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Last post Author Topic: Apple's App Store Mistake  (Read 8480 times)

zridling

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Apple's App Store Mistake
« on: November 21, 2009, 03:29:38 PM »
Paul Graham's latest essay on how Apple is treating the programmers who develop Apps for the iPhone/iTouch is characteristically on target. Here's how it begins:

I don't think Apple realizes how badly the App Store approval process is broken. Or rather, I don't think they realize how much it matters that it's broken.... The way Apple runs the App Store has harmed their reputation with programmers more than anything else they've ever done. Their reputation with programmers used to be great. It used to be the most common complaint you heard about Apple was that their fans admired them too uncritically. The App Store has changed that. Now a lot of programmers have started to see Apple as evil.... How much of the goodwill Apple once had with programmers have they lost over the App Store? A third? Half? And that's just so far. The App Store is an ongoing karma leak.

evil-apple-skull.png

Find time to read the whole thing if you can.

The only way to break Apple’s stranglehold on the "App Store" business is to find a way of making the Android platform attractive to developers. Maybe a smart strategy would be for Google (or Motorola or other handset manufacturers who aim to offer Android phones) to identify developers and offer them free Android phones.

Innuendo

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2009, 05:32:23 PM »
I don't see how the article's author can say the process is broken. It's absolutely, positively working as Apple intended. Apple wants to control completely the process in which applications and data interface with their hardware.

Remember when the first iPods were released? One could just hook it up to one's computer & it'd appear on your desktop as another storage device which you could copy & move music & non-music files freely. That freedom didn't last long & that's what Apple wants. If you want to use their hardware you have to play by their rules.

I'm not going to get into jailbreaking as that's a cat and mouse game as Apple is always trying to take control of your devices again once you've wrested control away from them.

Darwin

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2009, 09:52:45 PM »
I"ve found the solution - avoid Apple products and Apple software like the plague! OK, admittedly, I do have an old iBook running OSX 10.4.11 but I don't use it for anything, really, other than to play around with Quicksilver every so often. On my Windows machines, though, APPLE free zones  :Thmbsup:
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

superboyac

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2009, 05:02:11 AM »
Very interesting.  Apple does demand control, that's mostly why I avoid their products no matter how cool I think they are.  I have not once bought an apple product in my life, yet I think they are super cool.  I don't think I can say that for any other company.

After reading that article, I have a couple of questions that may or may not be related:
--I've never understood why other companies never challenge the Apple products even though they have the time AND resources to do so.  For example, in the article, they say the RIM doesn't have a chance to compete with iphone apps despite their market share in that industry.  I don't get that, why not?  How come there aren't a lot of Blackberry apps?  What is it about the Blackberry that makes people not want or not want to create apps for it?  I don't understand, because just as many people have Blackberry's as iphones.

--The same goes for other Apple innovations.  The nice, new touchpad on their new laptops is really nice.  But why didn't any of the PC companies (Dell, HP, Toshiba) come up with a new idea for the touchpads in all those years?  Same goes for the ipod.  Other companies were years ahead of Apple in the portable mp3 player market (ahem...Sony) yet they could never get a hold of it.

It's always the same for me for all the Apple stuff.  I always ask myself, why don't these other companies just use their brains and compete with Apple?  They sit on their asses taking their sweet ass time doing nothing really interesting, then Apple comes along and completely takes over, despite coming late in the game.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2009, 07:31:42 AM »
Very interesting.  Apple does demand control, that's mostly why I avoid their products no matter how cool I think they are.  I have not once bought an apple product in my life, yet I think they are super cool.  I don't think I can say that for any other company.
While I realize that terms have a tendency to change meaning over time, Apple does not qualify for any meaning of cool that I'm familiar with. Ultra Trendy... Yes.

Being cool requires a more of a laid back attitude which avoids the micro-management of every little nitypicky detail.

tomos

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2009, 08:44:52 AM »

Very interesting.  Apple does demand control, that's mostly why I avoid their products no matter how cool I think they are.  I have not once bought an apple product in my life, yet I think they are super cool.  I don't think I can say that for any other company.
While I realize that terms have a tendency to change meaning over time, Apple does not qualify for any meaning of cool that I'm familiar with. Ultra Trendy... Yes.

cool because they make their stuff look really good - that's one of the big reasons they're ultra-trendy/popular after all. And as superboyac says, they 'innovate' a bit.

But no, they arent being very cool are they !!
Tom

Innuendo

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2009, 10:24:45 AM »
I have not once bought an apple product in my life, yet I think they are super cool.  I don't think I can say that for any other company.

I feel the exact same way. I was out shopping yesterday & got a hands-on look at the iTouch 32 GB. Man, it was slim...it was sleek...it was sexy. I'd buy one if the jailbreaking was not such a cat and mouse game.

