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Apple In Trouble With Developers 343

Posted by Soulskill
from the aka-those-guys-who-demand-most-of-the-revenue-from-our-store dept.
geek writes "According to Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, Apple may be in trouble with developers. According to Arment, the new sandboxing guidelines from Apple are pushing developers away in droves. 'I've lost all confidence that the apps I buy in the App Store today will still be there next month or next year. The advantages of buying from the App Store are mostly gone now. My confidence in the App Store, as a customer, has evaporated. Next time I buy an app that’s available both in and out of the Store, I’ll probably choose to buy it directly from the vendor. And nearly everyone who’s been burned by sandboxing exclusions — not just the affected apps’ developers, but all of their customers — will make the same choice with their future purchases. To most of these customers, the App Store is no longer a reliable place to buy software.' Arment also comments on the 'our way or the highway' attitude Apple often takes in these situations and how it may be backfiring this time around."
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Apple In Trouble With Developers

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  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@bea u . org> on Friday July 27, 2012 @05:50PM (#40796377)

    Remember, that line didn't even work out for Vader and he had Star Destroyers and millions of clone troopers at his command. If you have the upper hand you can sometimes force people to accept a one sided deal. But if you go beyond that and keep changing the terms on it eventually everyone figures out they might as well take their chances because they are hosed anyway. You have to leave them some hope of survival.

    I especially liked how the article has this:

    "This even may reduce the long-term success of iCloud and the platform lock-in it could bring for Apple. Only App Store apps can use iCloud, but many Mac developers can’t or won’t use it because of the App Store’s political instability."

    Anyone who would write that, in the context of it being a good thing!, is obviously a Kool-Aid drinker. When you are driving those people away it is a warning sign.

    Imagine how badly Microsoft is going to bungle this same gambit. Notice how Valve is already running for the exits? Uh huh, good times ahead for everyone!

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Friday July 27, 2012 @05:55PM (#40796415) Homepage

    These are the things you get with the lack of openness - in favor of the One True Platform where everything must submit to the One True Experience

  • App Store (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Friday July 27, 2012 @05:55PM (#40796417)

    This summary contains the word "App Store" a few more times than necessary...

  • by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) on Friday July 27, 2012 @05:56PM (#40796425)

    I figured a year or two before Steve being gone would doom the Appleistas. Happened a lot faster than I thought.

    Perhaps they'll have less profits to hide in tax structures in other countries so they don't have to pay Uncle Sam.

  • Agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bhlowe (1803290) on Friday July 27, 2012 @05:56PM (#40796427)
    I agree, sandboxing has been a bitch. Should be able to turn it off for apps the user trusts...
  • by exomondo (1725132) on Friday July 27, 2012 @05:57PM (#40796453)
    alter, alter! not 'change'...on the other hand maybe George Lucas changed that line in Empire Strikes Back 're-imagined' special edition 2.
  • by twocows (1216842) on Friday July 27, 2012 @05:58PM (#40796459)
    I loathe Apple. They are probably one of the most detestable companies in the technology sector right now. I see them as a modern version of 90s Microsoft.

    But this? I think this is a move in the right direction. The added security benefits sandboxing brings far outweigh any negative consequences a few developers too lazy to implement something Apple's been telling them they need to implement for the better part of a year might experience (at least according to the OS X review a few days ago from Ars Technica). And it's not like these developers have no recourse; as long as they register with Apple or whatever, the default OS setting will allow users to go download those products from the vendor's website.

    There are plenty of reasons to hate Apple. Their push toward better security practices is not one of them.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:00PM (#40796475) Homepage Journal

    All the more reason for Apple to hurt Android as much as they can, including Samsung, maker of wunnerful stuff Android-ish. If your developers flee to the greener pastures of Android, you must somehow poison those pastures so they have nowhere to run.

