Friday, April 16, 2010

It’s Not the Control, It’s the Secrecy

John Gruber:

If it is Apple’s policy not to allow any political satire in the App Store, that’s terrible. If that’s not Apple’s policy, and some individual App Store reviewer rejected Fiore’s app mistakenly, that’s terrible. Either way, something terrible is going on. But worse than anything related to this specific case is the bigger picture: we don’t know.

3 Comments

"If it is Apple’s policy not to allow any political satire in the App Store, that’s terrible. If that’s not Apple’s policy, and some individual App Store reviewer rejected Fiore’s app mistakenly, that’s terrible. Either way, something terrible is going on. But worse than anything related to this specific case is the bigger picture: we don’t know."

Ugh. I found Gruber's whole post either massively disingenuous or massively idiotic. It's just filled top to bottom with strawmen that obscure the actual battle lines held.

For example, in the case of the above paragraph, neither of the two 'terrible' situations are what actually transpired in this case. And we all (including Fiore) know precisely what happened here.

Apple's approval policy in question here is to avoid controversy that reflects badly on The Brand™. The original disapproval of Fiore's app was correct on those grounds, and the subsequent approval upon learning that Fiore commands mainstream respect is also correct on those grounds.

Apple has only three approval criteria:

- Avoid controversy that reflects badly on The Brand™
- Avoid device performance degradation
- Disadvantage strategic competitors where possible

That's it. End of approval criteria.

The 'rules' that Gruber wants clarified and codified are mumbo-jumbo devised by lawyers to avoid future lawsuits. The 'rules' will never be clarified and codified because they are not meant to be operational guides to the approval process. The three criteria listed above are the only operational guides, and they can't be clarified and codified for legal reasons.

@Chucky Well, we don’t know; it’s possible that the original reviewer just made a mistake. However, I tend to agree that your simple theory explains everything we’ve seen. Apple doesn’t want the rules to be like an API contract that specifies what they are responsible for approving and supporting. Rather, they see the rules as a legal and marketing document to be applied after they’ve decided what they’re going to do (for other, internal, reasons).

Off-topic, but I'll return to the Big Think question that I keep wondering about:

Back when the iPad was announced, you worried about the future profitability of writing apps that weren't chained to the App Store. I responded that I didn't think that was a reasonable worry as long as Apple didn't EOL desktop OS X.

Given that, Gruber hopping on to the "desktop OS X is the Apple II" meme this week has made me somewhat concerned. I strongly assume he hears lots and lots of whispers and guidance from inside the Politburo, so I give this more credence than I would from another source.

So the question becomes:

If you buy a MacBook form factor device from Apple in 2 years, what OS will it run? What about in 4 years?

If I were Apple, why wouldn't I want to put the flagship OS on all my devices? If I like the iPhone OS and App Store model, why not add mouse/trackpad support to it and roll it out across the line?

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