Linked by snydeq on Fri 9th Jul 2010 17:33 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister discusses 10 ways locked-down app store delivery models limit choice for developers -- and ultimately hurts users. The model, best known in the form of Apple's notoriously finicky iPhone App Store, has established an entirely new relationship between software vendors and consumers, one some are calling 'curated computing,' a mode in which choice is constrained to deliver more relevant, less complex experiences. This model, deemed essential to the success of tablets, provides questionable value to developers, undermining their interests in a variety of ways. From disproportionate profit cuts, to curator veto powers, to poor security, fragmentation, and hostility to free software, developers must sacrifice a lot to 'curated computing' to get their wares into the hands of end-users.
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I'm fine with it...
by nathbeadle on Fri 9th Jul 2010 19:20 UTC
nathbeadle
Member since:
2006-08-08

I find it a little crazy that after so many years of the app store being open, a whack of other app stores showing up with other devices, and an over-all general happiness with the app store and it's users (not developers) that these articles are STILL being written.

Just give it up... what's happening is working for WAY more people than those who find it annoying.

I can see why all these comparisons are taking place.. the iphone, and now all the competitors to it are the closest device we have to a computer in our pocket. Just because it is close doesn't mean it should follow all the same rules.

From the article: "According to Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, curated computing is "a mode of computing in which choice is constrained to deliver more relevant, less complex experiences.""

And THAT right there is what makes these things successful to begin with. Simple to use and all the ways you can use it are easily available. Compare that to a desktop computer where Best Buy is trying to make computing harder than it really is by CHARGING people to install Microsoft Office. It's no wonder that people are loving these devices.

Sure, developers don't like it because it's not like computers.... but, we know they aren't computers (very close). Obviously the choice is there to live with the rules and make some money, or don't live with the rules and make money elsewhere.

Why everyone feels this device and others like it have to be made to act and work (both tech wise and business wise) like a computer baffles me!

They'll never replace computers, but they sure are getting more people using something more like a computer than ever before!

Reply Score: 3

RE: I'm fine with it...
by ebasconp on Fri 9th Jul 2010 23:37 UTC in reply to "I'm fine with it..."
ebasconp Member since:
2006-05-09

Why everyone feels this device and others like it have to be made to act and work (both tech wise and business wise) like a computer baffles me!

They'll never replace computers, but they sure are getting more people using something more like a computer than ever before!


Why do you think they are not computers?

A computer is a machine that executes instructions stored in a program (that can be replaced, modified or extended) and that consists of input, processing and output units... as all current mobile phones do.

Actually I see these devices as computers with additional support for doing phone calls, because they have an operating system, file systems, memory management, software stacks and everything that a computer has.

Doing some distinction between mobile phones and computers just because its usage is kind of artificial, because computers are designed to be general purpose.

Edited 2010-07-09 23:40 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: I'm fine with it...
by mkone on Sat 10th Jul 2010 10:44 UTC in reply to "RE: I'm fine with it..."
mkone Member since:
2006-03-14

That is being very pedantic. The parent poster obviously meant computer as PC (or Mac) rather than computer in its all encompassing sense.

Reply Score: 1

RE: I'm fine with it...
by google_ninja on Sat 10th Jul 2010 16:03 UTC in reply to "I'm fine with it..."
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

Wish I could up vote this more. The appstore is absolutely amazing from a user point of view. And as a developer, its hard to think of a platform where you can make a few grand per month off of a week or two of weekend work.

Reply Score: 3

crazy huh?
by TechGeek on Fri 9th Jul 2010 20:42 UTC
TechGeek
Member since:
2006-01-14

You find it crazy. Well, these articles are meant to draw views. That's how the web works. If it was totally not a big deal then these stories wouldn't be generating any hits and they wouldn't keep writing them. So some where there are a number of people who feel a need to read and think about this subject. There are many people who are perfectly happy with Apple. I suspect that they are mainly people who weren't smart enough to use their full blown computers and had to have Best Buy install Office for them. But there are a lot of hard core users and developers that aren't happy. And without developers, you don't have a platform.

Reply Score: 3

RE: crazy huh?
by mrhasbean on Fri 9th Jul 2010 23:32 UTC in reply to "crazy huh?"
mrhasbean Member since:
2006-04-03

I suspect that they are mainly people who weren't smart enough to use their full blown computers and had to have Best Buy install Office for them.