  • by Desler (1608317) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:00PM (#40796483)

    Except there is no evidence that developers are "leaving in drones" neither from the linked blog posting or anything from the summary. That was just sensationalism added in to rile up the Apple crowd.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:06PM (#40796553)

    Until Apple decide it wants your software's market share and removes your App from the App Store because Apps that compete directly with official Apple products are not allowed.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:12PM (#40796607) Homepage Journal

    And yet, all the best games and applications are still being written for OSX, Windows, and iOS. You can keep preaching about how great open software is, but when it's hard to make money off the platform, the best developers are never going to go there. You're preaching idealism. MS and Apple preach profits. We live in a capitalist society - guess who wins?

    The gravy train comes with no guarantee you will always remain on it. Apple prospers while those who do business with Apple prosper. When Apple tries too hard to prosper all by themselves they begin to look like that company which nearly died before the second coming of Jobs.

  • Many, MANY people buy Macs because they believe that they are better/more stable/more secure than the Windows machines they've used for the past decade. Whether they are or are not is an endless Slashdot debate that is completely tangential to my point, because what's at question here is the perception, not the reality.

    If people perceive the Mac to be the stable part, software that doesn't work will likely be blamed on the developer, not Apple. To them, a sandbox is a place young children play in, not a computer security model. A developer trying to explain this to someone who truly doesn't understand the security model will make himself look foolish to the customer, not enlighten the customer.

    The App Store will still be used by many Mac users in the same way Origin is used by EA customers. Few (if any) EA customers desired Origin, it's just necessary for Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3, and The Sims. Similarly, even if many Apple developers ditch the App Store, the fact that Final Cut Studio, Logic, and Aperture are available through it will keep a huge demographic begrudgingly using it. Adobe is probably the one company who can likely keep a working trigger finger on Apple preventing conventional software installations, but their pushing their 'Creative Cloud' model may weaken their grip on said trigger. Ableton and Serato may be in a position to help pick up the slack a bit, but they definitely don't have the same level of clout.

    Finally, long time Mac incumbents may be wary of the Mac App Store, but newcomers who love their iPhone/iPod/iPad may be more inclined to start at the App Store since that's "where software comes from". It's part of the vertical solution that they feel they bought from Apple. The question will be whether developer A's FOO_APP skiddishness in being included in the App Store will be the golden opportunity for similarly-functioning FRA_APP to eat its lunch. Again, Adobe may be able to keep itself afloat with selling stuff through adobe.com/journeyed/cdw/staples, but searching the App Store through functionality puts developers on much more even levels for those that would be affected by the sandboxing and not having a legal team at their disposal to go RIAA on their posteriors.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:23PM (#40796701)
    Why? Such a quote is fair use. Lucas can suck a dick.
  • by twocows (1216842) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:23PM (#40796705)
    That's a reason not to use the App Store in general, not to protest their implementation of sandboxing and adding it as a requirement for App Store apps.
  • Only on Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Starteck81 (917280) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:27PM (#40796729)
    I love that people on here bitch endlessly about how insecure OSes are. Then Apple makes a move to require devs to code in a more secure manner, result? They freak out. Did I miss anything?
  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:34PM (#40796789) Homepage

    As a newcomer to the Mac, I was not at all interested in the App Store. Maybe I'm too cynical, but goddamn it, I'm proven right too often to change my ways. The App Store does not solve any existing problems for me, as a user. If I can find some app in their, then I could have Googled for the author's web site just as easily. I actually prefer apps that self-update, rather than having to open the inflexible App Store client. I don't need a 3rd party getting between me and the developer, isn't that the whole point of a global network ? We don't need no stinkin' middlemen!

    Another peeve is how their delivery method makes it difficult to back up the installation files. I don't want to redownload the dumb thing every time I set up a test box, or follow their annual OS upgrades (from scratch - fuck inline updates!) For regular users, I'm sure the experience is seamless, but as soon as you start messing in a terminal, the messy parts become painfully apparent. It's kind of like that last bit in Portal, where you break out of the test area and run around the broken-down maintenance hallways.

    It's a fine model for the iPhone/iPad, but desktop/laptop computers have a long legacy that predates this sort of integration and far greater diversity in how people use them. Tell me how to use my computer and I'll tell your company to go fuck itself.

  • But, according to John Romero, Android is a piracy platform and Apple TV will make you his bitch!

    And now! Daikatana 2!

