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back to article Enough with the Apple App Store apathy

Microsoft used to be the bête noire of open-source advocates, riling freedom-loving software developers with its sometimes anti-competitive behavior. But for those open-source evangelists wondering what to do now that open source has gone mainstream, and Microsoft has increasingly embraced the trend, here's a new machine against …

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Bronze badge

"Microsoft has increasingly embraced the trend"?

Clearly this is a definition of "embraced" with which I am wholly unfamiliar.

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Easy fix...

The App store (Mac App, iTunes App, iwhatever App store) should be along the same lines as the Linux repositories :- it comes with pre-approved "trusted" repositories, but you can add new ones to the list and their contents show up alongside the pre-approved one.

In other words, user should be able to add non-Apple App stores and see *their* result turn up in the iTunes/whatever App to be able to make (for example) price comparisons.

But this isn't going to happen - it has nothing to do with user satisfaction or code stability. It has to do with Apple wanting their 30% of *anything* running on their hardware - and the best way to do that is to ensure you can only buy through *their* store and no-one else.

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Stability

While I disagree with the way Apple is going...this is not a good idea because people will end up opening glaring security vulnerabilities by installing software that may not work "quite right", or be properly designed for Mac OS X. AutoScan-Network comes to mind....and so certain functionalities may not be working in full....like something as basic as quitting the Application, it seems...

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you have that

it;s called the WWW. Sourceforge, CNet, etc will all STILL EXIST. By order of the supreme court, the manufacturer of an OS can not directly restrict what you run on hardware you own. (This is more loosely applied to phones due to FCC regulation of the stability of the network, and the fact that you own the phone but NOT the cell chip in it). Apple ca NOT prevent you from putting in apps fro other sources, they can only choose to not carry an app, something bestbuy, Amazon, Walmart, even your local grocer do every day.

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Yes

But my grocer doesn't stop me from buying my herbs from the shop next door and putting them in the same cupboard at home.

Although I agree with you there, Walmart are a problem. Unchecked and demanding of breakup.

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jai
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FAIL

Sony propaganda?

"If this is bringing you flashbacks of another technology company's anti-competitive practices, well, maybe it should." followed by "This isn't the same as what Apple is doing"

if it isn't the same, why should it give us flashbacks?

i think perhaps you've bought into Sony's propaganda on this issue.

The Sony App was blocked because it _only_ allowed users to purchase from outside the Apple system. It was rejected because it didn't allow the users the choice of purchasing ebooks in-app or from outside. So it's Sony that was being closed here, but forcing users to buy their books from where they wanted them to.

to quote Apple spokesperson: “We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”

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I....

did not see that coming. :D

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What's the problem?

Unlike the Microsoft episode, its not a single market. Android has a greater share of the smartphone market than Apple. If you don't like it, there's other, bigger fish in the sea.

Apple are taking a gamble .. that a closed controlled market is better than a free open one. The fact that there *is* a free open one .. and it is able to take Apple on, means that we have a bit of healthy competition.

If Apple loses developers, and loses significant market share then it will change its (i)tune. Its not a monopoly. Let the market decide in this case.

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It's not surprising

Apple have been operating a "closed" hardware model for years now - witness the loss of Apple clones and the ruthless way they pursue anyone marketing Hackintoshes. It was inevitable they would move towards the same software model.

Incidentally, I think they're more talking about the desktop App Store, not the iOS model. But again, it's still nowhere near a monopoly so I'd be surprised if anything was done about it. It will start to make small to medium enterprises wary of either a) using Macs (what if a business critical app were suddenly deemed unacceptable in the App Store) or b) developing for Macs (again, the possibility of their revenue generator suddenly cut off from customers). All this assumes that they close their door to any other method of deploying to the Mac, but it's looking more and more likely as time passes.

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wrong

they do not pursue people making hackintoshes, they pursue people SELLING hackintoshes. Os X is licensed WITH a machine, they only sell upgrades. The OS is valued at between $399 and $599 depending on who you talk to, the value of iLife, and the value of the OS itself. Selling a machine with a $29 OS copy and a $49 iLife copy is stealing, and not just copy protected materials, but trademarked materials, and trademark law REQUIRES the holder to prosecute or forfeit the trademark.

