There’s a couple things that have been on my mind for quite a while, and I’ve only just started to be able to figure them out in my head. I thought this would be a good place to get a discussion going about some things that have been starting to annoy me lately, and I wonder if others are feeling the same way I am.
I’m here for the quick buck
What are the ethics in creating an application for the AppStore, charging money for it, and then abandoning it’s development, but still charging for an application that has known bugs?
We’re in the early stages of the AppStore, but this seems to be something that’s going to have to be looked at eventually. With new iterations of iPhones and Touches coming yearly, there will eventually be a tipping point where applications will cease to work on either device, unless they get some more attention from developers.
We’ve been hearing a lot of noise from developers about the increasingly annoying tendencies of Apple to pull applications, and even make it difficult for them to publish their applications on the AppStore, but who’s talking on behalf of consumers who are spending money on applications only to find out they’re broken, and, poorly supported? I’ve received a number of emails over the last year from consumers who’ve received scathing remarks from iPhone developers when an app purchaser asks questions about support cycles and updates. The replies are sickening at the very best of times, but toss in the fact that consumers have spent money on these applications, and it starts to becoming a little more nauseating than the situation already is to begin with. Why is no one talking about this, and why have we made it okay for developers to treat the AppStore like the gold rush, stepping on people along the way, making a quick buck, then bailing on their consumers as soon as they’ve received some monetary benefits? It doesn’t seem alright to me, and it’s becoming quite alarming. This is not one of the reasons I write about Apple. It makes me ill, and needs to be addressed.
An Open AppStore Clearly Isn’t What We Need
The second thing that’s really starting to annoy me is that iPhone developers are lambasting the AppStore process in public forums, without thinking about how consumers feel. There’s a key difference between developing for a desktop platform and a mobile device, and I think it’s about time we actually talk about them. Developers need to realize that consumers approach mobile applications in a very different way than they approach desktop applications. They need to develop accordingly, instead of whining and complaining about how Apple has created a closed the system.
I don’t install new applications, for personal use, on my desktop very often, and when I do, it’s from a reputable source. There’s development firms out there that produce sound applications that make my work-flow easier. I’m completely confident in the tools they’re releasing, so they get installed without a second guess.
If on some off chance I decide to try a new application from someone I haven’t heard of before (happens a lot since I review applications), and somehow they mess up my machine, I can revert to a backup relatively quickly. Heck, if I can’t revert to a backup, I can live with using my laptop until I get around to fixing the problem on my machine. Conversely, I don’t have that luxury with my iPhone. If it’s broken, I need access to a desktop with my backup to fix it. So, I’m completely screwed if I’m on the road. Furthermore, I don’t have a second phone to replace my iPhone, and if a poorly coded application decides it’s going to eat my OS for lunch, I’m screwed. I’ll now have no way of communicating with people and clients trying to phone me. None. Zero.
So, when we put together my two annoyances we have an iPhone AppStore, where two thirds of the applications were developed to make a quick buck, they’re poorly coded, written in haste, and buggy as hell. They don’t get quick bug fixes, and developers leave them on the store to make a couple extra dollars to supplement their day job, in addition to a bunch of people arguing that Apple shouldn’t be meddling in the approval process. Funny, it seems like there are some applications that Apple has already vetted, in an apparently extensive review process, still making my phone unstable. What would the AppStore look like if the vetting process was removed, and instead there was a carte blanche for iPhone developers?
The AppStore would turn into a market where a few big developers gain the trust of iPhone users, and users will be reluctant to try anything new because it could completely annihilate their phone. That’s not the world I want to live in as a consumer. I want to be able to install an application with some degree of faith that the absolute junk was already weeded out.
Before everyone gets their panties in a bunch, my thoughts, and subsequent rant here has nothing to do with me advocating an application gate keeper. Apple should not, under any circumstance determine whose applications get published and whose gets tossed on the scrap heap. They should however be able to vet out applications that break the device. If they can expedite their current process, and eliminate developers concerns about the time it’s taking to carry out that process, then I’m all for a closed system. Wouldn’t you?
The big development firms might find the process to be restricting because they have both the knowledge and the time to properly test their applications before submitting the programs they create for review, but, I’m not all that confident that the get rich over night crowd has the skill set to do that. Some might, but I bet a large majority of them don’t. The restrictions aren’t in place because of the Facebooks or the Rogue Ameoba’s of the world, they’re in place for us, the consumer, who wants a little assurance that a flashlight application won’t make their phone unstable, and that fart applications actually make fart noises. It’s not always about developers, and sometimes, just sometimes, it’s about consumers having devices that work.
Where do you stand on all this? Let us know in the comments.
Image Credit: DavidDMuir and Christopher Chan