Do you know how to do an oil and filter change on your car? What about changing something simple like a headlight bulb? How about an ignition relay, or even a fuse? I can do all of them because one of my hobbies has always been mucking about with cars. For the majority of people though they either aren't interested, or scared they will break something or do something wrong that leads to more expense.

So it's got nothing to do with being "smart enough". Those people who aren't interested in learning how or can't get a grasp on the concept, maybe don't think it's important for them to know how, are in fact the MAJORITY of people that the commenter was talking about. And he's exactly on the money. The biggest problem with the App store is that it threatens the power geeks believe they have because they do know how to do this stuff. For CONSUMER devices the App Store model is MUCH better, because the consumer can manage the whole thing themselves without having to specifically learn anything new.

Sure it cuts the middle man out of the market - and that's the bit that geekdom hates - but this is happening in all sorts of industries. Look at digital cameras. Using film required a middle-man - a processing centre - to turn our snaps into something we could see. Nowadays we either whack them on a digital photo frame, print them on our photo capable home printers, upload them to a web gallery or take the camera / memory card down to the local supermarket and print them ourselves, or any combination of the above. We're seeing the same process with the App store and it's clones.

And, as has been pointed out previously, any iDev can distribute an app to up to 99 of his / her friends, colleagues, business associates without having to use the App store at all, so there are opportunities for customised vertical market or company specific applications that bypass the App store altogether.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: crazy huh?
by emerson999 on Sun 11th Jul 2010 04:01 UTC in reply to "RE: crazy huh?"
emerson999 Member since:
2007-12-08

Do you know how to do an oil and filter change on your car? What about changing something simple like a headlight bulb? How about an ignition relay, or even a fuse? I can do all of them because one of my hobbies has always been mucking about with cars.


I can do that because google exists. That's true for any number of things. As information on how to do things becomes more and more easily accessible, the guts of every day items should become more as well, not less.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: crazy huh?
by wirespot on Mon 12th Jul 2010 07:26 UTC in reply to "RE: crazy huh?"
wirespot Member since:
2006-06-21

Sure it cuts the middle man out of the market - and that's the bit that geekdom hates - but this is happening in all sorts of industries.


You're mixing up all sorts of things here.

Devices that "just work" (be they cars or iPhones) cannot do so without tech support. The fact they don't require the user to open up the hood doesn't make them magical. It just means somebody else is getting their hands dirty when they need to.

That middle man (tech support and retail personnel) will not go anywhere. At most it will be replaced by Apple stores and Apple people, or authorized resellers.

If you meant that they are so easy to use that geeks won't be required to render help to friends and family even for the most mundane tasks -- that's great. We, geeks, absolutely hate that. We welcome this.

And now, once that your confusion about "geekdom" is out of the way, we can get to the core of the matter. Geeks are also consummers. They are super-users and as such they want devices that they can tweak, dissasemble, hack and so on. This kind of dumbed-down, hands-off approach that Apple proposes is not for them. That's why they don't like Apple's devices and never have.

And if you come to think that developers are usually geeks -- you can see why there's limited appeal to the way Apple is doing things.

Reply Score: 2

Lube
by tony on Sat 10th Jul 2010 00:48 UTC
tony
Member since:
2005-07-06

The issue is lubrication, using the term the way Chris Sacca defines it:

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2860866

The app store model is lubrication. Before Apple had the app store, you could download, install, and run applications on other smart phones. Heck, when the iPhone came out, you actually couldn't install any apps.

But not that many bothered to install apps on their smartphones. I had a smart phone for 2 years before I got my iPhone, and while I could install apps, I only ever did once (an SSH client). Where would I find one? Office Depot? Download it to my computer, then figure out how to get it on the phone (some awful T-Mobile or Windows app?)

So there wasn't much of a market for smart phone apps, because no one really bothered, because of the complexity (can be overcome by expertise and experience) and the hassle (only be overcome by time and frustration).

No market, no developers. No developers, no market.

Then Apple released the app store. It lubricated the process, in terms of time (just a few seconds in many cases), complexity (simple, click install app, it installs), and availability (all apps in one place).

With this lubrication (and a jump-start with some Apple hype to gain initial interest), the app store model blew up. Soon, everyone had one, and did a similar process to lubricate their app stores.

