Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The iPhone App Store - Yet Another Reason Why Apple Is Stupid...

I'm so fired up. Let's talk business strategy for a moment, shall we?

Innumerable articles have sprouted up over the past few weeks about the iPhone's glittering success and how its App Store is becoming the next gold rush. As BusinessWeek explained, the App Store has grown into "a sprawling bazaar of software" with over 25,000 software applications available on its virtual shelves.

The App Store is quickly becoming viewed as Apple's next cash cow because 1) the number of mobile phones that can browse the Web and handle other advanced tasks is expected to surge from 139 million last year to 295 million in 2010 (putting them on pace to soon eclipse the 300 million-unit PC market, as a standard for comparison), and 2) Apple takes a 30% cut of every single application bought through the App Store. The average iPhone user has downloaded 20 applications, and that number is expected to increase sharply as more high-quality applications become available.

The key to the company's success with the App Store, thus far, has been the fact that anybody with a little bit of programming knowledge can write iPhone applications and sell them. This open process means that there is essentially an army of programmers out there who are writing software for the iPhone, who are all generating 30% sales revenue for Apple, and all while Apple itself isn't doing anything but sitting back and collecting the money.

So, buying into the hype and wanting to get in on this gold rush, I set out to start making a few apps myself. I downloaded the SDK (Standard Development Kit) and read a few tutorials on Objective-C Programming, and figured I was ready to give it a shot.

Only one problem... you have to own a Mac!

Now picture this. Here I am, a pretty decent programmer with some potentially great ideas for iPhone apps - not to mention a Computer Science instructor interested in maybe integrating such skills into my course curriculum so students can learn to write iPhone apps as well - basically ready, willing, and able to help Apple generate more profits without anyone from the company having to lift a finger...

And they won't let me do it.

This is why Apple is, and always has been, so bang-your-head-against-the-wall-frustrating. If the name of the game is selling apps through the App Store, then why do they care which platform I'm using to write my code? That's really all we're talking about here! I'm DYING for the chance to create some programs for the iPhone, and sell them through the App Store, and don't mind at all that Apple is going to collect a hefty 30% cut. This is completely a win-win situation for the company. I just need a place to write my freakin' code!

Well, needless to say, I'm pretty angry at Apple for being so obtuse. There is no advantage for them, whatsoever, in requiring me to own a Mac in order to develop software for the App Store. People like me aren't about to race out and buy a Mac just to write our schmucky "Hello World" programs. There is, however, a pretty large army of programmers, desperate for the chance to contribute and make Apple money, are being driven away in hoards.

Does this make any sense at all? Can someone please, for the love of God, explain this logic to me?


At 12:22 PM, Blogger cjwl said...

Good April Fools Joke.

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, point me to the development tools I can use to write programs for a Windows Mobile phone on my Mac. They do not exist. You are creating a double standard.

Second, particularly with the iPhone, it makes use of many OS X libraries, etc. so it would be a tremendous pain to port over the entire development platform. This is likely the same reason there are no Windows development tools for OS X.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger ThomW said...

Have you ever used iTunes in Windows? How about Safari?

Now imagine trying to program and debug in an Apple-developed environment ported to Windows.

I think Apple's doing us a favor. ;)

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

to Annonymous - but, Microsoft isn't taking a 30% cut of WinMobile app sales. Apple wants you to buy the sdk, buy the phone, buy the computer, and give up a good chunk of your revenue.

I agree with ThomW though, technically, im not sure it would be possible to port the apple dev tools to windows/linux.

As for the author - just stick to writing apps for Android.

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Rob Domanski said...

I hear what you're saying, guys. And, yes, it is something of a double-standard. But that still doesn't make it smart business.

The fact is that if 85% of the world (and the world's programmers) work on PCs, then Apple is really doing its shareholders a disservice by completely closing itself off to those millions of developers who might otherwise generate revenue for the company.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Rob Domanski said...

Comment from "sblinn" on Reddit page:

Ugh. I held out as long as I could. But in the end, the mac mini is a small enough investment, particularly now that the previous gen are $400. The logic is probably that there are enough idiots like me that, while we agree it's evil, will finally buckle down and buy a mac. (In my case, I needed a new home computer anyway.)

At 1:39 PM, OpenID wizlb said...

I needed a new laptop, so I bought an early 2008 Macbook Pro figuring that I could run Windows on it if I didn't like the Mac OS.

There is nothing but problems and annoyances trying to run Windows properly on this laptop. The keyboard just isn't right for Windows and the Trackpad is near useless since there's ONLY ONE BUTTON and Apple doesn't provide a prop multi-touch driver for Windows. All of Apple's drivers are pretty weak, in general.

Even with some of those annoyances, it's still a much more sane and logical experience using Windows than trying to use that god awful POS called the Mac OS. In the Mac OS there is only one way to do things, The Apple Way. No thanks, I'll stick with Microsoft. They let me do whatever the f*** I want.

At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first thought was "Don't I need a windows machine to create windows mobile applications?".

Yet you admit the double standard. So, what's the issue?

How much effort should Apple go to, in order to create an environment to create IPhone apps for the PC? Is it a good use of their resources? Probably not. See Joel Spolsky's Fire and Motion post to see why:

I no longer write software for Windows, or on Windows (I use Linux exclusively, but don't mind Macs).

I figured out years ago (when Microsoft was just introducing Windows) that you don't want to write software for that platform. Why? When a platform is first introduced, they want software developers to write software for it, or else it will die. But they don't want really good software, or else Microsoft will see a market opportunity, and try to eliminate you from the market. So, you want a bunch of custom do-nothing software, probably corporate stuff.

If you write anything of value (a browser (Netscape), database (Oracle), spreadsheet (Lotus 123), word processor (Wordperfect) etc, expect to try to be put out of business. Why write software for a company's operating system when they will compete with your product? (In most cases unfairly, with API's crossing the OS/Application divide).

At 6:11 PM, Blogger Rob Domanski said...

Anonymous, this post wasn't about creating iPhone apps for Windows, as you seem to suggest. It was about using a Windows-based PC to create apps for iPhones.

At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: Anonymous, this post wasn't about creating iPhone apps for Windows, as you seem to suggest. It was about using a Windows-based PC to create apps for iPhones.

Ok...bear with me here. To use a windows machine to create apps for the iphone, apple has to devote a bunch of resources to create a software environment on windows to do that. An IDE, toolchain, emulator etc. I wasn't talking about creating iPhone apps for windows. I was trying to point out why this would be a waste of Apple's resources.

Perhaps I should have said:

How much effort should Apple go to, in order to create an environment to create IPhone apps ON the PC?

(instead of 'for the pc'. I was talking about an environment for the pc to create iphone apps.)

I guess it comes down to, whether you think it is 'stupid' of apple to not create an environment for the machine you are using. You admit this is a double standard with regards to needing a windows machine to create mobile windows apps, but since you have a windows machine, you don't care. Great logic. I love hypocrisy. Perhaps you and my last 2 ex-girlfriends should get together.

As someone posted, last gen mac mini's are $400. If I thought I could spend $400 to make many times more than that, I would (and have...I've bought laptops for specific consulting gigs).

Why am I arguing? argh. Getting sucked into blogs is asinine, and something I should have stopped doing in my BBS days.

Your post and headline seem to be created to generate page views. Bye.

At 9:32 PM, Anonymous vodka_rani said...

What about renting time on an OSX server in the cloud? That surely costs much lesser than running out and buying a mac?

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Rob Domanski said...

There are 12 more comments located on the Reddit page linking to this post:


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