Serving at the Pleasure of the King

I enjoy my iPhone tremendously; I think it's the most important product Apple has ever created and one they were born to make. As a consumer who has waited far too long for the phone industry to get the swift kick in the ass it so richly deserved, I'm entirely on Apple's side here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

It’s not just the devs that serve at the king’s pleasure - by imposing these restrictions, Apple also says that the users use their device at their (Apple’s) pleasure. Thou shalt not run any software (excepting web apps) that has not been approved by thy benefactor Apple.

To me, that is at least as horrifying.

I fully agree with the main conclusion of this post, but the comparison with Windows is not entirely accurate. Yes, if Microsoft were to include program X in their OS where before X was a market on its own, there’d be trouble. Legal trouble even.

Yes, Apple is doing the same thing. The difference you are overlooking here is that Microsoft is a monopolist, Apple is not, although it is trying hard. If you’re not considered a monopolist, there is no (legal) issue directly competing with app providers on your own platform.

“In Apple’s defense, this is done in the name of protecting the consumers from malicious, slimy, or defective applications. Sort of like Nintendo’s Seal of Approval, I guess.”

Considering that some of the games that consistently make the “worst of all time” list have that seal, it didn’t work out so well.

Instapaper also integrates with the kindle, does it not? That’d be one reason to still use it.

@Fredy - So what makes MS a “monopolist” and Apple not? Apparently being charged with an antitrust lawsuit isn’t it- Apple’s already been sued for it’s deep integration between iTunes and it’s iPods.

Microsoft has a million antifans ready to scream “monopoly” as soon as it even adds any new feature to it’s OS, but how come nobody complains that Apple literally bans apps from the iPhone that duplicate functionality of the device?

@Miffthefox don’t get him distracted with replies or else he’ll lose his place in the queue for the iphone 45

One huge feature Instapaper has over Reading List is integration with other apps. Most every popular Twitter client can save links to Instapaper, along with newsreaders as well.

If all you want to do is saves links from a web browser (assuming that’s Safari) for reading later, then Reading List should work for you. Beyond that, you really do need Instapaper.

100% agree with you!
Apple products rock, especially IPhone, but I’d never take the risk to invest any development effort in such an Autocratic market.

Two notes here:

  1. Stackexchange has a rather autocratic policy toward content creators - same Asimov’s three laws apply there.
  2. The “king” in this case is not “Apple” but more properly Scott Forstall, who according to business week is a jerk worse than Ballmer.

Pardon my ignorance, but how, exactly, is this any different from how Apple has handled itself in the past 5 years? The past 10?

To me it seems like the premise of this article is akin to saying, “I’m shocked that Apple devices are significantly overpriced in comparison to its competitors.” This is unfortunately, more of the same.

I’m going to go ahead and say that it actually a shame that Microsoft does not have more freedom in this regard, because I suspect that a number of design choices which effect reverse-compatibility issues would not have been as significant. Remember: IE 6 and compatibility mode were kept so that people didn’t accuse MS of “breaking their website.”

As a complete aside, it has been forever since I last replied to a codinghorror story. I’m shocked that there isn’t some way to associate our replies with our Stack Exchange ID’s. I’m also shocked that it does not support SE style markup.

As a consumer, I will always also be a citizen, a worker, a father and (hopefully) an intelligent person. As a consumer, I am still an adult. A product that is designed to convert me into a child may be an excellent product, the best possible product ever, indeed. Precisely for that reason, I will always look for an alternative, if it is available.

Unfortunatelly, it is incumbent upon us the great responsibility of legislating on reality. This is a time for more reasoning, not less.

This is exactly why I have never been able to really like Apple although I do admire their product design and rule-breaking creativity. Besides, those unusually strict or mysterious restrictions are not only posed on developers, but also on consumers as well, especially when you are a geek. A lot of things you just can’t do it on those iDevices and are forced to use them at Apple’s pleasure.

Btw, do you remember me? You made a PC for me years ago, probably a year before the launch of StackOverflow. Congratulations on the big success of the site. I have been a big fan and heavy user of it.

I think this is a fair comparison. I don’t know what the outrage in the other comments is about. The difference with MS in the 90s is of course that if you wanted a desktop computer with commercial software back then you really had no choice but to buy a Windows computer.

When it comes to Apple both developers and consumers have a choice.

I loved Apple for many years, but the iPhone was the beginning of the end of that love. Even as a consumer, I don’t want to live under a monarch. I came to Apple to get away from the Windows monarchy, but since the iPhone Apple has been far worse than Windows.

Isn’t this simply the price for a great system with total integration? We can’t have a stable, safe, curated system that performs incredibly well and evolves sometime on the back of third party apps (isn’t that necessary, over time?), and yet at the SAME TIME have that system be open and fair to all developers?

Someone is always upset. Apple could certainly be better, but they also are who they are, and balancing those compromises is always going to be difficult.

I’m wondering if the Apple approach is actually better overall for technology and progress. I don’t know for sure, but maybe we’ll find out in coming years.

Microsoft doesn’t Sherlock developers, it IEs them. Remember Netscape? Remember how Microsoft murdered Netscape and the web for a decade with their subpar but built-in recompile of Mosaic? Antitrust lawsuits? Any of that familiar, Jeff?

Apple devs are well aware of the risks and choose to develop for the best and most profitable platform regardless. If Apple wants to build a shiny new road through our shops, we move over a bit and try again.

Or you can develop for a second- or third-rate platform like Windows or Android or the web, but they’re technically, aesthetically, and financially inferior, so few Apple-quality devs will.

Quite rude (and lazy, really!) to use an image by a living artist and not give him credit. The artwork above is “Louis XIV” by the French artist Bernard Pras.

Isn’t this the exact same as Visual Studio integrating popular plugins by rewriting them, or a Windows OS finally natively implementing a clipboard history?

It’s perfectly legitimate for Apple to move into this application space, unless you’re a fan of 20-year monopolies. Not exposing the same level of functionality to developers for offline storage, however, is playing dirty.