Apple gave away Darwin, and has a thriving homebrew community. They LOVE their hackers, they jsut do not love the hackers that think they can PROFIT from Apple's wares while undercutting apple's market through unlicensed software.

Microsoft equally sues small IT shops that sell machines with improperly licensed OEM versions of their OS.

Apple's "closed" market is not really closed, outside of requiring their devs to a) follow local, state and federal laws, b) sell what they advertise, c) don't steal data, d) use good code practices (don;t use depreciated or forbidden APIs), and e) don;t steal IP. Follow those rules, and you're in. bestBuy and Walmart and Amazon have the EXACT SAME RULES, except they do allow people to sell crap, and then pull it after people complain (and loose money).

You're right, it;s no where near a monopoly. Even if it is, it;s not illegal to be a monopoly, and if you;re not amonopoly it;s not illegal to be anticompetitive, it;s only illegal to be BOTH, and apples ruels are not anticompetitive, they're reasonable and non-discriminatory.

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WTF?

The rage is gone....

I've already voted with me feet and steered clear of anything Apple..

No rage.. Bliss... Nirvana...

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Anonymous Coward

Where's the rage, open sourcers?

I don't think it's open sourcers that are missing the rage. As beautiful a product as I've thought the iPhone to be since release, I've flat-out refused to buy one because of Apple's limits (first, you couldn't even develop an app for it; then, you had to pay for the privilege and had to distribute through the app store). I was so sure those restrictions would be reversed within a year, but the typical lemming consumer - who thinks of open source as little more than 'free' - proved me wrong accepting the restrictions.

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Rage?

There's no rage, the open sourcer's LOVE THIS. They can distribute their app FREE, on a well trusted system, in competition directly with big name app firms.

It's the BIG firms that hate this, putting their multi-million dollar budget developments side by side with Gimp in the same store....

You could not develop an app for iOS initially because of Cingular, not Apple. Cingular did not want to risk the issues associated with it. When AT&T bought apple (and after the outcry pushed their hand) AT&T changed the terms and allowed a 3rd party app system, it just took a good year to 18months to get it running. What, you think the SDK and emulator were slapped together in a few weeks? Apple had that developed from day 1, they just could not open it to others initially due to contractual limits.

Once released, the initial restrictions, and ongoing ones, are actually reasonable. Maybe you shoudl look further in. yea, there were some anomalies in the early days. What got rejected in 2010 that didn't violate a clear and easily understandable rule? NO ONE AP. The rules are simple, and basically boil down to a) the app has to do something a simple website can't do alone, b) use good code practices and security, c) don't break laws or carrier contract terms, d) don't false advertise features, e) don't steal user data, and f) don;t steal someone Else's Intellectual Property. Yup, that's it. All the "gray area" boils down to that. If that's too restrictive for you, then i guess you want BestBuy to carry pirate software too then huh?

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Pint

Open sourcers = amateurs

Is open source better? Not necessarily as closed sourced software is, by definition, developed by professionals trying to scratch a living out of the success of their toils. Open sourcers are working ostensibly for fun.

Real innovation occurs when your life depends upon it. Hence 300k+ iOS apps.

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Thumb Down

Rubbish

I write code for a living, I work for a large company on a massive source base 5 million + locs I also contribute to a few FOSS projects. There is way more stinky code @ day job than in the FOSS arena. Where commerical software has the edge is being *able* to pay people to work on nice interfaces. That said the *ablity* to afford decent ui design doesn't automatically translate to the *desire* as shown by the woeful UI design of many commercial applications.

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Linux

Professional Software houses are usually the Amateurs

They routinely stick to dated software, out-of-date methods, insecure practices. My workplace has the most dodgy code produced by so-called professionals that are still using Access Databases and text lists to store their data. The level of programming incompetence of some software companies is absolutely stunning.

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Linux

Not at all

"Open sourcers are working ostensibly for fun.", nah most are working and Having fun at the same time.

