Do developers drive the market?

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false]I’ve heard several different ideas over the past week about what we might do and what we ought to do as developers (and consumers) to teach Apple a lesson about section 3.3.1.

Everything from “post everything you have to the app store” for approval, to purchase every app known to be made by a 3rd party app, to stop developing for iPhone / iPad all together ( as I type this out on my new iPad ). Personally, I don’t think the first 2 are going to make a difference that apple would see or much less care about.

So I was thinking about what Mike Chambers posted about yesterday. He states that he’s going to focus on android and is looking forward to the tablets coming out later this year. He then goes on a bit further about not going forward with any iPhone development to the point of not even maintaining the apps he’s already put out in the apps store.

While I can certainly appreciate where Mike is coming from and his reasons, I think that it’s premature for one, and I think ultimately we as developers should never burn technical bridges so to speak. Not that I have any idea whether or not Mike will ever do OC work again or not, that’s beside the point. And to be fair to Mike, his job doesn’t require him to keep OC in his back pocket – that’s not his job.

My question is: what drives the mobile market anyway? Is it the will of the developer community? Or, is it based on what the consumers want? Simple enough, right?

If you think it’s driven by the developer community, you’re wrong. It’s driven by the fanboys and fangirls who have no clue what’s going on behind the scenes – they see new toy, they buy new toy as long as the experience is good. And right now, the iphone IS the best mobile phone experience out there. This is mainly to do with the fact that Apple IS so anal. Just look at every other phone being developed these days. The phone makers are responding to a public that loves the experience of the iphone. Look no further than android for an example of that ( case in point Nexus one which looks like your dad’s old palm pilot compared to an iPhone IMO )

Bottom line – there’s a need and market for iPhone and iPad apps right now, and this means we have a demand. As long as there’s demand, someone’s going to step up to the plate, take the gig, and make the money. Simple as that.

So with that, I would encourage any developer out there to not abandon technology for ideology. What comes around goes around, and we’ve seen it way too many times already in our short history. Today’s hypocrite is tomorrows hero and in the end, whatever the consumer wants, the client needs. And whatever the client needs, the developer should be able to provide to stay competitive.

  1. Every market is balance of demand and availability. We have demand for cheap fuel but that does not make it cheap.

    Thinking that consumers mean more then developers is wrong as it thinking the contrary. Balance of both what makes markets successful.

    So iPhone owners drive demand of iPhone apps. But so do other platforms be it PC/Mac/Android/Linux/etc. What Apple seems to do is to lock in/out those developers who can’t afford working on both sides. Some still will have money/time/resource/technology/process to develop for as many platforms as they can and want.

    For me as a guy interested in small groups of developers developing same product for as many platforms as possible be it web/desktop/mobile I see it to be more beneficial for me (at lest in a long run) to be locked out of that market then locked in it.

    I don’t say that iPhone/iPad/AppStore is only market where balance is made of three points(consumer demand/platform owner regulation/developers supply) but at the moment AppStore is one with strongest distortion of natural supply/demand by regulation.

    • well, your analogy is more akin to an “app” in the app store. To make your analogy fit, it should be more like “there’s a demand for features for this type of car”. Gas, in your analogy is more like “electricity” is to the iPhone/iPad scenario. It’s necessary for anyone to have *any* car in the market.

      And what *is* locked in/out really? who’s locking who at this point? Wouldn’t a developer be locking himself into corners by shunning a particular technology? Apple *might* require you build in their *way* – but it’s ultimately your choice to do or not to do. That’s the ultimate question here. If you walk away from one technology for whatever reason, you’re just limiting yourself, right?

  2. It’s simple.

    Either you care about the money, or you care about good environment for development.

    • I care about taking care of my family more than I care about ideology in thecnology – ie: it’s a waste of time anyway. Just as I raise a flag against one technology, I’m pulling it back down to do business with it again, and raising my flag against another – then repeating the cycle. That’s my point. We’re fooling ourselves if we think that the Apple way of doing things is going away.

