By now, you’ve heard the horror stories. Developers put their heart and soul into building an application for the iPhone App Store only to have it rejected by Apple. And sometimes apps are at first accepted and then later pulled for odd reasons. And sometimes app updates are rejected, even though there isn’t much difference with the version accepted. We get a half dozen or so stories sent to us now every single day. It’s no wonder that a lot of mobile developers are growing wary of the App Store. But Steven Frank is not one of those developers.
Steven Frank doesn’t make iPhone apps, specifically for the reasons stated above. But he is a very popular Mac developer, that co-founded the OS X development house Panic, makers of the popular coding application Coda, among other apps. Frank is well-known in some circles as a Mac enthusiast. You know, the kind of person that is often derided as a “fanboy.” And that’s why what I’m about to tell you is surprising: He’s ditching his iPhone.
In a candid post today, Frank explains his utter frustration with both Apple and AT&T over the way they’ve handled the device and its developers. The whole Google Voice fiasco was the last straw for him. Again, Frank doesn’t make iPhone apps, but he’s simply disgusted as an end-user — someone who pays close to or over $100 a month, and can’t use a range of apps that are available on other phones, including some also on AT&T.
And so he’s now ditching his iPhone and boycotting any device that runs the iPhone OS (including, if applicable, the rumored Mac tablet). He says he’s going to get a Palm Pre, a device he considers inferior to the iPhone, but one that doesn’t (at least so far) have the app issues the iPhone does. (Nor does it have the AT&T issues.)
Is Frank crazy? If he is, he’s not the only one.
Perhaps you heard about Om Malik of GigaOM doing the same thing over frustrations with AT&T several months ago. And as someone who covers the iPhone ecosystem quite a bit, I’ve had a number of discussions with iPhone users who have either ditched their device over similar concerns, or are considering it.
Personally, I’m not there yet. I still consider the iPhone to be too far ahead of the other smartphones even with its (sometimes major) flaws in the App Store. But I’m getting much closer than I ever imagined to looking at other phones simply because of my complete and utter disliking of AT&T at this point. At the very least, if Apple doesn’t get rid of the AT&T exclusivity agreement next year (which, for the record, I think it will), I’m going to unlock my iPhone to use it on another network.
But that’s a separate issue from Frank’s. He’s right about Apple’s often odd, and sometimes downright hostile actions towards developers in regards to the iPhone. It needs a better set of guidelines for developers to work with, because clearly, the current ones aren’t cutting it. And it needs to be more consistant with adhering to its guidelines. I’d also say that some more transparency would be nice, but I know that will fall upon deaf ears. This is Apple, after all.
The iPhone and the App Store remain too far ahead of the competition for one person, no matter how big, or even a group of people leaving, to have much of an impact. But Apple has to be careful that its rivals don’t mature quicker than anticipated (the Pre finally opened its webOS SDK, for example), or we could see some serious defections. By that I mean at first some developers, fed up with the App Store, may move on to other platforms. And that may lead to more doing then same. Eventually, that will trickle down to the end-users.
I’m not saying that will happen, but there is a lot of outcry for changes right now. And it’s getting louder everyday.