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F/OSS

A good amount of open source software is submitted to the F/OSS community by PROFESSIONAL developers/programmers in their spare time. If you can use someone else's OSS library inside your own program and cut development time/costs then it's not unlikely that you might want to submit your own libraries/code back to the OSS community and save someone else the headache of solving the problems you've already solved.

There are plenty of big companies that actually do exactly that.

F/OSS is way more than just the bedroom coder freeware of yesteryear.

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@Wibble: Wow...

yes, because large businesses in closed environments with "business managers" don't roll out buggy software.....

Your'e just plain ignorant if you believe what you just wrote.

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Linux

re: Open sourcers = amateurs

You're not really up to speed on this, are you? F/OSS may have started with academics and enthusiasts, but these days there's a lot of commercial interest and businesses of all sizes employ professional developers to work on various open source products, most of the people who make free contributions are probably professional developers or well-qualified academics too. Don't forget it's a lot easier to hide a rats' nest of crap code in a closed-source commercial product than it is in a lively open source project.

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Jobs Horns

Maybe another angle is the bigger story

Maybe of the throngs of developers developing open source solutions also include a large number happy to finally have an outlet where lower pricing and greater reach mean they can work on their own terms and fairly earn from their work. I'm not saying there are no problems with the Mac AppStore, but the ecosystem is a huge boost to the small developer team and I'm sure, on the Mac at least, will be eating into the share of time spent doing open source projects. Perhaps that's why a revolutionary movement hasn't spontaneously erupted. It appears most end users are very happy that commercial software is being marketed at much lower prices than before and traditionally open source software isn't so good at either interface design or ease of installation/configuration for those same everyday users (at least not where there is no bankrolling organisation or individual behind the project)

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GC

As the saying goes:

Every dog has its day

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Stop

Enough Already!

Matt, you are obviously a smart bloke, but it sure as hell doesn't come across in your articles due to that very large anti-Apple axe you seem wanton to grind.

Firstly, you make the same mistake that countless commenters have made in the past: you think Apple has a monopoly. I expect that from them, not from the article writers.

Apple has, at best, 10% of the desktop market (which I'm including laptops in). They have, at best, 30% of the worldwide smartphone market, and 5% of the worldwide mobile phone market. iOS is not a market. Microsoft, on the other hand, do have a monopoly in the desktop market, which is why they got into hot water.

Now, given that Apple don't have a monopoly, they can't be done for abuse of a monopoly. So please stop trying to suggest it's a certainty.

Regarding the Sony eReader app, Apple are well within their rights to reject it from the App Store. I may not agree with it, but I accept that they can do that. Why? Read on, dear chap.

To continue your line of argument, customers want the Sony app. By rejecting it from the App Store, Apple makes their product less desirable in the eyes of those customers. There is nothing illegal about a company making its own product less desirable. Furthermore, those customers have a choice: they can get a Sony eReader device, or get a different smartphone for which the app is available.

If I wanted to get all riled up about something, I'd complain to the EU that McDonalds doesn't sell Burger King chips. Of course, that would be just as silly.

By all means, revisit this topic when Apple have over 90% of the mobile device market. But I'm sure there are a few Android folk who will happily tell you that day is never coming...

PS - you did want people to rage, didn't you?!

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Headmaster

Wrong Market

Who said anything about Apple having a monopoly in the mobile devices market?

Comparing Microsoft's monopoly on the desktop market to Apple's (lack of) monopoly in the entire mobile devices market doesn't seem valid because the scales are wrong. A better comparison would be Microsotf's desktop monopoly vs Apple in the phone market specifically (which is still not a monopoly and hopefully won't become one).

Also, surely if you look at the "app store" market (not THEIR app store but the whole lot of app stores that exist) rather than mobile devices then they do have a monopoly there? Then there is iTunes, which I expect will be the biggest digital music buying product (unless Amazon is bigger nowadays).

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thank you

Everything he said...

You might not like it, but asking apple to bend to some of these things is essentially the same as asking BestBuy to put Amazon.com Kiosks in all their stores, or requiring Walmart to stop selling Walmart brands discounted below the name brands.