Quote
--I've never understood why other companies never challenge the Apple products even though they have the time AND resources to do so.  For example, in the article, they say the RIM doesn't have a chance to compete with iphone apps despite their market share in that industry.  I don't get that, why not?  How come there aren't a lot of Blackberry apps?  What is it about the Blackberry that makes people not want or not want to create apps for it?  I don't understand, because just as many people have Blackberry's as iphones.

Lots of companies do try to compete with Apple. Nearly every year there are at least 3 or 4 products that are billed as being an iPhone killer or an iPod killer, but the problem is that even if the products are as good as Apple's offerings they aren't better to the degree it would take to get people to give up the time & money they have invested in Apple's schemes. People would have to leave a lot of apps & music & TV shows behind to move to a different platform & Apple's products are good enough that even if a competitor comes out with a cool feature it's not enough to break Apple's hold over people.

As for Blackberry, they do have an app store, but their strength is their downfall. They've always aimed their products at business. Well, most IT departments don't want employees clogging up company phones with a bunch fo apps that could muck things up so these devices are locked down. Most individuals won't own a Blackberry. They'll pass it up so they can own what their friends have...Apple products.

Quote
Other companies were years ahead of Apple in the portable mp3 player market (ahem...Sony) yet they could never get a hold of it.

Sony had personal music players, sure...and they could have owned the market, but they piddled away their head start by not embracing the MP3 format right away. For the longest time, their personal music players only dealt in their weird proprietary format. By the time they wised up, it was too late.


rgdot

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2009, 11:18:07 AM »

Sony had personal music players, sure...and they could have owned the market, but they piddled away their head start by not embracing the MP3 format right away. For the longest time, their personal music players only dealt in their weird proprietary format. By the time they wised up, it was too late.

Really ironic, seeing what iTunes does to files.
I have never bought any Apple either and my only experience with iTunes specifically is my sibling's mac. And mac in general with a few more friends and family.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2009, 11:20:13 AM by rgdot »

Innuendo

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2009, 08:55:21 PM »
Really ironic, seeing what iTunes does to files.

Apple & iTunes had their proprietary format, but at least you could load your MP3s onto your iPod. Sony's early devices only handled their proprietary format. If you wanted to listen to your MP3s on their devices you had to use their program to convert your files to their proprietary format first.

We see how well that worked out for them.

superboyac

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2009, 10:19:46 PM »
Really ironic, seeing what iTunes does to files.

Apple & iTunes had their proprietary format, but at least you could load your MP3s onto your iPod. Sony's early devices only handled their proprietary format. If you wanted to listen to your MP3s on their devices you had to use their program to convert your files to their proprietary format first.

We see how well that worked out for them.
Exactly.  They were stubborn about that for almost a full decade.  I've pointed out several times how it's unheard of for a company to have a multi-year head start on a technological innovation and not do anything successful with it.  Then apple came along and stole the market in a matter of months.  Like a german blitzkrieg. 

Stoic Joker

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2009, 05:54:26 AM »
Exactly.  They were stubborn about that for almost a full decade.  I've pointed out several times how it's unheard of for a company to have a multi-year head start on a technological innovation and not do anything successful with it.  Then apple came along and stole the market in a matter of months.  Like a german blitzkrieg.
Hm... (I was not aware of that part of the story) ...But on that note, it doesn't really sound like Apple innovated anything...They were (by the sound of it) more of an armchair general that got lucky with a captain obvious moment.

wraith808

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2009, 11:12:24 AM »
Lucky?  You can say a lot of things about Apple, but I don't think that luck entered into the equation.  I'm not an Apple apologist, but I do see that Apple is a pretty savvy company, and has made some pretty good moves.  They've made some bad ones too, but I think that can be said of any company out there.  I resisted iPod for the longest time, but when my Karma finally died (Rio Karma, that is- the best music player of its time, IMO), I took the leap... and though there are things about Apple that still irk me, I've been slowly using more and more of their products (iPod -> iPhone, and am soon to get a Mac of some kind).

Are they the saviour of the world as some say?  Not by a long shot.  But neither are they the devil...  Just a company like any other IMO.

Innuendo

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2009, 11:48:32 AM »
Hm... (I was not aware of that part of the story) ...But on that note, it doesn't really sound like Apple innovated anything...They were (by the sound of it) more of an armchair general that got lucky with a captain obvious moment.

I'm probably going to take a lot of heat for what I'm about to say, but what the heck...I'll say it anyway.

Apple isn't about innovating, as in...their strength in coming up with something totally new. However, what they are extremely good at (probably better than darn near anyone else) is making the better mousetrap. They are very good about taking an existing idea or product & making it usable/accessible to everyone. Portable music players are one example of this. Another example, to a lesser degree, is OS X. Before OS X was released who'd imagine average people wanting a BSD-based OS in their home? But like Wraith said, they've made some bad (maybe not bad, but not as successful) moves as well. Apple threw their weight behind Firewire, but it didn't beat USB in the popularity race.