      But that being said, I don’t think 3.3.1 will pan out the way we all think it’s going to;)

      • Yeah, I think your position is respectable. I myself sometimes wish I could just concentrate on making money and throw my ideologies away so I could spend more time with my family.

      • @mr doob: when you realize ideology is one of your many chains in life, it’s fairly liberating to let it go 😉

        • Glen
        • April 21st, 2010

        Maybe if you didn’t spend twice as much money on Apple products as alternatives, you might have more money or time?

  3. I’m not trying to impose my view or influence anyone in a particular way with this statement, but personally the money’s not worth it to me.

  4. “case in point Nexus one which looks like your dad’s old palm pilot compared to an iPhone IMO”

    LOL – but I still want one (N1, that is), for its sheer power. It can do super cool sh** , like … run the Flash Player ! whoaah, that’s hardcore.

  5. Although I will say, that when a platform has a richer community base, this can definitely affect the market.

    In the mobile market however, because the cell phone is not like a laptop with infinite possibilities over a life span of the device which could be up to 3-5 yrs, the same rules for web and desktop development do not apply.

    Ie: the development community does not enjoy the same influence on the mobile platform as they do on the desktop or web.

  6. I gotta agree with a lot of this. Don’t like it, but gotta agree. At the first 360iDev, people were going on about how Android was going to eventually win because it was open source. My response was, “Your mom doesn’t care about open source.” (it got a good laugh.) In other words, the average consumer could not care less about all the crap we’ve been arguing about for the last couple weeks. They just want a cool device that’s easy to use. Right now, I agree that the iPhone is the best. But I also think that you can’t screw over developers and protect consumers forever.

    • I don’t like it either. Yeah I think there is truth to that too Keith, and it may not be forever, but *how* long? And by that time will it even be the same issue?

    • I think open source will win in the long term (very long term). But there is another aspect that may make Android win in the short term and it’s the fact that anyone can implement it in the phone.

      This is pretty much like Windows vs MacOS all over again. Yes, MacOS is nicer to use, but you need to buy Apple’s hardware to use it. You can have Windows in any computer (let alone Linux). The manufacturers can put Android on their devices.

      Maybe you mother doesn’t care about this. But the mothers in countries with lower economy can’t afford to buy Apple’s products with amazing user experience. Instead they can afford to have a worse user experience and have a cheap phone with Android.

  7. I totally agree with your point. As much as it pains me, the developer community isn’t the driving force for the iPhone or iPad. As it happens, as a consumer I actually like Apple’s stance, as it protects my iPhone. I wrote as such here:

    Great article.

    • agreed, from a consumer POV, i’ve enjoyed the control apple has employed to give me a device that works the same across all apps, is stable and I can count on my experience to be the same.

  8. I don’t fault Apple one bit. They are a business, and they are doing what is in the best interests of their bottom line. Fair enough.

    At the same time, I don’t have to like it and I don’t have to support it. Now, like you and any reasonable person, if faced with the choice of support my family or develop for iOS against my ideologies, I would developer for iOS in a heartbeat. Thankfully though, that is not a choice I (or anyone else) have to make. Yes, the iPhone and iPad are the best devices out there right now. Hands down, by a long shot. The question is do you want to help protect and increase that lead, or do you want to help even the playing field by supporting a platform you believe in. I am choosing to get into Android development because I believe it will continue to gain market share and give me a good opportunity to continue supporting my family. It may never be better than iPhone/iPad, but it doesn’t have to be.

    Ultimately, what matters to me is that the work I produce is of high quality, appreciated by end users, and enables me to support my family. I believe I can do that with Android *and* it sits well with my ideologies. To me, that’s a win-win situation.

    • yeah I never said I wasn’t getting into Android development (yes I bought a book) and that I wasn’t excited about Google’s tablet that may be coming out soon – I’m very excited, and I plan on learning to produce products for that platform as well.