Apple is a business. They choose what to sell on their shelves the same as any other store, expect that apple is making the determination based on a set of clearly defined rules, and not what apps will sell better than others to make them more money. Some apps are banned because of laws (including porn, btw, if you stop to learn about what a complete mess local pornography laws and taxes are), some are based on common sense (you app has to work, and do as advertised) ,some are based on good code practice (don;t use APIs we tell you not to, so we don't break your app when we change that API), and no we don;t need any more fart apps.

Within phones, the rules are a bit different, because the FCC lets the carriers enforce stricture rules. Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT own your phone. It can be ordered surrendered to the carrier or FCC at will, even if you own it off contract *they own the chips in it, you don't). As a matter of protecting the infrastructure, they are allowed by law to be more controlling. On PCs, it;s a different story, the US Supreme court guaranteed you the right to install what you want (provided you have a license), and the OS vendor can not restrict what apps you use. That does NOT mean apple can't choose what they do and do not sell, it just means they can't prevent you from installing from another source as well.

i know a lot of devs. I used to be one. They LOVE the idea of these restrictions. On some levels it stops lazy coders. On others it;s exposing small market guys on the same level as the BIG players with million dollar budgets. in fact, the only people I really hear griping are the big companies, companies that don't like the less-restrictive DRM rules apple forces them to comply to , the free update rules, the don't steal back features you already sold rules, etc. They're the only ones complaining about this new competitive landscape. That, and the devs who make apps based on stolen IP, or apps that break laws, which even Amazon would not carry to begin with....

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FAIL

Another day, another anti-Apple rant...

Jeez, we all know that El Reg is against Apple and everything it stands for but is it really necessary to have yet another piece of troll-inducing-flame-bait? It's almost a daily occurrence. It doesn't promote or provoke rational discussion, it just kicks off yet another round of rabid foaming and handbag waving.

Maybe the author could look up "journalism" in a decent dictionary...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Another day, another anti-Apple rant...

How many times? We hate everyone. Including you.

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@Sara Bee

Ah, Ms. Bee, please say it ain't so...

Hating Apple is one thing, but I'd be crushed to think I'm the object of scorn from the Moderatrix!

-dZ.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @Sara Bee

You spelt my name wrong. Have some scorn.

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I don't discriminate...

I don't discriminate ... I hate everyone

Oddly enough that's what it says on my baccy tin.

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Jobs Horns

Apple App Store is a Prison Garden

The key factors to remember about Apple's approach are:

(1) Apple prevents the download of Apps that they do not "vet" through their App store - therefore there is no channel to users that is not moderated by Apple. Its not just paying for apps - its any apps.

(2) Apple has castrated the Safari web browser on iOS to prevent users downloading content such as music, videos, podcats, once again forcing users through the iTures / AppStore "Checkpint Charlie". Of course they will not permit download of another browser with such capabilities.

Its surprisieng how few people realise these - especially (2).

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Silver badge

Err

I think we realise, but simply don't care. All apps are vetted - on my phone thats great, I don't want some bad code stopping my phone from phoning.

Closed systems on Phones are prefereable. Open systems on my computer are preferable. Closed isn't some evil empire, and open isn't some good rebel alliance. Both approaches suit different circumstances.

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Re: Apple App Store is a Prison Garden

Regarding (2): As I understand it, any developer is free to build a web browser using the WebKit framework (not based on Safari expressly, as it is often mistakenly said), and allow it to download content to either its own internal sandbox, or the common/shared files area.

Moreover, Safari is not "castrated" to prevent users from downloading content. Recognized content is downloaded and handed over to the application that handles it, such as PDFs or videos. It does not allow users to download arbitrary files, that is true; but this is because the device is not meant to be a computer or file system, but a consumer appliance. If people want to view videos or listen to podcasts, they can use appropriate apps to do so (and they do not have to use the AppStore for it).

-dZ.

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Go

Only a matter of time before it all blows up in Apples face.

They will be done for anti-competative practice. It's like Ford insisting you buy your petrol from their dealers.