    In other news, different developers have different opinions.

  • by rabtech (223758) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:47PM (#40796899) Homepage

    Right now the Mac app store makes no distinction between system/developer utilities and regular consumer applications. As a result, the list of available entitlements are too narrow. Regular users are baffled by the file system and getting it out of their faces is a great idea. Locking down apps is also good from a security perspective for most apps and users.

    Apple just needs to make a special more rigorous review process for these sorts of apps and only allow those apps to request admin access or touch the file system outside the sandbox. In fact only the Developer and Utility categories need allow this sort of thing.

    On a related note, Apple needs something like Windows' contracts so apps can specify the types of data they can provide or accept and let the system manage the interaction. This gives a safe clean way for apps to share data... The primary drawback of Apple's current "share nothing" model.

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:51PM (#40796933)

    The problem is when Apple is forbidding APIs to be used if you do not distribute the application on the Mac App Store.

    These are APIs that allow the user to store things on servers that Apple is paying for. So it's not just "using an API", it is "using infrastructure that is paid for by Apple".

  • by Stiletto (12066) on Friday July 27, 2012 @06:59PM (#40797017)

    He seems to be butthurt over something called "Sandboxing," but throughout his entire rant, he fails to actually explain to his readers what this Sandboxing thing is and how it affects developers. All he offers is some jargon about "incompatibility with the current set of sandboxing entitlements" whatever the heck that means.

    He might as well be ranting over Apple's "leafbowl" restrictions or their policy of "chicken frying" developers. Without some background, who knows what he's talking about with his jargon?

  • by Kohath (38547) on Friday July 27, 2012 @07:08PM (#40797087)

    Who needs evidence? Apple is "in Trouble". Because someone has a complaint. No one ever had a complaint before. Ever.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday July 27, 2012 @07:34PM (#40797301) Homepage Journal

    If you think about it, it is almost certain that Steam on Windows is a dead product as soon as the lockdown hits x86. In a world of a single vendor app store Steam is, by definition, forbidden.

    Notice that, for now, Apple isn't even discussing locking OS X. They understand that step is an outright declaration of WAR! on a lot of the existing ecosystem. MIcrosoft is taking a huge risk but they pretty much have to because Win8 is one OS vs iOS and OS X.

    Holy shit, you're on a roll.

    "When the lockdown hits x86"? "Notice that, for now, Apple isn't even discussing locking OS X."?

    Let's talk about it again when Microsoft is as close to locking down Windows as Apple is in locking down its OS. Right now between Apple and Microsoft only one of them has an operating system that is locked down. And to you, that's proof positive of the opposite.

    MIcrosoft is taking a huge risk but they pretty much have to because Win8 is one OS vs iOS and OS X.

    Have you noticed how OSX runs on actual desktop and laptop systems and iOS runs on handheld devices? That's like saying "Windows is one OS and Xbox is another, so it's 2 against 2".

    And I can't even think that far ahead because I'm still amazed that you believe "Valve is building a Linux version because they know there soon won't be any way for them to operate in Windows".

  • by larry bagina (561269) on Friday July 27, 2012 @07:35PM (#40797319) Journal
    Sandboxing is a standard security term. And it's a fairly stupid one at that. It's more like you're in prison. But the prison warden doesn't want you to talk with other prisoners and plan a riot, so you're put in solitary confinement and there's limited input/output (food through a hole, mail is censored, talk to your lawyer once a week, etc). That's sandboxing. (I guess whoever came up with the term had a bad childhood that involved bing locked in a room with sand on the floor). A normal app can read/write to any file anywhere (assuming appropriate permission). A sandboxed app can only read/write files with explicit user permission (open/save dialog or dragging the file icon). For many applications, that's fine. But it doesn't play well with a lot of utilities or power tools. And some standard apps can't implement advanced features since they no longer have permission to do that.
  • by jasomill (186436) on Friday July 27, 2012 @07:56PM (#40797481)

    Should I have to bundle together an editor, source control, and an interpreter in order for those programs to use the same files inside the sandbox? Should I do this for every language I want to develop in using that editor? ... Would Apple close that hole, or reject me from the app store for that reason?