Apple isn't the best at technology, Apple is the best (right now) at lubrication.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Lube
by spiderman on Sat 10th Jul 2010 12:43 UTC in reply to "Lube"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

I think that Apple has taken advantage of the fact that carriers suck in the US. In Europe and in Asia carriers have always provided a well advertized app store and prople have been installing apps before the iPhone. Apple has brought the app store and smartphones to the US.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Lube
by tony on Sun 11th Jul 2010 00:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Lube"
tony Member since:
2005-07-06

I think that Apple has taken advantage of the fact that carriers suck in the US. In Europe and in Asia carriers have always provided a well advertized app store and prople have been installing apps before the iPhone. Apple has brought the app store and smartphones to the US.


I agree, they're pretty awful here in the US, but the app stores in Europe and Asia still weren't at the same level as the modern iteration of the app store (Apple, Android Market, Ovi), at least in terms of Lube (fragmented, spotty, non-ubiquitous). Everyone (Android, Nokia) played catchup after Apple, and of course Microsoft hasn't caught up yet.

Reply Score: 1

A message to developers
by WorknMan on Sat 10th Jul 2010 00:54 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

Hey developers,

If you don't like the ecosystem of the iPhone, I've got two words for you...

Droid does

If you build great apps, there's a bunch of us on Android that would welcome you. And we can even install apps from outside the marketplace without jailbreaking ;) So, why not come and join us, instead of bitching and moaning about Apple's app approval process?

Reply Score: 2

RE: A message to developers
by google_ninja on Sat 10th Jul 2010 16:06 UTC in reply to "A message to developers"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

Not only do iphone users spend almost twice as much on apps then android users, but the android market is pretty much a vehicle for mass piracy.

Edited 2010-07-10 16:11 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: A message to developers
by nt_jerkface on Sat 10th Jul 2010 21:48 UTC in reply to "RE: A message to developers"
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

but the android market is pretty much a vehicle for mass piracy.


It's also fragmented by OS version and device type. Even though Froyo is out there are devices that are still being released with 1.6. Google really screwed up by not designing the OS to automatically update. Don't expect the tech press aka Google fan club to report on how many problems this has caused.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: A message to developers
by Tony Swash on Sun 11th Jul 2010 20:58 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A message to developers"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

" but the android market is pretty much a vehicle for mass piracy.


It's also fragmented by OS version and device type. Even though Froyo is out there are devices that are still being released with 1.6. Google really screwed up by not designing the OS to automatically update. Don't expect the tech press aka Google fan club to report on how many problems this has caused.
"\

Your comment touches on a really interesting question. At what point will Google's interests diverge from the interests of the hand set makers?

The makers of mobile phones love Android because it can let them at least try to compete with the iPhone and because its free. But they make their money by selling handsets - not by upgrading old hand sets for free. The hand set makers want people to get fed up with their old version of Android and then buy a new mobile to get a newer version of Android.

Also hand set makers do not want a uniform OS across all hand sets - why would they? They want their individual models of phones to look and work differently.

This structurally tension between Google's desire for a large uniform user base all using the same version of Android with more or less the same feature set and the hand set makers business model of no upgrades except of hardware has been hidden by the initial rush to catch up with Apple but I suspect this tension will get bigger as time goes by.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: A message to developers
by arpan on Sun 11th Jul 2010 12:41 UTC in reply to "RE: A message to developers"
arpan Member since:
2006-07-30

The thing is, it is the app store that helps reduce Piracy.

You have to use the App store to install apps (unless you jail break your phone), and that helps prevent piracy.

So, a developer has to choose between complete freedom (for the developer, for the user, and for the pirate), or the app store and the restrictions and advantages that comes with it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: A message to developers
by darknexus on Sun 11th Jul 2010 14:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A message to developers"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Hardly. Those who really want to pirate apps will simply jailbreak. Where there's a will there's a way, and that goes for things both good and bad. I'm becoming bothered by people blindly taking up the piracy line without really understanding it. If piracy were Apple's real concern, they wouldn't refuse apps just because they compete with Apple's own, or deign to label content objectionable for the user without the user having a say in the matter. It's not about piracy in this case, it's about Jobs' desire to control anything and everything people do. Couple this with jailbreaking, and the app store is about as effective at preventing piracy as most other measures have been, i.e. not very. It may hide piracy better, given that devs are actively discouraged from discussing jailbreaking, but it doesn't eliminate it at all. And now, with jailbreaking as easy as it has become, it's not even just the geeks who can do it. These days it's run an app on your computer, click a button, and you're jailbroken.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: A message to developers
by google_ninja on Sun 11th Jul 2010 14:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A message to developers"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

The difference between the android market and the app store is that if you have your android phone rooted (very easy to do), you can pirate stuff directly off the android market. If you jailbreak your iphone, you can't use the appstore, and need to go looking for stuff in other places

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: A message to developers
by ichi on Sun 11th Jul 2010 19:35 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: A message to developers"
ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

The difference between the android market and the app store is that if you have your android phone rooted (very easy to do), you can pirate stuff directly off the android market. If you jailbreak your iphone, you can't use the appstore, and need to go looking for stuff in other places


Pirate as in downloading the non-free apps for free? Shouldn't that be controlled on the market servers and not on your phone?

