Sunday, July 22, 2007

OS X

I just issued a refund to a customer who bought SpamSieve under the assumption that it would run on his iPhone. This was not an unreasonable assumption. Apple has been advertising the fact that the iPhone runs OS X, and to the average user this is indistinguishable from “Mac OS X.” Plus, the iPhone runs “Safari,” which everyone knows is a Mac program, not to mention “Mail.” And while the iPhone was once derided as a closed platform, Steve Jobs made headlines for announcing at WWDC that Apple now had a way for developers to “create applications for mobile devices.” Microsoft is at least clear that its handheld OS is “Windows Mobile” and that it runs “Office Mobile.” Under the hood, the iPhone apps are called “MobileSafari” and “MobileMail,” but in its public copy Apple eschews the modifier. I don’t think Apple is trying to mislead, but the generic names coupled with the constant emphasis on how the iPhone contains “the full Safari engine” and lets you access “the real Internet” is confusing people.

18 Comments

I tend to agree, although there has been just as much baying about the fact you can't install your own programs.

I'm sorry but I'm just dead set against client side spam filtering. I'm sure SpamSieve is a great product, but I feel that once the spam reaches your mailbox it's already too late. I prefer using very strong server side filtering like spamassassin + procmail, or Gmail's spam filters. For that reason, I quit using my mac.com email.

Mike:

What does have to do with this post at all?

He's just trying to increase hits to his website...nothing more.

Does this mean developers should start putting disclaimers under "Operating System" noting that their software will *not* run on the iPhone? Or will it most likely not happen that much?

Guy has enough dough to blow on an iPhone (plus plan) but not a long enough attention span to check that it doesn't run third party software before actually spending more cash on third party software for it? As far as assumptions go, I would label that one "unreasonable."

I think the person who buys a program without knowing what it runs on is an idiot.
I also think that it was mighty nice of you to refund his money. ^_^

I can understand why Apple might not want to label Safari and Mail as MobileSafari and MobileMail etc in the advertising literature - I tend to assume, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this assumption, that 'mobile' as a prefix or suffix implies the meaning 'limited'

Ryan: I think most of the baying has been in developer circles, though.

Mike: That’s really not relevant to this post, but since you brought it up I think I should respond. I agree that ideally the spam wouldn’t get to your mailbox, but the only way to ensure that would be if there were no spam. Given that there is, stopping it at the server level involves trade-offs. On the plus side, you don’t have to download the spam, but this also means that if the server-side filter makes a mistake and generates a false positive you’ll have a good message marooned on the server. You’d have to log into Web mail or something to even see it. With a client-side filter such as SpamSieve, the message would be on your Mac, in the Spam mailbox. Plus, false positives are less likely with SpamSieve to begin with, because it integrates with your address book and it knows about the other good messages you’ve received. Even there were a SpamSieve false positive, it would probably be colored yellow (i.e. less spammy) and thus stick out when skimming your spam mailbox. This greater margin of safety, together with the fact that it knows more about your mail, allows SpamSieve to be more aggressive at catching spam. So I think the end result is that with a good client-side filter like SpamSieve you get fewer errors in both directions. A lot of people seem not to believe this until they actually try it.

Hamza: For now I am indeed specifically saying on the store page that the software doesn’t work on the iPhone. In the past, in the aftermath of some press coverage in cross-platform media, I added notes saying that it didn’t work on Windows. Saying that it required Mac OS X wasn’t enough to deter people who assumed that it would work on Windows. I could have left it as-is and corrected the mistakes with refunds, but that’s annoying for both sides, and in some cases the payment processor charges me for the refund.

monkyhead: The guy knows that the iPhone runs OS X, he sees that the software requires Mac OS X, and he probably doesn’t even realize there is a difference. He’s previously bought software from me and was happy with it, so he goes ahead and buys it rather than first trying to install the demo. So, yeah, he could have been more informed, but I see where he was coming from.

Anthony: I like to think of myself as being nice, and I try to do the right thing, but the seller doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. The buyer can always refuse the charge on his credit card statement, and the result will be that the order is involuntarily refunded and the seller gets hit with a chargeback fee.

bfm: That’s exactly right. Of course, the iPhone apps are limited, but there’s also truth to Apple’s statement that Safari on the iPhone is the real Internet. Perhaps Apple needs its own label that means “iPhone version” but isn’t spelled “Mobile.”

You could help avoid this by fully stating the system requirements for your application. Right now, on your product page, it only mentions the version of Mac OS X that is required. There are no hardware requirements stated.

Had it said "Requires an Intel or Power PC-based Macintosh and Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later" this might have been avoided.

@Mike

You came on here to troll, presumably to build hits to your site. And you did get +1 hit from me. Long enough for me to take a mental snapshot of your site, and mandate that I will never take part in your readership.

Thanks for making it easy on me!

@E.T.Cook

You presumably came here to attract hits to your website. But you didn't get any from me. I've memorized your URL to make sure I never ever visit it!

Thanks for making worthwhile comments!

Michael,

"So, yeah, he could have been more informed, but I see where he was coming from."

I see where he was coming from too, but it doesn't excuse him for only half-listening to the things he obviously heard. People who spend money without thinking should generally be held responsible for penalties like the ones you get from your payment processor. It's only fair.

Hmm. While I know it's an honest mistake on the part of the buyer and can be attributed to either careless reading or simple naivete, it strikes me as roughly akin to buying World of Warcraft for your Windows Mobile-based Treo, then wondering why this doesn't seem to quite work.

Apple could ameloriate this by saying that the iPhone runs "OS X Embedded," trying to draw a very distinct line the way Microsoft does, and I think that'd be a good idea. But I'm not sure it'll truly help with cases like this...

Michael,

AS a long time user of Spam Sieve, I applaud your actions. AS a long-time business owner, I applaud your actions. If I were a credit card processor, I would REALLY applaud your actions *_*

Best,

John

Of course, one could use SpamSieve (or Apple's built-in junk filter for the matter of that) to clean up for the iPhone just not on the iPhone.

IOW, a user could use IMAP instead of POP; so that, while he is using a client-side *application*, his junk *folder* is residing server-side, and SpamSieve is moving it from INBOX to INBOX.Junk as it arrives. The problem with this is that the desktop machine needs to be running permanently - or at any rate at any time at which the user is likely to need to be reading mail on the iPhone.

Nick: Yes, in fact that’s what I recommend here. It is even possible to train SpamSieve remotely.

If server side spam filtering is so easily done, ISPs and many other email providers would have done it long time ago. Spam seemed to have gotten complicated and smart. People are making a business out of this and end-users have to pay a penalty for this uncalled for stuff.

I like Spamsieve as it weeds out many of the spam for me. It simply worked! Sure I have to download the email FIRST, only to be classified as SPAM immediately and moved into the Junk mailbox to be automatically deleted after 1 week.

Now if I could only find a windows version of Spamsieve to use on my other PC sitting at the corner.

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