Weblog:   Apple and Developers
Subject:   Apple's Developer Strategy
Date:   2003-06-29 12:58:30
From:   jmincey
It's quite ironic that this developer chooses THIS particular time to fault Apple for its developer relations/policies -- because in fact Apple has made great strides in this regard and has reached out to developers in ways it has not done historically.


Moreover, this individual is focused exclusively on the SCOPE of Apple's own development efforts and how it may impinge on the third-party developer community -- and while this is certainly an issue, it's a tiny fraction of Apple's overall strategy for developer relations. (I'm surprised he said nothing about Sherlock's supposed co-opting of Watson -- as symptomatic of the problem.)


Don't get me wrong; Apple could certainly improve its support, services, and outreach to developers. But it sounds to me as if this individual simply wants Apple to play venture capitalist to his own ambitions. Not only that, but apparently he wants Apple to curtail (if not cease) development of products which he feels are better left to a vibrant community of independent developers. Fine -- but he provides no examples.


Am I to infer that scads of third-party developers have been champing at the bit to develop a web browser but have been inhibited in this effort by Safari? Or are there hordes of developers eager to create an MS-Office alternative but who are held in check by rumors of Apple's own productivity suite? Were many developers planning to challenge CodeWarrior were it not for Apple's newly announced Xcode?


Please. This individual has his cause and effect reversed. Developers are not intimidated because Apple is developing software applications; rather Apple is developing applications because the developers were not stepping up to the plate or they were sitting on their hands. Apple has a precarious market share, (though strong in key niches), and in light of that it's right to be proactive and seize control of its own destiny. Not to mention that there is no profit in web browsers, office suites, or OS X development tools to begin with (unless you are Microsoft or Metrowerks).


As for the iApps, the digital hub concept is synergistic and critical to Apple's marketing and its niche consumer markets. Apple cannot leave this to the random independent motivations in the developer community.


I don't necessarily oppose the establishment of a fund -- provided their are strict and well-defined eligibility criteria and controls -- but I think there are more important things Apple can focus on here. Foremost:


1. Apple now has an infrastructure -- via its Apple stores -- which it can use to foster many regional developer-support seminars (after retail hours of course). A national conference makes a big splash -- but regional workshops could serve a different (and very important) function.


2. Apple could also more aggressively discount hardware and software resources for developers -- both current and new, (again, provided the right controls and safeguards are in place).


3. Apple can bring OSX more in compliance with Posix and UNIX conventions -- as it is working very hard to do. And it can create an Aqua window manager on top of the X11 infrastructure.


Apple is reaching out to developers as never before. It is doing so via the open source community and in many other ways. But Apple has a lot on its mind right now. In order for the Macintosh to be a viable platform in the next few years, it must have the basics in place -- web browser, office suite, development tools, consumer apps. Without this nailed down, even the most robust third-party developer support will be utterly moot.


Jeff Mincey