Dear Apple: It's Time to Listen to the Canary in the Coal Mine

Apple and its iTunes App Store have been getting a lot of negative press amongst developers lately. Its stance against the use of private APIs, the introduction of its own ad network, and its rewording of the iPhone Developer agreement to exclude third party runtimes and cross-compilation tools has gotten a lot of people angry. Gizmodo calls ads an iPhone user's "worst enemy"; an official Adobe representative invited Apple to "go screw itself". Apparently, even Steve Jobs could sense something was brewing, and he actively responded to one of the more reasonable pleas regarding the situation.

Do I agree with all of the criticism coming Apple's way? Hardly. In fact, I just published an article in which I defend Apple on its stance regarding private APIs. I'm sympathetic to what they're trying to do, and I understand the challenges inherent in it. I don't dismiss advertising out of hand. Additionally, I'm not one to blindly dismiss a company's choices without trying to understand why they make them.

In fact, I was going to let the situation blow over without comment, content that the entire thing was a ginned-up controversy for the sake of page views (*cough* Gizmodo *cough*), until I stumbled on to this:

Ars Technica: Apple's Wager, by John Siracusa

I didn't agree with everything in it, and many of the comments attached to it are inane, but I felt compelled to read it regardless, as its by the estimable Siracusa. He's always been one of Apple and Mac OS's greatest ambassadors and thoughtful technology writers, a fact to which anyone who's read his fantastic reviews of every OS release can attest. And yet, in this article he describes the development environment created by Apple as "shoddy" and full of "hardships."

That, my friends, is troubling. When the reasonable and thoughtful defenders of your platform start to become concerned with your direction and methods, it may not matter whether your concerns are ultimately right. Apple would do well to take a step back and listen to the concerns of some of these folks. It's not like they haven't done so before.

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