Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why should I develop for your platform?

So the iPhone seems like a pretty cool platform. As a programmer who may have some spare freelance cycles in the near future, the possibility of developing applications for such a cool, cutting edge platform certainly seems enticing. The problem, though, is Apple seems to want to hold all of the cards in terms of distribution. Not only do they decide whether or not your app can be distributed via their store, but the decision making process is completely opaque. There are no published standards, so developers can't do their homework and make sure Apple will distribute their application before they invest time and money to develop it. And as near as anyone can tell, especially without a clear message from Apple to the contrary, a number of the decisions not to distribute an app seem to be an effort to squash competition. Articles like this are all too common these days.

Certainly, users can jailbreak their iPhone and run any application they want to, including those not sanctioned by Apple, but who really wants to invest time and effort to develop a product that your users can't buy unless they illegally hack their own phone?

Now, certainly, the more hot applications there are out there for Apple's undeniably hot, new platform, the more attractive that platform is going to be for Apple's customers. So my question is, if this is how Apple is going to treat developers, why the hell should I spend any time at all developing for their platform? Unless Apple makes some moves to seriously welcome developers, develop some straight forward and transparent processes, and generally open up the distribution channels, I don't see that it makes any sense for any developer to spend time and money developing for the iPhone, regardless of how sexy it is. I guess I'm just not into being bent over by giant corporations. How about you?