iPhone: Just sit there and take it

by Mathew on September 28, 2008 · 6 comments

Someone named Dan Kimerling, writing at TechCrunch, has some simple advice for developers who are upset about Apple’s opaque approval process for the iPhone app store: Quit yer whining, or as he puts it “don’t complain, just keep coding.” Dan — who, at least according to his LinkedIn profile, doesn’t appear to have any development experience, either with the iPhone or any other device — argues that a) it’s Apple’s store, and therefore the company can do whatever it wants, and b) given the popularity of the iPhone, you have to develop for it whether you like it or not.

Both of those statements are undoubtedly true, at least to a certain extent. Apple is well known for its attention to detail and its firm control over the design and use of its devices, software, platforms, etc., so it’s hardly surprising that it would take the same attitude towards the app store. And there’s no question that it is the hot mobile platform at the moment, and so most developers — those who don’t decide to quit Apple and develop for the Google Phone — will grit their teeth and develop apps for it regardless of how the company behaves. Fair enough, I suppose.

That said, however, just because people will put up with that kind of behaviour for financial reasons doesn’t mean they should. Apple may be able to get away with approving or disapproving apps for the iPhone store without any real explanation of the reasons behind those decisions, and it may be able to get developers to sign an NDA that restricts them from talking with other developers, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. And in the long run, that behaviour is likely to hurt both Apple and iPhone users. Isn’t that something we should be concerned about?

Sure, all of the developers who have said they are walking away from Apple — or are struggling to deal with the restrictions and seemingly arbitrary decision-making on Apple’s part — could just be a bunch of whiners, along with those who say Apple’s store will become just a collection of games, tip calculators and goofy apps like flashlights or lighters. But they’re not the only ones raising a red flag: so are plenty of respected tech-industry observers and Apple supporters. The only one who doesn’t seem prepared to admit that there’s a looming problem is Apple itself.

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