I wish Apple (and Microsoft for that matter!) would support more file formats in their players. FLAC support would be most welcome.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2009, 02:00:56 PM »
So... You are saying that their primary and most successful product, is their marketing?

I got no problem with that.

Dormouse

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2009, 02:33:38 PM »
Not sure how wonderful Apple is at marketing and trendiness in itself. Their successes have pretty much correlated with Jobs directing things. There's a lot about realising the right moment for a product as well as making it feel desirable.

But neither are they the devil...  Just a company like any other IMO.

Closer to the devil than the average company though. Others may aspire to their level of brutal monopolistic product control and fencing their customers in, but very few get anywhere close.

I've pointed out several times how it's unheard of for a company to have a multi-year head start on a technological innovation and not do anything successful with it.  Then apple came along and stole the market in a matter of months.  Like a german blitzkrieg. 

Unheard of? I think not. And its something Apple have done before. Xerox and Mac, anyone?
Alta Vista (et al) and Google.

And its not the iPod that was the big success - it was the iPod/iTunes combination, and iTunes is arguably the more important. The iPod wasn't even theirs: they bought it in originally, though it was probably Jonathan Ives that designed the version (3) that made it a really big success.

The consistent features are snazzy/unique appearance for hardware, software aimed at ease of use and marketing that makes customers feel they are some sort of elite. And ruthless control and limitation of options and freedom for other people to innovate (or use) except in a way that enhances Apple control (the tension in this position probably being the cause of the actions leading to the thread title).

f0dder

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2009, 02:43:24 PM »
And its not the iPod that was the big success - it was the iPod/iTunes combination, and iTunes is arguably the more important. The iPod wasn't even theirs: they bought it in originally, though it was probably Jonathan Ives that designed the version (3) that made it a really big success.
Heck, even the iPod wheel thingy wasn't very original - the Danish company B&O came up with something like that a good while before Apple, but didn't pursue it.

If it wasn't for all those loose-wrist latté-drinking snobs, Apple wouldn't be nearly as successful as they are.
- carpe noctem

JavaJones

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2009, 03:14:24 PM »
Apple's strengths:

1: Industrial design, especially aesthetically.
2: Aesthetics and certain experiential aspects of User Interface design (note: I do *not* think they are universally great at UI design, but they do some things very well, and they get the visual aspect for sure; this ties into #1 as well as #3).
3: Marketing, particularly "lifestyle marketing".

Those 3 things combine to allow them to succeed at the rest of the things they do, which then simply further cements their profits and success. E.g. Sony was unable to create the kind of format lock-in they created with iPod and Apple because A: they did not have the entire "ecosystem" (no iTunes), and B: they did not just push one format, they mandated it, whereas Apple's approach is "our way is the right way, but we're compatible with *input* from others" (read: mp3 support on iPod, PC file cross-compatibility, but *not* allowing iPod sync with other apps besides iTunes, or allowing iTunes to sync with other hardware). With this "strict but 'open'" approach, they are able to assimilate users on other platforms easily and comfortably, while making it difficult or impossible to go the other direction if you ever want to. All roads lead to Apple in other words. It's all primarily driven by their "underdog" status and the perception of "cool", which is supported heavily by their visual design.

- Oshyan

superboyac

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2009, 05:59:20 PM »
Apple's strengths:

1: Industrial design, especially aesthetically.
2: Aesthetics and certain experiential aspects of User Interface design (note: I do *not* think they are universally great at UI design, but they do some things very well, and they get the visual aspect for sure; this ties into #1 as well as #3).
3: Marketing, particularly "lifestyle marketing".

Those 3 things combine to allow them to succeed at the rest of the things they do, which then simply further cements their profits and success. E.g. Sony was unable to create the kind of format lock-in they created with iPod and Apple because A: they did not have the entire "ecosystem" (no iTunes), and B: they did not just push one format, they mandated it, whereas Apple's approach is "our way is the right way, but we're compatible with *input* from others" (read: mp3 support on iPod, PC file cross-compatibility, but *not* allowing iPod sync with other apps besides iTunes, or allowing iTunes to sync with other hardware). With this "strict but 'open'" approach, they are able to assimilate users on other platforms easily and comfortably, while making it difficult or impossible to go the other direction if you ever want to. All roads lead to Apple in other words. It's all primarily driven by their "underdog" status and the perception of "cool", which is supported heavily by their visual design.

