Developers: if you’re wondering where the line is between “genuinely participating in the community” and “turning into an obnoxious pitch-o-matic,” this is on the wrong side of it.
Ellis Hamburger interviewed a wide variety of app developers, including myself for AgileBits, about the challenges and pitfalls of the free app ecosystem. It’s a great read.
Right now developers selling through the Mac App Store face a lose/lose choice: either provide all major upgrades to existing customers for free (thus losing a quarter of our revenue), or create a “new” product for each major version (creating customer confusion) and charge existing customers full price again (creating customer anger).
The Mac App Store is awesome. As a user, it’s my preferred place to buy new apps because it’s so convenient. But in my time speaking to developers as a writer and working for AgileBits, the upgrade issue is a significant problem for developers and sustainability. Maybe it’s something Apple has been working on, since the store is just over one year old, but time is getting short.
The Mac App Store can’t exist without developers stocking its shelves. But developers can’t continue to stock those shelves if they can’t find a way to justify doing so in the long term.
Wil Shipley explains in thorough but digestible detail the problem developers face with no upgrade pricing in the Mac App Store. I would argue this same problem exists for the App Store as well.
Good piece by Jolie O’Dell. Fun fact: there are over 750,000 developers in Twitter’s ecosystem. Wow.
Of course, some devs have long been asking for the impossible: a complete disrobing of Twitter’s roadmap. And as much as I sense Sarver is willing to help and communicate with external devs, that item on the wishlist ain’t gonna happen.
“That’s the constant back and forth – we just need to give the best guidance we can,” [Ryan Sarver] said. “We can’t put out a complete roadmap for competitive reasons and because roadmaps change. The best way to go about it is to give directional guidance, to give some boundaries that people can build up to.”
Sarver also admitted that Twitter did a poor job when communicating its “don’t develop clients” memo, but the core risk of developing a client for Twitter doesn’t sound very different from developing for other platforms. Granted, you can probably bank on a little more API stability out of a company like Microsoft, which has a really hard time letting go. But even Apple has a reputation for changing or yanking APIs on the fly. Plus, now with its app stores, Apple actively bars apps from its lucrative, attention-grabbing shelves if they so much as glance in the general direction of a private API.
If [the Android APIs are] publicly documented, they’re part of what we consider the Android Application Framework. This means their tests appear in the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) so that our hardware partners have to prove that the APIs work, and that we promise to try very hard not to change them and thus break your code.
In almost every case, there’s only one reason for leaving APIs undocumented: We’re not sure that what we have now is the best solution, and we think we might have to improve it, and we’re not prepared to make those commitments to testing and preservation.
via Edmund O’Neill
Move over Apple: some independent app developers plan to begin banding together to fight off lawsuits brought by Lodsys and its ilk on their own. On Monday, renowned iOS developer Mike Lee announced the Appsterdam Legal Defense Team, which will be made up of indie developers fighting patent trolls as a single unit and funded by contributions from participating companies. The goal, aside from the obvious one of being free from frivolous patent lawsuits, is to become “the ants of East Texas, minding their business until someone invades their anthill.”
I understand completely that iOS developers’ success is tied directly to App Store performance, and that higher app ratings can significantly boost sales. But apps that beg for reviews are focused on their developers’ needs, and not mine. If I stuck a bag of popcorn in my microwave, and before I could hit the Start button, my microwave prompted me to write up a few sentences about how nicely it heats up food, I’d be similarly annoyed. When a developer interrupts me within an app for that developer’s benefit, it’s rude.