Whose Mistake?

I just finished reading Paul Graham’s essay on the current “mess” that the App Store approval process seems to be. As always, Paul brings fresh perspective and interesting thoughts.

One thing we often forget is that what Apple is trying to accomplish with the App Store has never been done before. There is no single worldwide quality assurance and software distribution model for a mobile platform. I for one would like to give Apple the benefit of the doubt and assume they are trying their best and that they genuinely care about the developers (not in a phony developers developers developers monkey dance way). The current “mess” is not as much a result of arrogance or worse stupidity, but is an ongoing evolution. The developer often forget that they are getting worldwide software delivery mechanism with access to 50 million strong market in return for a 30% cut and agreeing to few rules. A solution would emerge over time, as it has in other issues which the iPhone seemingly had when it launched.

However, I do agree with Paul that iterations are the best way to build software and the App Store approval process gets in the way. But for Apple, specially with a platform like the iPhone, there is always a risk that malicious software could have negative effect on the device performance and will eventually hurt their brand perception. I think what Apple needs to fix more urgently is the approval process for updates.

There is also a positive side to the approval process for developers (specially smaller ones) that it may actually serve like QA which they often don’t have resources to perform.

Finally, as they say, history is the best indicator of future success. Let’s see some of the older issues which Apple iPhone had and how Apple went about fixing them.

  • The apps are web only: fixed with SDK release
  • No cut/copy/paste: fixed with the OS upgrade
  • No MMS: not really Apple’s issue, but also fixed with an OS upgrade

The list can go on, but the point is in last more than 2 years that the iPhone has been in the market they have fixed most complains and I am willing to bet that the App Store approval process too will be fixed (specially the updates part).

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