Archive for February 16, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Hypothetical Netflix “iOS Plan”

The Tech Bastard:

Service providers have an option to fight back that hasn’t been discussed enough, though; with a simple change to pricing they could quickly force Apple’s hand and show consumers the costs that Apple is passing on to them. They could create a separate, higher priced offering for iOS users.

In other words, to access the content from iOS you would have to buy a premium subscription plan (or “iOS access” for a Kindle book), and the price for that is what’s the same between the in-app and Web stores. I think this satisfies the letter of the guidelines. This would make it clear where the increased costs were coming from, and it could prevent publishers from withdrawing, but customers would still be worse off compared to before Apple’s policy changes.

Thunderbird in the Usability Lab

Charline Poirier (via Michael McCracken):

Over the 60 minutes of each session, I went through as many features of Thunderbird as possible with each participant. Participants were asked to:

  • Install Thunderbird from the Software Centre
  • Create an account
  • Sign up
  • Create filters
  • Set up alerts
  • Manage emails in folders
  • Create a signature
  • Change the colour of the font
  • Create a contact list
  • Search for a specific email discussing a form (which I had sent prior to the session)
  • Respond to an email that contained an attachment: in particular, open the attachment, modify it and send it back to the original sender

Apple Mail handles some of these details better.

Tower 1.0

Tower, fournova’s $59 Git client, has shipped. It has many of the good points of GitX and can also send diffs and merges to BBEdit, TextMate, and other file comparison tools.

Thoughts on iOS Content Purchase

Eucalyptus developer James Montgomerie (via Jason Snell):

The intent behind Apple’s policies always seemed consistent to me in the past. The policies themselves may have been opaque and sometimes confusing, and were often inconsistently and capriciously applied, but the intent behind them didn’t seem to change. I certainly didn’t agree with all the policies, but they at least seemed reasonable. I could respect them. Apple seemed to have integrity. With this change though, that’s no longer true. Apple has simply changed the policy for what apps are allowed to do to one that’s not only different, it has a different intent behind it.

It is no longer possible to rationalize that the intent is to benefit the consumer, though I’m sure there are those in the mothership who sincerely believe that forcing people into the Apple monoculture is good for them. Montgomerie closes with some thoughts on 1984. Apple is forcing a choice between excellence and freedom. If only Nixon could go to China, only Apple can build the Orwellian world.

More food for thought:

  1. Having read and thought about the guidelines, it seems clear to me that the intent is to ban viewer apps.
  2. What does Apple define as “content” and thus subject to the compulsions of section 11? What will be considered content tomorrow? What use are the guidelines, if even their intent is subject to change?
  3. Since all content must be available for purchase through Apple, this means that all content must be approved by Apple. Apple already bans certain types of content. It claims not to curate the allowed types, but this policy could change, and Apple would be in a position where it could enforce a content ban.
  4. If content includes digital services, apps that provide native interfaces for services such as Flickr, FogBugz, Lighthouse, Basecamp, and others would be banned.

Update: Hank Williams explores point #4 and the effect on service businesses.

Apple’s Three Laws of Developers

Kiwi developer Isaiah Carew adapts Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.