It is not difficult to argue that the App Store inspired success for the mobile software world downloaded more than 100 million programs to only a few million phones in just a few months. Palm, Nokia, Microsoft have all Simmering (and understandably so). But Apple, if you have problems getting buy-in of passionate developers a serious creative vision for iPhone apps on the dozens of me-too-hosts and to-do lists – and you know you are – the writing on the wall, and you’re the one who him there.
But it’s not just about the draconian SDK agreement (which we in a minute), or the uncertainty that runs through each developer – how you are wondering if you give the all-important thumbs- to app – big and small just all the blood / sweat / tears / money invested in (we get to that, too). What seems the rest of us as nefarious intent can be easy apple confrontation with their own successes by reaction with the same kneejerk answer it on most everything else belongs: control and micromanagement.
Let us return for a moment but, and go back to what Steve said on iPhone roadmap event this spring, where the SDK was introduced for the first time. When Steve introduction reaches its crescendo, he excitedly said: “The developers and we have the same exact interest that is as much before as many iPhone users as possible out apps,” but “there will be some applications, we will not distribute: porn, Malicious apps, apps that invade your privacy … “The carriage listed” malicious “,” illegal “,” porn “,” Privacy “,” bandwidth hog “and” unforeseen “Ah, unforeseen – magnificent. leeway. I suppose, “applications that could compete with our own” would not have gone over well with the audience. Read on.
Once legal agreement of the iPhone SDK has its way into the hands of developers eager became clear exactly what everyone was in for. In layman’s terms, paraphrased (and with our own geek-lawyer extraordinaire, Nilay verified), here are the main clauses your developers have to order an app for the iPhone to be written in agreement:
Section 2.1 and 2.2b: Take advantage of our SDK – this is the only way to ensure the proper application to be made – but you can only distribute the applications through us. We are there. Make sure you are fully responsible an app and try to sell it without us, and. Oh, and Sub-note: We can approve or deny an app in our sole discretion, and we are responsible for your company profitability in any way, nor your investment of time and money we should decide it is not in the App Store passed.
Section 3: You can no applications, the mean, evil, harmful are to make, install backdoors, etc. Alternatively, a VoIP over mobile, no real-time route guidance, and not intended for use in emergency / rescue situations. You do not violate anyone’s copyright – and not to screw with us.
Sections 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3: This legal agreement SDK is confidential. Engadget should not even be writing about. Even confidential: all knowledge that we share with you, how to develop iPhone apps. So if you were to do, to think a blog or a book about the development of the iPhone, or simply open-sourcing app, then think again. Knowledge is a dangerous thing – why we were doing a commercial themed after Orwell’s 1984?
But do not worry, not all confidential: namely, anything you transmit to us to be absolutely “no confidence.” We can talk in public or private without warning about your apps – and what they do and how they work – to whom we want (including your competitors), and even before you announced something. We can also on what you are doing, they knock out from, and have our own version without reproach. Trust that we do not do such a thing when.
In addition to a few very specific callouts (such as no VoIP on cellular bit), have everything we go by a vague, gray, largely non-specific blanket statement: I downloaded “No interpreted code and in an application except for code that published by Apple APIs and builtin interpreter (s) used are interpreted and executed. “
Basically this means that you do not build something that you have not prescribed in the specified tool and feature set. So if the iPhone has been something like, say, a browser (read: mobile Safari), and Google wants to port a mobile version of Chrome for the iPhone, Google no luck. And Apple’s right margin is incredibly wide. Is a Word / Excel editor a code interpreter? Is a BitTorrent client a code interpreter? If you have to build a complete and full-featured piece of software only to find out?
