The Myth of “Not My Problem”

I’ve read some really interesting comments regarding the problems in the AppStore. One thing that came up a few times, however, is something like this: “Who cares? This sort of stuff has no impact on the consumer.” I’m posting today to explain why this is a myth – problems with the AppStore that developers are having directly and negatively impact the consumer.

If you’d like to hear why a silly icon rejection is a big deal to you, read on…

I’m not going to frame this with a lot of color text – let’s get right to the point.

1. No Features For You!
Apple is preventing you, as a consumer, from getting upgrades and features you deserve. Right now, users of eWallet can’t use Copy & Paste because Apple delayed our update over an icon.

2. New Features OR AppStore Compliance Updates: You Choose
This sort of stuff eats up developer time which in turn cheats you out of better products. Instead of focusing on things that will actually benefit our customers, we’re messing around playing AppStore acceptance games.

3. Diminishing Returns
No matter how good a platform or outlet is, developers will only take so much. At some point the system become onerous enough that it makes more sense to focus on other markets. This is the long term cost of this sort of thing – and at some point there WILL be a powerful competitor.

4. Too Risky for Good Products
Illogical, petty, and ever changing acceptance requirements will cause developers to think twice before making a major investment in an iPhone application. If you don’t know whether your app will even get in, you reduce your initial investment to protect yourself. That means you, as a consumer, end up with apps that don’t hold a candle to what a developer might have risked in a more stable environment.

None of these are speculation – in every case I’ve seen it happen in the AppStore already, or in the case of #3, I’ve seen it happen on other platforms. And remember, the problem they are talking about isn’t just about us – this is affecting numerous developers.

So yes, these little and seemingly silly issues have a VERY REAL COST to the consumer. It’s easy to think “Meh, not my problem.” but in the end (as always) the consumer is the one who pays the price.

18 thoughts on “The Myth of “Not My Problem”

  1. bill

    I agree and I twiited.

    Of note, I’m a long-time mac using — since 1991. Back then the OS was better. It has remained better since IMO.

    Apple’s current stupid, anti-developer, protectionist, isolationist, progress-obstructing and foolishly demigod-like position regarding the app store is ridiculous.

    I bought the little pocket computer thing (ipod touch) and I want to put the apps on it that I choose, all by myself, just as I can do with my macbook pro and all other apple computers before it. Heck. I’m older than the the youngsters who are making the rules and enforcing them.

  2. Jeffrey

    Would it be fair to assume that this App Store issue is part of the reason it’s taking so long for ListPro for the iPhone?

  3. David Crooks

    So port to Android and the Google phone. Then I could get rid of my #$%^& iPod Touch. Bleah.
    And if you’d make a Linux desktop version, I wouldn’t have any more need to run Windows in a virtual machine.
    OK – done whining. (I love ewallet, use it constantly – and would LOVE to have versions native to my systems)

  4. Marc Post author

    @bill: Thanks for twit! :)

    @Jeffrey: Totally different story there. A soap opera involving contractors, shifting markets, and much more. Pretty sure I blogged about it before but for now, it’s still in progress.

    @David: We haven’t ruled out Andriod, David. We’re a little concerned about it’s long term potential though. As for Linux – wellllll – I wouldn’t hold my breath – sorry!

  5. Stef

    I understand your point and frustration Marc… Apple needs to improve the situation and clarify its position ASAP before its too late because once competition gets in place and that irritated consumers walk away, there is no coming back… I’ll be looking forward to seeing more from Ilium! Keep up the good work! I tweeted this blog entry hoping to propagate the news and maybe be lucky enough that our Friends at Apple end up looking at this…

  6. Pingback: Recommended: ‘The Myth of Not My Problem’ at Ilium Software Blog | Just Another iPhone Blog

  7. Greg

    Marc – I really feel for you guys. I’m a really, really long-term eWallet user, and it’s very hard to see your sense of self determination impacted like this. Ironically, one of the key benefits of being a small development shop is precisely the ability to control your own destiny. It’s just bizarre that Apple is in your way over an icon.

    I hope this situation resolves quickly and that we start to see a trend away from this sort of capriciousness from Apple. It’s bad for everyone.

  8. Ken

    Much as I love my iPhone I am beginning to see storm clouds on the horizon.

    Speaking as a consumer I sympathize with you if, as I understand your problem, Apple has decided to exert artistic control over the apps.