I have an iPhone. I quite like it. But I hate the lack of respect Apple have for me as a consumer.

ooooooo, just had a thought. Apple's succession plan - Michael O'Leary as CEO.

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Actually...

The Ford -> Apple comparison is, in some ways, more relevant that the Apple -> Microsoft comparison.

If Ford insisted you only bought THEIR petrol, people would simply buy other cars and only rabid Ford fanbois an' goils would buy Ford cars. It's not like Apple are in a monopoly position (in the business sense), any more than Ford are, in any market not even iTunes with the likes of Amazon MP3, Spotify or even We7 kicking about now.

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FAIL

Ford

Ford make you buy their parts and use service personal certified by them, unless you want to lose your warranty.

Apple make you buy apps from their store and use technicians certified by them.

Same difference.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Choad H.

<quote>Ford make you buy their parts and use service personal certified by them, unless you want to lose your warranty.</quote>

False. Under EU block exemption legislation Ford *must* honour the warranty on non-dealer serviced cars, as long as they have been serviced according to the manufacturer's instructions using approved parts and materials.

The EU brought in these laws to benefit the customer by opening up closed markets and increasing competition. If Apple carry on as they are, they can expect similar legislation to be aimed at them.

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So

So the parts still have to go an approval process not unlike the app store?

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Anonymous Coward

@ Choada Boy

"So the parts still have to go an approval process not unlike the app store?"

Unlike Apple's App store the approval process for automotive parts is not necessarily under the control of any single company.

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FAIL

Eff Yew Dee

Where do we get trash like this from?

The Mac app store is just one of many places one can get Mac apps. So what if Apple can reject/pull apps, it's just like any other store where the shopkeeper/retail baron gets to decide what to stock. Got a product that doesn't work or has bad packaging? Good luck getting the tecos/wall marts to stock you. Have another widget they already stock squillions of, again good luck in getting stocked.

But suddenly throw in Apple, and it becomes a story! Apps may not be stocked if they're bad or the virtual shelf is full - it must be a conspiracy, right?

How about I write this column next week? What, el reg doesn't want to post my editorial, el reg is being anti competative, waaaaaaaa!

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What's to rage about?

Why should Open Source developers and users be upset over a tiny man in his white tower throwing hissy fits? Yes it is sad that one of my favorite open source games, OpenTTD, cannot be developed for iPad/iPod Touch and given away for free in the App Store because App Store policies are not compatible with the GNU Public License. Sadly, this is the fate of consumers who purchase into a platform which shackles them to the whims of a megalomaniac.

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Coat

Or.....

Or its the fate of programs that use a License agreement shackled to the whims of a fanatic.

Its the puratanical and lawsuit-happy approach to the GNU PL thats keeping OpenTTD out., not Apple. Use a different open source license, and its in - whats that you can't change license because of the GNU PL, well thats hardly apples fault, they didn't write it.

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing to see here

The US antitrust authorities went after a Microsoft that had roughly 95% of the entire computer market, and had clearly exercised that monopoly to crush other businesses and prevent any effective competition.

Apple is tiny by comparison. I don't think anyone has a handle on its market share, but let's say 10% of the laptop/desktop market, and 20% of smartphones/mobile devices. Apple makes no effort to obstruct or crush competitors, and many are thriving.

Apple is targeting a premium market, and many other businesses want a slice of that pie. But if you want your business to have a future in that market, you have to consistently deliver quality. Despite all the bigoted protests that Apple customers are sheep buying shiny toys, Apple only retains a loyal customer base by delivering a premium experience. You won't stay in business charging premium prices whilst delivering rubbish.

Quality is hard to maintain, and it has to be reflected in the Mac App store too. And this is the whole point of the rules - your applications are expected to reach an excellent standard. Apple doesn't want to unleash 1000's of copy-cat fart apps, cheap knock-offs, malware, or crash-prone software on customers who have paid for quality. Steve Jobs is very succinct on that point - if that's what you want, there are other companies that will provide.

