A Cage With Golden Bars
Y’know I like Apple hardware, right? Some of its stuff is downright magical. The close attention to detail. The minimalist design. The shiny. As a hardware company, I believe there’s nobody that can really touch them.
But as a software company, I find many of the arbitrary restrictions Apple places on software developers and vendors entirely loathesome. The iTunes “Music” Store has become a gateway for a Mac App Store by way of selling iOS apps. This is terrifying. If you don’t believe me, take a look through their terms (after paying a $99 fee to become an Apple Developer, of course). Some excellent examples:
- Apps may not crash
- Apps may not exhibit bugs
- Apps my not use external update mechanisms
- Apps may not use deprecated technologies (e.g., Java)
It goes on. Sure, I approve of them setting the bar high. I don’t want visible bugs in my apps either, but you don’t often have full control over your environment. By their own rules, much of the OS X desktop environment probably wouldn’t pass. I’ve seen the Dock, Finder, Dashboard and other built-in components crash on numerous occasions.
I won’t even mention the Human Interface Guidelines rule.
And now Apple is insisting that third party vendors must sell in-app content through their App Store on iOS devices by March 31, 2011. You can see where this is going, don’t you? If this is applied to the desktop app store as well, Apple will be taking a cut of every in-app purchase available there as well. As the app store will be a major piece of OS X 10.7, it’s not that far-fetched to imagine Apple locking down the desktop to outside installers the same way that iOS devices are limited.
In a time when “open” has become a popular buzz-word and Apple touts itself as a company with a large chunk of open source scaffolding, it’s really frustrating to see them locking the cages and limiting choice and freedom in their products.