    No, no, and no. Sandboxed applications have free access, forever, to files and folders you explicitly select, where "forever" can even include subsequent versions of the same app. Many vendors are running away from sandboxing "to improve user experience" in ways that directly conflict with the whole notion of sandboxing: accessing the user's SSH private keys without confirmation, using Apple Events and/or the Accessibility API to control arbitrary third-party applications, and so on. Apple's goal seems to be to maximize the number of applications that can be reasonably sandboxed without undermining the whole idea of sandboxing, using the App Store and iCloud as "carrots", because they're trying to address a problem Microsoft never did: most developers don't give a damn about the mitigation of security vulnerabilities in their applications. It's a hard problem, and discussions like Marco's will ultimately contribute to a better solution, but "give up sandbox requirements" isn't an endgame I'd like to see.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday July 27, 2012 @07:59PM (#40797507) Homepage

    This has nothing to do with your twisted fantasies regarding Linux users.

    You want "cheap bastards", then you have to look no further than Windows users that happily steal anything that isn't nailed down and pass it around to random strangers.

    Windows is the platform of rampant piracy.

  • Re:App Store (Score:5, Insightful)

    And it missed a line:
    "Disclaimer: Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, is likely more than a bit disgruntled with Apple, now that the functionality of Instapaper has been rolled into Safari."

    Apple has a history of driving away developers by incorporating their ideas into the bundled apps. Not many developers though... only those of really well thought out OS enhancements.

    While Marco does have a point, the timing of the statement smacks more than a bit of sour grapes. As a developer, he's known the sandboxing exemptions were temporary for, well at least a year. He's had more than a month since the sandbox closed its lid. I think he'll find that anyone developing heavyweight applications never even entered the App Store; they're still going strong on their own. The App store does great things for apps that are happy to live within the sandbox though; lightweight apps that have nothing to do with managing the computer but instead accomplish specific tasks.

    What Marco will find is that for every serious application developer leaving the Mac App Store, there are 50 App developers moving in -- some of them migrants from the iOS App Store, who are just adding a secondary target to their development builds.

    In my opinion, the App Store was never the place for non-sandobxed software in the first place. In time, Apple may create more sandbox features that will enable more heavy applications to re-enter the Store, but this will only be after the honeymoon period is over with the "App" crowd -- expect another year of shakedown before anyone doing complex OS tasks can "trust" the store.

    Kudos to Apple though for starting in restricted mode and slowly enabling more features -- and at the same time having a blanket exemption period for more serious developers to play with the store and see if it's right for them.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday July 27, 2012 @08:47PM (#40797879) Homepage Journal

    You may not have noticed, but the main reason Valve (and specifically Gabe Newell) feels that Windows 8 is the worst thing ever hoisted on humanity may have something to do with the fact that Windows 8 has a built-in facility (the Metro app store) that has ability to overtake the virtual monopoly that Valve has built with Steam for the digital delivery of PC games.

    Win8 is really a shot across the bow of Valve's business model. They'd better have a plan B in place -- and no, Linux is not a viable plan B.

    Valve will be fine. They'll just have competition.

    Did anyone ever believe that Valve would never face any challenges from competitors? As long as they keep delivering value, they'll continue to do well.

    The notion that success can only mean you are #1 in your sector is one of the things that's hurting business in what passes for capitalism in the 21st century. Like an old commercial used to say, number 2 has to try harder, and even though most corporations don't like it, "trying hard" is supposed to be part of the deal. We've had too many corporations who have believed "trying hard" means killing all your competition via the legal system instead of the marketplace.

  • by jythie (914043) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @12:14PM (#40801867)
    Pity I don't have modpoints, this really shouldn't be '-1 Flamebait'.

    Unfortunately, right now any negative story about Apple (just like Microsoft a few years ago) is ran with since it fits into the currant narrative. All the cool kids hate Apple, and if you want to be part of the in crowd you have to loudly proclaim how horrible Apple is to everyone. Pointing out any possible flaw in the rants makes you a fanboy or troll.

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -- Niels Bohr

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