shorter but I'm nit-picking) and for the Steinbeck quote!

> "Perhaps though Ivanovic should have known better than to publicly promote his Android-first launch. This was tantamount to badmouthing Apple in the press."

What. No, it's not. Sure Apple can try and "hide" behind that, but that doesn't change it's a totally unreasonable interpretation of "run to the press and thrash us".

These developers are very naive if they are unaware confidentiality / non-defimation clauses are part of most B2B agreements. As a general rule yes you should fear breaking contracts. Bad things might happen.

I'm not going to pay $10 for an app I can't transfer to another device. As long as our phones are disposable so too are our apps. And I don't pay top dollar for garbage.

Wait, what??? iOS apps aren't hardware locked you know...

Do they run on Android? Windows? Linux? My point is that they're locked to an ecosystem I'll never be able to leave if I heavily invest in. I minimize app purchases for this reason. I don't want my digital life to be tied to a particular company or brand, and I run free software as much as possible because of this.

I love my rMBP ... It's the best laptop I've ever run Linux on!

No one has mentioned that recently IBM has become an app developer for Apple.

This piece ignores the obvious. These people aren't afraid of their own criticisms of Apple. They are afraid that their criticisms will be magnified and distorted by the press and used as the basis of hit-pieces, and that this will reflect badly on them.

This isn't fear of Apple. It's legitimate fear of what the press will do with what they say.

Why the hell would someone downvote gress' comment? The article misrepresented the reason for Marco's regret, to use as evidence for its thesis. Marco regretted what he said because it was being used out-of-context to support a flood of stories in the press that he thought were BS not to mention the gazillion emails he was getting about it.

Now, I suppose someone could be reading this and thinking, "sure, that's what Marco wants everyone to believe, but really he's just scared of the Apple mafia." If you, a reader who downvoted gress, are thinking this as well, step back and really think about that statement for a second, and think about things like projection and assumptions and confirmation bias.

I guess I'm sticking up for Apple here, but really I'm sticking up for intellectual honesty. I love it when people criticize the utter living hell out of Apple, but for actual legitimate things. Opinions based on conspiracy theories, tribalism, or just plain making stuff up discredits real, authentic criticism that actually means something and that might actually result in positive change. This goes for any topic really, not just Apple stuff.

I'm not characterizing this particular article in that way- it seemed thoughtful and well-written, aside from misrepresenting Marco and possibly others. I'm giving the author the benefit of the doubt here that this was just a misunderstanding. It's more a response to people who have assumptions that are so entrenched that they would disbelieve Marco's own stated reasons for regretting what he wrote, because not believing him and assuming something more sinister better reinforces whatever much more dramatic narrative they've already imagined.

Exactly. That was the crux of Arment's "regret" of his article. It wasn't that he was critical of Apple, it was that he said it in such a way that the tech press in general was able to quote him on stupid "hit pieces" on Apple. It wasn't his original article per se, but the way that original article was used.

Doesn't wash.

Trick question, why is it that they are not afraid about what the press will do with their snarky comments on say, Google, Microsoft, Samsung or Android?

For some of the more notable bloggers, because everyone knows they're on Team Apple. They aren't just people who have a lot of Apple products, they're people who have significantly bought into Apple's worldview and culture. Since tech punditry as a whole is very tribal, trashing the other teams regularly is par for the course, but trashing your own team is seen as a betrayal, an extraordinary event, a reaction to the company's own betrayal of the pundit's heightened trust. The latter is newsworthy, the former is not.

(While this mentality is strong in Apple-land, it certainly has its place among Google partisans as well, among others...)

Reminds me of this[1] LessWrong post. It's not unique to tech, it's (unfortunately) part of our tribalistic instinct:

> Arguments are soldiers. Once you know which side you're on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side; otherwise it's like stabbing your soldiers in the back—providing aid and comfort to the enemy.

[1]: http://lesswrong.com/lw/gw/politics_is_the_mindkiller/

I think it's telling that the two things John Gruber blogs about are tech - and sports, where fans are expected to pick a team and be loyal to it. At least in the latter arena, most people treat the tribalism as just for fun!

Which is why I read Daring Fireball. I do like Apple in general, but I also just find it fun to be on a team, and try not to take it too seriously.

Otherwise known as an ad hominem argument.

Because the press doesn't make hit pieces about brands that are not perceived as the leader to be toppled.

Given that in the mobile field, Android is perceived as the leader, this line of thinking doesn't really seem to hold.

The popular press does not perceive Android to be the leader in their number one metric, driving pageviews/rageviews.

Android is the leader by market share but iOS leads mind share.

Android isn't a strong brand. Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG et al put their own corporate branding ahead of whatever Android version they use. Amazon barely mentions its existence. Apple and Samsung are probably the only strong brands in mobile right now and Apple is a lot further ahead.

Apple leads in the most important metric profit share. They took 93 % of the smart phone profit last quater.

Android is not perceived as the leading brand. Apple is, with Samsung in second place.

Aside from a select few free software communities, the Apple community is the one I've witnessed the most negativity and hate in.

Maybe this is because people in both of these communities feel they are "special" somehow, and "better" than the average user?

Are you talking about hatred towards apple? Pick any positive article about Apple on the web with a comments section. You will see that the comments are filled with hateful anti-Apple invective.

It goes both ways in my experience. People often hate on Apple, but on communities with many Apple users there is significant negativity in the opposite direction. Criticism of Apple is generally not taken well.

why is it that they are not afraid about what the press will do with their snarky comments on say, Google, Microsoft, Samsung or Android?

Because the press is also running snarky comments about those? Fitting in with the general direction of the press hivemind is one of the first hard lessons I had to learn about putting anything on twitter. Of course there are multiple threads in any one naval-gazing clique, and my interests span across multiple circles of press that don't pay attention to each-other, so I generally don't tweet anything anymore.

They are afraid that their criticisms will be magnified and distorted by the press and used as the basis of hit-pieces


Many Apple fans still operate as if it is some tiny, vulnerable niche company, and they're a member of the few. Perhaps this is some sort of traumatic stress of those early days, but it manifests in this feeling of great discomfort if your words are used "against" the hive. Arment, significant in this piece, incredibly claimed that it was a nightmare having his entirely valid, indisputable issues with Apple software lately, spoken of by "the others".

This is bizarre behavior. It is absolutely incredible. Apple is one of the largest corporations on the planet. It is an enormous money machine. And people are desperately fearful that their opinions about Apple might get known? Come on.

The whole "magnified and distorted" and "hit piece" noises is just garbage. It has nothing to do with proportionality or reality, it's just this sense that a community is under attack and they need to be defensive, and it's just bizarre.

I've been an Apple user since the IIe days, and I remember the tiny, vulnerable niche company it was very well. But as you say:

"Apple now twice as big as world's second-largest company, ExxonMobil" http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnol...

There is nothing bizarre about people not wanting to have their names used in support of positions they don't agree with.

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