When Apple Does It, It’s Okay

By Deane Barker on November 24, 2011

Serving at the Pleasure of the King: My antipathy for Apple is no secret.  But Jeff Atwood really hits the nail on the head with this post and explains why he has the same problems:

[…] as a software developer, I am deeply ambivalent about an Apple dominated future. Apple isn’t shy about cultivating the experience around their new iOS products and the App Store. There are unusually strict, often mysterious rules around what software developers can and cannot do — at least if they want entry into the App Store. And once you’re in, the rules can and will change at any time.

He explains the crux of the problem with the example of Apple replacing the much-loved Instapaper with their own Reading List:

If Microsoft added a feature to Windows that duplicated a popular application’s functionality, developers would be screaming bloody murder and rioting in the, er, blogs and web forums. But in the Mac world, if the king deems it necessary, then so it must be.

It’s that pervasive, appalling hypocrisy that kills me.  Microsoft did things in the 90s that got them vilified and even prosecuted.  When Apple does the same thing, they’re celebrated.

So it doesn’t really matter what your business practices are, so long as your hardware is pretty.



  1. Both Microsoft and Apple have done that (situations aren’t exactly the same, but in the ball park roughly). So why don’t you have as much antipathy for Microsoft as you do Apple? For that matter why doesn’t Jeff?

    For most I think personal bias plays a much stronger weight than they’d like to admit. I think that is fine, there is no problem with that at all. In the context of Microsoft vs. Apple, just don’t forget that both sides have done more than their share of uncool moves.

    Ultimately, is it ok for the creator of a platform to compete with other products/services that are built on top of it? Was it ok for Microsoft to develop a word processor on top of Windows top compete with other word processors built on top of Windows? Is it ok for Twitter to have their own photo sharing service built on top of Twitter to compete with others? Is it ok for Apple to build iOS apps, or to add iOS features that compete with other iOS apps?

    For most I think the bottom line answer is yes. But that doesn’t mean they actually like when they do.

  2. I don’t think these situations are as closely analagous as that, Deane, and we Apple devs have been know to make a loud noise when Apple does something that’s destructive. We do tend to make those arguments in Apple’s direction first because they have been known to remedy the situation from time to time.

    MS got a lot of flak, and their devs did a lot of screaming, but most of their devs still developed for Windows. So it is with Apple. You may not hear it as loudly because one, we’re still a minority developer group in the larger community, and two, you’re not hanging out with Apple developers.

    There’s also strong advantage to working and selling in a curated marketplace and tightly controlled OS that I think some people overlook — consumer trust and reliable behavior — but they are the reasons I continue to write for Apple devices instead of Android.

    Finally, to your “pretty hardware” comment: I’ve used Macs, Windows machines, and Linux machines to develop at different times since 1996; I used Windows machines for work for nine years. I switched to the Mac platform in 2007 because it made me more productive and had better tools for me, and I have certainly never regretted that decision. Beauty is a bonus.

  3. I can’t stand them either. I bought my first Mac in 1985 (yes really) and I loved it. I had Macs until 1998 or so. I was excited when they opened up the field and had more equipment development going on, but Jobs came back and shut it down, oh well. But a couple of things seal the deal for me – the internet and the propriety connectors.

    First off back in 1998 or 1999 when we connecting via modem, the Mac was just slower compared to a PC. I ran too many tests on different phone lines for it to be a fluke. Secondly, I just can stand all of the special connectors, especially the IPOD. Yes I use Itunes, but sync with my Android phone.

    I wish I had bought stock, but that is life. I love my numerous choices and though I can stand Google either, I dislike Apple even more.

  4. I have said and will continue to say, there is but one difference separating MS from Apple; marketing. MS acted like a bully and did so for quite some time. Apple, and it’s relatively small share couldn’t. So they created their own markets so they could control them. Brilliant. But if Apple were to someday control say 85-90% of the pc market, and continued to act in the same manner, I’m guessing folks would jump ship to the next “up and coming hip thing” i.e underdog.

    As to the magic, Thud noticed a difference. After developing in SQL server/Coldfusion land on Win, web stuff on MAC and then some C, php, python, etc on Linux the only difference I could see was price. But then again, choice is what makes this tech world great. Use what ever works best for you. For me, Linux. Each to their own.

  5. I agree. I don’t have an Apple and I’ll admit I sometimes feel like the only person in the world who doesn’t have one and yes that’s sometimes frustrating. I don’t like however that Microsoft ended up with government fines and penalties and now that Apple is doing basically the same thing no one is saying anything about it. I’m surprised by the number of people I know who have Ipads and rave about how great they are yet in the same sentence complain about Itunes and how with Apple the only thing that counts is money. According to them anything and everything you want will most likely cost because that’s the Apple way. Then why do they think it’s so great: apparently it’s the simplicity. The people I know who love and complain about their Ipads and Iphones are also the same people who bought computers with everything already installed because they don’t want to worry about how something works or what works better. They don’t like having different options and with Apple they don’t have to worry about it. Everything gets done through Itunes; no worries about incompatibility. I’m not sure if I’ll cave in and join the crowd; I’m not an MS lover but I don’t think it’s fair that MS was and is so scrutinized and everything Apple says is okay. Their decisions are having an impact on other ideas (such as NFC); if Apple doesn’t approve and add it to their products then there’s a good chance those ideas won’t succeed. What gives them the right to have so much power and why are we so willing to accept everything on their terms?

Comments are closed. If you have something you really want to say, tweet @gadgetopia.