Apple’s Mistake

Paul Graham is a terrific, perceptive essayist. (If you haven’t read his collection Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age: Essays on the Art of Programming then might I humbly suggest a visit to Amazon?)

His latest essay on how Apple is treating the programmers who develop Apps for the iPhone/iTouch is characteristically acute.

This is how it opens:

I don’t think Apple realizes how badly the App Store approval process is broken. Or rather, I don’t think they realize how much it matters that it’s broken.

The way Apple runs the App Store has harmed their reputation with programmers more than anything else they’ve ever done. Their reputation with programmers used to be great. It used to be the most common complaint you heard about Apple was that their fans admired them too uncritically. The App Store has changed that. Now a lot of programmers have started to see Apple as evil.

How much of the goodwill Apple once had with programmers have they lost over the App Store? A third? Half? And that’s just so far. The App Store is an ongoing karma leak…

Take a break. Grab a coffee. And read the whole piece.

The only way to break Apple’s stranglehold on the Apps business is to find a way of making the Android platform attractive to developers. The problem is — as Graham points out — that most geeks have iPhones and we know from long experience that the best software comes from programmers “scratching an itch” (as Eric Raymond put it). So maybe an intelligent strategy would be for Google (or Motorola or other handset manufacturers who aim to offer Android phones) to identify developers and offer them free Android phones.