Apple has no ambition to rule the OS/computer/phone world. It has clearly delineated the market its targeting, and is perfectly happy for consumers to go to other businesses if they want something else. Antitrust bodies will have no problem with that - their job is to allow that exactly that kind of competition to exist. And Apple has plenty of competition.

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Where's the rage?

"Where's the rage, open sourcers?"

There's probably not much in the way of rage because anyone who cares about openness will have already made up their minds years ago to not touch anything with a fruit sticker on it with a ten-foot barge pole.

It is really quite amazing how apple still market themselves as the "creative thinker's" computer company, when their fondest desire appears to be to do all the thinking (and decision making) for you!

There, some rage. Feel better now?

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Anonymous Coward

App Store 30% = expensive? A myth

I agree with you about the lack of competition in the App Store. I like however that Apple can turn down Apps when they have a bad interface. Mac users like the Mac interface (whatever it defects are) and other software should comply.

It's a myth that the 30% cut Apple takes in the App store is very expensive. For the 30% cut a developer gets a terrific marketing opportunity. Without the App Store noone would know about their software in the first place. Included in the 30% is all the financial back office stuff which is a pain for most developers. Only if a developer manages to directly sell to consumers they take 100% of revenue. All other software distribution is very expensive and there are cuts for middlemen everywhere.

I'd much rather sell a million apps through the App Store and pay Apple 30% then sell 1.000 apps through my own website.

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Linux

"Without the App Store noone would know about their software in the first place."

Um, I use Google for software I am looking for, it works quite well you should try it.

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Indeed

Try and get 70% of the retail sale price from any other major retailer, let me know how long their laugh goes for.

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iOS App Store ≠ Mac App Store

Whilst Apple do have lock in on the iOS side there is no such problem on the Mac. If an app isn't approved on the Mac App Store the user who wants to purchase it simply buys it elsewhere and installs it.

Some commentators seem to have this idea that the Mac App Store has somehow limited Mac users ability to buy software in the ways they previously did. Just to clarify, that idea is wrong. You can still buy and install boxed copies, you can still download and install software from other sites including Sourceforge. If I really want Sony eReader for Mac (if that even exists) I will go to sony.com and get it.

So does this win a Non-Issue award? What would Paris say?

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silly boy

So you don't like the various Apple App Stores?

Excellent. Don't submit any work to them. Apple does not have a monopoly on smartphones, or on desktop computers, or on laptops. Write your apps for some other platform. If it's good, people will obtain examples of the other platform so they can use your app. Apple will lose marketshare. If they lose enough marketshare, then they will either change policy or will go out of business, and in either case it's not your problem. If it's not so good as to cause Apple to lose share, then why should they care if they have it in their store or not? I have multiple computing devices siting in this very room as I type. Some are Apple devices, including the machine I'm typing on right now. Some are not, including my laptop, a Toshiba , my non-smartphone cellphone, a Samsung, my smartphone, another Samsung, and my other desktop, an hand-built box. i buy devices not out of ideology, but because i want to get work done. I can, and do, run Win7, Ubuntu, and OS X on various desktops in the building. The network has WinServer 2003 and OS X Server boxes, plus (gasp! shock! horror!) a BSD server box, depending on what functions I need for what servers. Some of the guys have iPhones; most do not. (gasp! shock! horror!! some even have Android phones!) Because of a certain specific app which higher-higher demands we run, most of us, me included, have _WinMobile_ smartphones, running 6 or 6.1 'cause the app barfs on contact with 6.5 and higher-higher hasn't got that fixed yet, nor do they look likely to do so, so we'll be using those things for the foreseeable future. (Yes, they guys how have Android or iPhones have _two_ smartphones 'cause they gotta have the WInMob phone for the job... Personally I don't see the point.)

If Apple doesn't allow a specific item into one of their App Stores, and if that item is available on another platform, and I need that item, I can bloody well get that item 'cause odds are that I have access to that other platform. I don't bloody _care_ if it's not on an Apple device. If Apple had a monopoly, I'd care. But Apple _doesn't_ have a monopoly...

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Linux

"So where's the rage, open sourcerers?"

No rage required; I have Ubuntu and it's software centre.

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