- Oshyan
Yes, exactly.  You said it better than I could.  Sony was being stubborn and turned people off.  Apple was inviting and pleasant.  Again, this is all appearances, they were both after the same thing.  But, that's the genius of Apple.  it really is like the commercial.  people saw the ipod and thought how cool and how it was easy to use.  To this day, most users have no idea that by default all their imported cd's get encoded into the protected aac format that itunes uses.  Or that imported existing mp3's get protected (maybe, I'm not positive about that one).  But Sony made a big enough stink about stuff like that where the user wouldn't even try using the device, even if they really couldn't care less about if their imported music was protected or not.  Just the way Sony went about it was a turn off.  Apple was very inviting about it all.  Like the sweet song of the siren.

wraith808

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2009, 10:17:06 AM »
But neither are they the devil...  Just a company like any other IMO.

Closer to the devil than the average company though. Others may aspire to their level of brutal monopolistic product control and fencing their customers in, but very few get anywhere close.

How is control of your own product monopolistic?  I say the same thing about MS and Windows.  Your product, your control.  When you use that control to squeeze into markets, or leverage your share, that's where things become shady.  Both MS and Apple have crossed into that territory.  But wanting control of your own product is just good business IMO, and makes for a better customer experience.  As for getting out.. well, let's just say that this is the reason that I'm going slow with the whole adoption thing, and why in any case that my data ends up in a proprietary or closed format, I'm very cautious in stepping in.  For the longest time, even though I had an iPod, I didn't use iTunes and I still used MP3s.

And +1 for FLAC and I'll raise you OGG. (The reasons I had a Karma... sniff.)

f0dder

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2009, 10:21:00 AM »
Might not be monopolistic, but enforcing really draconian and artificial limits on your products is A Bad ThingTM. OS X not wanting to run on vanilla x86 hardware without hacks, that's an artificial limit. The iPod and iTunes locked-down-ness, those are artificial limits.
- carpe noctem

wraith808

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2009, 12:52:38 PM »
Speaking as the Devil's Advocate, there is the flip-side of these artificial limits, that being a more stable platform in regards to interoperability and end user experience.  Or does that not matter?

Dormouse

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2009, 01:06:41 PM »
How is control of your own product monopolistic?  I say the same thing about MS and Windows.
A monopoly is when someone has substantial control of a market or a market segment. Control is not simply about market share, it is about market control. Apple has/had substantive control of a number of market segments (eg graphics design).

MS has a number of monopolies including Windows in the general PC market.
Intel has a monopoly of most PC chip markets.

IBM did not have a monopoly of the PC market when it launched the PC (event though it had control of the market for PCs at the time) because there were many alternatives to the PC. It never did develop that monopoly because MS-DOS allowed other manufacturers to compete. It did have a monopoly of the mainframe market.

Google almost has a monopoly of the search market. Probably not quite a monopoly because quite a few competitors are in a position to compete, if only they could develop a better product. Possibly they do have a monopoly on segments of the advertising market (I don't know the way it works well enough to really comment).

Monopolies aren't a bad thing per se. They often arise because someone has a better product or a better business plan. They can be cheaper (at least for a period) because of greater economies of scale. However, there is always the temptation to use their monopolistic control to extract extra profits - and that is the reason most governments have policies and laws to control them (or for a different sort of government to run them themselves). There was certainly a period when Apple was extracting monopolistic profits from their market segments. ATM, they seem mostly to be about extending the area they have control over - the extraction phase comes later.

JavaJones

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #22 on: November 24, 2009, 01:11:30 PM »
"the extraction phase comes later"
Sounds painful! :D

- Oshyan

f0dder

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #23 on: November 24, 2009, 02:09:32 PM »
Speaking as the Devil's Advocate, there is the flip-side of these artificial limits, that being a more stable platform in regards to interoperability and end user experience.  Or does that not matter?

I see the point in this, but it's not like having a non-closed platform makes it less stable on the hardware it's designed for - just slap on a "no warranty/support if used on 3rd party hardware", and the hackers would be happy.

[Edit - sorry f0dder - I accidentally click Modify instead of Quote - I think I put things back as they were!! ]
- carpe noctem
« Last Edit: November 24, 2009, 07:21:06 PM by Carol Haynes »

JavaJones

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Re: Apple's App Store Mistake
« Reply #24 on: November 24, 2009, 02:33:26 PM »
Speaking as the Devil's Advocate, there is the flip-side of these artificial limits, that being a more stable platform in regards to interoperability and end user experience.  Or does that not matter?
I see the point in this, but it's not like having a non-closed platform makes it less stable on the hardware it's designed for - just slap on a "no warranty/support if used on 3rd party hardware", and the hackers would be happy.
My thoughts exactly. Of course legally that might not still be enough, so there is the possible argument that they avoid more litigation this way. Still I think it's more about control and selling artificially high-margin hardware (since they sell their OS dirt cheap by comparison to Windows) than it is about legal issues or support.

- Oshyan