After Amazon’s Kindle event yesterday, I tweeted something a bit snarky:
And that relates to another recent tweet:
Which got me thinking… how could Apple take better care of developers?
That’s a complex question and would probably be answered differently by each developer depending on recent interactions with Apple. The thing is, Apple does play favorites — it has to. With almost a million apps in the App Store and hundreds of thousands of registered developers, Apple just doesn’t have the bandwidth to carefully foster a relationship with each one. So Apple does what any smart company would do, it works closely with developers that it sees as important to the platform and triages the rest.
Apple’s communication with developers is still far from perfect, but they have gotten much better at triaging:
An app review board was created along with a system for appealing rejections
. Developers can request an expedited review
for critical bug fixes, time-sensitive releases, or other extenuating circumstances. For code level support, developers can submit a Technical Support Incident
. And submitting an IP infringement complaint is now just another simple form
Ultimately though, Apple’s relationship with developers is an odd sort of mutually beneficial — yet somewhat parasitic — relationship. Developers have made billions of dollars building apps for Apple’s platforms, and Apple has made tens of billions selling devices that are attractive to consumers in part because of the apps developers are building. It’s clear that Apple has a very specific agenda
in fostering the iOS and OS X developer communities: sell more hardware. That agenda may not necessarily be a factor in every decision, but it sets priorities and guides policy.
Microsoft, RIM, Amazon, and Google would all do well to exploit perceived injustices when trying to lure developers away from Apple, but each platform vendor has its own agenda and developers are merely a means to that end.
At the moment, developers are making more money on iOS than any other mobile platform, but that’s not the only benefit to be weighed and it’s certainly not true across the board. There are developers making great money building apps for other mobile platforms, just as there are developers going broke building iOS apps. I haven’t seen any estimates, but I would guess that developers make far more money on Windows than on OS X. That hasn’t stopped The Omni Group, Panic, Delicious Monster, and others from building great companies with OS X apps.
So developers who don’t feel particularly cared for by Apple really only have a few big picture options:
1. Don’t build apps
2. Make money in Apple’s App Stores even though they don’t care about you
3. Build apps for a different platform
4. Hedge your bets on multiple platforms
5. Build something that Apple will care about
That last one sounds like the most fun and profitable option at the moment.