Luckily you guys an urgent procedure review process for rejected apps so developers do not need to go to the back of the line, if your program has some fixed but show-stopping issues. But mitigating the inherent risk that their hard work nixed, developers are likely to prevent either you completely require the platform for applications, a substantial investment, or do as a lot of the developers have alrady, keep their applications largely limited to absolute Ensure un-interesting, dare I say new concepts. It’s like teaching SDK, targeted or not, gave Sturgeon Act (“ninety percent of everything is crap”) a big helping hand by de-incentivizing the best developer of something interesting to do. Calculator, to-do lists, dictionaries, flashlights, there are hundreds and hundreds – but not a single app that will sync my Google Calendar over the wireless network, or help my, manage multiple Gmail accounts, or let me Podcasts to acquire – the most updated content on my device – on the go.
Has, in fact, any of these types of applications, among other things, blocked or rejected. As a developer in the creation of its Synthesis SyncML Client iPhone discovered, there is no way to synchronize the device over the air with CalDAV / SyncML see the calendar directly. Sure, you can do this with the support of Apple methods (via Exchange or Mobile Me), but unlike the iPhone’s relatively open contact database, the iPhone developers are not allowed to touch the calendar database. No one really knows why, and they are certainly not offered any explanations. Sorry, Synthesis.
Then there recently MailWrangler and the now infamous Podcaster, two apps for not “sufficient differentiation or added functionality” and “duplicating the functionality … iTunes” or rejected. Podcaster allows for podcast downloads on the go, while MailWrangler gives users legitimate Apple prescribed by accessing several Gmail accounts, without logging off and log back on.
But here’s the real kicker in all: There are already numerous iPhone apps with very real, very clearly incorporated code interpreter, and other applications with functions that duplicate not only a sort-of-maybe-kind-of Apple functionality – they do so outright. And they are now available on the App Store. I do not want these applications call here, as I do not want to see them taken down, just to make a point, but there are applications that are already fully penetrate on Apple’s own goals for the unit, and they were allowed to certainly through.
So why is Apple refusing some applications and let others pass? I am not sure there is any simple answer. Macworld editor Jason Snell has on this same topic yesterday, insinuating that some malicious behavior “can just as easily be explained by incompetence.” And given the piss-poor quality and frequency with which many of those apps “duplicate” the functionality of the Apple software (both on the desktop and iPhone), the rules of acceptance seems more arbitrary as unfair in many ways. Let that sink in for a moment, though, because it’s kind of a disturbing conclusion that we start to get to: not only is there no known hard and fast rules to abide by when writing a program for the App Store, there are very probably, to a large extent subjective smell test for applications towards the end of the review process. It’s not just about playing to the rules, it might be to shoot a crap – developers had better hope they get an App Store reviewer who feels this day forgive generously.
So it seems to me you have to clean up two possible courses of action, this mess, Apple: a, the bare minimum of courtesy and respect for its developers, and the other, full-on-righteous. If absolutely nothing else, you have some very clear, very easy to interpret policies, what will and will not post to fly in the App Store. Connected reject no longer secret, do not worry whether the investment in the development of a program for naught if some faceless App Store approval technician decides semi randomly met. Only it was for all to wear and follow. Sure, there is a lot of hate going on when Apple says in explicit terms that Mozilla has zero hope of ever getting away Firefox on the iPhone, but at least the paralyzing uncertainty out of the equation. You should not be approved for one of the few of the sacred iFund, to be sure, before you start working on your application that it be approved.
Well, if you want to do the right thing – the thing that keep can you ultimately from the class action any grumpy developer, the thing that will take away now Android largest consumer appeal – you will simply stop filtering apps based on the content, and only for the kind of code Steve specifically promised users to seek prior primarily protection: coarse buggy and broken, malicious or otherwise evil. I’m not exactly convinced of its probability, but closed market or open, at a certain point, the whole thing is waving on consistency and reliability, and now you have not in your defense, apple.
In the meantime, groups like the iPhone Dev Team will continue to carry the torch for jailbreaking, hacking, and unauthorized app development. Hell, jailbroken development is even likely gain steam as a growing number of users can not find enough apps a real utility to the official App Store. Even large companies like Sling Media have to work around the walled garden made. So here’s to good to do all of those who want to invest in your platform, and the easy way of changing that Apple as a company can do today, if you just think a little harder about tomorrow – and all live touch with an iPhone or iPod in it.