      I completely agree that if I can participate in android and force apple’s hand in these areas, I’m all for it, and I’ll be right there at the forefront.

      I’m merely pointing out that Mike’s post about being so one-sided about it isn’t something I’d say people should follow suit on. And that’s what the post is about.

      I personally think the best way to bitch-slap an entity like Apple is to beat them at their own game – beat them with their own hose so to speak. But that’s me.

  9. A big part of Apple’s advertising of the iPhone and iPad is the apps available for it. So I definitely think the number and quality of apps can have an effect on the number of consumers that pick up the device.

    Now developers leaving the platform isn’t likely to change client-driven apps. As supply of devs drop and the price of development goes up, it will encourage more developers to learn Objective-C because of the money to be made. That said, there’s also a lot of developer driven projects with no clients, the question are there enough of these projects and enough pissed off developers for this to matter to Apple and to make Android more appealing to consumers.

    Also while developers should always be honest to a clients about what the market is like and give them advice that best fits their needs, it doesn’t mean a developer needs to accept every project. Especially in terms of mobile development, where there’s enough work out there for a talented developer to get picky on what kind of projects they take and to focus for one particular mobile device. If there’s less work and a developer needs to pick something that goes against their principles to get by, I can understand that, however for the most part I don’t think that’s the case.

    I think the majority of developers have some sort of principles and draw the line somewhere. Example, many aren’t interested in doing development for pornography despite the fact that there’s a lot of money in that. It’s just about where each person draws the line.

    • Nonproductive
    • April 22nd, 2010

    I was thinking the same thing today and posted my thoughts to Mike Chambers blog post – which he deleted.

    Developers need to go where the money is or starve. Users don’t care about Flash – they want their apps and web browser to work all the time (benefit of walled garden). They have proven this by the steady increase in iPhone sales since 2007.

    I posted more here:
    (no ads just a Posterous site where I archive my thoughts)

    • ghjunior
    • April 22nd, 2010

    1 iPhone vs 1000s of other devices attempting to grab a piece of the pie.

    Eventually something will come around with just the right characteristics to generate just enough buzz, become cool to just enough people, and be a serious competitor.

    Now can that something be created upon a more open platform, or would it only come about in an environment such as what Apple has setup around the iPhone. I’m hoping for the former.

  10. “case in point Nexus one which looks like your dad’s old palm pilot compared to an iPhone IMO”

    IYO : )

    Now seriously, the pie is big enough for everybody. You don’t like what Apple is doing, but doesn’t bother you too much to leave them? It’s your choice.

    To me, it does. I just can’t put up with them. It’s too much to me, so I have an Android phone and will develop for Android. I’m sure I’ll be able to feed my family as well!

    And just for the record when you say this:

    “when you realize ideology is one of your many chains in life, it’s fairly liberating to let it go”

    Don’t think you really mean it : ) It’s just that they haven’t touched *your* nerve. But freedom of choice is the nerve of many of us and thus our reaction.


  11. No, I *do* mean it 😉 And when you realize that ideology is a chain, you’ll realize your comment sounds like a guy who’s denying he has a chain 😉

  12. Freedom of choice is given, it’s not ideology. The last true freedom a person owns is his ability to choose his reaction – his choice. This cannot be taken away. You might say “someone can take your decision away” but we’re not talking about that level of decision, I’m taking about reaction, which is the basic if all freedoms.

    So, being chained to an ideology of technology is a complete waste of time, and is like putting a big massive chain around your neck.

  13. A bit late to the party – but my biggest problem has little to do with ideology, and more to do with the lock-down system and change of ToS so late in the game. Many companies have invested significant amounts of money in both current and already completed projects using middleware technologies that technical are voided by 3.3.1. I think a big part of the upset is not ideological but practical – large code bases become useless, existing apps potentially un-upgradable or actually discarded, and a lot of money/training lost. It also makes me wary of developing for iPhone as what future ToS will screw my development.

  1. April 24th, 2010

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