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: A message to developers
by google_ninja on Sun 11th Jul 2010 22:06 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: A message to developers"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

basically, you can download time limited demos from the android market, which delete themselves after the time limit. You can get around that by backing them up to external storage, and then restoring them again. A lot of people think that is why piracy rates are so much higher on the android.

Reply Score: 2

v RE: A message to developers
by nt_jerkface on Sat 10th Jul 2010 21:37 UTC in reply to "A message to developers"
RE: A message to developers
by MysterMask on Sun 11th Jul 2010 18:40 UTC in reply to "A message to developers"
MysterMask Member since:
2005-07-12


Droid does


SPAMers welcome that, too. Say hello to the 1001 variant of the fart app.

Reply Score: 2

Android +1
by Nycran on Sat 10th Jul 2010 04:11 UTC
Nycran
Member since:
2006-02-06

Agreed with the above. Doid does. This article is really a bitch about Apple's app store more than a relevant bitch about app stores generically.

Android has an app store but developers can offer their apps directly from their own websites if they like. Android also supports alternative app stores such as Mobihand. If you want freedom, the choice is pretty clear to me.

Edited 2010-07-10 04:12 UTC

Reply Score: 4

App stores don't limit developers.
by yokem55 on Sat 10th Jul 2010 16:46 UTC
yokem55
Member since:
2005-07-06

The companies that push their app store as the one and only way of getting 3rd party applications onto a device are. If you think about it, app stores have been around since Debian first came up with apt and created well maintained, "curated", repositories. Nothing new or controversial about that at all. Developers have a means of getting their wares distributed and installed on user devices/machines easily, in a way that well integrates with the platform. The problem is when the platform vendor decides to lock out any other means of getting software onto a device so as to have total control over the user experience, thus leaving developers that want to push the envelope of the platform more out in the cold.

In the end, "Curated computing" vs. "Open Computing" isn't a Zero sum game. You can have a well curated experience while on occasion stepping outside the garden with minimal long term impact.

Reply Score: 4

anda_skoa Member since:
2005-07-07

The companies that push their app store as the one and only way of getting 3rd party applications onto a device are. If you think about it, app stores have been around since Debian first came up with apt and created well maintained, "curated", repositories.


Exactly!

The only problematic part is the "single store only" artificial monopoly, all other points in the article are consequences of it.

The article then goes on and even makes this initial mistake more worse by over genernalizing and only basing points on Apple's variant of an app store.

For example it claims that app stores are hostile to Free Software. This looks correct from an unprepared readers point of view because the assumption everywhere in the article is Apple's app store.
In reality this can be the other way around, e.g. Debian's app store.

Parent has this right: "curated" is not the problem, "one and only source" is.

Reply Score: 2

Religion also successful?
by avih on Sun 11th Jul 2010 04:05 UTC
avih
Member since:
2006-03-16

Religion too is a proven success for users, with its ease of use, simple answers and central strict control model, yet its power over users has always been misused, resulting in probably the biggest hate-promoting mechanism ever created.

As with the app store (forgive me for alleviating Jobs' status here - for the sake of making a point only), it's not about the good answers it provides (which both usually do), but rather about the limited, simplified, restricted and abused world it creates - a world where the truth and correctness are distributed rather than deduced/observed, a world which actively fights criticism (both in censorship and in EULAs), and most importantly, a world where the ruler feels he knows best what's right for the users.

There's no denying that people enjoy an experience where they are given the correct answers. The question is - what are the consequences? especially when the lead factor for the ruler of this land is him making more money rather than (eh.. well) genuine concern for the users.

It's not about the availability of alternative models (web, Android market, PC, etc), it's about the pure wrongness of this one. The fact that most people enjoy this successful model doesn't mean it's 'right', and that's what this article explores, and that's why it also won't be the last one.

This model just abuses the common interest in simplicity by blocking our eyes to anything which may be questionable. Is this the world you want to live in? I know I don't.

Reply Score: 5