    More insidious to me as a consumer is the fact that Apple censors what apps from their database of apps I can see and download.

    More ludicrous to me as a consumer is Apples rating system. I just saw an app that allows you to access a database of recipes and store your own. It is rated 12+ Infrequent Mild/Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug use References.

    Like others I am still waiting for ListPro….

  9. Tom

    Very well said, Marc. As a software engineer, I see #4 to be the biggest issue here. I’d prefer if they only rejected apps that are against the law or damage the platform. However, if they must restrict the developers, they should be very specific and predictable about it.

    These seemingly inconsistent rejections mean a very real risk for the devs. Most serious applications take months of development effort, so the stakes are high. The last thing you want is to have your hard work undone with the scratch of a pencil.

    Unpredictable policies can result in unremarkable or rushed applications, instead of brave and polished ones.

  10. Paul H

    A year ago I would have taken the time to comment on your post, agreeing on several aspects, disagreeing on others. At that point you still retained some credibility. Ilium’s failure to deliver products to your committed timeline saw that credibility disappear. Glass houses and all.

  11. Andrew

    Good comments that support the popularity of Cydia and Jailbreaking. If my PC, Mac, or WinMo devices had to live by the same rules, they never would have had any market share.

    Imagine if MS approved every app on a PC, or Apple approved any app on a Mac – they might tell us it is a good thing – but then again, maybe Linux would be the desktop for most people.

    The problem now, is that too many developers will go along with Apple – the lure of $$$ is to much, and they won’t walk away. For every app that is rejected there will be 10 approved – maybe limited functionality, but for most users it is enough. Until more users realize that they can Jailbreak a device and install anything they want (not advocating piracy, just choice), Apple will control the market place.

    If users could show Apple that Cydia was service their needs, Developers would user Cydia, and Apple would have to relax policies to lure them back.

  12. Martin Herrera

    This post it’s probably out of place within this thread. Yet I was unsure where else to post it.

    I cannot help to find my self wondering every time I opwn my RSS if this will be the day when I hear again about eWallet for Mac. When I find out the ‘new post’ has nothing to do with my expectations… I cannot help to feel some dregree of frustration.

    So I guess my point is, I would appreciate a greater level of information as to where we stand with eWallet for Mac. I, like may other, has been waiting for a long, long time, and clarification about realistic expectations, would allow me to make a more informed decision.

    I hope this is taken as a contructive feedback. Thanks.

  13. Simon Thomson

    I bought ewallet for the iPhone soon after it came out because Ilium said it would have a Mac version out soon (a few months).
    I have been waiting over a year so don’t hold your breath!

    Apple seem to have given up as well maybe they are being stricture with those not playing ball.

  14. Joseph L. Shaw

    Like many I have been waiting for List Pro for iPod Touch which was suppoesed to come out about a year ago but no signs of it yet. I understand that Apple is putting roadblocs in the way of some developers but please make an effort to get this wonderful app through. I have used it for years on my palm but now I am moving to the Touch.

  15. Tangible

    While I would love to see a Mac version of e-Wallet, I think a Web version would be even more useful. I seem to remember a “Web Companion” beta announced a very long time ago. Is that project still alive? If so, any ETA?

    WRT to the App Store: Consumers perceive the iPhone to be the best smartphone, and Apple is the monopoly supplier. When they have the power, Apple has always behaved this way (cf. iTunes). This problem will go away only when and only if a strong and well-marketed competitor for the iPhone emerges.

    As for the desktop analogies: If the market share of Mac and PC were reversed, you can be sure that Apple would allow no application to be installed without its approval. We are insufficiently grateful to Microsoft for never attempting to use its near-monopoly position in this way.

  16. chenzo

    Sorry to say that but I wonder what Ilium has been doing the last months. No Mac version, no new Windows Mobile Version for more than a year, what about that web client stuff?
    I´m thinking of moving to SPB, they seem to be much more active.

  17. Marc

    @Chenzo: The same things we’re always doing – working on projects I can’t tell you about plus the things you aren’t noticing – a special version of NewsBreak for Microsoft, upgrades to RSSHub for HTC, new features for eWallet on iPhone, updates to eWallet, ListPro, and NewsBreak for the Windows Marketplace release and more.

    Plus, as I said, projects I really can’t say much about yet.

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